Five Obscure Rockabilly Classics You Should Know

By Buster Fayte, Featured Author, Sad Man’s Tongue

One of the ways to have the most fun with rockabilly is to seek out the  obscure artists and songs. OK, it’s true: rockabilly is a pretty obscure genre  as it is–most people still don’t know what it really is. But even if you’re  fairly well versed in rockabilly music, you typically hear just the same names  mentioned: Elvis, Cash, Cochran, Vincent, Burnette, Perkins, and so on. As  wonderful as the music these performers made is, uncovering a rare, virtually  unknown gem is always rewarding! Here are five artists and songs you may not  have heard of before that are well worth checking out.

  1. Tommy Lam, “Speed Limit”: This is a great rockabilly rocker from  1959. It features wonderful guitar work and lots of energy with classic-sounding  vocals. The drums in this tune are more active than in many rockabilly tunes and  that adds to the fun. It’s hard to find much information on Tommy Lam, but this  song rocks!
  2. Wes Holly, “Shuffling Shoes”: Wes, no relation to Buddy, recorded  this gem in 1957. This one leans more toward the “billy” than the “rock,” and it  features more expanded instrumentation than most rockabilly songs with two  guitars and a crazy steel guitar solo. It evokes the great train songs of the  hillbilly boogie genre as it flies along with fast guitar licks and fast vocal  lines.
  3. Glenn Barber, “Atom Bomb”: Wow…While Barber had many later country  records, he released a string of records on Starday Records in his early years  during the 50s. He had many really great rockabilly tunes and it was hard to  pick the one to include here. This one was apparently unreleased, but it’s an  amazing song. This guys sings with conviction and during the fadeout he asks,  “Did you ever hear such a noise?” I can’t think of a more perfect way to  describe this recording. Rockabilly protest music recorded probably before Dylan  was even thinking about. What a concept! You just gotta hear it.
  4. Edwin Bruce, “Doll Baby”: Recorded for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records,  this one unfortunately remained unreleased. It was the end of the 50s and  Phillips was beginning to see the writing on the wall as far as the future of  rockabilly. Bruce’s rockabilly career went pretty much nowhere, but he kept at  the music game, mostly as a song writer with small successes here and there  through the 60s. In 1975 he came up with the smash, “Mama’s don’t let your  babies grow up to be cowboys,” But it’s early rockabilly like this one that  makes me love him!
  5. Don Wade, “Gone, Gone, Gone”: A rockabilly song that has it all.  Great, classic-sounding vocals, wonderful, manic guitar work and released on the  San record label (not a typo–San, not Sun!)

Each of these recordings is a treasure to the rockabilly lover. They prove  that although the rockabilly royalty that fans of the genre know and love gave  us the bulk of the music we dig, there were many, many other artists  contributing wonderful work to the wealth of rockabilly.

Buster Fayte is an author and rockabilly musician. He Blogs at “Buster Fayte’s Rockabilly Romp” where he writes about the passion he shares with millions of musicians and fans for rockabilly and oldies music. Buster has written several books including the “Complete Home Music Recording Start Kit”. He writes original songs, sings, and plays both guitar and bass.

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About Sad Man's Tongue: Rockabilly Bar & Bistro - Prague

We are a Bar and Bistro where old school meets the new school, dedicated to preserving the roots of rock and roll and it's modern adaptations as well as preserving the cultural identity of our neighborhood through our food, the the principles of the slow food movement. A little bit of rockabilly and retro combine with the kustom kulture of today, in an atmosphere devoid of Pretension.
This entry was posted in 1950s, Culture, Elvis, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Music, Music History, Musicians, Rock Music, Rock n Roll, Rockabilly, Rockabilly Bands & Music, Sun Records and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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