If one were to go by the charts alone, it would be easy to figure that red-blooded Rock’n’Roll, and its kissin’ cousins R’n’B and Rockabilly, was solely a male preserve. And to a degree that was the case but as this superb collection reveals, when it comes to cuttin’ a rug or settin’ the woods on fire, the girls can easily give the boys a run for their money. Indeed, more than fifty years on, many first generation rockin’ gals continue to inspire contemporary artists such as Imelda May and VV Brown, whilst others – like Etta James and Wanda Jackson – endure under their own steam, winning accolades well into their seventies when most ladies have long since hung up their sequinned mules.
Some used Rock’n’Roll as a springboard for recording careers which were to blossom across the decades and branch in new directions, whilst others’ quickly faded into obscurity like last night’s prom corsage. Many were trail blazers, standing up for themselves against an ever-present backdrop of chauvinism and bigotry. A few broke the mould by penning their own material or by refusing to play second fiddle to their male counterparts. More often than not, digging in their cha cha heels didn’t win them any fans with industry bigwigs but no matter, as these discs prove their true worth was in being able to lay down the Big Beat with aplomb.
Drawing together some of the finest female singers from across the Roll’n’Roll spectrum, this 75-track set sees chart-topping R&B mamas rubbing shoulders with Boogie Woogie country gals, and demure Pop princesses mingling with Rockabilly fillies whose lesser-heard down-home ditties have nonetheless earned them a place in collectors’ hearts. From sassy city slickers such as Annisteen Allen and LaVern Baker, to Southern songbirds like Sun Records’ Miller Sisters and the then-fledgling artist/writer Jackie De Shannon, this is as diverse and compelling a set of distaff rockers as one could hope to find.
From feisty rockabilly to attitude-laden teen pop… as often happens, it’s the more obscure outings providing the seat-grabbing moments. A grandly defininite statement which strikes on many levels. 4/5 Kris Needs • Record Collector
… A very well-thought-out collection of girls – black and white – doing R&B, Country or Pop, but always 100% rocking. An interesting compilation , and almost always entertaining. Pete Bowen • Now Dig This