Press Archive - Billy Lee Riley - Billy Lee Riley Rocks - Old Time Review
Having only just discovered Billy Lee Riley, I am left wondering how he could have slipped through the cracks of music history. The music is mostly standard Rockabilly fair with unique twists that are now commonplace in Rock music. His vocal style is distinctive, as is the musicianship surrounding it. ‘Bear Family Records’ have done an amazing job at showcasing this underrated artist; with a fine mixture of hits and deep cuts. If you are looking for an overview of memorable tracks from the career of Billy Lee Riley, this is the album to pick up. For those wanting to delve even deeper, they may want to check out other Riley albums available from ‘Bear Family Records’.
Press Archive - Billy Lee Riley - Billy Lee Riley Rocks - theaquarian.com
These fond remembrances are due to Rocks (Bear Family Records), a red hot retrospective of Riley’s primal, earthy, roots-rockabilly (35 tracks!) that makes a strong argument for his inclusion into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. With great liner notes by Bill Dahl, beautifully-packaged booklet, and remastered sound, Rocks rocks. Highlights include “Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash,” “Arkansas Traveler,” “Flip Flop & Fly,” “Barefootin’,” “Everybody’s Twisting,” “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Catfish,” “Mean Woman Blues,” “Nightmare Mash,” “The Little Green Men,” and a few versions of “Flying Rock ‘n’ Roll,” plus “Red Hot.”
“My gal is red hot,” he once snarled, “your gal ain’t doodly-squat.”
Press Archive - Billy Lee Riley - Billy Lee Riley Rocks - now dig this
The tracks underline his great versatility and range. He had many different voices and even man-ages to sound like Joe Turner on a powerful rendition of 'Flip Flop And Fly'. The covers of other familiar titles, 'Barefootin" (previously unreleased), 'Teenage Letter', 'Mean Woman Blues' and 'Searchin", are equally solid. The jazzy 'Arkansas Traveller', more basic 'Long Gone', strolling 'Catfish' and bluesy 'Shimmy, Shimmy Walk' are purely instrumental and merit their place in the set. 'Rockin' On The Moon' and 'The Little Green Men' are close cousins to 'Flyin' Saucer Rock & Roll' and the bluesy version of 'Red Hot' with harmonica is nice enough in its own right. 'The Way It Was Back Then', from 1994, is a rock n roll history lesson underpinned by a Bo Diddley beat. 'I've Been Searching' and 'Is That All To The Ball (Mr. Hall)' are both decent, brassy rockers. 'Open The Door Rich-ard', 'Everybody's Twisting', the silly 'Nightmare Mash' and odd 'Speed Lovers' are not in the same class as the others. It's always a pleasure to review a Bear Family CD as they invariably go the extra mile.
The digipak comes with a superb 40-page illustrated booklet with authoritative liner notes by Bill Dahl and discography by Colin Escott, Bill Millar and Nico Feuer-bach. I would urge anyone out there lacking a Billy Lee Riley CD to snap this one up pronto. Harry Dodds