Anyone keeping up with Rock ‘n’ Roll, Rhythm ‘n’ Blues and Rockabilly issues on CDs over the last few years will be familiar with Koko Mojo and Atomicat. We have spent a lot of time over the last week sorting through our shelves of these great releases and got a message this morning that more are on the way so let’s take a little look at these sister labels.
The labels’ CDs are split roughly between Blues / Rhythm ‘n’ Blues on Koko Mojo and Rockabilly / Hillbilly on Atomicat and, of course, both include a whole lot of Rock ‘n’ Roll. These labels each have a complement of dedicated and hard-working compilers and, before you say it, we know it does not sound like work to compile a load of great music, but what you have to understand is they have to wade through a heck of a lot of trash to find the treasures.
Now they could just find a great track and think yep just slap that on a CD but instead, they sift through them to collect together tracks that have a connection for each release. The connection may be by region, by label, by song theme or style – it creates a coherent listening experience (Agh! We sound like prog-rockers but I hope you know what we mean.) Also, it ensures that tracks are not duplicated across the series. As you might expect after that much effort, the mastering is to the highest standards so that you hear the sound with all the depth and clarity you deserve and then they give up. No, hang on, they then ensure the packaging matches all the care given to the above with liner notes and illustrations. We’re going to run through a few highlights to give a hint of the riches contained on these CDs. Oh, and there are some vinyl issues as well.
The flagship of the Koko Mojo line is the amazing Southern Bred series. On each one of these, we are treated to 28 RnB, Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll tracks from a particular state or sometimes two states of the USA. The latest volume is number 23 and selects sounds from Tennessee and Arkansas. It is staggering to think how much wonderful music was recorded in the US during the period covered by the series. We are at the 23rd volume of a series each with 28 tracks on them and this one is as exciting as the first.
Atomicat does not have a huge project to match Southern Bred but instead has a flurry of fine shorter series covering, for instance, writers like Hank Williams or the Burnette Brothers, artist’s first issues, Hillbilly Bop collections and much more including collections for specific dance styles, Bop, Jive and here: Stroll. Now we know some people seem to take against ‘strollers’ but to us they are often thumpin’, threatenin’ mid-tempo Rock ‘n’ Roll. Just take a listen to the first track on this CD – Bob Vidone and The Rhythm Rockers’ Going My Way – that is just as wild and crazy as any 100 miles an hour ripper.
Amongst the subsets that Atomicat takes an interest in is the strange and mysterious species called women, or in Atomicat’s lexicon, Kittens. Yep, females recording Rock ‘n’ Roll. This four-issue series covers the breadth of Rock ‘n’ Roll style from Hillbilly through to Rhythm n Blues and shows that they can rock with the best of the boys.
Speaking of women, we come to Sadie’s Gentlemen’s Club. A house of sin that is awash with the sounds of Popcorn, Exotica and other hip-shaking music. This is downbeat, throbbin’ rhythmic music that bypasses the higher function and aims straight for the …. gut. The first couple of CDs are already out and more are to follow.
Going back to the earlier releases on Koko Mojo we have a series with titles such as Fool Mule, Sleepwalkin’ Woman, Feelin’ Good, Do It Right and this one Wolf Pack – a crazed collection of tough blowin’ harmonica jam Blues howlin’ and jump.
70 Years Of The Sun Sound Vol 1 – Atomicat – and Vol 2 – Koko Mojo
Rounding up this dip into Koko Mojo and Atomicat land we have this crossover series covering the stupendous Sun Records company, the most important record label in the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll and maybe simply in history full stop. As you may expect the labels split the output of the label between the RnB and Rockabilly incarnations of Sun and they cover the well known and the more obscure artists in both genres as a salute to Sam Phillips to celebrate 70 years since the dawn of Sun.
This really is a scratch at the surface of these labels. We urge you to visit our shop and search for Koko Mojo and Atomicat and spend some time giving the work that goes into these compilations the attention it deserves.