Colin Escott, 'Rockbilly Boogie' (Bear Family), 2002
IT'S STRANGE, THE TRICKS that history plays. Johnny Burnette, now dead almost forty years, would never have guessed that his legendary status would not be rooted in the handful of hits he scored in the early '60s, not even in the songs he crafted for Ricky Nelson, but for three groups of sessions he cut in 1956 and 1957. Those sessions resulted in no hits, yet generation after generation turns to them in search of rockabilly's primal yawp. The scorching vocals, stunning lead guitar, even the youthful infighting and jealousies heralded the dawn of a new era. When musicologists deconstruct rockabilly and when revivalists reconstruct it, they're usually trying to unravel the magic of Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n' Roll Trio.
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