Most of this CD is taken up by a special Newport Jazz Festival concert featuring a big band full of Lionel Hampton's alumni. With trombonist Al Grey, Frank Foster on tenor and a screaming trumpet section that boasted Snooky Young, Jimmy Nottingham, Joe Newman and Wallace Davenport, the explosive nature of the music is not too surprising; the climax is provided by guest Illinois Jacquet on "Flying Home." The remainder of this disc contains half of a very effective 1956 session cut in Spain in which the medium-size group includes a castanet player and two songs match Hampton with the great Spanish pianist Tete Monteliu.
Of all the early rock & rollers, Fats Domino was the easiest to take for granted, since he made it all seem so easy. Even when it rocked hard, his music was so relaxed, so friendly that it sounded effortless and natural, which was part of the reason that his classic recordings for Imperial in the '50s were so consistently enjoyable. All the hits, many of their flips sides, and most of his album cuts were flat-out fun – maybe not as revolutionary as work by Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and the Everly Brothers, but his body of work for Imperial not only stands proudly next to theirs, but is just as influential. This much is clear after years of hindsight, but in the late '60s he was as passé as any of his peers, even if there were legions of new rockers, from the Beatles to Randy Newman, who were raised on his music.
Omnivore's 2013 double-disc set Buck Em! The Music of Buck Owens (1955-1967) provides an interesting spin on Buck Owens: through a collection of mono singles, live tracks, alternate takes, early 45s, and other rarities, it tells an alternate history of Buck's prime years. If there's a hit on this 50-track collection, it's almost always in a version that's slightly different than what usually shows up on a standard greatest-hits. "Second Fiddle," "Love's Gonna Live Here," "I Don't Care (Just as Long as You Love Me)," "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," and "Before You Go" are all in mono, there's an early version of "Ain't It Amazing Gracie," and "Act Naturally" is live, so they're familiar enough to not feel jarring and they do provide the core of a collection that winds up wandering into some pretty interesting territory.
This grainy live recording captures psychedelic wrecking crew Iron Butterfly in a particularly sharp club performance from early in their career. Still months away from the release of their 1968 debut Heavy, Live at the Galaxy captures the band in their earliest, roughest form, working out songs heavy on organ stabs and blues riffing. The bootleg quality of the album is on par with other obscure, audience-recorded artifacts of its era by psych bands like the Electric Prunes and others, but the band transcends the lo-fi cloudiness of the album with spirited jamming that all but wrote the acid rock rule book, especially on high points such as "Iron Butterfly Theme."