Billy Hancock – For Rockabilly Fans Only

January 01, 1970

(Turkey
Mountain)

 

www.billyhancock.com

 

In a world crowded by less self-important voices, Billy
Hancock might have been a nationally-known huckster; covering a much wider
range than the Chesapeake-centric grounds that have endured most of his
stompin’ ‘n’ gesticulatin’. Since he’s had to generate most of the excitement –
apart from that of appreciative locals, musicians, and European aficionados –
he hasn’t tended to venture very far afield. Unlike contemporary home boy Danny
Gatton, who loved the vintage echoes he lent to some of For Rockabilly Fans but who was capable of groundbreaking
roots/jazz fusions, Billy’s just built a shrine to the four-four. He’s never
had the dash of the swoon-inducing Tex Rubinowitz. And Evan Johns, whose stints
with Hancock and Gatton helped hone and widen his aim, is more versatile,
charismatic and restless; spitting out history-making rockabilly-based chaos before lending some fire to
the Leroi Brothers and Eugene Chadbourne and ultimately settling on the west coast,
from which he periodically issues more mature, subdued sounds.  

 

Billy’s carried on like a lifer carnie, continually
rephrasing his output in neon. Currently, these words blaze against the hot
pink background on his website: “6 BLISTERING HOT ROCKABILLY RECORDINGS FROM
THE LOST TAPES OF THE 1980 SESSIONS ON A NEW EXTENDED PLAY CD. NEVER RELEASED,
NEVER HEARD, ANYWHERE BEFORE!”

 

No arguments here. More than the same-old/same-old, For Rockabilly Fans, which is mostly
covers (which, in Billy’s case, begs rephrasing, to “lovingly and repeatedly
fondled renditions”), is seeded by the “same thing” that inspired Willie Dixon
(although the must-have “Same Thing” is by Muddy Waters). Hancock’s vocals
rival Robert Gordon’s for phrasing, nuance, and hormone-driven delivery. C’mon,
the guy’s studied this stuff: every hiccup, drop from shriek to baritone, and
pause has been deeply considered and practiced. The result? A-list mergings of
polish with genuine warmth. Only “Band Intro,” a brief misstep that excites
mostly with the inclusion of Gatton, is likely to thrill only
those-who-were-there. It’s Hancock as huckster – can’t have one without the
other. Also, his duet with Jon Carroll, a countrified waltz through Don
Everly’s “Maybe Tomorrow,” is overly peppered by audience noise. Nicely done,
it may lose the interest of insistent partiers.

 

Since sending this, Hancock’s listed another next-big-thing: The Birth of a Billy: The Billy Hancock Anthology (plus five bonus tracks). And a page on
his website trumpets, in bright blue: “THE AMERICAN MUSIC SHOW – Don’t Miss
Billy’s Newest Creation – Watch Billy’s new cable TV show on Arlington
Independent Media (AIM) channel 69… SOON TO BE AIRED IN FAIRFAX ON COX.”

 

Seems For Rockabilly
Fans
isn’t Billy’s only recent headline. It’s just one of several from a
man who should probably be listed as an additional force of nature. And, by the
way, did you get the message? DANNY GATTON’S ON A LOT OF THESE TRACKS! WHOO-EE,
THAT BOY COULD PLAY!

 

DOWNLOAD: “Baby,
Let’s Play House,”  “Buddy’s Song (slow),”
“Not Enough Rock n Roll” MARY LEARY

 

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