Bluelight Rockabillies, The 6 Disc Collection
Bluelight Records

  

When The Fins Invaded Tennessee

Back in 2000, I was scheduled to do a few sets at the 1st annual Rockabilly Hall of Fame Festival in Jackson, TN. Despite the name, it was a pretty rag tag operation. There were a lot of well-known acts from around the globe (The Comets, The Crickets, Marco DiMaggio, Brigitte Handley, Barbara Pittman, Eddie Bond, Mack Self, Paul Burlison, Marty Stewart, etc.) but the organization left something to be desired. But it was the first…so a few bugs in the oil were to be expected.

I had been hired by my friend Billy Poore (singer, songwriter, producer, publisher, author, etc.) to back him and LesLee “Bird” Anderson. The rest of the band was to be fleshed out by the members of a band from Helsinki, Finland called RED HOT. As Billy’s typical bad luck would have it, his house burned to the ground just weeks before the festival and he had to cancel. This left me having to take over as ‘the guy in charge’ of these particular sets. Luckily, I’d worked with “Bird” before so I figured that as long as these cats from Finland could follow my guitar work, we’d be A-OK.

The day that we were to rehearse, I got up early and went for a walk in the cool, damp, spring Tennessee morning air. While on my walk, I ran into the lads from RED HOT, purchasing 4 cases of beer. I thought to myself “Well, at least they’re prepared”. At around noon, “Bird” and I went to their hotel room to rehearse and lo and behold, they were just coming back from another beer run! 4 more cases! As it turns out, they weren’t overly impressed with American beer (few beer lovers ever are).

I have to say that I was more than impressed with their playing! These boys played rockabilly and rock and roll with the best! As Billy Poore had canceled, his daughter Stacy stepped up to fill her daddy’s shoes. This meant learning a handful of new songs. I’ve always been a quick study but these Fins caught on even quicker! At one point, my little Danelectro practice amp started to buzz and make some noises. RED HOT’s lead guitarist, Tomi Lyijynen, laughed and had me plug into his little Fender practice amp. In near perfect English, he jokingly admonished me with these words: “In Fender we trust!” This was the beginning of a long friendship.

The festival went well. RED HOT did a few sets of their own and everyone in attendance loved them. From Jackson, they headed west to Las Vegas to play at VLV. From what I understand, they did well there too.

At this point, they had an self-released EP out called “Almost Live” but were in the process of signing with a Finnish label called Bluelight Records. I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of it. I was familiar with a number of the European labels, most notably Charly, White Label, Sunjay and Goofin. I also have to admit that I was amazed that the folks in Finland even knew what the heck ‘rockabilly’ music was! My own mental image of Finland was this: flat, cold and desolate. I’d always pictured folks bundled up in sweaters and heavy coats eating fish, drinking vodka and trying to redesign the fork. Perhaps I was confusing Finland with it’s neighbor, Sweden. Anyhoo, the boys from RED HOT (Tomi, Lasse, the unfortunately named Pekka, and Paul {aka Smiley})were all serious fans of Robert Gordon and my late friend Danny Gatton. They were such big fans that they modeled their sound after their idols. Any guitarist will tell you that copying Gatton’s licks is a major feat. He was just simply amazing. When I took over his spot behind LesLee “Bird” Anderson, I didn’t even try to copy his licks. I just played my take on the essence of the songs and let it be at that. Upon first listen to RED HOT’s EP, I realized that these guys, especially their lead guitarist Tomi, had Danny’s guitar licks down to a science! Lead singer Paul “Smiley” Kallonen’s voice is similar to Robert Gordon’s in timbre and range. Danny Gatton himself would have been thrilled to work with the rhythm section of Pekka Seppala (drums) and Lasse Sirkko (bass). These are truly an impressive bunch of musicians. In what may sound like a somewhat nationalistic statement, they play American rock & roll better than most Americans!

Later on that year, the boys released a full length CD (“Usual Thing”) on Bluelight Records. I was starting to hear more and more about this label…and what I was hearing was good! A year later, I would find myself in the UK and a DJ friend of mine played me tracks by bands such as Whistle Bait and Hal Peters. I was starting to learn that Fins love rockabilly and R&R AND they can play it well…and without sounding like a museum piece! They play it with all of the energy and intensity of my fellow countrymen (and the Aussies…who are the only others I’ve come across to play it like they mean it).

The Dawn of Bluelight

Bluelight Records, as it turns out, is the labor of love of one Mr. Mika Myyrylainen. In 1984, while still in school, Mika released a single by a local rockabilly band called The Crackerjacks on his own little Abyss record label. After the success of this and another release, Mika decided to found a “real” record company and started up Bluelight Records. The initial releases were pressed on blue vinyl to make for an eye catching first impression. This, as well as his impeccable ear for American-style roots music, has led to 27 years of releasing records, CDs, etc.

In it’s quarter century plus history, Bluelight has had releases in a number of different styles/genres. Everything from rockabilly to rock & roll to blues to hillbilly/country/western wing to, yes…even heavy metal and prog rock (on a subsidiary called Blastic Heaven). However, the heart and soul of Bluelight has always been and remains rockabilly. In this, they are second to none.

While we’ve yet to meet face to face, I’ve become acquainted with Mika through our mutual friend Hayden Thompson (who I’m sure you all are already familiar with). Mika has produced two fantastic releases by Hayden. Hayden himself considers them no less than the pinnacle of his career to date! Aside from these two amazing discs, Mika has recently released a new disc by Mac Curtis and if memory serves, also re-released Billy Hancock’s classic 70s/80s rockabilly tracks. Mika has been kind enough to send me advance copies of Bluelight’s releases in the past 12 months, including “Dancing Like A Hurricane” by The Slippers…which if you don’t already have this disc, ORDER IT NOW! I’ve listened to it so many times now that I may actually be wearing it out! (Yes…I really like it THAT much!)

Bluelight Rockabillies: The 6 Disc Collection-An Overview

Bluelight has just released what may well be the definitive collection of Finnish rockabilly/rock & roll. Like I stated before, prior to this century, I had no idea such a critter even existed…but much to my pleasant surprise it does! And it ROCKS!!!!!!

“Bluelight Rockabillies” is a 6 volume set comprising 168 tracks by 80 different acts. A number of these tracks are previously unreleased…although just WHY they were never released is beyond me! There ain’t a dog in the bunch! And don’t think for a minute that all you’re gonna get is a rehash of old rockabilly standards with a foreign accent! No sir! This is all the real deal…the genuine article! Every song is sung in English…and while the Finnish accent slips in here and there, it certainly doesn’t detract from the song. In some cases, I think it may actually improve upon it. It shows just how truly global this music is. Sure, there are some predictable covers…but they’re not played in a predictable fashion. The Fins obviously love this music as their own and as such, they play it with a ferocity unlike anything else in Europe. I’ve heard countless British/European bands that treat the music like a religious icon…they learn every note…but don’t have the feel. (that said…there ARE some British/European bands that can do it well).

The bulk of these tracks are original. When I first met my friends from the band RED HOT, I was amazed at how well they wrote in a second language. It seems to be a cultural phenomenon among the Fins. They seem to feel that this type of music should be sung in English…and that’s fine and dandy with me! It makes it that much more palatable to an aging dog like me.

When I gave Volume 1 it’s initial spin, I had planned to write a review. But after listening to all 6 volumes all week long (over and over and over) I decided this should be approached in a different way. 168 songs is a LOT to cover, even for a long-winded S.O.B. like yours truly. So let me try to give you the gist: This collection, regardless of which disc you’re listening to, has pretty much something for everyone! First off, the Fins, in my honest opinion, are tone junkies! There’s no slap-dash recordings here. These cats (and kittens) take the time to sound expertly good but without losing the energy. Maybe its those long Finnish winters, spent wood-shedding and learning how not only to play better than everyone else but how to sound better than everyone else. These tracks all sound like they were recorded in superior studios and released by a major label. They’re slick…but not in that modern “every track sounds the same” kinda way. Each track seems to stand out on it’s own.

Whether it be the Robert Gordon-esque stylings of my friends RED HOT, to the ‘dang you’d think they were from Texas!’ Western Swing of Hal Peters and His String Dusters to the hardcore rockabilly of The Trainrobbers, you’re gonna find track after track of songs you’re gonna love! The influences are clear: rockabilly, country, rock & roll, blues…from SUN Records to The Teddy Boys to The Stray Cats and beyond. But none of these sound like copy cats, posers, or wannabes. I’ve said it before; what you’re getting with this collection is the real deal! Yes, 6 discs is a lot…but if you asked me which volume I’d choose if I had to choose just one, I wouldn’t know where to start. The whole collection is just THAT GOOD! This would be the ideal bunch of CDs for a party. Just put all of them in the player and let er rip! No need to even put it on shuffle! Just start with Volume One, Track One and let it play all the way through Volume Six, Track Twenty Eight! And when you hear the final strains of Rock-Ola’s version of “They Remind Me Too Much of You”…start back at the beginning and bop til ya drop!

What are you waiting for? GO GET IT!!!!!!!!!!
As usual, if ya can’t be good…be good at it!
BOP!

Memphis Mike, 2011
(musician, songwriter, freelance journalist, raconteur, man-about-town)

Tracklisting:

DISC 1: 01. Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers: Rubberneckin'* 02. Whistle
Bait: Everlovin' Man 03. Bone Fed Dogs: Long Black Train 04.
Nightriders: Blue Ribbon Baby** 05. The Dell-Tones: Strangers When We
Meet* 06. Hal Peters And His String Dusters: Careless Words 07.
Rock-Ola With The Butterfingers: I'm Ready 08. Bellshots: Drownin'
All My Sorrows* 09. Boppin' Pete 3: Jelly Bean* 10. The Slippers:
Cat Talkin' 11. The Crackerjacks: Where The Rio De Rosa Flows* 12.
Less Misfits: Joanne** 13. Eero Raittinen And The Noisy Kinda Men:
Carol 14. Francine: She's Dynamite 15. Stringbeans: Hold Me Baby
16. Red Hot: Baby Goodbye 17. Whistle Bait: She Loved Everybody But
Me** 18. The Fleabrain: Don't Talk Me No More** 19. Jussi Syren
Rockabilly Revival: One Step Ahead Of Trouble 20. Rock-Ola: Big Fool
21. Keystone Cops: If You Can't Set My Heart 22. Aikka Hakala: His
Latest Flame* 23. Less Misfits: Life's Fine* 24. The Rock 'n' Roll
Group: Rock The Joint** 25. Rollovers: Cradle Of Love 26. Francine:
Annie 27. Whistle Bait: Girl Next Door 28. Rock-Ola & The
Freewheelers: Remember Me

DISC 2: 01. Miki Lamarr: I'm Ready* 02. Red Hot: Cruel Loving 03.
Whistle Bait: Honey You're Mine 04. The Fleabrain: Mystery Train**
05. Nightriders: Living High** 06. Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers:
Cryin' Over You 07. Whistle Bait: Another Lazy Sunday 08. Bone Fed
Dogs: Private Emotion* 09. The Butterfingers: Stand On That Rock**
10. Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival: Rockin' Rollin' Stone 11.
Nightriders: Make Up Your Mind Baby** 12. Eero Raittinen And The
Noisy Kinda Men: Just Because 13. The Crackerjacks: She's My Baby
Doll* 14. Francine: That Little One 15. Stringbeans: City Girl* 16.
Rollovers: High Heeled 17. Knucklebone Oscar: Rockabilly Messiah 18.
Less Misfits: The End Is Coming Soon 19. Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers:
Samantha 20. Aikka Hakala: Four Strong Winds* 21. Less Misfits: I
Don't Know* 22. Bellshots: Do What I Do* 23. The Slippers: Wee
Willie Brown** 24. The Crackerjacks: Rock 'n' Roll Boogie** 25. The
Trainrobbers: Pink And Black* 26. Whistle Bait: Fragile Handle With
Care 27. Hal Peters And His String Dusters: Ciggarettes Jukebox And A
Bar Room 28. Rock-Ola: Bless My Broken Heart

DISC 3: 01. Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival: Sharp Dressed Stranger 02.
Rock-Ola: Crazy Blues 03. Red Hot: I Still Miss Someone 04. Miki
Lamarr: Stay Love* 05. Whistle Bait: Love Her Madly 06. Honey B &
T-Bones: I Could Love You If You Let Me 07. Eero Raittinen And The
Noisy Kinda Men: Move It 08. Francine: What A Beautiful Day 09. Less
Misfits: Fool Without A Shame 10. Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers: I Feel
So Bad 11. The Crackerjacks: Hey Mama Keep Your Big Mouth Shut* 12.
Mr. Breathless: Baby I Don't Care 13. Rock-Ola With The
Butterfingers: One Night 14. Whistle Bait: I'll Try 15. Aikka
Hakala: Green Back Dollar* 16. The Butterfingers: Ain't Gonna Rock
Tonight** 17. The Trainrobbers: All The Time* 18. Frantic Four: I
Sure Do Love You Baby* 19. Stringbeans: No One Like Joanne* 20.
Rollovers: I Don't Care What It Is That You Did When You Lived In Fort
Worth 21. Whistle Bait: How Long Is Forever 22. Rock-Ola: You've Got
Me 23. The Trainrobbers: Bottle To The Baby* 24. Hal Peters And His
String Dusters: If I Don't Love You (Grits Ain't Groceries) 25.
Bellshots: Feel Like We Used To Do* 26. Goofy & The Gamblers: Hot
Rockin' Man 27. The Rock Therapy: So Fine Baby* 28. Nightriders:
Bless My Broken Heart**

DISC 4: 01. Whistle Bait: Secret Agent Man 02. The Dell-Tones:
Drowning All My Sorrows* 03. Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival: Last
Train To Clarksville 04. Rock-Ola: Perfect World 05. Bone Fed Dogs:
Wondrous Place 06. Less Misfits: Guide Me* 07. Francine: Tell Me Why
08. Stringbeans: Lost In The City 09. Aikka Hakala Beaverhunters:
Please Don't Touch 10. Eero Raittinen And The Noisy Kinda Men: My
Baby Left Me 11. Mr. Breathless: I Don't Wanna Be Tied 12. Whistle
Bait: Crazy Street* 13. Red Hot: I Wanna Hear It From You 14.
Bellshots: Goodbye Lonesome Hello Baby Doll** 15. Hal Peters And His
String Dusters: Late For Lovin' 16. Whistle Bait: Pay Me Attention
17. Rollovers: Love Me Forever 18. Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers: Two
Faces 19. Stringbeans: Burnt Down Place From The Past* 20. Less
Misfits: Please Mr. Judge 21. Nightriders: It's Late** 22. Teddy
Guitar & The Freewheelers: Great Balls Of Fire* 23. The Fleabrain:
Milk Shake Mademoiselle 24. Rock-Ola With The Butterfingers: Woman
Love 25. Whistle Bait: Rock Lomond 26. Nightriders: Rebound 27. The
Rock 'n' Roll Group: Walking My Baby Back Home** 28. Rock-Ola: The
Way You Look Tonight

DISC 5: 01. Bone Fed Dogs: You Can Do No Wrong 02. The Slippers:
Hurricane* 03. Rock-Ola & The Freewheelers: Lovers Jamboree 04.
Whistle Bait: Four Aces And A Joker 05. The Butterfingers: That's The
Way I Feel 06. Teddy Guitar & Rock-Ola: Pretty Little Devil 07.
Nightriders: Jealous Fool** 08. Bellshots: I Sure Do Love You Baby*
09. Boppin' Pete 3: Teenage Letter* 10. Rock-Ola The Freewheelers:
Drivin' Wheel 11. Eero Raittinen And The Noisy Kinda Men: Rebound
12. Francine: Take Me Back 13. Stringbeans: Blow My Mind* 14. Less
Misfits: Inside Your Heart* 15. Red Hot: I Wish She Was You 16. Bad
Sign: Mystery Train 17. Whistle Bait: Long Lonely Highway 18. Erja
Lyytinen With Dave's Special: Jumpin' From Six To Six 19.
Nightriders: The Road Keeps Winding** 20. Jussi Syren And The
Groundbreakers: Restless 21. Hal Peters And His String Dusters:
Mister Whizz** 22. The Crackerjacks: My Baby Don't Go Ballin'* 23.
Frantic Four: I Can't Help It* 24. The Rock 'n' Roll Group: Ain't She
Sweet** 25. The Crackerjacks: Brand New Cadillac** 26. Goofy & The
Gamblers: I Know 27. Whistle Bait: Poon Tang 28. The Fleabrain: New
Love**

DISC 6: 01. Red Hot: Next Milestone 02. Whistle Bait: Understand Your
Man 03. Eero Raittinen And The Noisy Kinda Men: You Never Can Tell
04. Rock-Ola: Look Out For Annie 05. Rollovers: More Than Ever 06.
Less Misfits: Look Who's Turn It's Now* 07. Nightriders: My Search**
08. Hakala Aikka: Rambling Man* 09. Bellshots: Sittin' Alone* 10.
Hal Peters And His String Dusters: Play The Music Louder 11. The
Dell-Tones: Your True Love* 12. The Trainrobbers: Sweet Love On My
Mind* 13. Jussi Syren Rockabilly Revival: Tennessee Rock 'n' Roll
14. Whistle Bait: When The Time Stops 15. Mr. Breathless: Something's
Gonna Happen 16. The Federators: Gunnin' For The Dog* 17. Rock-Ola &
The Freewheelers: Mean Eyed Cat 18. Francine: Goodbye Forever 19.
Stringbeans: Evil Hearted Ada 20. The Crackerjacks: Worried About You
Baby** 21. The Rock Therapy: Your Baby Blue Eyes* 22. Frantic Four:
I'm Left You're Right She's Gone* 23. The Atomizers: Crawlin' Up*
24. The Trainrobbers: Slow Down* 25. The Fleabrain: Trying To Get To
You** 26. The Rock 'n' Roll Group: Little Queenie** 27. Whistle
Bait: Girl Of My Dreams* 28. Rock-Ola: They Remind Me Too Much Of You



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