Gals of the Big D Jamboree (Dragon Street)
Girls of the Big D Jamboree (Dragon Street)
Reviewed by Jerry Renshaw, Fri., May 25, 2001
Gals of the Big D Jamboree
(Dragon Street)It's no surprise that the liner notes to Gals of the Big D Jamboree were written by Dallas rockabilly kitten Kim Lenz; it's easy to hear the influence of these women on latter-day rockin' gals. Back in the Fifties, the Big D Jamboree at Dallas' Sportatorium, a wrestling venue on other nights, was quite the scene for seminal rockabilly and honky-tonk acts of the day. The Big D's female practitioners of the style were heading in a slightly different direction from their contemporaries, more aggressive and more overtly sexual by far. The 29 songs on this collection are a little uneven, but exhaustively documented with a 21-page booklet. Corsicana native Helen Hall's songs point out the cross-pollination between rockabilly and country; the disc's first five selections are drawling honky-tonk from Hall, while the final four are primitive-sounding rockabilly demos. Other highlights include Charline Arthur (who performed in slacks, scandalously enough), with "Welcome to the Club," Janis Martin's live "Cracker Jack," and Ramona Reed's amazing "If I Could Only Learn to Yodel." Since several cuts are radio transcriptions and some songs date back to 1950 or so, sound quality varies considerably; by the same token, the 29 songs cover a lot of ground stylistically as the music evolved. Sherri Davis, a cute brunette, toured with Elvis and Buddy Holly (a version of "Broken Promises" actually features Holly), and in later years went on to stints with the Light Crust Doughboys, Esquivel, and Lawrence Welk. Her versions of "Bop City" and "Just a Little Bit" are definite standouts. Some of the songs on Gals of the Big D Jamboree are undistinguished honky-tonk weepers, some are novelty numbers, and some are just plain forgettable. However, some also flat-out rock, and that's where the payoff lies.