Narvel Felts At Rollin' Rock - (Goofin' Records Grcd 6097)

Narvel Felts

By Adriaan Sturm

The very first time Narvel Felts met Ronny Weiser of Rollin' Rock records was back in 1976, after a performance by Narvel at the Hollywood Bowl. Narvel's recording of the Jackie Wilson classic "Lonely Tear Drops" was high on the charts and Ronny's enthusiasm about a Fifties song being near the top of the charts made quite an impression on Narvel. It would take more than 20 years for the two to meet again. In the early Eighties the hits ran out and Narvel Felts found himself back on the old club circuit he had been touring since the Fifties.

Recording sessions were few and far between, but in 1989, while working on "Portrait Of My Life," a history in song of his musical career, he wrote and recorded a song which eventually would bring him back together with Ronny Weiser. "Pink and Black Days," released on a CD in Norway in the early Nineties and later on a Various Artists CD by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame, caught the ear of rockabilly fans around the world and soon Narvel found himself receiving phone calls and letters from Ronny Weiser asking him to record for his Rollin' Rock label. Narvel had just lost his son in a car accident and recording was about the last thing on his mind. However, the letters kept coming and eventually Narvel gave in and in August 1998, he made the trip to the Rollin Rock Studio in Las Vegas.

Narvel Felts at Rollin' Rock consists of a mixture of frantic rockers, mid-tempo swingers and slow. R&B-style ballads. "If I Didn't Have You," "Lonely Hours," "Jealousy" and "Convicted" are ballads in the typical Felts style, showcasing his tremendous vocal range. The rockers include a wild version of Conway Twitty's "Shake It Up," his own "Tally Ho," Larry Donn's "Honey Bun" and Ronnie Dove's "Lover Boy."

If you expect to hear the authentic Sun Records sound on Slim Rhodes' "Do What I Do," you are in for a pleasant surprise. Instead of copying the almost acoustic feel of Rhodes' Sun release, Ronny and Narvel opted for a refreshing rock and roll treatment of the Sun classic. For a complete throwback to Sun Records, try "Rollin' Out Of Memphis," which runs for almost four minutes, features a solid slapping bass, great picking and includes some of the best "wails" since Elvis recorded "Mystery Train" for Sam Phillips.

The overall production is typical Rollin' Rock, with shades of Ray Campi showing through, even though Ray is not on these recordings. On several tracks, an additional piano would have been nice, especially on "If That Ain't Music," co-written by Narvel's wife Loretta, where the lyrics simply cry out for the ivories: "To hear a walking bass and a set of drums \ then the rhythm begins to strum \ add a pumpin' piano and a lead guitar \ bring on the singer and there you are \ if that ain't music..."

During his long career, Narvel has recorded in a variety of studios, from radio stations in the Fifties to the top studios in Nashville and Muscle Shoals during his hit streak in the Seventies. Along the line, he never forgot his roots and Narvel Felts at Rollin' Rock proves he can still rock with the best of them. Let's "Shake It Up" and "Roll Out of Memphis" one more time!

This CD was released on the Finnish label Goofin' Records but is available from CD stores like Amazon.com and CDNow.com on the Internet.

Adriaan Sturm EMail : Zeeuw@aol.com Web Site : http://members.aol.com/Zeeuw/Rockville.htm