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The Teen Kings

Lost & Found: The Unreleased 1956 Recordings – 2001 (Fuel 2000)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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A popular myth concerning Roy Orbison is that the great '60's drama-rocker was an unconvincing '50's rockabilly. Making their domestic debut, these live performances, first broadcast over KOSA-TV in Odessa, Texas, disproves that assumption.

Orbison made his initial impact playing lead guitar and singing with the Teen Kings, a boppin' quartet featuring Billy Pat Ellis on drums, James Morrow on electric mandolin and acoustic guitar, and Jack Kennelly on stand-up bass. Raw and high-spirited, this tight group's spontaneous asides and on-stage intensity were never quite captured on their Sun recordings. When the songs suited their style, Orbison and crew could really kick ass. Blasting through Sun staples "Ooby Dooby," "Go! Go! Go!" and "Rockhouse," along with covers of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," and "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," it is clear the band modeled their sound upon Elvis Presley's work with Scotty Moore and Bill Black. By contrast, the milder "Trying To Get To You" and "All By Myself," allows Orbison to assert his distinctive trembling tenor.

Instrumentally "St. Louis Blues," "TK Blues," and "Racker Tacker" showcase Orbison's snarling guitar attack to great effect. Ellis' bolero beat on "Pretend" provides a glimpse of the tension building technique his boss would later employ on '60's hits "Running Scared" and "Crying."

Nicely remastered, this historically important 17-track compilation also boasts Mick Perry's brilliantly researched booklet notes and 38-minute reminiscence with the band's surviving members. (Fuel 2000 Records)