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Janis Martin

The Blanco Sessions – 2012 (Cow Island)

Reviewed by Michael Verity

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CDs by Janis Martin

Janis Martin's set of 11 rockabilly tunes, "The Blanco Sessions," finds itself in the record bins due largely to the tireless work of singer Rosie Flores. It was Flores who met Martin in 1994, enlisted her to sing on her "Rockabilly Filly" album the following year and inspired Martin to record this set over 2 days in 2007 at Dennis Challman's Rancho Relaxo studio in Blanco, Texas.

It's also Flores who's responsible for the album's release, having taken on the task after Martin's death from cancer just months after the sessions were completed. It's certainly a document of which Flores and fellow producer Bobby Trimble can be proud. Martin, who was known in the 60's as The Female Elvis, mines the vaults of rock and roll for just the right cuts and delivers them with just the right blend of feminine insight and masculine swagger.

Ruth Brown's 1955 hit, As Long As I'm Movin' is full of southbound shimmy (and one badass solo by piano banger T. Jarrod Banta), Dave Alvin's Long White Cadillac rolls like the car of which is speaks and her duet with Flores on Wild One (Real Wild One) is as strong as Johnny O'Keefe's original (or any of the covers that have come since, for that matter). The remarkable strength of Martin's voice is best served on the one ballad, her stunning version of Don Gibson's Sweet Dreams.

While "The Blanco Sessions" lacks the innovative energy of Martin's old records - or the punky edge of Wanda Jackson's sessions with Jack White - it's an admirable record, a fun listen and a worthy testimony to a talented singer.