Various Artists – A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (review)

Various Artists – A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On (Fantastic Voyage) review

They ain’t fakin’

I haven’t had this much fun listening to an album in a long, long time.  We need more record companies like the London-based Fantastic Voyage.   They’ve consistently put out fun-themed collections for some time now.  Their latest is A Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, a double disc set containing 50 tracks from the late Fifties / early Sixties, and everyone of them featuring the word “shake” in the title.  Lovingly compiled by Stuart Colman, who also gives background on each track in the CD booklet.  What he’s put together is one helluva great party album. You might think the novelty factor of having every song about the same theme might grow tiresome.  Yet, here’s the thing – it’s cleverly sequenced so every once in awhile, you get a bona-fide smash like “Shake Rattle and Roll” by Big Joe Turner or Johnny Kidd and the Pirates’ original take on “Shakin’ All Over,” alongside completely obscure, but equally noteworthy tracks like “Shakin’ With a Flavor” by Eddy Seacrest or “Shake It Up and Move” by Darrell Felts.

The set covers a wide range of styles, yet somehow it all fits together – from early country / rockabilly hits by Conway Twitty (“Shake It Up”) and Johnny Paycheck (under the guise of Donny Young doing “Shakin’ the Blues”), to blues stalwarts Elmore James (“Shake Your Moneymaker”) and Howlin’ Wolf (“Shake For Me”) to R&B greats Roy Brown (“Hip-Shakin’ Baby”) and Wynonie Harris (“Shake That Thing”) to rock heavyweights like Elvis Presley (“All Shook Up”) and Jerry Lee Lewis (“Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’”).  There’s even some obscure tracks by well-known artists, like the Coasters (“Wake Me, Shake Me”) and Bill Haley & the Comets (“Shaky”).

This all adds up to one of the most enjoyable collections to come out in a long time.  It doesn’t matter if you’re not familiar with most of songs here (you’re not alone).  But, it’s such a great listen, you’ll want to hit the repeat button.  Here’s hoping these guys keep up the good work.  Highly recommended.  –Tony Peters