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Gene O'Quin

Boogie Woogie Fever – 2000 (Bear Family (German import))

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Gene O'Quin

Although the Texas-born Gene O'Quin (1932-1978) has long been a cult favorite in some circles, his music has only been reissued in dribs and drabs on compilations until now.

And that's a real shame. Though O'Quin has long been considered an obscureand minor figure, this turns out to be a long-overdue look at his career, revealing O'Quin as having been decades ahead of his time in some respects; a stylistic ancestor of both Wayne Hancock and Johnny Dilks (whose vocal styles are nearly indistinguishable from O'Quin's at times) and comparable in many ways to fellow '50's Capitol artist Tommy Collins, who supplies 3 songs here. In addition, Capitol's crack studio band of the era - including guitarist Jimmy Bryant and steel player Speedy West - provide their usual flash to the proceedings. O'Quin emerges as a considerably more versatile vocalist than previously given credit for. In particular, a 1955 session for the Intro label finds O'Quin tackling Frankie Laine's 1947 hit "That's My Desire," with excellent results, as well as an astonishing rendition of Leon Rene's obscure R&B number, "Convicted." Also check out "The Pinball Millionaire," "Texas Boogie," and "I Specialize in Love" for textbook examples of the pre-rock 'n' roll Capitol sound at its best.

Though not a complete collection of O'Quin's Capitol recordings, this remains an essential purchase for fans of west coast hillbilly music of the '50's.