El Paso Rock, Volume 4: Thunder
El Paso Rock, Volume 5: The Troubled Streets
El Paso Rock, Volume 6: Black Out
El Paso Rock, Volume 7: Terry Manning and the Wild Ones
El Paso Rock, Volume 8: El Vampiro
El Paso Rock, Volume 9: Sand Surfin’
Brooklyn’s intrepid Norton label maps the lesser-traveled backloads of rock ’n’ roll history, unearthing a wide array of raw, primitive, and obscure sounds. An excellent example of Norton’s diligent documenting of forgotten regional scenes is the El Paso Rock series, which anthologizes the wild musical melting pot of that border town’s music scene in the late ’50s and ’60s. While earlier volumes focused on charismatic rocker Bobby Fuller and blues guitar dynamo Long John Hunter, recent installments spotlight a colorful assortment of lesser-known hometown heroes.
Volumes 4 and 5 (Thunder and The Troubled Streets) emphasize ’50s-vintage greaser rock ’n’ roll from the likes of Bob Taylor and the Counts, Johnny Garmon and the Shadows, and instrumental combo Night People, which checks in with two of history’s most blatant (and therefore greatest) Link Wray ripoffs. Volume 6: Black Out moves into the ’60s with a solid set of teen tunes that demonstrate the lingering influence of Buddy Holly and the pervasive appeal of surf-and-drag instrumentals. The surf motif gets more intense on Volume 8: El Vampiro, which collects infectious instro nuggets from the Monarcs, the Torquetts and Los Vampiranos; and on Volume 9: Sand Surfin’, which augments surf sounds from the Scavengers and the Beach Nuts with garage attitude from the Things and the Outer Limits.
The series’ nicest surprise, however, is Volume 7: Terry Manning and the Wild Ones, a casually inspired session by the teen combo cut as Manning’s family was preparing to move to Memphis (where he would carve out a celebrated production career). As with the entire series, the music’s unpretentious exuberance trumps technical concerns. — SCOTT SCHINDER