|Rock, Bop, Folk, and Pop - Alan Leatherwood
Ohio Moon, CD790
Alan Leatherwood was born as Alan Cassaro in Cleveland, Ohio in 1944, and was raised as the son of a career army officer. He lived through out most of the United States and Europe during the late forties and early fifties. Alan first became interested in singing when he was pretty young. He was living in Lawton Oklahoma during 1954 and attending Woodrow Wilson elementary school. Alan's music teacher was so impressed with his singing, that she invited him to sing a solo during a farewell tribute concert to country singer Hank Williams, who had recently died. Alan received high praises for his heart felt performance of "Kawliga", one of Hank's current hits at the time of his death.
Alan has been performing and recording since 1959 under various stage names. For his first record release in 1962 on the Mahalo Label, he was known as "Lane Cassaro" (1961-1963). He used his real name for two releases on the Integrity label (1963-1964), and one national release on Old Town Records out of New York City (1965), although Old Town misspelled his name on the record (as "Alan Cassero"). However, "Leatherwood" has been his primary performing name since late 1965, a stage name created by Alan's best friend and co-producer during the sixties, Bob Scherl.
Alan is also the editor of Gone Retro Magazine and has written a number of articles for music fanzines and underground mags over the years. But primarily, Alan is a rockabilly and folk musician, and he's been doing if for more years than he really wants to remember, he says.
And now finally, after being in the business for over 45 years, Alan has released his very first full length CD on his own Ohio Moon label. It's titled "Rock, Bop, Folk, And Pop VOLUME 1". Which of course is a direct promise that there will be a VOLUME 2 sometime in the (near) future.
The album is built around the classic folk song written by the late Jane Bowers in 1954 "Remember The Alamo", and it contains both a tribute version of the song (with special lyrics by Alan) as well as the original version. "Rockin' Little baby" is one of Alan's self-penned rockers, fifties style and with a boppin' beat. Featuring on lead guitar on this and many other songs is my good friend Mike Metzger, a.k.a. Memphis Mike of the Legendary Tremblers. And of course we already know what this man can do with a lead guitar.
Whenever I see "School of Rock 'n' Roll" on a tracklisting I get curious, because this Gene Summers original has been a long time favourite of mine. Alan does a pretty neat job, and Mike changed to the double bass on this track, which'll surely rock your socks off. "Come Back Buddy" is Alan's tribute to Buddy Holly, while the sensitive "I Remember Baby Blue" brings out the best of Alan's beautiful dark voice. Don't mistake "Jesus On The Line" for a gospel song, because it's an authentic hard knocking rockabilly track, with words like "I Said Jesus, I Love Rock 'n' Roll" echoing through the speakers, along with Mike's scorching guitar licks.
Another one of Alan's own gems is "Rockabilly Angels", this time with Paul Penfield on guitar. Apart from plenty of Leatherwood originals, the tracklisting is varied with a selection of covers like "Little Boy Sad" (Wayne Walker), "Bertha Lou" (Johnny Fair), a marvelous "Flaming Star" (Elvis Presley), "Go On Home" (Sanford Clark), "You're The One" (Buddy Holly) and a darkened "The Ways of a Woman in Love" (Johnny Cash), again with the licks of Memphis Mike.
This album brings a lot of variety, ranging from ballads to folk songs to rockabilly to down to earth rock 'n' roll. Sound samples of all songs are available from Alan's website!
Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2004