Sheffield, Stepney, and Brighton might not exactly top Memphis on the list of towns most likely to have produced fire-breathing '50s rock & roll rebels, but as this collection makes clear, there were almost as many rockabilly cats prowling around Old Blighty in rock's early days as there were in the U.S. This compilation of British rock & roll rarities comes from a somewhat surprising source -- Nick Saloman, frontman for U.K. neo-psychedelic outfit Bevis Frond, who up to now has been known for putting together anthologies of obscure psych and prog tracks. But Saloman, like so many other British rockers, recognizes these Limey rock rebels as part of his musical heritage.
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat -- there's nothing on Everybody Jive that comes anywhere near the work of American rockabilly kings like Carl Perkins and Gene Vincent, but that statement also holds true for 99-percent of the '50s rock rarities collections that come out of the U.S. It's important to remember that in addition to the aforementioned rock & roll kingpins, the bands who would become part of the British Invasion absorbed the work of pompadoured countrymen like Vince Taylor and Duffy Power, who are among the best-known names featured here. Among the more esoteric artists are Don Lang & His Frantic Five, who deliver the U.K. equivalent of Billy Lee Riley's "Flyin' Saucers Rock & Roll," and Tommy Bruce & the Bruisers, whose leader comes off like a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and Screamin' Jay Hawkins with "I'm on Fire." The sound achieved by most of the acts here is more polite than that of their Yank counterparts -- particularly the almost comically mild-mannered title track -- but as a rarely revealed slice of rock history and the source of a few genuine left-field gems, this collection makes for a fascinating journey.