Review: Marti Brom, Not For Nothin; and Ella Mae Morse, Rocks

Marti Brom
Not For Nothin
[Goofin’/Ripsaw Records (2010)]

Marti Brom’s latest album is meant as a tribute to the musical legacy of DC. Those familiar with the area will be aware that the Washington area, which encompasses Maryland and Virginia, has long had a strong roots music scene, and Brom is one of its luminaries. Brom, who’s a master of an array of styles, including rockabilly, country, Western swing, and blues, did include several songs on the album that don’t have an obvious DC area connection: Wynona Carr’s “Finders Keepers”; Nat Stuckey’s “Sweet Thang,” a duet with Bill Kirchen that follows in the tradition of the Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn recording; and “A Fool Such As I,” a hit for Hank Snow. The album ends with a fabulous instrumental by Pedro Sera (the guitarist from her band, the Potomac Playboys Club) called “Spook House,” which could be construed as a tip of the hat to Link Wray. (The idea for this album arose out of a tribute show to Link.) Other songs were penned by Arty Hill, Sean Mencher, Teri Joyce, Janis Martin, and Tex Rubinowitz. A couple of songs that Patsy Cline recorded are also part of the package. Anyone who likes any of the aforementioned artists shoudn’t hesitate to get their hands on this terrific album.

—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)

Editor’s note: Here is Marti doing Arty & Linda Hill’s “Mascara Tears”:

Ella Mae Morse
[Bear Family (2010)]

Aside from a five-CD boxed set that Bear Family released in 1997, the best Ella Mae Morse compilation was the Capitol Collectors Series CD that came out in 1992. That album featured the singer’s singles, while this new compilation, Rocks, includes 34 tracks, only six of which can also be found on the 21-track Capitol release. This 2010 disc not only covers a wider span, one which ranges from 1942 to 1957, but focuses exclusively on her rocking and hard-swinging sides, many recorded with the boogie woogie pianist Freddie Slack.

The versatile Morse refused to be pigeonholed and could tackle a variety of genres with equal ease, including swing jazz, torch ballads, hillbilly boogie, and rock’n’roll. By focusing on her upbeat material, which includes “Cow Cow Boogie,” the song that made her a star, and other classics such as “The House of Blue Lights,” “Money Honey,” and “Ain’t That a Shame,” the disc does leave out some excellent material. But Rocks is nonetheless the best single disc compilation of Morse’s work ever released.

—Paul E. Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)


2 comments on “Review: Marti Brom, Not For Nothin; and Ella Mae Morse, Rocks

  1. Very nice review. I would just like to point out that Mascara Tears is a co-write by Linda Hill and Arty Hill, no relation to each other. Your oversight in not mentioning Linda Hill is unfortunate.

  2. Okay, we’ll add Linda’s name to the editorial comment.

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