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April 20, 2024

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J.M. Van Eaton - The Beat Goes On
Wayne Keeling - Run Fool Run

By: Gary "Pig" Gold

Ever wake up some nights wondering just whatever happened to rock 'n' roll? I mean, REAL rock 'n' roll? The kind that is rarely ever seen on the stage or even heard on the airwaves anymore? Well, two recent releases from the hallowed state of Tennessee, USA prove that r 'n' r is in no way ready to give up its ghost just yet. While both these discs are the creations of true, red hot and blue-rockin' veterans (Van Eaton, for example, was the house drummer at Sun Studios during its hey daze), each somehow never fail to breath powerful gusts of new life into a genre some thought stalled in its tracks sometime circa 1959.

"Run Fool Run" shows Paducah-born, former East St. Louis cop Wayne Keeling learned far more than a thing or three during a youth misspent hanging alongside such crazed geniuses as Ray "Rockin' Little Angel" Smith and Billy Lee Riley: "Come On Let's Go" is precisely the kind of hot, bothered tune there just are NOT enough of being written anymore, "I'll Pour The Wine" dips to near-Jerry Lee Lewis depths of hard-tonkin', tear-in-the-beer desperation, and the title track, "Run Fool Run," would not have sounded one spec out of place on any single Blasters album, such is its lyrical and especially melodic flippancy. Beautiful!

Meanwhile, Van Eaton's years riding the snare atop such historic records as "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On" (not to mention 132 other old yeller Sun Records) in no way whatsoever prepares us for the pure and simple joy behind this criminally-overdue debut album of his. Of course the man possesses one of the most creative backbeats in this or any other business, but who knew J. M. could also WRITE ("O.D.R." should honestly be selling in near-Shania quantities to anyone who honestly likes their country to rock, and "Not As Innocent As You Look" certainly could give Mr. Van Eaton's former employer J. L. Lewis a shot in the career right about now) --not to mention SING ("Nadine," "Sinkin' Spell" and "Last Place In The Rat Race" display a cat-like vocal prowess that can somehow hint at everything from Jerry Reed to Don Everly). As ingenious a drummer as J. M. is, he really should've stepped up to the mic long, long ago!

Yes indeed then, you see, despite all occasional hints to the contrary, rock 'n' roll IS still alive and very, very well. You need only to listen to a bar or two off either of these wonderful records to prove that. Rest easy tonight, all rockers out there reading these words.

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