The Collins Kids, pint-sized electric guitar picker Larry Collins and his older sister, honkytonk siren Lorrie Collins, were two of he most dynamic -- and youngest -- stars of the rockabilly era. They were headliners of the LA-based Town Hall Party TV show, where guitar legend Joe Maphis took Larry under his wing and helped shape their act. The siblings stayed together as a duo into their early 20s; after Town Hall Party went off the air in 1961, they moved on to other rock- and country-oriented TV shows until finally retiring the act in the mid-1960s. Larry Collins went on to an impressive second career as a country songwriter, co-authoring huge hits such as "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" and the '70s crossover smash, "Delta Dawn." The Collins Kids reunited in 1993, playing a series of shows backed by the hillbilly bop/rockabilly revivalists in the Dave & Deke Combo, ripping through a sizzling repertoire that showcased their enduring charisma and playful joy. Here's a quick look at their work...
The Collins Kids "Introducing Larry And Lorrie... The Collins Kids" (Epic, 1983)
I gotta say, when it came time to revisit the work of the Collins Kids, the folks at Epic Records did a great job. This early LP is a humdinger, packed with hits and loaded with vitality. Part of a wave of excellent major label reissues that came out in the early '80s, just before the digital era kicked into full gear... The traditional LP format (with fewer songs) might seem like a drawback in comparison to the more generously-programmed CDs below, but you sure can't complain about the content! Slam-bang rockabilly action from start to finish... Highly recommended!
The Collins Kids "Television Party" (TV Records, 1983)
Understandably, many of you may be wary of reissues that use TV airchecks as their source material... The thing is, though, the Collins Kids gave some of their most dynamic, electrifying performances while playing live, so these are vital parts of their legacy. That being said, you might get even more enjoyment out of watching them play live, which is easy to do since there are tons of video collections available, including the ones listed below.
The Collins Kids "Rockin' On TV" (Krazy Kat, 1993)
Spunk galore as this brother-sister teen-scene rockabilly act rips, snorts and jokes their way through live performances on the legendary late '50s Los Angeles' country TV show, Town Hall Party. Prepubescent electric guitar hero Larry Collins took lessons from show host Joe Maphis, and highlights of this disc include some of the stunning instrumental duets the two performed regularly on the program. Also, this disc reveals the Collins Kids' strong country music background, a side of them which is frequently neglected in recaps of their flashy recording career. Iffy sound quality, but great music.
The Collins Kids "Hop, Skip & Jump" (Bear Family, 1991)
This 2-CD box set reprised the material on earlier Bear Family LPs from the '80s, gathering all the Collins Kids' best stuff, and that means plenty of powerful, poppy rockabilly that packs a real whallop! Larry Collins was a real guitar whiz, and is frequently joined by his mentor Joe Maphis on many of these tunes. And the songs themselves are real doozies, '50s rock classics such as "Whistlebait," "Hod Rod" and "Hoy Hoy," as well as revved-up, rockified goofs on old country and pop standards like "Walkin' The Floor" and "Soda Poppin' Around." The Collins Kids were spunky and cute, but they were hardly just a novelty act... they really did tear the roof down!
The Collins Kids "Rockin'est!" (Bear Family, 1998)
Nothing wrong with this single-CD version, either... in fact, I'd say it's a more concentrated, powerful dose of what made Lorrie & Larry Collins so great, and this is probably the Collins Kids collection I'd steer you towards first. It's packed with great songs, hot picking and plenty of spunk... All this and Bear Family's pristine sound quality, too! Highly recommended!
The Collins Kids "Hoy Hoy" (Complete Rock 'N' Roll, 2009)
The Collins Kids "At Town Hall Party, v.1" (Bear Family, 2003) (DVD)
The Collins Kids "At Town Hall Party, v.2" (Bear Family, 2004) (DVD)
The Collins Kids "At Town Hall Party, v.3" (Bear Family, 2004) (DVD)
Hick Music Index