Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Not Fade Away - Reissue Review from Issue #22 July-Aug 1999

Carl Mann

Mona Lisa (Collectables)

If your perception of rockabilly is centered around wildmen such as Ronnie Dawson and Charlie Feathers, this disc is going to sound awfully tame. But the cold truth of the matter is that hard rockabilly seldom made the charts in the ’50s, and if you view Mona Lisa as an uptempo country record, you’ll get a better handle on it.

Carl Mann, part of the original roster of Sun Records, made it to #25 on the charts with an uptempo version of Nat “King” Cole’s “Mona Lisa” in 1959. Rockabilly, in its rawest, purest state, was a fixture on various local scenes, but it was the less-intense pop-abilly of Mann, Marty Robbins, Buddy Knox (“Party Doll”) and others that got the airplay; even Johnny Burnette had to tone down his harsh Memphis beat before getting a hit record. Most of Mann’s disc is true to his hit — lilting pop with just enough of the Big Beat to put it over the rock ‘n’ roll hump, although every now and then he’ll cut loose (as on his version of “Ubangi Stomp”). Strangely enough, this disc omits the low-charting follow-up “Pretend”, which also mined the Nat Cole songbook. However, this compilation does paint a fairly accurate portrait of Mann’s career.

His rockers, including “Mona Lisa” and “Look At That Moon”, aren’t entirely convincing; his take on “Ain’t Got No Home”, the laff-riot R&B classic by Clarence “Frogman” Henry, never should have been attempted. But when he did slow or midtempo numbers, he sounded more in his element. The country material (“If I Could Change You”, “It Really Doesn’t Matter Now”) has a certain bite the faster songs lack. And if you subscribe to the theory that country is the white man’s blues, cock an ear to “Walkin’ & Thinkin’”, “Kansas City”, and “Walkin’ The Dog”. When it works, which is often, it’s good for what it is. But the cheesy cover art, featuring Mona Lisa herself with guitar in hand, is no masterpiece.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108


Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #22 July-Aug 1999

Cover of Issue #22 July-Aug 1999

Sorry, this issue is SOLD OUT

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »

From the Blogs

  • The Post-Newport Earthquake: Watkins Family Hour
    Did you feel it? That's what everybody in Los Angeles asks each other whenever a shake or quake rattles and rolls through the valleys and flatlands. Sometimes there's just a release of pressure beneath the crust, and other times it's an up and down jolt that lasts only a second. And then you forget about it. Until the next time.  Sunday night […]
  • Chris Isaak's Life Beyond the Sun
    In 2011, Chris Isaak took the long overdue step of recording an album at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn. It wasn't just any album, it was faithful interpretations of classic songs by his musical mentors and heroes: Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. It didn’t take much of a leap of imagination to predict that the album would be […]
  • Celebrating 40 Years of Schoolkids Records: An Interview with Owner Stephen Judge
    This year marks the 40th anniversary of Watergate. That's not really anything to celebrate, it's not an accomplishment, and what's that got to do with music? Nothing. It simply marks the inevitable passage of time. But, 2014 also marks the 40th anniversary of Raleigh, N.C.'s Schoolkids Records, which is an accomplishment and is definitely […]
  • Ray LaMontagne at the Woods at Fontanel (Nashville, Tenn. – July 25, 2014)
    Ray LaMontagne writes great songs and makes great records. And that's certainly no small feat. His live shows, though, while being technically and musically superlative, really don't leave the audience with a whole lot to hang on to other than the technique and the music. There's no personal engagement on LaMontagne's part. It's as i […]
  • Vancouver International Folk Festival Day Two (Jericho Beach, Vancouver, BC - July 19th, 2014)
    While Friday night at the Vancouver Folk Festival focuses on main stage performances, the rest of the weekend on the sprawling festival grounds of Jericho Beach is as notable for its smaller workshop performances. This was especially true this year. This particular Saturday started with the official public announcement of Joan Baez's cancellation. Perha […]
  • Freight Train Boogie Show #264 features new music from Old Crow Medicine Show, Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes
    FTB Show #264 features the new album by Old Crow Medicine Show called Remedy.  Also new music from Carolina Story, Yvette Landry and The Sweet Potatoes. Here's the iTunes link to subscribe to the FTB podcasts.  Here's the direct link to … […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!

Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter