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Still On The Run

The Hoodoo Tones

Rhythm Bomb

Firmly back on the saddle is Rhythm Bomb Records with latest album release by French rockabilly outfit The Hoodoo Tones. Firing up the old classic of its front cover, The Hoodoo Tones embark on a third trip packed with twelve new songs. The latest long player sees the band ‘Still On The Run’ and blending traditional rockabilly with the modern trimmings found on the rockin’ scene. Examples of such influences can be heard via ‘Train Yard Boogie’ that hints at Johnny Cash but never quite ventures on the former legend’s territory, yet you can almost hear that “train a comin’…” via The Hoodoo Tones’ bristling rhythm and chiming guitar sound. Where the Hoodoo Tones also excel is their ability to inject something a little different as heard by the verses of ‘Young Guns’, sounding thoroughly modern yet held together and making perfect sense by the glue of its choruses due to its close affiliations with rockabilly. It all makes for a compelling track, and one fearful of its aging status due to the talented young bucks waiting closely in the wings to become the next big thing on the rockin’ scene. Doing things differently appears to be The Hoodoo Tones philosophy as ‘Still On The Run’ throws up a few additional surprises such as introducing female voice of Crystal Dawn who provides a really strong presence during the chuggin’ country-light and rockabilly-heavy rhythm of ‘The Crystal’s Kick’, hotly followed by the near-country and western feel yet overwhelmingly rockabilly of ‘Another Toy’, with lyrics deploring the unfair status of one half of a seemingly doomed relationship. In fact, there isn’t much this talented three-piece cannot do as they turn their attention to rhythm and blues during ‘The Taste Of Love’, with saxophone supplied by Alex Bertein, to offering other avenues containing a bluesy rhythm topped off nicely with nasally vocal of ‘Coming Home’ to full of attitude and probably one of the coolest tracks you’re likely to hear all year ‘The Rooster Song’. What more do you want? It’s no wonder The Hoodoo Tones is on the run because they’ve clearly bagged all of the available talent and made a dash for it because all the evidence resides under the bonnet of ‘Still On The Run’ as it’s C’est magnifique!


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Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 1

Various Artists

Atomicat

Launching a brand-new series on the Atomicat label that goes by the name ‘Hillbilly And Rustic Rockabilly Bop Volume 1’ offers a hefty number of tracks by artists who were in the process of bridging the gap between western swing, hillbilly bop and the first tentative steps of what became known as rockabilly. Life before Elvis certainly existed, albeit it at a slightly slower and harmonious tempo, but clearly there where signs of developing sounds that really started to rock the Honky Tonk joints they were made for. Beginning with an obvious starting point where the primitive sounds and blues held by its lyrics of Shorty Holloway and His Prairie Ramblers’ ‘Telephone Blues’, only for the rhythms to show signs of developing more details and the pace gathering at some speed. Examples of this can be identified from the Starday label with Lattie Moore ‘Why Did You Lie To Me’, and then upping the tempo considerably by lively and pickin’ rhythm of compelling country boogie that is ‘Too Hot To Handle’ from Gene O’Quin. Certainly, the words littered throughout these songs portray tales of relationship woes, but these were often (cleverly) disguised by lively rhythms gracing these songs. Jim Reeves ‘Oklahoma Hills’ is a fully developed affair where all the parts have come together and would be termed “professional” and “commercial” if released in the present, but not to be read as a negative by any means because it’s an excellent addition. Likewise, but for different reasons, the wild and untamed approach of Maddox Bros and Rose during the track ‘South’ revealing the rawer and developing sounds of the time. Special mentions go to Ken Marvin for his engaging vocals that really wrap the listener around the words that provide humour and reveal much confidence, and for the “bop” merging into “cat music” via Roy Moss and wonderful hiccupping vocals throughout ‘You’re My Big Baby Now’. Certainly, a rustic ride featuring western swing, country bop and early stages of rockabilly, Atomicat has just released what appears from volume one a fascinating new series where much anticipation now waits for volume two.


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Kustom Kulture Klassics: Hot Rod Tracks From Past And Present

Various Artists

Atomicat

Revving up for the latest series on Atomicat Records is ‘Kustom Kulture Klassics: Hot Rod Tracks From Past And Present’. Hosting many tracks covering the subject of hot rod cars and associated relationships. Artists featured are those from the hallowed era of 50s rockabilly, with several inclusions from the early 60s, but also modern artists from recent times and it makes for a compelling listen. Naturally, the impression given is of exhilarating rockin’ sounds and that is more or less what you can expect, but there are also slower tracks which provides a balance to the whole album. Closer inspection of the tracks reveals songs intertwining the subject matter of the album’s title with the pleasures and struggles of relationships. First up of one such example is from the modern era featuring the always reliable Jason Lee Wilson, who conveys the importance of ‘Pure Horsepower’ when it comes to certain choices in life set to a rockabilly soundtrack and featuring use of slide guitar. Cookie Roberts’ ‘Draggin’ The Drive-Inn’s’ takes the listener back and is as incandescent as the “neon lights” of the night-time drive-inns its visiting via some lively saxophone and full of confidence demeanour. It is an absolute classic. Bobby Verne follows in similar style with a cool as ice performance during ‘Red Hot Car’ that is accompanied by a fiery saxophone and is a definite contender for track of the album. Ike And The Capers provide a reminder that this new series on Atomicat features bands from the present, but having listened to their ‘Burn It Ernie’ that is a raw shufflin’ rocker, the difference in time periods becomes rather blurred. The album closes with a compelling narrative and rhythm and blues backing from Mr. Bear and His Bearcats’ and the song ‘RADAR’, which sets this new series on course to be a classic in line with the respect given to the cars of its title.


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Boss Black Rockers: Mardi Gras Rock Vol.6

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Great design and even greater music are what you can expect with the series that is still rolling ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.6’. Highlighting much needed recognition of the “original” rock ‘n’ rollers, the latest volume has a festive appeal to the tracks chosen; hence its title of ‘Mardi Gras Rock’. The names are a little more familiar as well with the likes of Joe Tex (‘She’s Mine’), Jackie Wilson (‘If I Can’t Have You’), “Big” Al Downing (‘Just Around The Corner’) and Billy Lamont (‘I Got A Rock And Roll Gal’) popping in and leaving their stamp of rock ‘n’ roll goodness. Bobby Freeman is bestowed the honour of opening this latest compilation with the title track and it’s not difficult to understand why considering the strength of the vocal delivery and guitar leading the way. It’s not all about the familiar however, because littered in between are musicians less familiar (to these ears anyway) such as the wild cat that is Pretty Boy and track ‘Rockin’ The Mule’ that is stripped down to its barest bones, to equally throaty The Blonde Bomber and bustling rhythm of ‘Strollie Bun’. Given a revival in recent times, Bunker Hill makes an appearance with ‘The Girl Can’t Dance’, which has to be one of the earliest forms of punk before it became a major talking point during the 70s. Jim Breedlove provides his interpretation of Maybelle’s version of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’, and not to be confused with Jerry Lee Lewis’s presentation of this song. With so much good music on offer whether it’s wild and rockin’ such as Mr P. T. And The Party-Timers ‘Crazy Sadie’, or something a bit more considered like The Seniors ‘Pitter Patter Heart’, ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.6’ has something for all true devotees of rock and roll music.


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Boss Black Rockers: Just Rockin’ & Rollin’ Vol.5

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

At the fifth stage in what has been a highly consistent series of albums so far featuring many exciting rock ‘n’ roll tracks from various black artists from the “Golden Age” of American music comes ‘Boss Black Rockers: Just Rockin’ & Rollin’ Vol.5’. Packed with another twenty-eight songs carefully selected by the Mojo Man (aka Little Victor), the tracks chosen feature a number of artists that will be unfamiliar to many except for the diehard rock ‘n’ rollers who managed to tap into this particular corner of rock ‘n’ roll first time around. It must be said that elements of traditional rhythm and blues mingle with the first shoots of rock ‘n’ roll throughout this album and clearly heard via opening track ‘A Real Good Time’ by Eddie Clearwater. Following on is Frankie Lucas and the addictive ‘I Want To Rock You Baby’ with a steady flow of brass instrumentation bubbling underneath throughout. Next up is Bobby Flare and ‘Variety’ where the song has a habit of providing plenty of variety in terms of style as do the vocals with a tendency to flare up on occasion. It’s a thrilling listen and good starting point if looking for an instant fix of rock ‘n’ roll. The name Brook Benton crops up once more (See Koko Mojo album ‘Elvis Stole My Job’) with ‘Hurtin’ Inside’ and good example to see where Elvis adopted part of his vocal style. Further accusations of “borrowing” can be levelled at the white artists who made rock ‘n’ roll very popular once the singular Harvey and song ‘Da Da Goo Goo’ makes its entrance and speaks in eccentricities with Purple People Eaters among the topics. Volume five lives up to it predecessors where the rock ‘n’ roll is free flowing from top to bottom whether it’s coming from the excellent ‘(I Do The) Shimmy Shimmy’ from Bobby Freeman or The Corvairs ‘Hey, Sally Mae’ and, not forgetting, top version of ‘Lucille’ by Ike Haley & The Red Blazers concluding another compelling set.


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Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.3

Various Artists

Atomicat

This is the series that has a habit of throwing together some real hard rockin’ delights with equally exciting results from numerous teenage-light rock ‘n’ roll combined with plenty of teen-pop, doo-wop and rhythm and blues. ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.3’ makes no exception from this formula and its previous two volumes in what is proving an excellent series. The Rockin Rebels ‘Wild Weekend’ kickstarts this party with a tough instrumental and therefore living up to both titles. From there, the mood swings between teen-pop numbers ‘Your Love Is A Good Love’ via smooth vocals of Jimmy Edwards, to upping the tempo ever so slightly of ‘Zig Zag’ (Bobby Comstock), and then notching it up further during considerably wilder ‘Boppin’ Bobby’ from Jean King Victor. Well-known hits from the likes of Bobby Darin and ‘Dream Lover’ add further quality as do rhythm and blues/rock ‘n’ roll numbers from Larry Williams ‘Slow Down’ and Screamin Jay Hawkins ‘Take Me Back To My Boots And Saddle’, before diverting down another alley and coming up with much drama from the vocals of Ray Peterson (‘Tell Laura I Love Her’), to The Valentines ‘The Woo Woo Train’ where the saxophone is fuelling this particular train. RED HOT! With homework done and the recipient, Atomicat, receiving an A+ for their efforts regarding this latest compilation where the listener and, more significantly, partygoer will experience a breadth of tracks that all good compilation albums should contain, especially if they want to keep the party rockin’, ‘Let’s Throw A Pajama Party Vol.3’ will have no such problems once the needle drops on this record because it fulfils all such expectations.


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Thunder & Lightning

Fireball Steven

Rhythm Bomb

The cogs are turning once more at Rhythm Bomb Records with a brand-new release issued this month. Marking the comeback is Fireball Steven with an authentic take on rockabilly via new long player ‘Thunder & Lightning’. From a fresh faced and youthful appearance adorning the cover of his latest album, concerns of growing old seem to be impacting the song writing of Fireball Steven. An example of this can be heard during the only self-penned track of the album, ‘Rheumatism Baby’, which is a crying shame considering its addictive shuffling rhythm and cool vocals that would have seen its songwriter firmly at home with the original pioneers of 50’s rockabilly. That said, the choice of covers is given careful consideration with either less obvious artists chosen or those who are more familiar it’s often a less obvious song selected for ‘Thunder & Lightning’. Paying much homage therefore, but not without adding very subtle traits of his own, Fireball Steven reinvigorates such great and interesting choices as Ronnie Self’s ‘Black Night Blues’ where piano certainly dominates, to a very live sounding ‘Everybody’s Body’ via George Hamilton IV with some great pickin’ on the guitar. The straight out of Memphis interpretation of Larry Manuel’s ‘Comanche Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sees Fireball Steven slipping comfortably into the former songwriter’s rockin’ shoes with much respect given as its inch perfect. Additionally, ditto Luke McDaniel’s ‘Huh Babe’, albeit with the smallest of margins when it comes to energy during Fireball Steven’s version. It’s more than a solid comeback from both artist and record label where Fireball Steven proves his knowledge and worth when recreating a 50’s rockabilly sound that shows great respect to former recording artists of the era, but with added bonuses where Swedish enters the vocabulary of ‘Thunder & Lightning’ (‘Söderns Son’), and the formerly mentioned own composition ‘Rheumatism Baby’ revealing a genuine song writing talent in his own right.

 


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If There Wasn’t Any Sinners The Saints Wouldn’t Look So Good (Single)

Doc & the Headshrinkers

HSM

A contender for longest song title in the history of rock ‘n’ roll music is Doc & the Headshrinkers (last?) single release from their album ‘Crashland’. To provide some insight, ‘If There Wasn’t Any Sinners The Saints Wouldn’t Look So Good’ lands on vinyl and was recorded at Studio Fflach, Cadigan, Wales with production and artwork left to the band’s frontman Dave ‘Doc’ Cutter.  Despite the lengthy title of this single release, the actual song is an altogether catchy affair that’s full of short sharp hooks, as it is filled with an abundance of details where the guitar genuinely leads this song but only made possible via support from experienced upright bass and textured drumming joining up the rest of the dots. Add to the mix a throaty roar from the vocals department that gives the impression of having experienced plenty of rumbles not to mention heartbreak over the years given its worn(out) feel, in addition to the occasional chants from spectators in the background, then ‘If There Wasn’t Any Sinners The Saints Wouldn’t Look So Good’ is nothing short of an utterly thrilling ride of rock ‘n’ roll that is smart in its thinking as it is in its musicianship.


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Crashland

Doc & the Headshrinkers

HSM

Arriving late to this particular party, Famous Last Words caught wind of the wild rock ‘n’ roll antics of Wales based rock ‘n’ rollers, Dave & the Headshrinkers, via a live festival performance that appeared to shake the very foundations it was staged, in addition to waking up the local neighbourhood. Fast forward a year or two and the band’s sophomore album ‘Crashland’ has firmly established them as talented songwriters and a force to be reckoned with. Given the three year gap it has taken FLW to catchup with this branch of rock ‘n’ roll, any concerns regarding time lost is instantly forgotten once the opening salvo of ‘Mrs Tolley’, ‘I’ve Got Something Good For You’ and ‘High School Reject’ unleash their raw rockin’ sounds and lyrics that veer between revenge and steely determination. It makes for an impressive start  where Tchaikovsky is mentioned in the same breath as Chuck Berry (‘Mrs Tolley’) and traditional elements of rockabilly, spliced with rock ‘n’ roll, can be heard (‘I’ve Got Something…’), in addition to Doc & the Headshrinkers own take on these genres and best highlighted by the bruised yet still bustling ‘High School Reject’. It’s rock ‘n’ roll at its fullest attitude. Such feelings continue apace via the combined mouthful of words and frantic rhythm of ‘It Got In The Way’ that sees the band swinging from the chandeliers which, had it been a recent single release, could have been the party anthem to end this turbulent year given its punk-a-billy feel and open interpretation of its title that certainly applies in the present. As ‘Crashland’ continues to unravel its contents, the impression given is one of an album that improves with each and every layer where songs become even more considered ‘I’ll See You In Hell’, ‘Love Lies Lost’ and the tightly knitted rhythm and vocals of ‘Dig A Bone’ to cite a few. The influences are wide (Rockabilly, country (& spaghetti western), rock ‘n’ roll, punk, etc.) but often expressed subtly throughout ‘Crashland’. Therefore, accusations of straying from its main source (i.e. rock ‘n’ roll) is unwarranted, more that Doc & the Headshrinkers is a band open to ideas and free of fear when it comes to writing their own compositions. Long may that continue as the second album is a raging success with plenty of creative threads to pursue if the trio decide to undertake album number three.


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Up and Down

Ramblin Bandits

Rhythm Bomb

With the occasional exception, it has been something of an age since Rhythm Bomb issued an album from a band with most of their wares showing life of new and original material. Good to see therefore, the record label back on familiar territory promoting an album by the lively and energetic combo The Ramblin Bandits. With ‘Up and Down’ being album number two after debut ‘On A Hill’ from the Danish rockabilly trio, the latest release reveals similar traits to its well-received debut. With beards completely shorn or noticeably trimmer, The Ramblin Bandits continue their combined use of influences of rockabilly, rock ‘n’ roll and a hefty dose of blues where their sound can be compellingly gruff and raw as depicted by the album’s title track. Such is the brooding, menacing ferocity of this opening song that had it been released during the outset of 50’s rockin’ music, it would have instantly received a banning order. From such tension and where this album differs, albeit slightly to its predecessor, is the variation in tempo of one or two tracks. This makes for a welcome feature as it’s not all foot-to-the-floor belters with an inspiring and intriguing turn, partially explained by its delivery of near-threadbare instrumentation of ‘Four Ounce Bobby’ where the holler from this side of the fence is, “More of this please!” Delta blues plays its part with noticeable use of slide guitar during ‘Crazy Little Mama’ and ‘Squeeze You In’, the latter of which sounds more contemporary purely for reminding of Seasick Steve. However, rioting is part of their game and something The Ramblin Bandits do best with team attitude and effort in abundance during ‘We Are The Ramblin Bandits’ and, next in line, ‘Rough Enough’ which, again, contains much tension judging by its revengeful sounding chorus that barks out its feelings. As far as second albums go, The Ramblin Bandits show no signs of fatigue during ‘Up and Down’ because it’s simply engaging from start to finish, and contains shoots of creativity with clear indicators of future directions if the band choose to pursue such avenues.


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.4 – Slow Down

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A series that is raising a holler due to not only its excellent content but also for providing a piece of history that is not highlighted enough regarding the many “ACE” black musicians who laid the foundations for what became rock ‘n’ roll. With volume four in this recent series from Koko Mojo, the twenty-eight tracks on offer provide enough glimpses of the talent of the time but also for the energy and inventiveness of the rockin’ tracks. By introducing a few names that will be familiar to some i.e. Jimmy McCracklin, Lloyd Price, Otis Redding with, on this occasion The Pinetoppers and others such as Joe Tex, Gene and Eunice and Larry Williams, the inclusion of a few lesser known artists adds extra spice to the series and therefore a worthy addition to anyone’s record collection. From the very definition of “wild” rock ‘n’ roll that is the severe guitar straining number ‘Wail Baby Wail’ from Tommy Louis With Marshall And The Versatiles, to more rhythmically tight ‘Such A Mess’ but nonetheless rock ‘n’ roll given the power expressed by Lloyd Price’s voice, volume four of this series has no intention of slowing down. With so much expressed via the rhythm and blues/doo wop crossover of the vocals and rock ‘n’ roll of its guitar of The El Venos’ ‘Geraldine’ providing such a deeply textured song yet sounding free of clutter, to other tracks where the rock ‘n’ roll is absolutely flying such as the fantastic ‘Papa Lou And Gran’ supplied by Little Victor. Only four albums in and the series ‘Boss Black Rockers’ has already offered more than enough great rockin’ tracks and, even greater news, there’s still more to come!


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Boss Black Rockers Vol.3 – Rockin’ Shoes

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Keeping the rock ‘n’ roll flame well and truly alive is volume three of the current series on Koko Mojo ‘Boss Black Rockers – Rockin’ Shoes’. With the emphasis of the album title on the appropriate footwear when it comes to these latest twenty-eight slices of rock ‘n’ roll in this hot new series, “rockin’ shoes” are definitely required from the off. Such attire soon becomes apparent once the opening trio of songs from Big Al Downing and ‘Yes I’m Loving You’ opens this particular account with its straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll, to the next in line and scorching heat emanating from track ‘Itchy Twitchy Feeling’ by The Swallows, to equally thrilling Roy Gaines and ‘Skippy Is A Sissy (If This Ain’t Love). Phew! Take a breather, no chance! This is rock ‘n’ roll at its finest where the beat never lets up as evidenced by frantic rhythm of the compilation’s title track via Tony Allan. Following on from that is the powerhouse saxophone steering ‘Ain’t You Glad Nature Did It’ (Joe Perkins & The Rookies), to similar effect via the vocal of Bobby Davis and really rather prickly rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Damper Down’. Take a breather, no chance! Time to sit back and relax is not an option as ‘Boss Black Rockers Vol.3 – Rockin’ Shoes’ is simply irresistible whether slippin’ ‘n’ slidin’ to charismatic vocals and lively rhythm of Larry Birdsong and ‘Somebody Somewhere’, or strollin’ via The Titans’ ‘Don’t You Just Know It’, or simply cutting loose to Etta James and ‘What I Say’, there’s no finer compilation to put the listener in the mood for some serious “Rockin’ Shoes” with volume three of ‘Boss Black Rockers’.



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