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Movin

Shaun Young and The 3 Ringers

Rhythm Bomb

Arriving only recently at FLW is the already available ‘Movin’ by Shaun Young and The 3 Ringers and The Texas Blue Dots. Issued on both CD and 12” vinyl, ‘Movin’ is a collection of songs split between the two guises of The 3 Ringers and The Texas Blue Dots, but with most songs going to The 3 Ringers. With the album being recorded and produced by Shaun Young at Jet-Tone Studios, Austin, Texas – “The Speed of Sound”, the quality really shines throughout this release. From rockabilly influenced numbers ‘Things Will Never Be The Same’, to an amalgamation of said genre with a strong hint of blues powering ‘When You Do That’, and then rounding off with the rock ‘n’ roll ‘Knockout’, Shaun Young with his cohorts is never one to sit still for a moment. Such a notion can be gleaned from the modern touches applied to this album, despite the album retaining a definite authentic feel overall, because ‘Movin’ never gives the impression of holding a desire to go back to the 50s as it’s a record that sounds perfectly at home in the present. With song titles and lyrics suggesting much heartache and longing for better times (‘Things Will Never Be The Same’, ‘Drink Till I Can’t Feel The Pain’, ‘My Heartaches Been Confirmed’, etc) Shaun Young (and bands) has/have a real way of convincing its audience via such tearjerkers as ‘I Plead The 5th’, to the more hopeful ‘More Than Any Tongue Can Tell’ with its mashup intro of Tom Petty meets Buddy Holly’s ‘Peggy Sue’. The contents of ‘Movin’ are a delight to behold and provide enough evidence that rockabilly is alive and well in Austin, Texas.


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Gonna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers

Various Artists

Atomicat

The music speaks for itself on this latest compilation from Atomicat, despite its relevance in name only to the current political debate surrounding the UK and rest of Europe. Charging in on a riotous romp of twenty-four tracks comes ‘Goanna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers’, which is a record for the times; that being the topsy-turvy political climate of the UK and whether to officially leave the EU or remain a full member. As complex and quite frankly baffling the whole process to date has been, not to mention where the past two years has gone, one record label’s decision to express its opinion on this whole, and quite frankly, baffling affair is not only their right but the manner in which ‘Goanna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers’ conducts itself by throwing a party rather than being a political vehicle. There is not an ounce of political motivation between the rock ‘n’ roll sides of this compilation, more a loose association of track names and lyrics to the current fiasco between the UK / Brussels and Co. So, if you can imagine for one moment Brexit is set out in five stages where the starting post begins via the snappy rhythm of Billy Fury’s ‘Gonna Type A Letter’, complete with the nostalgic sound of the now obsolete typewriter (UK to EU), to the hillbilly yarn of ‘Don’t Push Me Too Far’ from the always reliable Skeets McDonald (EU in reply to the UK), to country-weepy  ‘We’re Talking It Over’ By Faron Young (50 – 50 EU / UK debate), and then final breakdown where we’re informed by  ‘Lies Lies Lies’ (Norman Bullock) before eventually landing rock bottom and ‘Singing The Blues’ with Tommy Steele for company. In fact, there’s so much scope here to devise your own five phases of the Brexit process, which really can take a stinging turn if you like your rock ‘n’ roll on the wild side à la Jackie Lee Cochran (‘Pity Me’), Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (‘There’s Something Wrong With You’) and (it’s in there if you listen closely) George Jones’ superb ‘No Money In This Deal’. It’s a cleverly thought out compilation where song lyrics can be associated with the situation that is Brexit without mentioning politics or having any direct correlations. Therefore, ‘Gonna Make It Alone – Brexit Rockers’ is a very special album for a period that will go down in history forever once this whole affair draws itself to a conclusion. Thankfully, it’s the rock ‘n’ roll music that speaks volumes here and will remain the only winner whatever the eventual outcome at the end of this month. But, to borrow Bill Swing’s song title, it sure is ‘Messed Up’ depending on which side of the political fence one sits of course.


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Catfight – Playmates

Various Artists

Atomicat

Coming out fighting (playfully of course!) is the compilation of assorted artists making up ‘Playmates’. By claiming “25 Sure Shot Dancefloor Champions” across its cover, the album ‘Playmates’ has a lot to live up to. Once the likes of Derrell Felts, Thomas Wayne and Al Urban get underway, then the feeling is one of being in good company and the earlier assertion starts to make sense. With the inclusion of other “Sure Shot” winners such as Gene Summers (‘Twixteen’), Jimmy Pritchett (‘That’s The Way I Feel’) and in recent times revived on vinyl of Jimmy Dell ‘I’ve Got A Dollar’. There’s the inclusion of something different via some rhythm and blues and The Five Keys’ ‘Hucklebuck With Jimmy’, and later female rocker Evelyn Harlene ‘I Wanta Be Free’. All in all, another fine compilation from the Catfight series that certainly lives up to its billing of “25 Sure Shot Dancefloor Champions”.


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Catfight – Miss Shake It

Various Artists

Atomicat

Coming out shaking and boppin’ is the latest instalment in the ‘Catfight’ series with ‘Miss Shake It’. By compiling such a long line of artists from the 50s era, value for money is never a question when it comes to this series as once more it delivers on all levels. Evidence of this value for money and high quality begins in a passionate manner via the excellent delivery of Gene Summers and ‘Nervous’. From then on the shirt collars loosen and the mood relaxes somewhat with Mikey Gilley and ‘Come On Baby’; Gene Terry’s ‘Cindy Lou’ complete with influential saxophone, and then followed by three untameable rockers that raise the roof by way of Sonny Hall, Ba Ba Thomas and, we’ll take his word for it considering this genius delivery, Bobby Milano and ‘Life Begins At Four O’Clock’. The inclusion of the raw and primitive ‘Long Gone Baby’ (Mike Shaw) offers a genuine moment of reflection but this mood doesn’t last for long with Terry Daly supplying a paint stripping ‘You Don’t Bug Me’ and Ray Willis powered rocker ‘Whatta Ya Do’ clearly shakin’ things up. With another version of ‘Jungle Rock’ supplied by Jim Bobo added to this compilation, there’s not a foot placed wrong here as ‘Catfight – Miss Shake It’ delivers a collection to remember.


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Hit The Tracks

Kieron McDonald Combo and Hank's Jalopy Demons

Rhythm Bomb

First impressions of latest album by Australian rockabilly artist, Kieron McDonald, and fellow Australians, Hank’s Jalopy Demons, suggest a joint meeting of the musical minds. What materialises, however, is a split effort that sees the formerly mentioned rockin’ frontman, Kieron McDonald, take centre stage first, and with Hank’s Jalopy Demons seeing out the remainder of the album. With the additional ‘Combo’ completing Kieron McDonald’s line-up consisting of three quarters of Hank’s Jalopy Demons – namely Dave Cantrell (guitar), Til Vex (upright bass) and Andrew Lindsay (drums) – this rockin’ unit really knows how to churn out a rockabilly sound that is authentic and, more keenly, one that is original in terms of its song writing. First up is the energetic and jittery sounding rockabilly of ‘Oh Judy’ that really sees the male counterpart of this particular relationship all of a fluster due to the ever-changing moods of the lead at the centre of this opening song. Moving on from such a compelling start, the rest of Kieron McDonald’s material continues to enthral both in sound and lyrics where one moment he’s lamenting about the everyday where both car and job threaten to ruin his day (‘That’s Life’), to feeling giddy about the “gal” in his life (‘A Wiggle In Her Walk’), which is expertly defined by the rhythm of the song as well. There’s a touch of humour to the hillbilly and western swing influence of ‘Hard Head’ that is memorable for suggesting this song might be the closest to an autobiographical offering from Kieron McDonald, in addition to being reminiscent of the UK’s very own The Doel Brothers. The second half of the album allows for lead vocalist, Hank Ferguson of the Jalopy Demons to show off his song writing skills because, like Kieron McDonald, he’s equally adept at crafting a fine song or two. The first signs of this can be heard via the wild and rockin’ ‘Jalopy Driver’s Lament’, which showcases the sense of restlessness, in addition to fun-seeking this particular band seem to find themselves at loggerheads with. Other examples of this tangle of the senses can be found during the frank ‘Stop Flappin’ Them Chops’, which is short and sharp in its rhythm and therefore detailing nicely the sense of irritation at the heart of this song. There are certain regrets echoed during the rather excellent and more delicate sounding, ‘Knock Down The Door’. Despite any downturns in life expressed here, Hank’s Jalopy Demons never forget to inject a little humour in to their song writing, with ‘Wig-Flip Bop’ being the standout candidate. Something of a novel idea, ‘Hit The Tracks’ surprisingly works considering the context of the album with two different artists at work. The key to this success is likely down to both artists deep understanding of the genre(s) they’re operating with, but also the passion they share for rockabilly music, as well as a knack for writing and recording fresh ideas and material that makes for a seamless body of work, because that’s exactly what any listener will experience when listening to ‘Hit The Tracks’.


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By Request

Vince & the Sun Boppers

Rhythm Bomb

Writing and recording at a prolific rate, Vince and the Sun Boppers enter the fray for a third time with ‘By Request’. With the title of this latest album being likely recognition to their growing fan base, not to mention the band’s seemingly inherent thirst for song writing, ‘By request’ sees Vince and Co. return with fourteen brand spanking new songs. The immediate response via the third long player arrives with a couple of boppers and strollers – ‘Bye To The City’ and ‘One Day’ – both reflecting on what might have been if life had only presented a different hand to the Sun Boppers frontman. It makes for an impressive introduction that only gets better via a succession of solid songs with the desperate pleas and rockabilly ‘Don’t Leave Me (Just Love Me)’; ‘Ransom Of Love’ with its stick of rock centre inscribed with Buddy Holly, to a trio of superb ballads that contain influences of country, rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll with, in particular, ‘Garden Of Roses’ suggesting that Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis played their parts when making this song, ‘Why’ and ‘Your Hand In Mine’; the latter track being a standout with its stripped-back presentation and aching country lilt that is pure Vince and the Sun Boppers. A remarkable album that doesn’t simply furrow a straight rockabilly route, despite said genre being its prime inspiration, because ‘By Request’ considers a few other ideas, notably country, and dips its musical toe with a successful outcome. The wait, no doubt, won’t be long until Vince and the Sun Boppers next musical venture, judging by the apparent ease to write and record this latest album and one that will satisfy the band’s increasing support.


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Hit Me Up

Slapback Johnny

Rhythm Bomb

Described as a band that “works hard and rocks even harder”, the Dutch trio that is Slapback Johnny certainly live up to such a description with their debut album. Made up of thirteen self-penned tracks, the band’s debut, ‘Hit Me Up’, is blessed with a high level of energy that fuels songs to the max where rock ‘n’ roll greatly influences the majority of its contents. With many songs possessing a hard-hitting edge where fireworks ignite via opener ‘Bombshell’ and then continue in similar fashion with numerous tough and raucous rhythms from such numbers as ‘One Last Shot’, ‘Hit Me Up’ (title track), ‘Ball ‘n’ Chain’ to ‘You’ve Been Told’, it would seem that any suggestion of the band dropping down a gear or two is simply implausible. Unfortunately this is where the album ‘Hit Me Up’ falls down on occasions due to a sense of repetition creeping in where a slower tempo of a ballad or two would have sufficed and therefore provided a more balanced feel to the overall contents of the band’s first album. However, that is not to say that Slapback Johnny’s ‘Hit Me Up’ is devoid of broader influences because the trio certainly deliver on that front where the likes of Bill Haley and his Comets, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Stray Cats, to name a few, can all be heard throughout this debut album. There’s no doubting the sincerity and commitment to the cause of (modern) rock ‘n’ roll with Johnny Slapback’s first full effort and something that is to be admired with its approach of original song writing and the energetic values underpinning these songs.


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Catfight – Rattle Shakin’ Mama

Various Artists

Atomicat

More rockabilly, rhythm and blues and doo-wop goodness via the series Catfight and, in this instance, ‘Rattle Shakin’ Mama’. Packed to the rafters with a total of twenty-five tracks, the CD offers great value for anyone’s hard-earned cash due to the variety of artists on offer ranging from excellent and lowdown rockin’ sounds of Don Willis with ‘Boppin’ High School Baby’; lively rockabilly of Big Al Downing’s ‘Down On The Farm’, to the wild cat that was Ronnie Self and compelling ‘Ain’t I’m A Dog’. Not forgetting to mention and backed by equally compelling numbers, especially in the vocals department, via Conway Twitty (‘I Need Your Lovin’) and Bobby Marchan who made it all sound so effortless (‘Chickee Wah-Wah’). With The Del Vikings and The Five Keys providing a little doo-wop and admirably so, to The Cochran Brothers springing up and offering ‘A Fool’s Paradise’, these are all but a small selection of the sheer delights on offer throughout this excellent compilation, ‘Rattle Shakin’ Mama’.


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The Midnight Creature

Crystal & Runnin' Wild

Rhythm Bomb

Crystal & Runnin’ Wild is far from being your typical rockin’ unit as there’s always been a sense of the ‘other’ about them, which entails various musical influences, albeit subtle, and theatrical touches that earmark them as somewhat different to their contemporaries. Add to the mix a strong sense of humour, not to mention undoubted skilful musicianship, and you’ve really got the full pot when it comes to Crystal & Runnin’ Wild. With the decision made to record the album in MONO, and the band focusing on darker themes without losing the aforementioned sense of humour where B-movie references and influences from surf and garage rock to wild rockabilly play their part, this latest chapter in Crystal & Runnin’ Wild makes for an enthralling affair. Combing original material with a selection of cover songs makes no difference here as the chosen covers often sound like fresh compositions; such is the deft touches of creativity at the heart of this band. For highlights look no further than the wonderfully pared back ‘Set Me Free’; heavy rockabilly of ‘Wish You Misery’ and then more traditional rockin’ ‘The Midnight Creature’, to the pacey Western flavoured ‘Take Me Home’ and complete opposite of dark and soulful ‘Nobody Loves You’ to understand that Crystal & Runnin’ Wild has the ability to offer something quite different and really rather special via latest album ‘The Midnight Creature’.


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Catfight – I’m Out!

Various Artists

Atomicat

By rubberstamping “25 Sure Shot Dancefloor Champions” across its cover is something to live up to. Thankfully the description adorning this latest addition to the Catfight compilation series continues its trend of fine music with another series of rockin’ tracks. With an eye on the quality here by maintaining a sense of ‘something for all music lovers’ ‘I’m Out!’ offers more in the vein of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll with small smatterings of rhythm and blues, yet makes for one of the finest in this collection. Starting off in fine style is the superb ‘Don’t Shoot Me Baby’ with Bill Bowen’s vocals giving a compelling performance that is both gritty and nasally and set to a primitive beat. From such a fine opener, Little Jimmy Dempsey maintains the quality by packing a rockin’ punch and complete with an irresistible beat with ‘Bop Hop’. Elsewhere, Eddie Chamblee provides variation with the rhythm and blues inspired ‘Come On In’, and repeated via Bobby Marchan’s ‘Hush Your Mouth’ before taking numerous journeys down some superb rockin’ tracks from the likes of Jimmy Dee, Johnnie Strickland, Franklin Stewart and the Stewart Brothers, not to mention the wonderful lo-fi qualities of Bill Allen’s  ‘Please Give Me Something’. A definite must have to the ‘Catfight’ series as ‘I’m Out!’ is one heck of a compelling ride!


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Catfight – You Can’t Stop Her!

Various Artists

Atomicat

Boasting twenty-five dancefloor champions, the contents of this latest comp’ from Atomicat certainly lives up to its billing. With the always reliable Werly Fairburn opening proceedings with the country, yet moving into rockabilly category of ‘Speak To Me Baby’ you immediately get the impression you’re in safe hands when it comes to the rest of the album. That’s exactly what transpires as Paul Louise picks up the tempo, albeit lightly, with ‘Don’t Move A Muscle’ and then followed by two charismatic numbers via Buck Griffin and Thumper Jones with ‘Bawlin’ and Squallin’ and ‘How Come It’ respectively. Bobby Marchan brings the rock ‘n’ roll during the excellent ‘You Can’t Stop Her’, only for The Five Keys to reduce the heat somewhat by introducing some doo-wop to the party with their ‘Serve Another Round’. Fear not as the temperature soon rises once again via a succession of rockin’ tracks from the likes of Jim McDonald (‘Let’s Have A Ball), Benny Joy (‘Crash The Party’), Vern Pullens (‘Bop Crazy Baby’) and Gene Summers (‘Straight Skirt’). With something for everyone here, ‘Catfight You Can’t Stop Her!’ will keep any party boppin’ to the very early hours of the morning.


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Primitive Beat

The Margraves

Rhythm Bomb

Returning with fourteen brand new and original compositions is The Margraves and their new long player ‘Primitive Beat’. With this being a sophomore effort, the trio that is Bobby, Mick and Ray Margrave set rich vocal harmonies to driving guitar beats that sound effortless in their executions such is the professionalism of the entire album. This is largely down to experience as The Margraves has built up a following over the years having performed live in various different cities throughout Europe and the US. With the addition of a tenor sax to The Margraves sound, and supplied by Ray Margrave, in addition to (background?) member Mark Margrave pounding away on the drums, the new album immediately whips up a rock ‘n’ roll and late 50’s surf-rock  sound from ‘She Shakes’ to ‘Just Right’ and ‘Not Guilty’. The aforementioned saxophone makes its introduction during the instrumental ‘Guilty’ and reveals another dimension to The Margraves sound, which is used to even greater effect during the moody ‘Desperate Man’. The album’s title track lives up to its name with amusing lyrics mentioning the nightmare scenario of waking up in unfamiliar surroundings and then struggling for a way home played out to a deliberately primitive beat. ‘La Matadora’ injects a touch of the dark stuff in terms of its rhythm, before ending on a catchy number with ‘Black Widow’. It can be said that it’s business as usual with The Margraves and album number two, as the band deliver a highly polished collection of rock ‘n’ roll songs, with a few additional touches that gives their sound added lift.



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