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Greetings From Austin

The Don Diego Trio

El Toro

Judging from the stories behind latest album ‘Greetings From Austin’, The Don Diego Trio, along with invited guests to add their creative contributions, had a memorable experience when laying down the tracks for this new recording. The idea to invite other artists to contribute on ‘Greetings From Austin’  was borne out of a week in Austin, Texas, after The Don Diego Trio had received a nomination (the band’s second) for the Ameripolitan Awards. Therefore, with time on their side and rather than spend the week window-shopping, The Don Diego Trio decided to record a brand new record that would serve as a postcard of their time in Austin, Texas. With Mario Monterosso agreeing to produce the album, in addition to lending his vocals and guitar playing for the sessions, and therefore becoming an integral part of the band for that one week in Austin, The Don Diego Trio (or quartet if you like) really let go of the reins in order for the creativity to flow. The end result is thirteen tracks of honky tonk and rockabilly written and recorded in record time and one would never know it considering the quality on display here. Naturally a whole host of guest musicians helps, but full marks to all concerned in making the entire contents of this album because it certainly reigns supreme once the freight train boogie of ‘Daddy’s On A Freight Train’ comes rolling down the track with improvised clickety-clacks from vocalist Don Diego Geraci that signal the end of the song. The mood is buoyant during ‘Truck Drivin’ Daddy’, which possesses a definite whiff of Dale Watson’s earlier truckin’ tunes; ditto the band’s song ‘Monday’ that is even closer to the aforementioned Watson and therefore inspired decisions as both numbers are genuine rockin’ delights. There are several clues during ‘Greetings From Austin’ to suggest that the band certainly enjoyed themselves in the making of this record, where humour can be found in some of the song titles (‘Django From Twango’), not to mention rewording on various classics (‘I Didn’t Walk The Line’). The Don Diego Trio has created a snapshot of a memorable week in Austin, Texas, by way of album ‘Greetings From Austin’ that serves as both a tribute to the City, but also its musical heritage.


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Lady Killer

Scotty Baker

El Toro

Wearing matching attire and looks resembling one of Hollywood’s film and studio A-listers, with a second clue held by the title of this third offering from Scotty Baker (answers on a postcard to the usual address if you like), ‘Lady Killer’ is the album that should see the Australian rockabilly star gain further popularity. Backed by his in-house band, the equally talented ‘Doel Brothers, along with fellow Aussie Ezra Lee (piano) and the seemingly ubiquitous and guitar maestro Darrel Higham, Baker set about his business with the end result being fourteen new compositions. Beginning with the rockin’ and swinging affair that is ‘Back To The Country’ with its effective use of pedal steel and lyrics full of suggestions about heading back to his roots, or more a question of escaping the hustle and bustle of city life which has served Baker so well in terms of promoting his music to wider audiences. However, any desires of the quiet life thankfully evaporate once the mean and moody rockabilly influenced ‘Bump Stops’ enters the picture because it’s a song full of attitude (held by its rhythm alone) and subtle humour (a key ingredient and definite charm to the song writing of Baker) referencing cars with the opposite sex. Another attraction of ‘Lady Killer’ is the broad range of influences used during such numbers as ‘One And Only One’ that ventures out into rhythm and blues with a fine turn on the sax from Stephane Swervy, and repeated during the bright ‘Baby’s Dress’. Elsewhere, the formerly mentioned Ezra Lee stamps his mark all over the excellent ‘Hank’s Cadillac’ that references Hank Williams, coupled with flashes of Jerry Lee Lewis via Ezra’s dominant and skilful playing. The ghost of rock ‘n’ roll is conjured during back-to-back songs ‘Girl I Need’ and the album’s title track, with both numbers possessing killer guitars at the hands of Darrel Higham, who combines garage rock with rock ‘n’ roll on ‘Girl I Need’, and then helps to drive an infectious rhythm during ‘Lady Killer’ that goes straight to your heart with added HEAT from Scotty Baker’s vocal. ‘I Still Don’t Care’ is a how many finger(s) salute one cares to use in the direction of a former relationship that turned sour. Whereas ‘Forget About My Heart’ raises a glass of humour with its  “…forget about my heart and give my liver some love”, which gains further clarity once the chuggin’ rhythm, à la Johnny Cash, comes into view of ‘One Of The Some’. The genius that is Scotty Baker makes it three albums in a row where the word ‘magnificent’ can be applied, once more, to latest addition ‘Lady Killer’. If there’s to be one winner however, then this latest addition to the Baker catalogue edges the contest by the narrowest of margins, simply for its openness to a broader range of influences, and for its decision to allow its hired hands equal ownership over its contents and turn ‘Lady Killer’ into a real family affair.


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The Band In Black

Johnny Horsepower

El Toro

No doubt viewed by some as an unnecessary exercise when it comes to producing (more or less) carbon copies of the songs of Johnny Cash, but not so for the men in black known as Johnny Horsepower. What makes this trio of musicians standout is their location of Denmark that is far removed from the original man in black’s upbringing, yet mirror that early rockabilly sound they most certainly do and with a few of their own compositions thrown in for good measure. In fact, it’s one of Johnny Horsepower’s own songs that captures the attention from the off with ‘The Story Of The Man In Black’ that doubles up as a tribute to Johnny Cash as well as paying its respects to the early foundations of the rockabilly genre by namechecking Elvis, Carl Perkins et al. ‘Hey Porter’ is a sweet reminder of the basic charms of the aforementioned early roots of rockabilly and remains lodged in the memory bank for days after it has finished spinning. The rest of ‘The Band In Black’ speaks for itself with authentic and inch perfect deliveries during ‘Let The Train Blow The Whistle’, ‘Wanted Man’ and the dark and wry tones of ‘I Didn’t Shiver’ that was one step ahead of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds fame. If there is a downside to this album, and unfortunately there is, it can be heard from the small cluster of songs beginning with ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ where the band enrolled the talents of W.S. Holland on drums and made the decision to record these songs live. Nothing wrong with that decision of course but, unfortunately, the live setup sits awkwardly with the rest of the LP and would have served far better as an EP in its own right. Small gripes, but definitely warranted when the album ends up sounding like two separate entities. That said, ‘The Band In Black’ is a must for all fans of Johnny Cash and those who simply enjoy the early primitive sounds of rockabilly.


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Eddie Cochran: The Absolutely Essential Collection

Eddie Cochran

Big 3

The collection of CDs made available via the Big 3 label is definitely one of the better compilations for those less initiated in the work of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll legend Eddie Cochran. In fact, to receive a more thorough overview of Cochran’s music, then you’re looking at a mortgaged-sized box set. However, if it’s value for money you’re after, and one that possesses quality of sound, then you’ve definitely arrived at the right place as ‘Eddie Cochran: The Absolutely Essential Collection’ offers a solid  overview of his career with well-known hits such as ‘Summertime Blues’, ‘Twenty Flight Rock’, ‘C’Mon Everybody’ and ‘Three Steps To Heaven’ to name but a small handful. Where this compilation excels is for its inclusion of the unrelated duo of Eddie and Hank Cochran via a selection of The Cochran Brothers songs such as ‘Guilty Conscience’ and ‘Fool’s Paradise’. Unfortunately there’s no ‘Jelly Bean’ included here, which is one of Eddie Cochran’s best numbers as well as no liner notes to consult with, but that is mere nick picking considering the aforementioned price tag and high number of songs included. ‘Eddie Cochran: The Absolutely Essential Collection’ is a worthy addition for anyone’s record collection.


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Buddy Holly: The Absolutely Essential Collection

Buddy Holly

Big 3

Life doesn’t get much better than this! Having landed on the FLW doormat this morning this essential, yes ESSENTIAL collection of Buddy Holly songs with the Crickets of course not only offers superb value for money for any prospective record buyers, but more importantly for covering a broad range of material. Sure, all of the usual suspects are here such as ‘Peggy Sue’, ‘Raining In My Heart’, ‘Maybe Baby’ and ‘Heartbeat’, but this three CD set is to be highly applauded for not only its inclusion of Buddy Holly’s rockabilly and rockin’ numbers with namely ‘Rock Around With Ollie Vee’, ‘Midnight Shift’, ‘Ting-A-Ling’, ‘Don’t Come Back Knockin’ and a wonderfully raw version of ‘Ready Teddy’, but also less obvious inclusions such as ‘Moondreams’, ‘That Makes It Tough’ and ‘Learning The Game’. If only this artist was still alive and well today, then who knows what genius he would have conjured up next because there is plenty of evidence during this compilation to suggest that Buddy Holly would have continued producing great miracles.


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Jerry Lee Lewis: The Absolutely Essential Collection

Jerry Lee Lewis

Big 3

There is no introduction required when it comes to the wild and wonderful talent that is Jerry Lee Lewis. Spread out over three CDs, and including fifty-seven tracks in total, is a variety of Jerry Lee Lewis’ hit singles from ‘High School Confidential’ to ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’Goin On’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’. With a lot of the SUN Records era covered and therefore space for including the excellent and more bluesy feel of ‘Hello, Hello Baby’ and ‘The Ballad of Billy Joe’ showing the influences running through this man’s piano fingers, the Big 3 record label offers value for money and quality with this release. The only downside to this compilation album, and the entire series, is the lack of any information regarding the artist or tracks included, which is a shame considering the rest of the quality on offer here. However, for an introduction to the musical abilities of Jerry Lee Lewis, especially in that prime SUN Records era, then ‘Jerry Lee Lewis: The Absolutely Essential Collection’ is a fine introduction that should open the doorway to further investigation of this mercurial and wonderful talent.


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Supersonic Gal

Maryann & the Tri-Tones

Rhythm Bomb

There’s a storming racket blaring out of the capital of Estonia and goes by the name of Maryann & the Tri-Tones. With this album being a re-release of her debut album that apparently was restricted to a limited run, Maryann & the Tri-Tones are given a second bite of the cherry with their ‘Supersonic Gal’. Without a moment’s hesitation this second chance is seized upon via a succession of wild and rockin’ tracks that showcases a powerful set of vocal chords – having been known to draw comparisons with Janis Martin – and rockabilly soundtrack that is equally forceful. Breaking its way through from the off is the bitter parting shot of ‘Honey Baby’ with Maryann really impressing as she sheds this particular set of baggage. Impressing elsewhere is the clever manner in which some of the songs are knitted together and therefore provide a rolling commentary of the relationship(s) at hand here, where ‘I’m Moving Up’ appropriately follows the aforementioned ‘Honey Baby’ by reaffirming its independence and then seemingly mocking in superb style by incorporating a bit of Joe Bennett and Jimmy Denton’s ‘Black Slacks’. Classy, clever and cool Maryann & the Tri-Tones ‘Supersonic Gal’ is definitely an album worth owning.


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Get Up and Dance!

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Compiled over five CDs is the latest collection of tracks taken from the stable at Rhythm Bomb Records. Arranged into categories consisting of Perfect for Parties; Boppers; Strollers; Jivers and Slow Down there’s definitely something here to suit fans of the genres of rockabilly and rhythm and blues. With this set following on from previous box set ‘We Got Rhythm’, there’s an incredible 125 tracks to consume and too much for one sitting! Representing more up-to-date releases with artists ranging from Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons (‘Damn Their Hides’); AJ & the Rockin’ Trio (‘She Do The Bop’); Twisted Rod (‘Booze Bop’) and The Starjays (‘Who Do You Love The Most’) to name but a select few, it’s pleasing to see bands and hear tracks chosen from the vaults at Rhythm Bomb with Gone Hepsville, Pete Hutton & the Beyonders, Chris Almoada, The Backseat Boogie, Mississippi Queen and Pep Torres. Limited to only 300 copies, and with far too much detail to reveal all here, ‘Get Up and Dance!’ is an essential purchase and another introduction to the array of bands releasing the goods at Rhythm Bomb. Now get going!


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Move Around (Single)

The Rockin' Combs

Enviken

Released as a 7″ vinyl and on all digital platforms, The Rockin’ Combs make their entrance with an opening bow of a cover of Groovey Joe Poovey’s ‘Move Around’ and a flipside containing a track written by Marcel Riesco from fellow rockers Truly Lover Trio by the name of ‘Pretending’. This is raw and primitive rockabilly straight from the 50s, well, 2016 actually, and that’s how authentic The Rockin’ Combs has made it sound! With this four-piece combo in the process of recording more songs for a long player, The Rockin’ Combs has started their career in fine style with this double slice of wild and authentic rockabilly.


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Shake That Thing

Kieron McDonald

Rhythm Bomb

Fourth solo album for Australian Kieron McDonald who normally can be found fronting the Flatfoot Shakers. Latest album ‘Shake That Thing’ is pretty much business as usual with Kieron recreating a genuine rockabilly sound with leading contenders for such a description via the snappy twang of opening song ‘Rockabilly High’; the lonesome ‘The Knock On My Door’ which is instantly kicked into touch by the positive upturn in fortunes of ‘Goodbye Lonesome’, before pleading once more for ‘A Little Love’ in his life backed by a rockin’ rhythm. Such knowhow when creating a long player full of original material is largely down to Kieron McDonald’s longstanding when it comes to the rockin’ scene, only this time there is additional support and creative input from fellow Aussies Hank’s Jalopy Demons and Ezra Lee. It would appear that the additional input of these musicians has added to the slightly darker edges and wilder elements that have a habit of appearing at various stages (‘The Devil’s Eyes’, ‘I’m The King of The Road’ and ‘Why’) not to mention the piano trickery of Ezra Lee capturing an old-timey feel during the excellent ‘She Means Nothing To Me’. With such good company in the rear, Kieron McDonald doesn’t forget to shine as this is after all his stage and where you can hear his influence all over the reflective ‘She Thinks of You’ and relentless beat of ‘Go Go Girl’ for example. A full pot of original material and one that requires your undivided attention because ‘Shake That Thing’ is just that record to keep the rockabilly flame truly burning.


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Gone For Lovin

Vince & the Sun Boppers

Rhythm Bomb

Highly experienced in their line of work, Vince & the Sun Boppers issue a twelve-track album full of original material. Borrowing a couple of players from Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes and The Ballroom Kings, this is not entirely a newly assembled line-up as there have been previous releases elsewhere. The album itself has been described as capturing the sound and spirit of 1950s Sun Studio when music really was king. Fast forward to the present however, and such an assertion is justified when hearing the authentic rockabilly of ‘Gone For Lovin’ captured by producers Axel and Ike. Whether it’s the charming stroll of ‘Lone No More’ or the alluring draw of ‘Devil Eyes’ Vince & the Sun Boppers is a band comfortable and most certainly confident in their abilities as this music is quality assured. For those seeking their rockabilly with a bit more urgency, then ‘Gone For Lovin’ knows how to rock with the best of them as does ‘Dance With Sally’ which possesses a gritty edge throughout. The 50s originals can never be surpassed, and that is certainly not the intention of ‘Gone For Lovin’. However, Vince & the Sun Boppers do a fine job of recapturing that ‘special’ sound and energy with a series of tracks from a time now sadly consigned to the history books.


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Space Invaders

The Kings of Outer Space

Greystone Records

Having avoided the prospect of a truly gruesome demise via the walking dead in the heart of the West Country (see accompanying video to earlier single ‘Zombie Walk’), The Kings of Outer Space made their escape in order to add the finishing touches to their third long player. While it may seem business as usual considering the title of the band’s new album ‘Space Invaders’ – the obsession with UFOs and space travel continues  – this is a fresh start of sorts for The Kings of Outer Space as the band hail a new line-up, with frontman Giggsy being the sole survivor, as well as switching to a new home with Greystone Records. Despite the changes, The Kings of Outer Space remain difficult to pin down in terms of their overall sound, which is always a positive due to embracing elements from a variety of genres – predominately rockabilly and psychobilly yet with strong ties to post punk and to a certain degree mid-80s indie obscurities. It makes for a flavoursome musical fest without ever sounding muddled, but where latest album ‘Space Invaders’ differs from their previous albums is that you can hear a considerable amount of space between the ideas in the songs where ideas sound less hurried and the songs benefit due to being given more time to breathe. Despite these noticeable differences the band retain their identity as there is no seismic shift in style(s) as ‘Space Invaders’ still sounds like a Kings of Outer Space album with rockabilly running ragged through ‘Cosmic Boy’, to the almost western film score parking up during ‘Remainder Men’ that lingers long in the memory afterwards with lines such as, “When the sun goes down for the very last time, You’ll never see me again”. Bookending the other side of this is the garage rock of ‘Lucky escape’ that reveals an upturn in fortunes for the character at the centre of this song. It’s not all positive, however, as the title track attempts a similar sounding feat but, in the process, sounds tepid in comparison and tired as far as the fresh ideas go. Thankfully ‘Crocodiles’ snaps its heels and wakes up the creative department once more by way of the ska-driven beat and creative use of the title serving as a metaphor for the bitter side of life. ‘Ciao!’ reverts to film score territory once more only this time involving a duet with Giggsy and Lula D, and it’s a song that never pulls any punches when pointing the finger of blame for this particular relationship demise. Despite various similarities in sound, The Kings of Outer Space has delivered quite possibly their strongest musical statement yet, which benefits due to less haste but also by incorporating new ideas where the lyrics in particular take five minutes to live with humanity rather than partying with little green men from dusk till dawn. ‘Space Invaders’ could just be the ticket to launch a whole new series of missions for The Kings of Outer Space where non-intergalactic travel is just as essential as the missions to outer space.



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