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Released Out now

 

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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Soulful Woman

Billie and the Kids

Rhythm Bomb

Picking up from where the band left off last time is third album ‘Soulful Woman’ for Billie and the Kids. There’s a lively feel to the majority of songs on offer here with frontwoman Billie in fine fettle along with the rest of the band who power their way through a series of songs only allowing a few minutes to slow things down when the mood feels right. There’s no compromising during opening track ‘I Won’t Be Your Fool’ that is full of bullish instrumentation and sturdy vocals that mean nothing but business. Following on from that ‘Who’s The One That Stole Your Heart’ is lyrically an open confession set to a passionate performance from all concerned. With ‘He Can Rock’ tearing the house down via an opening shrill of vocals clearly influenced by Little Richard, and other more bluesy numbers such as ‘Baby How Long’ offering plenty of grit, it’s left to the likes of plaintive and soulful ballad ‘Another Love’ to provide another side to this talented band. If you’re searching for rhythm and blues packed with energy and emotions, then you’ve come to the right place with Billie and the Kids ‘Soulful Woman’.


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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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Cockroach Run Vol. 8

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

More dancefloor movers and another edition to the current series that features blues, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll with this being ‘Cockroach Run’. Consisting of a hefty twenty-eight tracks, the time soon flies under a series of scintillating tracks. Where this particular volume differs, however, from previous editions are the less predictable themes on offer, which is something to be praised because there’s humour afoot here, not to mention much reflection on life’s hardships. Whether it’s something a little exotic you’re seeking, then look no further than ‘Rockin’ In The Jungle’ supplied by Wailin Bethea & The Captains, to the nudge and wink conversation of ‘Topless’, before arriving at the downright bonkers and highly appealing ‘Nightmares’. There’s not a dull moment to be had during ‘Cockroach Run’ with The Jolly Jax Trio reinforcing such a point with their energetic ‘Everything Is A-Okay’, and then Joe McCoy & His Real McCoys really driving this message home with a wry sense of humour that sees everything from flying saucers crashing into planes and his partner changing her name! It makes for compelling listening and really deserves to be heard from start to finish as ‘Cockroach Run’ is a thrilling and unpredictable ride of emotions and sounds that just about manages to stay encompassed in its rockin’ rhythm and blues shell.


Released Out now

 

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!


Released Out now

 

It’s A Man Down There Vol. 6

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Filling out the dancing shoes is the newest in the series with ‘It’s A Man Down There’. Set to a predominately shifting rhythm and blues tempo and where big band influences and sounds can be heard, not to mention rock ‘n’ roll. ‘It’s A Man Down There’ is certainly from the “Land of the Ravy-Gravy” as given by its press intro and voice Little Victor. There’s so much to be found between the grooves here that will fill the dancefloors whether it’s the rockin’ belter and Little Richard doppelganger in sound ‘Look Out’ supplied by Rockin’ Bradley, to major clue given by its title as to the source of its actual sound of Leon & The Hi Tones ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll In the Groove’. The back-to-back pairing of ‘I’m Gonna Pay You Back Baby’ and ‘No More’ from Bob Rayford and Johnny Fuller respectively ooze with class and speak of revenge, which is equally matched by the big band approach of ‘Bye Bye Bye’ from Doc Palmer. The halfway point of this particular volume in the series tips back and forth between more straight blues (Harvey Hill JR. ‘She Fool Me’) and mid-tempo rockers (‘Baby Shame’, ‘Satisfied With My Lovin’). The standout point and knockout blow of this entire set arrives via Jimmy Anthony and ‘Fore Day In The Morning’ with a vocal that could power the entirety of this album alone. With songs that suggest and certainly depict relationships turning sour, the dancefloor fillers making up this album will lift the gloom in no time and see ‘It’s A Man Down There’ not too down for too much longer.


Released Out now

 

Work With It Vol. 11

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Another edition in the blues and rhythm and blues series that finds numerous artists upping the tempo and adding more layers to the primitive foundations of the aforementioned genres. Such musical developments are noticeable from the very beginning of this latest volume as ‘Work With It’ communicates this progression via several tracks where the guitar is often frantic in sound and expression. In fact, the guitar appears central to this latest addition in this series where songs fly out of the traps at great speed via Cal Green’s excellent ‘Huffin’ & Puffin’ and Chuck Mann’s ‘Little Miss Muffet’. The freight train rhythm and hollering vocal that introduces ‘I’m Tired Of Beggin’ is an impressive coupling that forces the listener to down tools before changing track and opting for a more sophisticated sounding ‘Mary Jo’ created at the hands of Red Miller & Quartett. That’s not to suggest that everything blaring from the speakers of ‘Work With It’ is a slick and well-oiled set of songs because the raw and primitive (guitar) sounds can be heard whether sounding almost ramshackle one moment during the aforementioned ‘Little Miss Muffet’, to similar examples later on from Slim Green’s ‘Shake ‘Em Up and beaten and bruised emotions from aptly named Guitar Crusher and equally compelling ‘I’ve Got To Know’. It may be the guitar that is the focal point in the latest series ‘Work With It’, but it remains the entire package of characters and tales to the varied assortment of blues and rhythm and blues expression that really reigns supreme here.


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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.


Released Out now

 

Wine Is Fine

Miss Lily Moe

Rhythm Bomb

Hailing from Switzerland Miss Lily Moe has steadily built a name for herself with a strong and passionate vocal set to a rhythm and blues backdrop that has seen her perform at numerous music festivals in the US and Europe. With this being a rhythm and blues sound from the 40s and 50s, the sense of nostalgia is clear to the listener throughout the singer’s sophomore album ‘Wine Is Fine’. It’s the sense of times gone by, coupled with a genuine feeling of the majority of these songs happening in the here and now, which is largely down to the themes remaining the same i.e. the joys and woes associated with relationships that fill the narratives of these songs. Breathing life into these songs is Miss Lily Moe with a fine set of vocal deliveries that see her stamp her authority during opening song ‘Daddy You Can’t Come Back’ and then showing much resilience after one rejection too many via the lively rhythm of ‘Baby’s Gonna Rock ‘n’ Roll’, which is then repeated in similar style with ‘Mama’s Out To Have A Ball’. ‘Broken Heart’ ushers in a ballad and is delivered compellingly via Miss Lilly Moe’s vocal, one that is equally supplemented by the male backing vocals and making this a definite album highlight. Elsewhere, the focus is either to blow away the blues (‘Roll On’) or enjoy the genuine sense of occasion of a night out on the tiles (‘Rockin’ On Saturday Night’). Despite any downturns when it comes to finding the perfect recipe for love, ‘Wine Is Fine’ is an album strong in character where indecision never plays a part as the outcome of each and every song knows exactly what it wants. Such feelings are to be applauded, as are the fine musicians along with Miss Lily Moe who’ve created a heartfelt and authentic gem of an album. There’s no second album syndrome blues evident here.


Released Out now

 

Turn Up The Fire (Single)

Nova Miller

BMG Records / 21:12 Entertainment

Classy pop music by way of Nova Miller and her latest single ‘Turn Up The Fire’. With her roots firmly set in Sweden, there is a definite Scandinavian feel to the fresh pop sound on offer here. ‘Turn Up The Fire’ possesses a crisp production and is filled with bright electronic beats that really get behind the song’s chorus, and lend weight to the sentiments of love expressed during this current single. With an equally classy video that accompanies the single release; filmed on location in Iceland with breath-taking backdrops and Nova Miller at the centre of this (naturally), there is a definite resilience to this Swedish songstress echoed by the song’s lyrics, in addition to having to brave the cold climate or, more to the point, embracing it! No matter as the passionate tones burning a trail through ‘Turn Up the Fire’ are enough to warm up the coldest of hearts and make one believe that love really can prevail.


Released 23 February

 

Factory Blues (Single)

Country Heroes

Safe & Sound Recordings

A genuine country sound straight outta Norway! Brushing down their country attire for a fresh outing are Norwegians, Country Heroes, and their brand new single ‘Factory Blues’. With the band having formed in 2014, and one full album (‘Southern Insecurity’) behind them, Country Heroes issue first single, ‘Factory Blues’, from their upcoming sophomore album ‘Honky Tonk Tears’. By focusing on the blue collar sector of workers, the factory theme reminds of a 70s era when such labour was in high demand and probably at its peak, especially in terms of output. In addition, country music pretty much dominated the (UK) airwaves during said period, and this is where the ‘Factory Blues’ of the Country Heroes is most reminiscent of, despite hailing from the southern plains of Norway. With a miniscule rock edge to the country guitars, ‘Factory Blues’ is a fairly detailed overview of a typical working week where banter can fly between workers, cigarettes and coffee are consumed and, of course, hard work being the main, and toughest part of all. But it remains the anticipation of the end of the working week where one is working to live rather than living to work as it’s all about hitting the (honky tonks) bars and going out dancing. All of these details are expertly handled by Country Heroes, who maintain a steady rhythm throughout, with wonderful narration from vocalist Jørund Vålandsmyr who is never overpowering yet manages to capture your attention with considerable ease. Lap up these ‘Factory Blues’ from 9 to 5 because there is much promise to come from this country band.



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