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After The Rooster Crows

Mystery Trio

Rhythm Bomb

Upon first hearing Mystery Trio’s current album, it left a rather blank impression, with a feeling of not knowing what to make of it. Second outing however, the fuss surrounding this three-piece unit was fully understood. ‘After The Rooster Crows’ is a fitting title for the boys from Brazil’s album. An apt description of the contents inside because there is a sprightly feel to their rockin’ tunes; highlighted by first song, ‘We’re Gonna Have A Good Time’, and born to do this job, Elvis Martinatto, who sounds eager to get the festivities started judging by the faint hiccups and flickering hollers in his vocal delivery. For those expecting a wild, non-stop adrenalin ride of rockabilly, then think again, as Mystery Trio provide much variation in their overall sound, and evidenced by the reflective stroll ‘Just Awaitin’, for example. A huge sip of coffee is taken in the, ‘pinch yourself in order to believe it’ moment that is ‘Black Coffee’, brought to life by impressive vocals once more. ‘After The Rooster Crows’ is certainly a sophisticated album in the (modern) rockabilly world, and one that should be filed under the heading ‘grower’, due to the levels of detail hidden between its layers. But it’s also the restrained manner in which Mystery Trio deliver their material, only giving way, every now and then, with a desire to truly go wild (i.e. ‘Brunette To Blonde’). In addition to this, much respect is given between the trio where the vocals are often pushed to the fore, yet Beto Glaser’s electric guitar has a habit of creeping under the tripwire of said vocals without impeding its impact in any way (i.e. ‘Pretending Is A Game’). There are few immediate numbers, with ‘Call Me’ being one such song that will continue playing in your mind long after it’s finished, such are its addictive qualities. A trio from Brazil who suggest they’re in it for the long haul judging by the strength and depth of latest album ‘After The Rooster Crows’, which should still be spinning this time next year, and quite possibly the year after that.


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Old Cars, Tattoos, Bad Girls, Wild Guitars

Ati Edge and the Shadowbirds

Rhythm Bomb

More a one man show when you consider the number of roles performed by frontman, Ati Edge (no relation to another famous guitarist), who penned the 11 tracks on offer here, in addition to producing the record and designing the artwork gracing the album’s cover. No doubt tea making duties were also part of his brief when meeting up with fellow bandmates, The Shadowbirds, to record ‘Old Cars, Tattoos, Bad Girls, Wild Guitars’ because his work rate is without doubt impressive. Of course, Ati Edge wouldn’t be complete without Krista Kat on upright bass and Rolee Shine on drums in order to make these songs transmit to a wider audience. The psychobilly label can definitely be applied to this release; evident by the vocals that give the impression of a pre-soak in bourbon, and then left to marinate overnight, before setting to task the next day in a rather gruff manner. This, unfortunately, is also the album’s weakest link because after a period of time it all becomes a bit too much, due to a lack of variation in its overall expression. In its defence, ‘Old Cars, Tattoos, Bad Girls, Wild Guitars’ is an album free of pretence, with the notion that what you see is what you get, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, this particular long player would have best been served as a full instrumental, as this is where its most interesting aspects lie. Look no further than the album’s title track with Ati Edge and The Shadowbirds applying an engaging dark blend to the rhythm playing out this song, which is nicely spiced with a bit of Duane Eddy in terms of the guitar. ‘Let The Guitar Keep On Playin’ also packs a tasty, noirish beat, and offers the most complete song when taking the vocals into account. ‘Baddest Girl In Town’ pricks the interest somewhat with its hint of Stray Cats’ ‘Rock This Town’ during its intro. Once more it’s left to the instruments to grab the headlines with the rhythmically tight instrumental, ‘Hot Rod Racing’. With a little less stiffness in the vocal department, and perhaps a complete shift to an instrumental affair the next time Ati Edge and The Shadowbirds decide to record a follow up to ‘Old Cars, Tattoos, Bad Girls, Wild Guitars’, then the trio from Hungary could have one hell of an album on their hands.


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Music On The Up Beat

Hanks Jalopy Demons

Rhythm Bomb

Fine moniker, even finer band. Hailing from the land of Oz, and joining forces for one track (‘Blue Knuckle Ride’) with fellow Aussie musician, Ezra Lee, Hanks Jalopy Demons see their ‘Music On The Up Beat’ released. Closer inspection reveals that this new album is, in fact, a reissue of their previously released Australian only version of the same name Down Under, with the album now receiving wider international distribution. Almost as old as time itself, this four-piece band have been treading the rockabilly circuit for some time, as well as performing in other bands such as Benny and the Fly-By-Niters and the Starliners. With this baggage comes a wealth of experience and evident from the off by recapturing a raw and authentic rockin’ sound. Take the jittery rhythm of ‘Damn Their Hides’, with its paranoid or truthful narrative depending on how one interprets it, but either way this song speaks volumes, “Damn their hides, They’re gonna take you for a ride, Damn their hides, They’re gonna feed you lies”, which could very well be speaking about the industry they find themselves in. It’s a terrific start. More greatness follows with, ‘You Bring Out The Wolf In Me’ that finds lead vocalist, Hank Ferguson, slipping into character and struggling to retain his affections for the other half in his life via some compelling vocals and hints of a definite darker side to this song. If you’re looking for a variety of emotions and topics, then you have come to the right place as ‘Music On The Up Beat’ is littered with them. ‘The Jackal’ and ‘No Shoes’ are two such examples that touch on the darker sides of life once again; both revealing somewhat desperate situations, greatly exemplified by the musicianship and intriguing lyrics. There is even humour afoot during ‘Beat Up ’40s Ford’, sandwiched between two other auto-themed songs (‘Peel Out Baby’ and ‘Blue Knuckle Ride’), that retains an affection for this beat-up truck, despite getting left behind by faster models on the motorway somewhere. It is such songs, as those mentioned, that suggests you could set a cereal box in front of Hanks Jalopy Demons and within a matter of minutes the ingredients from said box of cereal would likely be transformed into an engaging yarn. If further demonstration is required of the inherent skills at the centre of this band, then ‘The Loser’ is perhaps the pick of the crop. Awash in a drunken haze and lost in its own sorrows – part comical where you can visualise the central character almost falling from his barstool after propping up the bar for so long – it’s music that really describe its content to great effect. Not content with leaving it there, Hanks Jalopy Demons show fire in their bellies with the rousing ‘The Pressure’s On’  bringing this long player to a dramatic conclusion. ‘Music On The Up Beat’, most definitely!


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Perfect For Parties 3

Various Artists

Rhythm Bomb

Jam packed and crammed to the rafters is the compilation album ‘Perfect For Parties 3’. With the odd number of thirty-one tracks of predominantly rockabilly and rhythm and blues making up this compilation album, the decisions made concerning the artists involved no doubt caused a few sleepless nights considering the roster to choose from. By allowing The Rip Em Ups to kick-start this party was definitely the right decision with their piping hot instrumental ‘Killswitch!’. The infectious energy of this opening number permeates to the rest of the album, with the twanging guitar and raw vocals of Crystal & Runnin’ Wild’s ‘You Gotta Go’ really adding to the tempo set, before handing over the baton to the likes of Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes (‘Go Man Go’), The Backseat Boogie (‘Sins and Secrets’) and Marc and the Wild Ones (‘Can’t Stop Lovin’ You’) to keep this particular segment of the party rockin’. A healthy dose of rhythm and blues is added to the mix with the excellent Rusty Pinto and CC Jerome adding much character by way of ‘Mary Lou’, and then followed in similar fashion by Nico Duportal & his Rhythm Dudes (‘When I’m Gone’) and Cherry Casino & the Gamblers (‘Where Can I Put The Junk’). Familiar faces pop up with the longstanding Spo-Dee-O-Dee chipping in with ‘Little Baby of Mine’, and Levi Dexter with ‘Roots Man’, as well as two darker numbers with first, Jittery Jack’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ and followed by Twisted Rod’s obsessional ‘When I Watch You’. The final statement is left to The Sabres and their instrumental ‘Ride The Savage’, which is the perfect demonstration of how to really celebrate this wild rockin’ party in style.


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The Sabres

The Sabres

Rhythm Bomb

Describing themselves as an ‘American instrumental rock ‘n’ roll combo recreating the savage guitar sounds that ruled the world in the 50s and 60s’ is, more or less, a perfect way to describe The Sabres recent, and eponymously titled album. Where this album differs is when it decides to stray from such a description by applying the brakes and taking a more relaxed approach, or picking from a wider number of musical reference points that make this album more than a straightforward surf guitar instrumental long player. With so much expression crammed into opening number ‘Pussy Footin’ despite only running for a brief time, this particular instrumental manages to spin and twirl its way throughout, in addition to sliding down the fretboard of frontman Casello’s guitar to great effect. After such a dramatic entrance, there is no let up as far as the detailed expression is concerned with ‘Stink Bomb’ sounding like an additional number to a film score, and ‘Hamhocks’ free flowing use of guitar and Hammond organ possessing a real 60s flavour. ‘Tsunami’ really lives up to its title with a combination of surf guitar and drums maintaining a hectic pace. It’s no surprise that a calmer tempo is applied to the following ‘Always Blue’, which is executed to perfection with, naturally, Casello’s guitar leading the way and supplemented with a light, shuffling percussive rhythm. There are moments to ‘Nutrocker’ that really captures the senses, only for the song to take a less desirable route via a nauseating section of 60s kitsch. ‘Ride The Savage’ gets back on track by way of some red-hot guitar, and then proceeded by ‘Chin Tiki Swing’ showcasing the band’s skilful musicianship to wonderful effect. If ‘Chin Tiki Swing’ is not enough for some to suggest a suitable conclusion due to its sheer brilliance, then a cover of Link Wray’s ‘Jack The Ripper’ is definitely a fitting finale to the talents of The Sabres.


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Cheater

The Domestic Bumblebees

Enviken

It’s been a while since the last long player from The Domestic Bumblebees, but the wait is finally over with brand new offering ‘Cheater’. Having crafted this latest album for the purpose of catering for ‘good and bad times’, The Domestic Bumblebees turn in a mixed tempo of songs that live up to such a description. It’s safe to say that the first half of this album from a lyrical perspective are the tunes that reflect the down times, with song titles providing such clues – ‘Blue Lover’, ‘Cheater, ‘Crying Over You’ et al – whereas side two lifts the spirits in a flurry of optimism and revelry that is all about ‘Summer Nights’ and ‘Sweet Sin’. There is nothing in the rhythm of opening song ‘Blue Lover’ to suggest that it’s in the doldrums because it’s a driving rocker of a song, with the faintest of links to the American power pop that was popular with a number of post-punk bands during the late 90s. Unusual as this may seem considering the genre in which The Domestic Bumblebees reside in, it’s also an interesting aspect to their music and overall appeal because there is crossover potential here with the band clearly fans of other types of music. ‘Crying Over You’ provides another example of the band’s diversity because its roots are firmly planted in an early 60s vibe of pop and garage rock. The title song, ‘Cheater’, lands on more familiar ground by being a rugged bopper and offers smart and witty lyrics – one line in particular that really stands out due to referring to an infamous sports personality – that simply have to be heard. The built-for-the-dancefloor ‘Matilda’ is full of wishful thinking but suffers as a result of this as it ambles for too long in second gear. Far from dwelling on this as two rockin’ numbers arrive with the first, ‘No Matter What’, being the kind of song to make Jerry Lee Lewis proud, and the follow on, ‘Rock Awhile’, is wild rock ‘n’ roll of the highest order, exemplified by the skilful guitars ringing out their beat and complete with splashes of whammy bar! The quality level dips with the plodding tempo of ‘Sweet Sin’, only for the closing ‘Rocker’ to save the song from its blushes by pumping some much needed life into the album’s finale. By attempting to offer a whole lot more outside of what could be defined as their comfort zone, The Domestic Bumblebees continue to be an exciting prospect, which is evident from the majority of the songs making up latest album ‘Cheater’.


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Hot Summer Nights

The Wise Guyz

El Toro

Prolific when it comes to their song writing, The Wise Guyz are back with a fourth album release, ‘Hot Summer Nights’. Charting similar territory to their previous album releases, this latest instalment raises the temperature somewhat with a variety of rockabilly numbers, but also shuffles in a few other influences and ideas to keep The Wise Guyz’ creative pot bubbling. With sixteen tracks to transmit their often wild rockin’ sound, ‘2 AM Rock’ is the first offering and what a way to make an introduction! Full of conviction, these Ukrainian cats will be rockin’ until the sun rises because ‘2 AM Rock’ is everything its tile suggests as it’s wild, it’s fuelled with energy, and possesses a real sting in its vocal that will raise even the dead into a boppin’ frenzy! Next in line, ‘Crash’ lets the instruments take the driving seat by kicking up a dangerous and menacing rhythm, greatly emphasised by the additional saxophone that adds a real intensity to the song. ‘Miss Chris’ pays its respects to Gene Vincent and really shows The Wise Guyz at the top of their game where guitars are flexing much detail and remain light and surefooted, with howls of derision from the backing vocals every once in a while to accentuate this confidence. A notable difference with ‘Hot Summer Nights’  compared to say, the band’s debut album, ‘Don’t Touch My Greasy Hair’ is that the music assumes a greater role over the lyrics when considering the songs ‘Bop Disease’ and ‘Do It Bop’, for example, where the words are surface considerations. Elsewhere, ‘Rude Bad Boy’ introduces another facet to The Wise Guyz’ sound with rhythm and blues edging its way in and lead singer, Chris Bird, showing his range with expertly handled vocals. Sometimes less is more, however, as the high number of tracks would have benefitted from a little trimming because there is a tendency for one or two songs to get lost in the overall mix. With ‘Sad’ nearing the end of this fourth album, and providing another example of the band’s versatility with its ballad-esque approach reflecting on a love departed, The Wise Guyz provide enough wild excitement and drama to warrant a fifth long player when the time is right. For now, ‘Hot Summer Nights’ is more than enough company to keep those limbs boppin’ to the wee small hours.


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If You Give Me One More Try

Terry O'Connel and his Pilots

El Toro

By pulling all of its components together over a number of years to finally arrive at the position where Terry O’Connel felt comfortable to address his line up as Terry O’Connel and his Pilots was the correct decision once the contents of ‘If You Give Me One More Try’ reveal themselves. The manner in which Terry O’Connel and his Pilots piece together twelve songs of authentic rockabilly that really takes the listener back to a bygone era is to be greatly admired. Whether from Terry O’Connel’s superbly delivered vocal that is full of character and sounding like one of the country singers during the 50s who jumped on board the rockabilly train once it gained momentum in order to keep up with the changing times, or his Pilots picking and strumming their instruments expertly to arrive at rockin’ delights as ‘Hot Rod Mama’ and ‘Put ‘Em In A Pot’, it would seem that this album has got everything. Having recorded ‘If You Give Me One More Try’ in Sweden, the band certainly has a way of tapping into the genuine features of rockabilly music of the 50s considering the distance historically, but also geographically, as songs such as ‘Say Yes’, ‘Cool It’, ‘Let’s Cut To The Chase’ and, already mentioned, ‘Hot Rod Mama’ are as good as anything that was issued from that rockin’ era. There’s no question of giving Terry O’Connel and his Pilots one more try because this album is as good as it gets when it comes to rockabilly in the 21st century.


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Hits From The Movies

Ricky Fabian

Rhythm Bomb

Setting this out as something resembling a concept album due to drawing its inspiration from movie soundtracks and centring its themes of love and loss around this very idea, Ricky Fabian is an artist willing to push his creativity to the outer edges of the rockin’ scene that he finds himself situated in. There is a sense of early 60s musical styling present, but with enough flashes of the raw and rugged edges of the previous decade to Fabian’s second outing, ‘Hits From The Movies’. In order to experience the latter example described, then head straight for the rockin’ energy of ‘Big Ole Bag’ that really gets under the skin via its at once trembling instrumentation that suddenly explodes during its chorus with Fabian’s vocal equally raw. This fever is contagious as it spreads to ‘Skinny Jeannie’, who just happens to be the centre of attention and someone’s affections, greatly illustrated by its slinking rhythm and bouts of heated passion. The impact of ‘Cindy Cindy’ is immediate with its rhythm sweeping the listener off its feet, but it also reveals a high level of detail in terms of the instrumentation; especially use of piano and for holding a real twang in the guitar that showcases one example of the deeper consideration of the song writing process here. With two duets included and featuring Ruby Ann (‘Hideaway Blues’) and Cherry Casino (‘Sunset Girl’), plus the addition of a wonderful ballad, ‘A Thing Of The Past’, ‘Hits From The Movies’ definitely has something for all those who enjoy the raucous elements of the latter half of the 50s, in addition to the musical developments that started to form after this particular period during the early 60s.


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Piano Pumpin’ Sensation

Chris Girton

El Toro

Rather than producing the easier and more obvious route of a twelve track dedication to his idol, Jerry Lee Lewis, with the ‘Piano Pumpin’ Sensation’ of its title being the dead giveaway, Chris Girton, the man behind the piano keys, offers something else. That something else is twelve cover songs from an assortment of artists and songwriters who made their impact the first time around and have continued to leave a lasting impression on those still interested in such genres of music. Chris Girton just happens to be one of those artists thoroughly intrigued by rock ‘n’ roll’s rich history which, by adding his own spin on the songs selected, his ‘Piano Pumpin’ Sensation’ is now a part of that history. One point to address, however, is that the title of this record is a tad misleading because it’s not just the piano that is central to this album. Once the songs begin to peel away, the listener will hopefully identify the qualities held by Chris Girton’s vocal that are at once crooning during Darren Spears’ ‘Forever’s Much Too Long’, and the next keeping abreast with the rockin’ and expressive piano of ‘Break Up’. Skeet McDonald’s ‘What A Lonesome Life It’s Been’ is resurrected with a mild piano accompaniment and Girton’s vocal leading the narrative compellingly. By closing the set with an admirable version of ‘Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Until You Lose It)’, which falls somewhere between the two stools of Elvis and Eddie Cochran’s more reflective moments, the preferred option when it comes to ‘Piano Pumpin’ Sensation’ are the quieter, more reflective moments that really hold sway and suggest a strong option for a future long player.


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The Space Sessions

The Satellites

El Toro

Taking the listener on an orbit around planet bop is The Satellites with their ‘The Space Sessions’ long player. Steeped in an authentic rockabilly sound with added blues, The Satellites offer eleven songs to keep those entertained who are willing to accompany them on this 50s-styled galactic mission rocketing back in time. First stop is the foot-tapping rhythm of appropriately titled ‘Satellite Bop’,  which then sees the band take a slight detour with a cover of The Dreamers melding of doo-wop and rockabilly ‘Ding Dong (Du-Wadi-Wadi)’. The choice of cover songs remains impeccable throughout and offers a voyage of discovery for those looking to delve further in relation to the history books, with The Satellites applying a highly engaging version of ‘Farmer John’ and followed by a bit of the blues with a slightly pepped up take of Joe Hill Louis’ ‘Keep Your Arms Around Me’. Despite this album being heavily reliant on covers, ‘The Space Sessions’ never dips in terms of its overall appeal because the band has clearly done its homework by selecting a few obscurities that are no doubt hugely popular with The Satellites, but also difficult to find in relation to their original 45 status. For those looking to be transported back to a 50s era, then The Satellites ‘The Space Sessions’ is a journey worth taking.


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Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson

El Toro

It’s not all about the modern rockin’ scene at El Toro Records as, more often than not, the label issues a variety of albums with songs from the historical vaults, and then applies a fresh theme to such releases in relation to the pioneers of rockabilly for example. In focus here is Wanda Jackson, who doesn’t really need any introduction regarding her contributions to the genres of country and rockabilly, as well as her recent collaborative work with Jack White of The White Stripes. The double album  ‘Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson’ is divided into two halves; side one covers the years 1956-58 and Wanda Jackson’s recordings with Capitol Records and, during this time, the newly opened Capitol Tower in Hollywood, before a subsequent move to Capitol Records, Nashville, centring on the periods 1960-61. With detailed liner notes supplied by Dave Penny covering Wanda Jackson’s musical whereabouts preceding the Capitol Records years, before getting to the nitty-gritty of these major recording years, and then concluding with recent activities in the recording arena, ‘Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson’ offers not only an in-depth look at the recorded works of Wanda Jackson, but great value considering the sixty-plus tracks listed, with additional bonus material from live performances at the Town Hall Party. Blessed with striking good looks and a voice to die for, Wanda Jackson was the equivalent to any of the male stars of the 50s and 60s periods; hence the Queen of Rockabilly title bestowed upon her. With songs aplenty, the proof is here for all to hear to back such a claim, but even if Wanda Jackson had recorded a mere handful of songs, such a small number would still have been enough to create the same impact that she made. As said, there’s much to absorb here because these delights will get under your skin and remain there for days, weeks, months later with ‘Money Honey’, ‘Rock Your Baby’, ‘Let’s Have A Party’, ‘Stupid Cupid’, ‘Hard-Headed Woman’, ‘Fujiyama Mama’ to start with. Just like the star at the centre of this piece, ‘Rockin’ With Wanda Jackson’ has so much to offer and is as good as any place to start regarding the music of Wanda Jackson.



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