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Drinkin Wine

Spo-Dee-O-Dee

Rhythm Bomb

Longstanding German rockabilly band Spo-Dee-O-Dee enter the fray once more with brand new long player ‘Drinkin Wine’. With lead vocalist and guitarist Andy Warner penning eight of the twelve tracks listed, Spo-Dee-O-Dee set about their task admirably with a forceful set of rockabilly numbers. Starting things off is the combined vocals of ‘Little Baby of Mine’ that will have you rockin’ in no time such are the addictive qualities of its main rhythm. Man behind the album’s mastering, Axel Praefke shows his hand at song writing by coming up with ‘Jeannie Come A Running’, which chugs along at a nice pace and is complemented by another Warner effort, ‘I Told A Lie’ that is handled with the upmost care considering its delicate rhythm. The Harlan Howard written, and covered by numerous artists, ‘Sally Was A Good Ole Girl’ is competent in its delivery and likely to remain lodged in the memory bank long after its conclusion due to its catchy lyrics. The vocals are put on hold for the surf inspired instrumental ‘Los Calimuchos’, offering another side to Spo-Dee-O-Dee, before opting for another cover in the form of ‘Messin’ With The Kid’, but this time adding their own personal touches by toning down the adrenalin a notch or two in comparison with the rocket fuelled rendition by Baby Huey & the Baby Sitters.  Great guitar work and an eager vocal really bring to life the emotions felt in ‘Black Slacks Pink Skirt’, which again shows itself during the strolling ‘Let’s Walk Walk Walk’ with Andy Warner injecting much character into the song’s narrative as one can sense the glee in his vocal as he glides down the avenue in question. The taste of wine this four-piece band is brewing is definitely of a sweeter nature as Spo-Dee-O-Dee hold a great passion for their song writing and one that is not afraid to reveal a romantic centre, which this latest album clearly demonstrates.


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Rock & Roll Time

Jerry Lee Lewis

Caroline

The rock ‘n’ roll legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis returns with a new album, ‘Rock & Roll Time’. Having enlisted the creative help of a few well-known musicians including Keith Richards, Nils Lofgren, Neil Young, Robbie Robertson and Shelby Lynne, the songs recorded pay their respects to other legendary artists by covering such songs as Chuck Berry’s ‘Little Queenie’, Johnny Cash with ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘Stepchild’ by Bob Dylan to name but a small sample. The album was recorded at the House of Blues in Memphis and finds Jerry Lee Lewis in fine form from the off with the barroom melody, and title track, ‘Rock & Roll Time’; a song that was originally co-written and recorded by Kris Kristofferson during the seventies. While there are no embarrassing attempts to re-enact those wild rock ‘n’ roll years, Jerry Lee Lewis belies his years with an energized performance of said Chuck Berry record ‘Little Queenie’, suitably aided by fellow wild rockers Keith Richards and Ron Wood. The following version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Stepchild’ is given a blues workout, expertly handled by Daniel Lanois and Doyle Bramhall II, then swiftly followed by the more rockin’ ‘Sick And Tired’, this time with support coming from Jon Brion. For those eager to hear the latest take on ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ (Johnny Cash) it will not leave you disappointed with its more spacious arrangement allowing itself to pick up an assortment of instruments along the way, which adds a sense of spontaneity to the recording due to sounding as if the various instruments are trying to pull in different directions but somehow managing to combine and provide a genuine alternative cover of this classic song. There is also a country flavour to ‘Rock & Roll Time’, mingling with the rock ‘n’ roll numbers, with the rather dreamy ‘Keep Me In Mind’ and storytelling thread shared by Shelby Lynne during ‘Here Comes That Rainbow Again’. ‘Rock & Roll Time’ is highly commendable for its enthusiasm, inventiveness and warm nature when recreating a number of original compositions that could have easily fallen into the category of going through the motions. As it stands, one of the original rock ‘n’ rollers is not about to call time on his career, and long may that continue.


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Cut Out To Rock

The Backseat Boogie

Rhythm Bomb

It’s time for more Backseat Boogie with their latest release ‘Cut Out To Rock’. Continuing their affiliation with rockabilly and adding much saxophone to the recordings, these rockin’ cats from Italy never take the easy route as latest album ‘Cut Out To Rock’ is jam-packed with much detail and running to a full fourteen tracks! With the title track setting out its intentions from the start, there is clearly one thing on its mind and that is to rock! Following number ‘The Worst And The Best’ reflects two sides of a personality yet retains a clear vision musically with its infectious rhythm containing some sharp guitar and bursts of saxophone that provides this song with a real attitude. ‘Water Out Of Stone’ really stumps up a miracle by transporting the listener back to a bygone era where rhythm and blues and swing dominated for a period, considering the quick footed and relentless pace created by The Backseat Boogie during this particular song. There is a genuine swagger to ‘First To Come (Last To Leave)’ that also reveals The Backseat Boogie’s attention to detail when it comes to the song’s instrumentation. Such is the strength in depth here, that other songs allow for experimentation with ‘Hit The Iron’ letting in the blues with an enthusiastic harmonica firing its engine, and with another twist materialising with the country inspired ‘I Can’t Take It Anymore’ that makes use of the harmonica once more and comes complete with rowdy whistling supplied in the background. Another string to The Backseat Boogie’s bow is their ability to tackle other issues whether speaking out on hardships of city dwelling (‘In The City’), repeating this social commentary via instruments only with ‘Postcard From Zombieville’, or revealing much anxiety about the pains of losing one’s barnet; wonderfully portrayed in a humorous style that searches for answers with an out-of-date bottle of shampoo coming under scrutiny as one possible cause! Nearing the end of ‘Cut Out To Rock’ is quite possibly the standout track under the intriguing heading ‘Long And Silent Drive Back Home’. By utilising drum brushes to exemplify the late-night feel of this pared back song, and containing some fine lyrics to illustrate its heavy heart, ‘Long And Silent Drive Back Home’ is a perfect example of a band at the top of their trade. If you haven’t managed to take a ride with The Backseat Boogie yet, then now is the time to jump on board as this is one band not to be missed!


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On The Great River Road

Chris Almoada

Tessy Records

Having been a part of the rockin’ scene recording and performing live since the late 70s and therefore one of the ‘…first generation of European artists to embrace rockabilly’, Chris Almoada is poised with his latest project, ‘On The Great River Road’. This current album has not been a short ride as the initial ideas began as far back as 2010, and finally concluding at some point in 2013. Having composed all of the melodies himself, but with additional help in terms of the lyrics coming from Las Vegas-based David E. Miller, Chris Almoada relays a collection of tales stemming the length of this Great River Road with a backing that is largely rockabilly. There is a great old-time quality about this whole package from the artwork and most definitely from a number of the contents inside. Right from the off the album’s title song drums up imagery of a torrid landscape, but it is not something to be overly fixated with as the aforementioned rockabilly sound takes hold rather than this being a straight country album. More to the point, ‘On The Great River Road’ has more in common with the country pioneers and assortment of hillbilly musicians who turned their attention to rockabilly once this genre started to take hold during the 50s. The blustery and catchy chorus of ‘Maiden Rock’ is one such example bringing to mind Marvin Rainwater, only to be given a good run for its money by the gripping rhythm of ‘The Gem From Illinois’ that shares a passion for a long-lost sweetheart. The tempo steps down a few notches during the piano ballad ‘Palmyra Lane’ that sees Chris Almoada in reflective mood and spinning out this yarn to the remaining customers propping up the bar in some remote town. There’s no let up once ‘The Falcon’ digs its talons in deep as it’s something of a wild ditty with a guitar itching to take centre stage such is its restlessness. There is a return to a more authentic country sound illustrated greatly by the truly grainy style of ‘Memphis Odyssey’, before the almost epic, by these standards, ‘Rabbits May Be Dancing’ introduces itself and then suitably followed by the galloping rhythm and occasional yodelling vocal of ‘Patch Of Green’. With much to consume here, ‘On The Great River Road’ is clearly a labour of love considering the time spent honing and crafting these songs into a cohesive unit in order to recount this great journey. Therefore, just like the artist at the centre of these songs, this is a journey that is well worth discovering and one that is deserved of much attention.


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Surfin’ NSA

Bang! Mustang!

Rhythm Bomb

Not completely unfamiliar terrain for Rhythm Bomb Records having previously issued the instrumental album ‘Surfing Hootenanny’ by the Surfin’ Gorillas as next in line is the new surfin’ instrumental from Germany’s Bang! Mustang! Having formed from the remnants of previously successful international acts including Los Twang! Marvels, Messer Chups and The Rob Ryan Roadshow, Bang! Mustang! tear through a succession of guitar powered instrumentals that will leave you breathless after first hearing. With a penchant for films and usage of samples, the obvious choice is the guitar instrumental for this four-piece band as any number of these sixteen tracks could slot into the background of a fifties or sixties inspired feature film. Concentrating on the contents of ‘Surfin’ NSA’, the opening gesture is a rolling, tumbling mixture of drums and drilled guitar sounds with a definite Mescalero flavour as the song travels at considerable speed. The guitar surfin’ delights do not stop at this juncture either as there is a seemingly endless flow ranging from the exceedingly raw to the layered depths of ‘King Kahuna’ for example, and a change of tactic with the Latin spiced ’58 Degrees’ suggesting that the influences inspiring Bang! Mustang! are numerous. Instrumentals seem to be a hot ticket when it comes to the rockin’ scene at the moment and Bang! Mustang! can definitely include themselves as one of those hot prospects as most likely to cause a breakthrough judging by the quality shown throughout ‘Surfin’ NSA’.


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Monster Mash: 20 Vintage Halloween Hits

Various Artists

Union Square Music

In time for the Halloween festivities Union Square Music has compiled a twenty-track collection of the weird and wonderful from the vaults of a long-lost era. Despite this being a ‘themed’ release, the songs complied here are suitable for any occasion as there is much comedic value between the layers rather than anything to cause sleepless nights. In fact, the breadth of originality presented throughout is the most frightening aspect, due to such inventiveness being in short supply nowadays and something to be truly envied. Early indicators set by Bobby “Boris” Pickett with his witty and charming ‘Monster Mash’ and back-to-back contributions via Sheb Wooley’s ‘The Purple People Eater’ and David Seville’s ‘Witch Doctor’, each containing the added bonus of helium filled supporting vocals, reveals such depth in the creativity department. The subject of purple people eaters resurfaces with the familiar opening guitar signature of Bo Diddley when he confronts his nemesis during ‘Bo Meets The Monster’, and the Big Bopper offers a rockin’ slice with a difference by means of a toy instrument to portray the rock ‘n’ roll wannabe from outer space. In between the more playful moments the earthmoving vocal of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic ‘I Put A Spell On You’, Kip Tyler’s mean and moody ‘She’s My Witch’ and more straightforward rockin’ tune for this particular compilation from Elroy Dietzel & The Rhythm Bandits with ‘Rock-N-Bones’ levels the playing field and provides the perfect balance for an utterly absorbing set that should remain spinning long after the assortment of spectres have departed until next year’s Halloween festivities.


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Rock ‘N’ Roll Guitar Greats

Various Artists

Union Square Music

An interesting compilation from Union Square Music featuring a whole host of ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Guitar Greats’ nicely packaged and one that is set at an affordable price. Starting things off with more than an air of familiarity about it due to Quentin Tarantino’s inclusion of Dick Dale’s surf-rock masterpiece ‘Miserlou’ in his film Pulp Fiction, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Guitar Greats’ maintains the consistency with Duane Eddy’s guitar twanging ‘Shazam’, instrumental smash ‘Rumble’ from Link Wary, and other guitar greats from Scotty Moore ‘Have Guitar, Will Travel’; The Shadows superb ‘F.B.I.’ and The Ventures classic ‘Walk, Don’t Run’. Where this compilation would have served itself better, however, is if it had adhered to a strictly instrumental collection of rock ‘n’ roll guitar hits from the 50s and 60s and not included the overused names of Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent to cite but two examples. While such names are rock ‘n’ roll legends in their own right, and with several of them more than adept when it comes to guitar playing, their inclusion sounds out of place due to this album being a predominantly instrumental affair. Small gripes for sure, but when you have the likes of Link Wray tearing up the house on more than one occasion; The Fireballs western ramble through ‘Vaquero’, and the dreamy ‘Sleepwalk’ provided by Santo and Johnny, the idea of a straight, guitar only instrumental really makes sense overall.


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Up To Scratch!

Alleycats

APM

The real reason why we are here is for the music, and rightly so, as it seems unlikely that the UK’s Alleycats will be strutting their wares up on the catwalk any time soon. By combing a mixture of covers with original material, ‘Up To Scratch!’ is a qualified title as these wise rockin’ cats show how it’s done with vocals revealing faint resemblances to Jackie Brenston, and a sound that brings together rock ‘n’ roll with rhythm and blues. Having found a safe haven to record the album in two stints at Roundel Studios in Kent that stretched over a vast chasm of seven years, it’s not difficult to comprehend why such a lengthy gestation period took place as the end results are beaming like a Cheshire cat, such is their overall quality. The lynchpin holding all of this together appears to be longstanding member Drew Spikes, who not only produced ‘Up To Scratch!’ but knows how to pen a tune or two considering the wealth of original songs littering its contents. First of an impressive bunch is the up-tempo swing of ‘Daffy’ that opens a door to some fine guitar by way of Mick Murphy. The change in lifestyle from the remote countryside to the bright city lights is communicated compellingly by the impressively named Johnny Valentino during the contagious rhythm of ‘Born & Raised In Hicksville’. Elsewhere ’88 Keys’ drives at some pace with top-notch piano from former Matchbox member Rusty Lupton as the song conveys its frustration with the memorable line, “I got 88 keys but I can’t unlock your heart”.  As a collective, the Alleycats really pull together as each and every song provides more or less equal billing as far as the instrumentation is concerned. With Butch Evarts (sax) and Jerry Bart (drums) completing the six-piece line-up, such a demonstration of this equal billing is displayed during an imposing rendition of Huey ‘Piano’ Smith’s ‘Roberta’ and a rockin’ ‘I Ain’t The Marrying Kind’. Stretching out their creative boundaries further is the slight country twang of ‘In The Doghouse Again’ that is peppered with some wonderful sax and possesses a lyrical content of a cryptic nature regarding the ‘hero’ at the centre of this song. There’s no tomfoolery as far as Alleycats is concerned as ‘Up To Scratch!’ is a qualified success that is jam-packed full of goodness.


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Speechless: Half A Ton Of Rockin’ Instrumentals

Various Artists

Western Star

The clamour for instrumental compilations appears to be the current trend on the rockin’ circuit, with Western Star being the latest record label to serve up a sizeable amount of rockin’ instrumentals by the name of ‘Speechless: Half A Ton Of Rockin’ Instrumentals’. Where this double album release differs, however, is due to the fact that mingling with the various covers is a vast number of original compositions issued by a matching number of modern rock ‘n roll bands. The cast list is impressive with the likes of Rudy La Crioux & The All-Stars, Jack Rabbit Slim, The Sharks, The Wolftones, The Bullets, Pete Hutton & The Beyonders, The Bonneville Barons to name but a small sample. In addition, ‘Speechless: Half A Ton Of Rockin’ Instrumentals’ serves as a reminder of just how exhilaratingly good a few chords of a guitar with additional percussive trimmings can sound judging by the variety of songs on offer. Speaking of which…compiled of fifty instrumentals, this two-disc set offers great value, but more importantly the quality is consistently high with a number of bands weighing in with more than one creative effort. Pick of the bunch, bearing in mind this is likely to change day-by-day due to the sheer amount of material to choose from, is The Sharks’ Hell Riders’, due to being a tough guitar stroller punctuated with brass instrumentation. The Wolftones reveal their song writing prowess with the far from icy guitar ride that is ‘Siberian Surfer’. Everything and the kitchen sink is cast into the air once The Bonneville Barons make their entrance with the aptly named ‘Mexican Wildfire’, before eventually settling into a calmer rhythm only to let fly once more. Kill Van Helsing do their best at setting the speakers ablaze with the searing guitar noise ‘Quatermass’, leaving it to Jack Rabbit Slim to finally tear things up with ‘Dragstrip’. ‘Speechless: Half A Ton Of Rockin’ Instrumentals’ also benefits from the different perspectives given on the overall instrumental theme. Look no further than the slower tempo and heavy guitar twang of ‘Hawaiian Thang’ by Chuck & The Hulas or the massive surge of power sax that fuels ‘Chucks Mambo’ courtesy of The Frantic Flintstones. But if your ears are craving something further leftfield, then ‘Hot Dang Hee Haw’ should satisfy any such desires as it’s loaded full of eccentricities with its use of samples interwoven with pummelling bass and drums and some darn fine guitar work. Restoring order, but maintaining the general wildness, is the likes of The Cheaterslicks’ magnificent ‘Gasolina’ with Henry ‘Ruzz’ Evans taking centre stage, and the cutting inside rhythm before heading back out to the outer edges of ‘Daggertrap’ by the Kings Of Outer Space. It’s simple, everything you need to know about ‘Speechless: Half A Ton Of Rockin’ Instrumentals’ is given by its title because rockin’ instrumental albums do not come much better than this!


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Go Man Go

The Bullets

Western Star

Hot on the heels of last year’s smash success ‘Sons Of The Gun’, The Bullets make a welcome return with their brand new long player ‘Go Man Go’. Taking no prisoners with their rumbling, tumbling beat played at a frenetic pace, it’s business as usual once the opening bars of ‘Party Like Me’ makes its entrance with its collar turned skywards that suggests real intent. ‘Real King Bee’ follows suit in equally confident manner as it puffs out its chest and pays reference to the King himself with numerous “Uh-huh, oh yeah(s)”, with man behind the drums Gary Griffin hammering out a beat that more or less steers this song to its conclusion. The lip-curling attitude continues once ‘Kicks Like ’56’ kick-starts (sorry) in hip-swinging fashion and then sees a three-way contest, and eventual tie, between slap bass, guitar and drums all vying for attention, such is their voracious appetite throughout this rebel rouser of a song. As was the case with its predecessor, The Bullets continue to exhibit a real flair for conveying genuine menace in their songs when it comes to ‘Go Man Go’. ‘While You Were Sleeping’ provides one such example as it’s shrouded by an ominous atmosphere, given credence by lead vocalist Brett Waters’ sense of peering over his mic with eyes locked on its target in a foreboding manner, before the revved up guitar and no-holds-barred commentary of ‘Bitch’ provides further evidence to this trio’s creative capabilities. There are several departures in sound as The Bullets tone it down during ‘Can I Take You Home’, which is full of yearning and seen through the eyes of a lonely protagonist wandering the streets at night expertly handled by Brett Waters who extends his vocal range with a bout of crooning which, along with his comrades, delivers this song to the stars as its truly magnificent. The best, however, is saved until last with the other deviation in sound springing from the western flavoured ‘Movin’ On’. By sounding epic in scope with its (almost) perpetual, galloping rhythm that is given a pep up during the final hurdle with the return of James ‘Jaz’ Lambeth on brass duties, ‘Movin’ On’ deserves high praise for its aforementioned vision but, at a guess, for accurately portraying the initial creative ideas as this song runs a close example to a definition of perfection. In addition, extra Brownie points are awarded for the memorable line, “I found a girl with a tattooed chest” due to being only the second time of hearing such a reference outside of The Pixies’ ‘No. 13 Baby’. While serving as a gateway to the past with the album’s title track revealing a penchant for Link Wray, ‘Go Man Go’ is very much concerned with living for the moment and, more precisely, in the present. Therefore, despite any references to rock ‘n’ roll’s past, The Bullets remain thoroughly ensconced in a modern framework which, on the evidence of ‘Go Man Go’, is working to their favour and likely to appeal to a broad base of music lovers. We make that 2 – 0 to The Bullets.


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Rockabilly Dinosaur

Vince Eager & The Western All-Stars

Western Star

Vince Eager, one of the pioneers of the UK’s response to the rock ‘n’ roll sounds emanating from the United States, is back with an album that pays tribute to a number of performers from the fields of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll. The knowing wink of the album title is, in fact, far wide of the mark for anyone fortunate enough to have seen Vince Eager perform at last year’s tenth anniversary celebrations of Western Star Records, as he peeled back the years with a standout performance. The title of the record also alludes to the reputation a lot of the original rockers held when wreaking havoc with their wild sounds and blooming popularity that was driving the local populace in any given town wild with excitement or cause for concern, depending on which side of the fence one was situated. With a nifty primal beat and sharpness of lyrics, ‘Rockabilly Dinosaur’ recollects this emerging sound and the impact felt to great effect. Much respect is given to the original compositions throughout ‘Rockabilly Dinosaur’, and there is a real sense of enjoyment from each and every song through to the memories recollected by Vince Eager in the accompanying booklet that makes for fascinating reading for those less familiar with his exploits. All of this, however, would not have been possible without the Western All-Stars (Alan Wilson, Steve Whitehouse, Liz Avent, Geoff Barker et al) adding their backing to such engaging renditions of Don Gibson’s ‘Don’t Tell Me Your Troubles’, Tommy Sand’s ‘The Worrying Kind’, Hank Snow’s ‘I’m Movin’ On’ and Peanut Wilson’s ‘Cast Iron Arm’ complete with stonking sax via Rachel Hutchinson. ‘Rockabilly Dinosaur’ is a reminder of the legend that is Vince Eager, but also one that pays homage to a variety of former artists and their songs admirably.

 


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Lotsa Rhythm

Gone Hepsville

Rhythm Bomb

With the Czech Republic currently Europe’s mecca for all-things musically landing somewhere between the forties and the fifties, Gone Hepsville is another addition to this growing band of artists hell-bent on recreating such bygone and golden passages in music’s rich history. The sheer quality of the musicianship, coupled with a breadth of influences stemming from the six band of brothers that make up Gone Hepsville is something to be marvelled at because what’s on offer with ‘Lotsa Rhythm’ is an album crammed full of big band, jump, swing, jive and rock ‘n’ roll cooked to an often pulsating rhythm that will have your limbs swinging in no time at all. If you want proof of life in these very songs, which stretches to an incredible 18 tracks, then the lively brass instrumentation and enthusiasm held in the vocal of the album’s title track, paired with the equally sparky ‘Hip As I Can Be’ are two clear indicators that these Hepsville cats are here to rock! ‘Lazy Town’ is a call to arms to kick-start the nondescript settlement into life with a compelling vocal nicely supported with a harmonious backing and then a powerhouse of brass, rolling drums and rollicking piano that gives this town a fresh lease of life. The ensuing ‘She Won’t Shut Up’ is a punchy number greatly exemplified by pounding keys and additional handclaps that really drills home its message by way of yet more proficiency in the musicianship. Great credit must also go to the production duties of Axel Praefcke at Lightning Recorders for the manner in which ‘Lotsa Rhythm’ is handled by capturing an inch perfect authentic sound because the entire album sounds like a genuine slab of 40s/50s nostalgia. With such careful precision and with great dedication to their overall work and sound, Gone Hepsville have created a long player that puts many to shame not only in terms of its inventiveness, but for the sheer energy and enthusiasm coming from all corners of this marvellous album that’s definitely not short of rhythm.



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