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Roots Man

Levi Dexter

Dextone Records / Rhythm Bomb

Levi Dexter was last seen bringing the house down at Camber Sands to a manic tempo courtesy of his rhythm section that had this legendary singer weaving and boppin’ til almost the wee small hours. The inclusion of Levi Dexter as one of the main attractions at the Rockabilly Rave last year was an inspired decision, as was Rhythm Bomb Records to add the rockabilly Hall of Famer to their roster. Mustering a collection of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll numbers with a light smattering of original compositions penned by the man himself, Levi Dexter’s ‘Roots Man’ is an enjoyable ride and one that is blessed with impeccable taste. Kicking off with the title song ‘Roots Man’, Levi reveals his affection for the very scene that inspired his own musings but in the same instance pays homage to a number of its pioneers ranging from Elvis Presley to Chuck Berry. Larry Donn’s ‘Honey Bun’ spins out at considerable pace, reviving memories of the aforesaid grand live performance, before slowing immeasurably and, in the process, following the correct ‘How to…’ manual when it comes to reconstructing a song as expertly shown with the Cochran/Capehart composition ‘Completely Sweet’. This is where Levi Dexter appears to thrive, however, as further covers consisting of a rockin’ version of Jack Guthrie’s ‘Oakie Boogie’, to a modern yet authentic sounding choice via Bob Butfoy’s ‘The Man Who Counts’ and quite literal translation, considering the jittery tempo, of Hank Penny’s ‘Hadacillin Boogie’ all display a willingness to reach for the creative button rather than simply going through the motions of producing an exact replica of what has gone before. That is not to say that Levi’s own material is not without merit because ‘Boppin’ Bernie’ is easily at home with the record hops of the 50s due to its faithful delivery, but there is further cause for celebration with the darkly humorous ‘Cannibal Party’ that is completely unexpected and a welcome addition due to stepping outside of the usual obsessions concerning girls and cars. Overall, ‘Roots Man’ is a terrific tribute to several of the original records of the 50s rockin’ scene that will appeal to those who prefer a mainly covers album, but also provide the perfect tonic for those seeking a bit more creativity.


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Rockabilly Roads III

Various Artists

Playground Music

Bringing things up-to-date is the latest compilation in the ‘Rockabilly Roads’ series that packs a persuasive punch with a whole line of neo-rockabilly artists from around the globe offering a modern sheen on the rockabilly genre with nearly all original material. Many of the artists present will be familiar to those in the know, with such examples as Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys, John Lindberg Trio, Pep Torres and Mike Bell & The Belltones. With a selection of eighteen tracks to whet the appetite, ‘Rockabilly Roads III’ succeeds in its concept as each and every band, while sourcing their inspirations from the fifties era, sounds current. Evidence of this modern spin on the rockabilly genre comes by way of Fanny Mae & The Dynamite Believers with their infectious ‘Hipshakin’, that sees the band strutting their wares across the chequered flooring of the local diner, only the year is now rather than the late fifties. Boz Boorer pops up with a burly cover version of ‘Cast Iron Arm’ whereas the domineering vocal and guitar of The Caezars excellent ‘Heartache Overload’ claims first prize. The unfortunately named Fatboy garners serious attention with its Roy Orbison meets Chris Isaak vocal delivery during ‘Walk Your Way’, only to be rivalled in the quality stakes by a compelling duet by way of The Hillbilly Moon Explosion with ‘My Love For Evermore’. Pick of the bunch, however, is the hard-edged rocker that is ‘Ride My Bike’ courtesy of The Troubled Three, closely pursued by a recurring theme involving motorcycles with the modern classic that is ‘The Norton Spirit’ by the mighty Blue Cats. At last, a compilation for those supporters genuinely interested in the current wave of rockabilly bands hell-bent on keeping the original rockabilly spirit alive but with a modern twist as ‘Rockabilly Roads III’ successfully displays.

 


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Glenville Railroad Tracks (single)

Bill Fadden & the Rhythmbusters

Migraine Records

If you like a heavy dose of authenticity with your rockabilly, then next stop along the Glenville railway line is as good as any to park your wares and take in the sounds of latest single from Bill Fadden & the Rhythmbusters with ‘Glenville Railroad Tracks’. Issued as a limited edition 45 vinyl, and more a double A-side considering the supreme quality of the title track and flipside ‘The Payback’, ‘Glenville Railroad Tracks’ finds Bill Fadden & his boys in majestic form by creating a real sense of a bygone era that has managed to find itself in the present still moving and shaking to an undeniably infectious 50s rockabilly rhythm. It’s the attention to detail given to ‘Glenville Railroad Tracks’ that also impresses as it hurtles into your senses under a cloud of smoke, complete with genuine steam engine whistle, before offloading a series of narratives all rolled in to one with varying degrees of complexities of the relationship kind. More coal is added to the fire with the previously mentioned ‘The Payback’ that really stokes up a serious momentum with its pressing rhythm and Bill Fadden sounding like a man with a score to settle, “You’ve been playing untrue and now the jokes on you, Yeah that’s a payback baby”. If this is the sound of things to come with Bill Fadden & the Rhythmbusters, then the suitcase is packed and ready waiting with much anticipation for the next pickup from Glenville Railroad.


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Just Honky Tonkin Around!

Rhythm River Trio

Rhythm Bomb

One of the definite highlights at last year’s Rockabilly Rave, the Rhythm River Trio return with the playfully titled ‘Just Honky Tonkin Around!’ With the proud announcement of ‘Twelve smashing tracks in true mono’ adorning the sleeve, the Rhythm River Trio certainly live up to this declaration by offering a factually brief set of songs that actually feels much longer, which is a compliment due to the amount of creativity crammed into the shortest of time spaces. In addition to the twelve songs, the Trio has managed to capture a truly authentic ambience as one feels transported to a fifties setting expertly handled by Sugar Rays Vintage Recording Studio. Flexing their talents over a soundscape incorporating elements of country with, of course, a flurry of rockabilly, the Rhythm River Trio turn on the style from the off with the marvellous ‘Honky Tonkin Around’, compellingly told by lead vocalist David Short and with the song picking up an extra yard with some wonderful guitar halfway through. ‘Drinkin Wine Spo-dee-o-dee’ and ‘Oakie Boogie’ have certainly paid their dues here, as elements from both songs are present before quietly tiptoeing to the cover of ‘Teardrops From My Eyes’ and, more notably, during the band’s self-penned ‘Monday Mornin’ that is full of vigour despite its bleary-eyed central character searching for a saviour. ‘Love Come Back To Me’ received an airing at the previously mentioned Rockabilly Rave and revives some hazy memories of our own due to the forceful manner by which the song infiltrates the senses with its gradual and later incessant picking of guitar, prominent upright bass and lovely drawn-out vocal that leaves nothing but warm memories. It seems, however, that the Trio saved their severest of heartbreaks for the final two outings with ‘Gone And Left Me Blues’ and ‘I’ll Go My Way’. The former of the two songs is at one moment full of bitter resentment and at others sounding utterly desolate, which is full credit to the band due to a convincing vocal played out to a moody rhythm the kind of which Johnny Cash would have been proud. This is finally topped off by the more gentle sway of the aforementioned ‘I’ll Go My Way’ with its brilliant yet desperate request, “Just tell me one time that I’m on your mind”. On the evidence of ‘Just Honky Tonkin’ Around!’ the Rhythm River Trio is one of the finest in their field.


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Love Is A Trap!

Nelson Carrera

Tessy Records / Rhythm Bomb

Released on Tessy Records via the prolific Rhythm Bomb label in Germany, Nelson Carrera issues a warning that ‘Love Is A Trap’. Largely consisting of original material, Carrera, who grew up in Angola before later settling in Portugal and finding himself in fine company with other likeminded artists such as Carl & the Rhythm All Stars and Ruby Ann, issues this latest album under his own moniker, but not without help from an assortment of supporting musicians. The title song will be a source of contention for many but the song itself is reminiscent of a late-fifties era beginning to sway towards a lighter pop market with the harsher elements of rock ‘n’ roll being toned down. Nothing wrong with that of course, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more bite then the serious guitar of ‘Cold Heart’ and rockin’ rhythm of ‘But She’s Not You’ are but two examples to help soothe those rockin’ hearts. The issue of relationships continues to be a thorn in the side of Carrera with the cover of Hank Williams ‘I’ll Be A Batchelor Till I Die’ before raising a holler with a little Jerry Lee Lewis inspired ‘Who’s Gonna Love Me Now’ that really puts a spark in the system, only to be usurped by an outstanding rendition of Buck Owens ‘Crying Time’ which, for our money, takes home the prize. If love really is nothing but a devious shroud, then, in the hands of Nelson Carrera, it really isn’t so bad after all as the lure of ‘Love Is A Trap’ reveals.


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‘Scream & Bop’ (single)

The Doel Brothers

El Toro

In honour of their festival appearances this year, The Doel Brothers have conjured up a 45 vinyl single consisting of ‘Scream & Bop / I Left My Wife In Vegas’. Such was the impact of the former song, that El Toro Record’s head honcho, Carlos Diaz, bestowed the honour of official song for this year’s Screamin’ Festival held in Spain; meaning that ‘Scream & Bop’ is likely to be remembered for years to come such is the status of this legendary music festival. Promotional tools aside, ‘Scream & Bop’ stands on its own feet with its jittery rhythm, fine guitar break and delightfully raspy vocal curl, “Doooowwwnnn on the beach at the Screamin’ Bop” supplied by brother Gordon and giving the game away that rockabilly is present in their repertoire when the mood feels right. The flipside, ‘I Left My Wife In Vegas’ flexes the Western Swing muscle of The Doel Bothers and offers another reason why this four piece is highly sought after, such is their flexibility but also their dexterity when managing other genres as ‘I Left My Wife In Vegas’ sounds effortless. Equally appealing, however, is the band’s sense of humour as the hapless victim(s), depending on which way you perceive it, is waking up with one dreadful hangover when the dust settles after this Vegas vacation. All things considered, ‘Scream & Bop / I Left My Wife In Vegas’ is the perfect accompaniment to any rockin’ festival this year, but as a 45 single in its own right, The Doel Brothers have just weaved the magic once again.


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Big Bang Boogie

Ricky Fabian

Rhythm Bomb

There is an air of change at Rhythm Bomb Records as one or two recent releases display a variation in sound to accompany the rockabilly the label is normally renowned for. That is not to suggest that there has been a complete overhaul in the sound department, as the variations in styles remain subtle at the very least. Ricky Fabian, however, is one of those artists who, with his ‘Big Bang Boogie’, opens the doors to numerous influences whether the near big band feel of the title track or western swing of ‘Never Trust A Girl’, there appears nothing this emerging cool cat cannot do. With the recording having taken place at Lightning Recording Service in Germany, it is remarkable to think that the level of consistency and creativity of ‘Big Bang Boogie’ is a little shy of thirty minutes due to the amount of songs on offer here. The straight rockabilly of ‘When You Break A Heart’ and affection for Sonny West’s ‘Sweet Rockin’ Baby’ during ‘Rockin’ With My Baby’, not to mention the wonderful balladry of ‘Searchin’, bringing to mind Eddie Cochran when in this mood, are yet more examples why the name Ricky Fabian is likely to be heralded as the next big thing come the rockin’ weekenders during the summer months. There is just one thing Ricky Fabian needs to address, however, and that is to record a second helping of ‘Never Trust A Girl’ with the male species as the bane of the troubles next time if we’re going to restore an even footing in the equality stakes.


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Enjoy The Ride

Pete Anderson & The Swamp Shakers

Rhythm Bomb

The clue is definitely in the title when it comes to Pete Anderson & The Swamp Shakers new album as there are enough musical references here, crammed inside a rockabilly exterior,  that will appeal to the broadest of tastes and therefore making that ‘journey’ one of the most pleasurable you’re likely to experience. Whether it’s the opening roll of upright bass and finger pickin’ guitar of ‘Don’t Be Shy’ setting the wheels of the Hudson Hornet (add your own choice of car here) in motion, only to make a brief stop to pick up the next passenger, ‘You Gotta Be Mine’ that’s swinging across the dance floor in sheer delight to an irresistible rhythm courtesy of the The Swamp Shakers, you will not be disappointed. There is a considered approach to ‘Red Corvette’ with its welcome change in pace, doo-wop backing vocals and (almost) understated guitar only to be outdone by the persuasive slow swing of ‘Barbie Doll’ that is handled with great precision by all present and no doubt in reference to the goddess at the centre of all the attention. Without a moment to rest, however, ‘Hot Rod Rocket’ peels away at considerable speed and sounding as if it’s being pursued by the local law enforcers with its frantic rhythm and wild hollering, and all of this from Latvia as well!  An inspired collection of songs, executed with great expertise and therefore worthy of repeat listens, especially considering its sheer breadth of content that requires more than one sitting, ‘Enjoy The Ride’ is clever, clever stuff indeed.


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She Put A Spell On Me

Marc & the Wild Ones

Rhythm Bomb

Second album in for the cross-cultural four-piece that is Marc & the Wild Ones after their impressive debut ‘The Rockin’ Beat Of…’ issued a few years back. The difference between first base and second base is immediate, however, as there is a maturing in sound, which is commendable as their venomous edge remains intact but there is a noticeable difference from the get-go with the restrained qualities of opening duo ‘Be Boppin Baby’ and ‘Can’t Stop Loving You’ that benefits their overall sound immensely. Even Marc Valentine’s vocal is reined in slightly, giving the impression that patience is sometimes a virtue as he sounds in commanding form and giving a bourbon soaked edge to ‘I Love My Baby’. There’s a tinge of blues to the on the road ambience of ‘Please Don’t Go’ that is borderline expansive in terms of its vision as the Wild Ones teeter on the edge of fresh territory in the creativity department. Elsewhere, ‘Boppin Little Kangaroo’ is as playful as its name suggests only to be given a short life by the rabblerousing ‘Real Rockin Baby’ with its Johnny Burnette & the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio undertones. ‘She Put A Spell On Me’ is clearly seduced during the dark current trawling through ‘Little Ann’, with further experimentation by means of sax this time as it purrs down the shirt collar of the smitten individual. If Marc & the Wild Ones can carry such form into their next venture without forgetting to dip their toes in the creative pool, and lose a little formulaic baggage along the way (‘Honey Bun’), then album number three promises to be an even greater step in their evolution.


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In Dreams: Greatest Hits

Roy Orbison

Sony Legacy

Not a complete retrospective of Roy Orbison and his work, but a well-timed re-release of a previous collection given out during the late 80s which has proven difficult to find. ‘In Dreams: Greatest Hits’ is now issued as a single CD encompassing all 19 tracks of the previous double album release and with the added bonus of being finely tuned in the sound department. Although there is much to enthuse over here, ‘In Dreams: Greatest Hits’ features re-recorded versions of Orbison’s original outputs, focusing on the dark emotional ballads ‘It’s Over’, ‘Crying’ and ‘Running Scared’ as well as obvious inclusions with the rock ‘n’ roll-lite ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ and infectious ‘Dream Baby’. To our chagrin, however, there is a lack of material from Orbison’s work with Sun Records, despite a punchy version of ‘Claudette’ and impressive retake of ‘Ooby Dooby’. The inclusion of ‘In Dreams’ makes up for any deficiencies however, evoking memories of David Lynch’s ‘Blue Velvet’ of the late 80s and equal to its original. ‘Up Town’ opens the rock ‘n’ roll door once more at a strolling pace of jangling piano keys and minimal brass before breaking into a near sweat with ‘Mean Woman Blues’. ‘In Dreams: Greatest Hits’ is a timely reissue for those seeking instant gratification when it comes to Roy Orbison’s more well-known material and one that does not stray from its overall intentions.


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Oh, Brother…It’s The Doel Brothers!

The Doel Brothers

El Toro

Possessing more in common with the Southwest of the US than the South East of England when it comes to attire and more importantly music, The Doel Brothers ‘Oh, Brother…It’s The Doel Brothers!’ transports the listener to an era of western swing, honkytonk, hillbilly boogie and rockabilly. What transpires during the course of this album is the seemingly effortless manner in which the three brothers David, Gordon, Tom and odd man out Gary churn out a stream of short sharp ditties packed with intricate details that reveals a wealth of experience at the heart of this engine. Listen out for the fingerpicking delight that is ‘Educated Mind’ with its intriguing lyrics suggesting an imbalance when it comes to experience and a relationship. The spring in its step of ‘Kissin Bug Boogie’ brings a smile to the face whereas the more rockabilly inspired ‘Tell Me You’re Mine’ weighs heavy at the other end of the scale due to being full of pent-up (sexual) frustration. The moonshine corks are popped during ‘Whiskey Lovin’ Fool’ sang to perfection with occasional hillbilly croon and revealing edges of humour yet fully aware that there is a serious problem at heart. There is such a delightful lilting quality to this whole album that leaves one hankering for days gone by. Embrace these guys with open arms because The Doel Brothers deserve the upmost respect.


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Don’t Stop The Rock Bop

B and The Bops

Rhythm Bomb

Something special is brewing in Croatia when it comes to the rockin’ sound. B and The Bops is the band and ‘Don’t Stop The Rock Bop’ is their sound. Casting a suspicious gaze over a stuttering romance ‘Prove Your Love Is True’, B and The Bops set about their business in boisterous mood. Set to a steady rhythm ‘Come Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone’ is the issued warning and likely outcome when considering lines such as, “You killed me with your coldness for years and years too long” before wheels are set firmly in motion with perky guitars, forceful bass and all-too-brief  authentic peeping steam whistle.  There is fun to be had though, with the textbook wild rockin’ ‘Don’t Stop The Rock Bop’ and live recorded feel of ‘Rock You Baby’. Having been cast adrift once too often (‘Fool I Am’), B and The Bops are no pushovers either as demonstrated by the sting in the tail of ‘Forget About You’. Unfortunately for this Croatian four piece, the moments of heartbreak remain essential to their expertly executed rockabilly sound and long may it reign.



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