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Wild Wild Lover

Sonny Tucker and The Tornados

Rhythm Bomb

Not particularly renowned for wild-sounding rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, but in the instance of Sonny Tucker and The Tornados Switzerland has something to cheer about. Armed with fourteen rockin’ tracks, ‘Wild Wild Lover’ begins in guitar pickin’ fashion and a superb authentic vocal calling for a “rock with the Tornados, rock the whole night long” because there really is no other way once this song gets under your skin. The mood takes a more downbeat turn during the reflective ‘Don’t Hang Around Me Anymore’ with guitars slowing to a mid-tempo rhythm, edges slightly twanging and adding to the melancholy. This sombre tone is enhanced further with the closing refrain held during ‘I Don’t Care’; “Goodbye my sweetheart, see you down in hell” warbled to great effect and sounding as black as ash in its utter contempt. Title track, ‘Wild Wild Lover’ is played out to steady thunderous beats before breaking loose in a fit of despair once the lover in question has departed to pastures new. ‘Did You Mean Jelly Bean’ reveals another facet to Sonny Tucker’s vocals as it delightfully rumbles out to slight exaggeration the chorus and handled by some serious dexterous guitar. If it’s wild rock ‘n’ roll you’re searching for, then the self-explanatory ‘The House Is Rockin’ will leave you gaping in sheer awe before being brought back down to earth with the Hawaiian sway of ‘Lovers Rock’. Not only is ‘Wild Wild Lover’ an exhilarating ride of wild rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll, but it constantly screams out as a reminder that Sonny Tucker and The Tornados is ‘the’ band to experience live during the coming months.


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Touch The Madness

Mickey & The Mutants

Western Star

Thanks to the good people at Western Star Records, Mickey & The Mutants ‘Touch The Madness’ arrived on the FLW desk a couple of weeks back and has been something of a revelation due to knowing very little about this band on Norwegian soil. Proclaiming ‘these ol’ bones are psychobilly old school’ contains a ring of truth as there is a definite slowing of the pulse. This ageing predicament, however, is utilised to the band’s advantage as evidenced by the dark turn that is the wonderfully titled ‘Elvirista (Queen Of The Dead)’ maintaining a steady pace throughout and interspersed with compelling drumbeats. ‘Blonde Haired Assassin’ is pale in the vocal department but more than compensated for with electrifying guitar the sort Brian Setzer would be proud of. It remains, however, the songs ‘Something Bad’s Comin’ Outa The Ground’ and spellbinding vision held within of ‘Kiss Of The Spider Woman’ that standout due to their gripping portrayal of events seen through the eyes of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits who are more than happy to whisper instructions whilst sitting pretty on either shoulder. ‘Touch The Madness’ is definitely a venture worth pursuing.


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How To Fly A Rocket

The Kings of Outer Space

Western Star

One of the highlights during this year’s Western Star Records birthday bash, The Kings of Outer Space extend their space fantasies further with ‘How To Fly A Rocket’. Paul Newman, aka Greggsy, of Western Star’s other hot cats The Cheaterslicks continues his association on bass duties and in the process leaving the more-than-capable frontman duties to the charismatic Giggsy to spin yarns of paranoia and obsessions. It is these very subjects that line the walls of opening ’44’ with its use of accordion – yes, accordion – gripping the senses and equally compelling lyrics concerning a fixation of OCD sized proportions regarding the number in question. Such obsessions spill over into the rockin’ ‘Fall From Grace’ only the fixation this time is with the opposite sex or alien species, depending on your interpretation,  ‘moving to the rhythm of the drums and bass’. ‘Daggertrap’ shakes things up in a full-on instrumental romp consisting of driving bass and raucous guitars occasionally crawling up and down the red-hot scales to spine-tingling effect. ‘Monkey Alarm’ is the not too distant relation of ‘Ghost Town’, from first album ‘Cosmic Debris’, as one can almost hear the desperate pleas of “Gotta get away” only this time it’s emanating from a group of monkeys subjected to the cruelties of BMX testing! Such injections of humour is part of the appeal of The Kings of Outer Space but also their open nature to experimentation such as the odd little ditty ‘Creepy Crawl’, sounding as if fronted by Terry Hall, to the sprightly banjo of ‘Long Dry Summer’ and topped off in fantastic fashion by the excellent and warped doo wop harmonising of ‘Moon Buggy Baby’. The Kings of Outer Space return where they left off, as ‘How To Fly A Rocket’ is on an equal par with its debut, which is fine praise indeed.


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Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard

The Cheaterslicks

Western Star

Having undergone one or two line-up changes since debut album ‘ Rev Up, Burn Out’, the change in personnel has definitely not subdued The Cheaterslicks momentum. If anything, new album ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard’ is a considerable leap forward in the department labelled ‘variation’ compared to its predecessor that was more foot to the floor rockabilly and therefore living up to its moniker.

Despite opening song ‘Bayou Boogie’ suggesting a repeat of their previous winning formula, the band opt for more challenging terrain by letting in the blues and adding a country twang or two. Once ‘Don’t Ya Know’ swoops in on a lovely vocal drawl and claims your heart within a matter of seconds, it is clear The Cheaterslicks not only have a major hit single on their hands but also the creative department is under exploration. ‘Betty Page (Let’s Talk About Love)’ adds further weight to such ideas due to its playful taunts rubbing up against the serious declarations given by lead vocalist Paul Newman as it is played to a slight country beat, which is stretched further with the unreciprocated love of ‘Tears Heartaches & You’. The western feel of ‘Desert Wind’ completes this (almost) trilogy of country-inspired songs, bearing in mind the raucous ‘Nothing To Lose’ sandwiched in between, and reveals Newman’s depth of vocal delivery (head to the magnificent ‘Blonde Blue Eyed Beauty’ for further evidence).

‘Bad Bad Girl’ sees The Cheaterslicks comparing notes over a few rounds of drinks with label mates The Wolftones as it’s reminiscent of the latter’s blues-inspired numbers with its strutting beat and tight harmonica.

The rumbling and shaking instrumental ‘Gasolina’ unveils further facets to this album, which is nicely balanced with the restrained rhythm of ‘Honey Bee’, pleading for its ‘baby’ to come on home, only to be usurped by the outlaw quality of ‘Forgotten Places’.

Clocking in at a sizable 18 tracks, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard’ will severely test the patience of those more attuned to the present culture of downloads whereby a handful of songs more than suffice. As it stands, The Cheaterslicks seem to be hitting a rich vein of form, and one that is not afraid to experiment, as the majority of ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Graveyard’ reveals a winning formula to rival any in the modern rockin’ stakes.


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Perdition

The Redhot Trio

Western Star

Either there is a cleverly formulated master plan afoot here or The RedHot Trio is blissfully unaware of the confused signals they are transmitting. Walking out from underneath a blanket of darkness, the artwork gracing the Trio’s ‘Perdition’ is more akin to that of a heavy rock band rather than the sauntering Johnny Cash-inspired ditties on offer. The only real indication of the wildness suggested by the exterior arrives in the shape of the superbly boisterous ‘Devil Woman’ with its red-hot guitars and occasional hollers. From then on in, The RedHot Trio pull off the unexpected by driving into mid-tempo territory and, in the process, reveal a succession of jaw-dropping numbers. Look no further than the on/off love affair of ‘Whiskey Train’ or the rolling down the tracks of ‘Unspoken Words’ to the deep regret flowing through ‘Letter To Donna Jayne’ in order to understand that there is great talent at work. Marinated in western flavours ‘Day By Day’ and ‘My Old Guitar’ nearly reach the summit, especially the latter with its wondrous brass instrumentation, only to give way to the guitar picking and quirky instrumental that is ‘The Mental Breakdown’. If The RedHot Trio can reproduce or better songs of this magnitude, then the next instalment is one to savour. As it stands, ‘Perdition’ is a beguiling collection of songs from a genuinely gifted set of musicians.


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Live Love, Give Love

Fanny Mae & The Dynamite Believers

Enviken

Latest export on the Enviken label is Sweden’s Fanny Mae & The Dynamite Believers with the rather magnificent ‘Live Love, Give Love’. Thirteen songs ranging from varying degrees of rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll with added swing and a knowing pop sensibility that sets out this debut as a little bit different. Such indications are clearly signposted in the dark undercurrent flowing through ‘Condition Unknown’ and the ballad-esque ‘Rocket Scientist’ with both giving way to the possibility of crossover appeal. There is of course more familiar territory with the rockin’ and gritty ‘Right Here Again’ and seriously infectious soda pop inflections of ‘Hipshakin’ that will even have the normally restrained amongst us shaking their limbs. ‘A Place In My Heart’ reveals a lilting chorus that catches you unaware and soon claims your heart whereas polar opposite ‘Can’t Stand Your Love’ has more than a whiff of Buddy Holly about it. With a more than competent cover of Bobby Darin’s ‘Dream Lover’ possessing glimpses of sunlight, especially when the vocal reveals its rawness, to the cautionary tale of ‘Time Don’t Heal Every Wound’ and gallows bound ‘Stand Up’, ‘Live Love, Give Love’ is a prime example of a band leaning on the past yet equally at home in the present.  


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Running Late

The Magnificatz

Castor Wax Recordings

Hailing from the West Midlands, The Magnificatz ‘Running Late’, a thirteen track album of original neo-rockabilly material, was apparently recorded in ‘complete takes’ which definitely has a grain of truth about it during ‘Baby’s Gone’ as one can almost hear lead vocalist Tim Jackson nearly lose composure as laughter almost gets the better of him. In fact, this album possesses bags of charm whether it’s songs about finding love at a party for the dearly departed ‘Dead Man’s Ball’, the lyrically soured yet utterly addictive and departing down the tracks of ‘There You Go’ or Tim Jackson’s unconventional vocal best heard on the lurking in the shadows paranoia of ‘Cat Come Scratching’. Willing to cast bets on The Cramps being a source of inspiration for the songs comprising ‘Running Late’, it remains, however, this fascination with all things lingering on the darker, greasier side of life coupled with the intentional simplistic sounding nature of the band’s songs that sets The Magnificatz apart.


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Mama’s Back

Ruby Ann

Rhythm Bomb

It is not difficult to comprehend why Ruby Ann is one of German-based record label Rhythm Bomb’s top earners when hearing the wondrous vocals and authentic musicianship stemming from ‘Mama’s Back’. The belting R&B influenced ‘Call His Name’ sets the tone admirably but more notably for revealing the ace in the pack with Ruby Ann’s nothing short of compelling vocal delivery. In fact, it’s hard to differentiate between time periods throughout the entirety of the album as one literally feels transported back to a fifties era when things were perhaps a little simpler (‘I’ll Never Get Rich’) due to the authenticity of ‘Mama’s Back’. With leading contenders for such assertions being the chugging rockabilly ‘Do Right Mama’, ‘Baby I Don’t Care’ and defiant ‘No I Won’t Cry’, one can at least rest in the comfort that artists such as Ruby Ann is one of the forerunners for replicating a retro sound but within a modern framework of original material. With a new album set for release on the not-too-distant horizon, Ruby Ann will no doubt be securing more deserved success when that time is upon us. In the meantime, bask in the retro glory of ‘Mama’s Back’.


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Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets

Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets

Rhythm Bomb

With an eponymously titled debut album in the offing consisting of fourteen tracks of authentic rockabilly – thirteen of which are self-penned – new recruits to the Rhythm Bomb roster, Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets seem set to follow in the footsteps of label mates Marc & the Wild Ones as ones to watch in 2013. Being only of tender age yet sounding as if they have been producing these rockin’ tunes for a lot longer, such is their aptitude for songwriting, Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets debut is an accomplished affair yet nicely balanced with a slightly rough around the edges approach that is guided by the rather aptly titled ‘Walk With Me’ that literally leads the listener into the heart of this work with its occasional vocal hiccups, handclaps and dexterous guitar. It is that VOCAL, however, that really defines this four-piece band from Germany due to its immense power that clearly states its intent during ‘Be Mine’ and crystal clear demands of ‘Treat Me Right’ (‘well if you want me don’t be bad’). There is simply not much room to come up for air as Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets maintain the rockin’ momentum in a blistering array of rawness ‘Can’t Stop Boppin’, ‘Looking Up’, ‘Waiting’ that will leave you gaping in awe. If this is the sound of the rising underground of rockabilly talent, then FLW will struggle to contain its excitement as Carolina & her Rhythm Rockets have already reached the stars.


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We Got The Bug!

The Bird Doggin' Daddies

Rhythm Bomb

Predominantly a covers affair with a mammoth eighteen tracks to consume, The Bird Doggin’ Daddies ‘We Got The Bug!’ does not outstay its welcome. This is largely due to the frenetic pace of the chosen covers, revealing en veldig god smak, but also the deft musicianship that binds these driving rhythms together. There is a certain freshness about the manner in which this four-piece attack versions of ‘Daddy-O-Rock’ and ‘We’re Gonna Rock It’ nearly claiming both numbers as their own because that’s exactly the impression given throughout due to confidence riding high yet not without an abundance of respect given to the originals.

It is this very same self-assurance, however, that needs to be leaned on further when it comes to the band’s own compositions because when The Bird Doggin’ Daddies rely on their own compositions they more than stand up to the covers being offered here. Look no further than the guitar pickin’, rockin’ belter that is ‘Better Be Gone’ and even more compelling low-slung ride of ‘Crossbone Jim (Mystery lane)’ suggesting a band with a lot more in their locker than is currently being revealed. As it stands, ‘We Got The Bug!’ is stunning in its execution and a teaser until the next instalment where it is hoped The Bird Doggin’ Daddies state their authority further with an album full of original compositions.


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London Crawlin EP

Viva Le Pink

Diablo Records

The pink revolution begins here! Newly arrived on the FLW desk is Viva Le Pink’s three-track EP ‘London Crawlin’. Any preconceptions of this being something of a novelty act, then think again as this debut offering comes out of the traps at considerable haste with the swinging rockabilly influenced ‘Hell Kitty’ which is more snarling than purring and deceiving rather than loving, ‘You know she’s bad, she’ll make you sad’. It is left to ‘Queen O’ Jack’, though, to steal the limelight with its self-deprecating humour and delightful lyrical touches, ‘Every time I get near you, I feel like ahead of the pack’ as sometimes in life it’s not always about the monetary value. Nearly having laid all the cards on the table, Viva Le Pink rounds off proceedings with the appropriately chosen cover ‘Pink Elephants’ nicely supplemented with splashes of saxophone and gritty, driving guitars.

If the form displayed here can be maintained, then ladies and gentlemen we could be witnessing a new emerging talent on the rockin’ scene and one that is most definitely pink.


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Café A-La-Rock

Rusti Steel and The Star Tones

Western Star

As far as rockabilly revival albums go, they don’t come much better than this. Rusti Steel and The Star Tones have done it again with a supreme batch of authentic sounding rockabilly numbers that would easily find a home in the 50s. ‘Baby, Won’t You Baby Me’ is a prime example of this authentic delivery with its high desires matching the pacey tempo and equalled by the guitar-driven ‘See My Baby Rock’. It is the rip-roaring ‘Prisoner Of Your Charms’, however, that really competes for supremacy here, and suggests that Rusti and The Star Tones are more than capable of turning it up a notch or two. Despite being a tad too long at fifteen tracks, ‘Café A-La Rock’ is leading proof that Rusti and his Star Tones are governing the pack when it comes to the rockin’ circuit of revival bands.



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