Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Johnny & the Jailbirds

In rock 'n' roll, as with most strains of music, you get bands who never make it beyond the pub circuit and a few that have that little bit extra quality and are therefore able to really make a name for themselves on an international basis. Johnny and the Jailbirds fall in the latter category, having achieved cult status across the European continent. They were formed in late 1973, when Johnny Red moved from London to Northamptonshire. He placed an ad in a local newspaper, looking for some like minded rockers to form a rock 'n' roll band. He auditioned the applicants and after a few rehearsals Johnny and the Jailbirds were up and running. From the humble beginnings of their first gig in a local village club they quickly developed a reputation for one of the top bands in the UK. They signed to Charly Records in 1979. When Richie Ball joined on lead guitar, the final piece of the jigsaw was in place. As well as being a top picker he was a songwriter and Ball and Red began a fruitful partnership. These contributed eight songs for the bands debut album 'Out On Bail'. Rockabilly was rife in Europe at that time and the Jailbirds took advantage with two of their strongest numbers, 'Eileen' and Too Much Wine' making the top five of the French Rock 'n' Roll charts. The album became an instant classic and was to be the highlight of their career. They called it a day after just seven years but reformed a few years ago and Red and Ball wrote all the tracks for the comeback album 'Rockin The Blues Away'. They charted in the E.M.S. European country charts, with 'Lonestar Boogie' which went to No5 in October 2000, and 'Red Eye to Memphis' which reached No3 in January 2001.

My Johnny & the Jailbirds Top 5.
1. Eileen - brilliant hot pot of rock 'n' roll with ringing guitar and Elvisy vocals combining with a splash of doo-wop.
2. Too Much Wine - more of the same, melodic with some fine Red vocals. Their songs are so catchy.
3. Lonestar Boogie - melodic rockabilly which kicks off in Johnny Cash mode.
4. Stay Away - Taken from a 45 on the French ? Label, Stay Away is a singalong rocker with a short, but oh-so-sweet guitar solo.
5. Red Eye To Memphis - another exciting ditty with a commercial, catchy chorus.

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