Friday 28 August 2009

Going away for a few days

I'm off to the Twinwood Festival, so i won't be back online until Tuesday 1st September. I'm hoping to see Bill Crittenden sing Runnin' Around, Big Boy Bloater play Whammy, Metrotones sing Trickle Trickle and Mike Sanchez do Blue Boy. I'll let you know.

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 67 - Andy Rose - Lov-A Lov-A Love

Andy Rose - Lov-A Lov-A Love
Aamco 100

I know nothing about Andy Rose and to my knowledge the only song of his I have is Lov-A Lov-A Love on the Solid Stroll Volume 4 CD. Lov-A Lov-A Love was the flip side of Just Young when it came out in August 1958 on the small new York label, Aamco. Rose shows a bit of talent on the singing front and the guitar is okay, but it was never going to be a hit record. The charts in those days were full of Eddie, Jerry Lee and Elvis, and Aamco had no way to put a song like this in that league. There's a 31 track CD of his songs available and the title, Just Another Classroom Cutie Teen Idol, gives a strong hint as to his sound. If you like a stroller with a strong beat and an amiable voice, this is a more than decent record and is well worth a listen.

Thursday 27 August 2009

New single - Jerry Lee Lewis - Mean Old Man

Today saw the release for digital downplay of Mean Old Man, the first single from Jerry Lee’s forthcoming album on Shangri-La Music. The album will be Jerry Lee’s first country release for decades.

As with many a good JLL song, it’s from the pen of Kris Kristofferson. It was originally on KK’s Repossessed album, but I believe it has now found a home. The Killer once said of Me and Bobby McGhee that it had been done by Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin and now that he’d done it, he challenged that it was “open to anyone else that wants to try”. Now, you can say that about Mean Old Man as well.

I know there’ll be a-holes who’ll bemoan the fact that it’s modern country, but I love it. The backing is funky with great electric guitar. No one kicked up a fuss about Johnny Cash going 21st Century, so why not embrace JLL doing it? Much like the American stuff by his old pal, the aged vocals give the words a depth and character that a young singer couldn't. After the closing line “If I look like a mean old man that’s what I am” Jerry laughs “that’s what I am” to which KK confirms “that’s what you are” – great stuff. I talked the other day about Jace Everett's steamy country rocker, Bad Thing, that's the type of swampy song Jerry Lee could nail in his sleep. Mean Old Man is along the same lines and I hope the whole album is full of these sort of numbers.

I wasn’t that excited before Last Man Standing came out because you just knew the guests would take up too much time, but after hearing this I’m really excited and can’t wait for the album. Jerry Lee still kicks ass, and hopefully this album is an ass-kicker that might just get him the new crowd that are waiting for someone to fill the Cash void. I can dream can’t I?

I've just spoken to Jerry Lee nut Phil Flippar to see if my enthusiasm was shared and he's a bit more reserved about it at the moment. He can't get over the fact that there's no piano on it. Hey Phil, Jimmy Greaves could have a good game without scoring. Actually that's a bad analogy, Greavsie never played a game without scoring.

Monday 24 August 2009

youTube - Jerry Lee Lewis on Blue Peter

Unbelievable. Jerry Lee on Blue Peter! It's a great clip from 1980 with two solo preformances of Shakin' and GBOF. At the end there's two pillocks dancing with two dogs but don't let that put you off. It's a shame there's a slight delay between the sound and the picture, but so what - this is a great clip. When she asks how he can keep the left hand going throughout the solo, I'm sure Jerry says, "coz I'm good". Sit down Shep.

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 66 - Jerry Lee Lewis - Late Nite Lovin' Man

Jerry Lee Lewis - Late Nite Lovin' Man
Killer Country (Electra Records) 1980

If Jerry Lee Lewis was a songwriter, he would have written this himself and saved Boyne, Beattie and Lowe the trouble. This is full of the bravado the Killer thrives on. “I don't-a want no watered down whiskey, I said I never get the blues, Hey, if you're lookin' for a good time, honey, Jerry Lee's the man to use” Amen.

The band lay down a great stompin’ beat with the ooh’s and aah’s of the backing vocals egging him on – as if he needs it. Jerry’s Lee’s vocals have it all, swaggering and full of a sexual confidence that threaten any bird mad enough to glance at him. If they’re left in any doubt that this beast is “just a day time sleepin', late nite lovin' man” he lets them know that he “I don't believe in hobbies, I got better things to do, I ain't into watchin' no tv baby, Jerry Lee's got his eye on you”. He nails the songs message - it’s not that’s he’s bragging either, it’s a fact, a guaranteed fact!

As the song closes way too quickly, he tells the gals “I'm gonna play for ya now, I love you” before taking a short solo, pounding the keys like he’s gonna pound the night’s conquest. To top it all, he gives us one of his legendary asides like only the Killer can – shouting “gutbucket blues” before whistling through the fade out – a legend. Why isn’t this guy chiselled out at Rushmore?

Mystery Gang - youTube ala 1955

Mystery Gang's '55 TV Show

Rockabilly trio Mystery Gang have come up with a great idea. From 2005, this five minute clip was shot in black 'n' white to look like it was shot in 1955 for something like the Ed Sullivan Show. In front of the curtain and under the stage lights you really get the feel of the 50's and the boys look like Buddy holly and the Crickets as they perform two strong rockers in Rockabilly Star and Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle. I wish more bands could do this type of thing, it's such a good promotional vehicle. Watch and enjoy.

The Satellites – Wrong Move

The Satellites – Wrong Move
Planet X Records

Tracklist: Wrong Move, Trouble No More, Mad About Him Sad About Him How Can I Be Glad Without Him Blues, How Come It, Show Me, Too Close For Comfort, You Look That Good To Me, Bayou Rock

Adelaide, Australia natives The Satellites have only been going just over a decade but this latest release is already their seventh album on Planet X Records. The band consist of Belinda Hartman, Steve Mithchell, Jad Green and Darren Hunt and are one of the top bands in the Southern Hemisphere. They’ve toured all over the world and had the priveledge of supporting the Stray Cats on their recent tour of Oz.

The band excel at hot rockabilly with the title track being a wild rocker that kicks the album off in fine style. And even better is the scorching version of Joe Clay’s You Look That Good To Me that absolutely sizzles. Mad About Him Sad About Him How Can I Be Glad Without Him Blues is a lovely, hillbilly tinged rockaballad with great vocals from Belinda Hartman.

There’s a strong Stray Cats influence on a couple numbers with Trouble No More having the jazzier sound the cats sometimes employed, whilst the excellent cover George Jones’ cult classic How Come It is more Stray Cats than Thumper.

There’s a couple of hot duets in Bayou Rock and I think my favourite on the CD, Show Me, a bouncy little foot tapper with Hartman proving she’s got a great voice for rockabilly. A short but great CD, well worth checking out.

Sunday 23 August 2009

Time magazine - 24th September 1956

I just came across an interesting article from Time magazine, dated Monday, Sep. 24, 1956. The US mag was taking a glance across the pond to see how British Teds were enjoying Rock Around The Clock!! It’s full of t he bigoted bs that seemed to follow that great British movement at the time. Anyway, here it is.

"Sunday," said a British theater operator last week, in what had to be regarded as a masterpiece of understatement even for Britons, "is regarded as the difficult night in cinemas." The specific difficulty was the effect that a U.S. rock-'n'-roll movie was having on Britain's notorious teen-age delinquents, the Teddy Boys. Scarcely a week goes by without some headline proclaiming the latest exploits of the "Teds.'' But nothing before had sparked them to the frenzy induced by the gross tick-tock of Rock Around the Clock.

In a murky section of London that takes its name from the long-departed Elephant and Castle Tavern, exuberant Teds rioted for three consecutive nights, crashed in the door of one theater, streamed through neighborhood streets and taverns, smashed windows, threw bottles, heaved automobiles over on their sides. In Manchester the Teds ripped out the seats of a movie house, tossed light bulbs about, and turned a fire hose on objecting members of the audience.

Throughout the nation an estimated 3,000 Teddy Boys carried on with such abandon that the councils of a dozen towns met in special session to consider banning Rock Around the Clock. Near theaters where it was still being shown, police mobilized in droves. The Teds themselves met the challenge with glee. "Just you come dahn 'ere on Sunday," said one young Londoner as the difficult week drew on. "They'll never 'old us Teds then, no matter 'ow many 'eavies they 'ave. We'll all be out for a giggle."
On The Corner. Like the herds of problem youths that have sprung up in other places, and in other generations. Britain's Teddy Boys are the byproduct of great social upheaval. Born for the most part of poor parents in the slums of Britain's big cities, they had sketchy education and their home life was almost nonexistent. Thanks to the war, they spent much of their childhood herded together in shelters, or evacuated in groups into an alien countryside where the activities of all city boys are regarded with cold suspicion. Back in the cities again, they began to congregate in mutual admiration societies on drab and dingy street corners.
The Teds' notion of sartorial splendor ranges from a caricature of Edwardian elegance to the zoot padding of a Harlem hepcat. Their hair is elaborately and expensively coiffured in long, wavy styles that range from the "D.A." (for Duck's Arse) to the "TV Roll" and the "Tony Curtis." Their jargon is a mixture of Cockney rhyming slang and U.S. jive talk in which a road is a "frog" (from the phrase frog-and-toad, which rhymes with road), a suit is a "whistle" (from whistle-and-flute), and a girl is a "bird."

The Funny Thing. Whistles and birds are a Teddy Boy's major hobbies, and—unlike others of his kind in past generations—he can afford to indulge them, for without ambition or education, the average Teddy Boy in full-employment Britain can pick up a job paying anywhere from £6 to £20 weekly. "Mentally as well as morally," said a London boys' club director, "they are blank." But what the Ted really wants more than anything is to be noticed. To fulfill this ambition and indulge his hobby for boyish pranks, he will go to considerable lengths.

"Cor," said one of them last week, after a nasty fight with a policeman, "you shoulda seen that copper! One eye 'angin' out and 'is nose all over the side of 'is face, 'e wasn't 'alf slammed. Coo, they really 'ung one on 'im. And the funny thing—we 'ad to laugh—'e said 'e was gettin' married next week!"

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 65 - Steve Earle - Angel Is The Devil

Steve Earle - Angel Is The Devil
From Train A Comin’ CD

I loved the early work of Steve Earle but haven’t really been interested in the later stuff – too folky for me. The electric twang went awol and in its place came mandolin and a more boring sound. 1995’s Train a Comin' did have a beauty in Angel Is The Devil. It’s acoustic and doesn’t have the drive of the best moments of Guitar Town and Exit O but it’s very listenable. Earle was just out of the can and getting over drug addiction when he cut the Train A Comin’ album which he described as his “unplugged album”. I think the reason I like is so much is that it’s sounds like a lot of the young skifflebilly groups I used to dig like the Skiff Skats and Terry and Gerry. “Now she's the kind a woman, keep you comin' back for more, Got the kind of face, you swear you seen someplace before, Coulda` been your mamma, Coulda' been a Mexican whore, She's the devil I know”.

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 64 - Jace Everett – Bad Things

Jace Everett – Bad Things
Elektra/Atlantic (True Blood Soundtrack)

Me and the misses started watching the new HBO series, True Blood, a steamy, sexy tale of a small southern town where normal folk intermingle with vampires. That might sound shite, but actually it’s a good programme, and apparantly has done great business Stateside. The opening credits are brilliant, flashing scenes of the south, all set the tune of Jace Everett’s Bad Things. It’s hardcore country with sexy vocals and some scintillating guitar. Everett was born in Evansville, Indiana but grew up in Texas before moving to Nashville. In 2005 he signed with Epic Records but his career has never really taken off. His latest album, Red Revelations, was released a couple of months ago on the small Weston Boys label and includes Bad Things. Hopefully this will result in a higher profile and can kick start his career.

Recommended downloads: I haven’t heard Red Revelations, but from the True Blood OST I enjoyed the Charlie Robison country track, Good Times and the first half of Wayne Hancock’s version Brand New Cadillac. Once the trumpet solo starts, all momentum is lost. I’m not the confrontational type, but I would love to see The Train fall out with his trumpeter.

Saturday 22 August 2009

50's Jodimars on youTube

I'm not sure of the background to this clip but it's surely as rare as hen's teeth. I think it's Dick Richards centre stage and probably joey on sax but is that Marshall Lytle on electric bass? Does anyone know any details on this clip? This is the first clip I've ever seen of them in their heyday - man, you gotta love youTube.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Jim Dickinson - Times Obituary

Memphis music man Jim Dickinson has died at the age of 67. I only really know about him from the Jesters Sun single, Cadillac Man from 1966. In a band that included Sam Phillips' son Jerry, Dickinson was the singer and pianist. Other than that, Dickinson always seemed to be interviewed for any rockabilly/Memphis based documentary. Read the Times obit below and then check out the youTube clip of Cadillac Man.

Times Obituary: As a producer and in-demand session musician, Jim Dickinson helped to mould the gritty, roots-based sound of American southern rock. With the Memphis-based crew known as the Dixie Flyers, he played the piano on records by Aretha Franklin with a syncopated, soulful sound, which belied the colour of his white skin. Combining an intuitive feel for the traditional sound of southern blues with a contemporary rock’n’roll sensibility, he also recorded with the Rolling Stones, Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan and countless others. As a producer, he took charge of acclaimed albums by Willy DeVille (obituary, August 11), Mudhoney and the North Mississippi All-Stars, formed by his sons, Luther and Cody.

He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1941 and after brief spells living in Los Angeles and Chicago his family moved to Memphis when he was 8. His mother taught him to play the piano as a youth, although what he later described as a “kind of dyslexia” prevented him from learning to read music.

He joined his first band in the early 1960s while studying drama at Baylor University in Texas, where he played drums in a group called Where’s Charlie?. After graduating he returned to Tennessee and enrolled at Memphis State University, principally to avoid the draft.

He briefly ran a drama company called the Market Theatre, but a career as a professional musician beckoned when in 1963 he was invited to record an album in Nashville of folk songs reinterpreted in the style of a Dixieland band. Back in Memphis there were further sessions at Chips Moman’s American Studios and for Sam Phillips’s Sun Records, which released the 1966 single Cadillac Man by the Jesters, featuring Dickinson playing piano and on lead vocals.

In the late 1960s he joined fellow Memphis musicians Charlie Freeman, Michael Utley, Tommy McClure and Sammy Creason in the Dixie Flyers, an informal group of crack session musicians who worked for Atlantic Records, backing singers such as Aretha Franklin on her 1970 album Spirit in the Dark, as well as Rita Coolidge, Jerry Jeff Walker, Albert Collins, Sam the Sham, Carmen McRae and Ronnie Hawkins.

At about the same time he found himself in the Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, where the Rolling Stones were recording. Dickinson was asked to add the plaintive piano part on Wild Horses, which appeared on the group’s 1971 album Sticky Fingers. He also began a long association with Ry Cooder, playing piano on the guitarist’s 1972 albums Into the Purple Valley and Boomer’s Story. In the same year he released his first solo album, Dixie Fried, and in 1974 he began a parallel career as a producer, taking charge of Big Star’s album Third.

Over the next two decades he became a highly respected operator, opening his own Zebra Branch studio in north Mississippi and producing albums by Alex Chilton, Willy DeVille, Green on Red and the Replacements, among others. He once described the producer’s role thus: “Record production is a subtle, covert activity. The producer is an invisible man. His role remains a mystery. During the recording process there is an energy field present in the studio — to manipulate and to maximise that presence. To focus on the peculiar ‘harmony of the moment’ is the job of the producer. Music has a spirit beyond the notes and rhythm. To foster that spirit and to cause it to flourish is the producer’s task.”

He was always in demand as a session player and one of the highlights of his career came when Bob Dylan asked him to play the piano on his 1997 album Time Out of Mind.

In recent years the Dickinson family name has been kept in the limelight by his two sons, Luther and Cody. They made their first public appearance at the 1990 Memphis Blues Festival with their father as Jim Dickinson and the Hardly Can Playboys. The brothers then went on to form the hugely successful North Mississippi All-Stars, with their father producing and playing keyboards on their albums. The pair in turn played on their father’s idiosyncratic solo recordings Free Beer Tomorrow (2002) and Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger (2006).

Dickinson underwent triple heart bypass surgery in June and failed to make a full recovery. He is survived by his wife, Mary, and his two sons.

Jim Dickinson, musician and producer, was born on November 15, 1941. He died on August 15, 2009, aged 67.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

New Brian Setzer Orchestra single

The Brian Setzer Orchestra will release their forthcoming CD, "Songs From Lonely Avenue" on October 13, 2009. To whet the appetite, two songs from the album, Trouble Train and Lonely Avenue were released today for download on iTunes.

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.63 - Big Boy Bloater – Whammy!

Big Boy Bloater – Whammy!

Although he’s been fronting his own rockin’ blues and for fifteen years, I’ve only seen Big Boy Bloater leading the Rhythm Riot backing band. He’s bloody good at it, and has enhanced the performance of a load of acts from Nappy Brown to Big jay McNeely. According to his website he’s heavily influenced by the early sounds of Ike Turner, Johnny 'Guitar’ Watson, Mickey Baker and BB King. The two CD’s I’ve got of his lay testament to that. The song I’m freakin’ to at the moment is Whammy! from his 2008 release, That Ain’t My Name. High profile rocker Mark Lamarr was such a fan of the song that he produced a 7” vinyl single with Whammy! on the top side and Double Whammy!! on the flip. Perhaps a tad biased, Lamarr enthused “"Both sides are as good as the best 50's releases!". Whammy! is a guitar instrumental that is as aptly titled as Jerry lee calling a song “piano” or King Curtis to record a two minute blast of honkin’ sax and call it “two minute blast of honkin’ sax”. Bloater sounds like Ike Turner on Cobra. Like his hero he certainly knows his way around the whammy bar and it’s a hot, slashing slice of blues. I’m seeing Big boy Bloater and his Southside Stompers at the Twinwood Festival in a week or two and on this evidence it should be fun.

Monday 17 August 2009

Charlie Rich – Charlie Rocks

Charlie Rich – Charlie Rocks
Bear Family BCD 16513 AR

Track listing: Whirlwind (undubbed version), Everything I Do Is Wrong, Philadelphia Baby, Big Man, Rebound, That's Rich, Lonely Weekends (master), Break Up, Midnite Blues, Little Woman Friend Of Mine, Goodbye Mary Ann (alt 3), You Made A Hit, Red Man, Donna Lee, Popcorn Polly, Gentle As A Lamb, Charlie's Boogie, Stop Thief, Right Behind You Baby, Lonely Weekends (undubbed alt), Yes Ma'am, Big Man (undubbed alt), Big Boss Man, The Ways Of A Woman In Love, Mohair Sam, I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water, Just A Little Bit Of Time, It Ain't Gonna Be That Way, That's My Way, Just A Little Bit Of You, So Long)

The latest edition to bear Family’s excellent Rocks series pays tribute to the astonishingly gifted Charlie Rich. I love the Silver Fox catalogue from the Sun rock ‘n’ roll to the string laden country on Epic. This release looks at the up-tempo numbers from the early to mid period on Sun, Smash & RCA.

Charlie Rich could never be classified as a rockabilly in the Billy Lee Riley sense, he there was always a jazzy, late-night feel to his sound. That’s not to say he couldn’t rock out, it’s just he always seemed more comfortable with something funkier. Sam Phillips had him cutting a rug early on with some great rockers in the form of Lonely Weekends, Philadelphia Baby, Rebound and the undubbed version of Whirlwind. From this period, the bluesy, Everything I Do Is Wrong probably tells us more about the Silver Fox than any of the rockers. Of the lessor known items, Gentle As A Lamb is a long way from Sonny Burgess but as an insight into the hip side of Memphis’ early 60’s soul, it’s more than fine with me. Donna Lee is pretty average but for some reason I quite like the oddball rocker Popcorn Polly.

From the post Sun era there’s a handful of crackers, of which the exquisite Mohair Sam and the funky I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water need no introduction. I’ve always loved his reading of Johnny Cash’s The Ways Of A Woman In Love and Just A Little Bit Of Time gives a glimpse into another side of Memphis. I'm a bit surprised that She's A Yum-Yum and You Can Have Her have been omitted, but it's hard to be picky with such a great compliation.

My top three picks for constant plays are Mohair Sam, Big Man and best of all, the brilliant, atmospheric soul of Midnite Blues. To me this song is Charlie Rich in a nutshell. A classy CD that sits nicely on the shelf alongside the box set, the best of compilations of Groove and Smash, the Epic releases and the Feel Like Goin’ Home: Essential CR double on Columbia/Legacy.

Saturday 15 August 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 62 - Walkin the Dog by Rachael Stokes

Walkin the Dog - Rachael Stokes

I must confess, I'd never heard of Rachael Stokes until two minutes ago. Just caught her by accident on youTube, but have a listen to this. From what I can gather she works with The Rocksteadys who classify themselves as a Ska/Rocksteady group from Las Vegas. Whatever name you give their style, on this cover of Webb Pierce's Walkin' The Dog they're nothing but flat-out rockabilly. She's got a fine voice, but it's the guitarist that had me going nuts. Take a listen, he'll blow your top. I've also added her equally stunning cover of Janis Martin's My Boy Elvis.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Mack Stevens & the Texas Infidels – Kill! Kill! Kill!

Mack Stevens & the Texas Infidels – Kill! Kill! Kill!
Hog Maw Records HM906

Side A: Jasper Town, Let's See You Cheat On Me Again, B-T-K, Perfect Stranger, Skin 'Em Lee. Side B: They'll Call It Murder, Fistful Of Knuckles, The Killin' Dozens, Let Me Drive You Home Dear, The Man Who Could Not Die

The mad man of rockabilly is back. Not that he particularly went away, but his latest is so good, it’s a return to the classy albums he had out on Rollin’ Rock a few years ago. Hog Maw Records are to be commended for this excellent album, in glorious blood red vinyl.

As the title suggests, this latest release is all about death and violence – psychobilly, country style. What I love is that the lyrics are all mean and desperate, but done to an upbeat tune, totally at odds with the words. He’s basically taken a canvas of pink and splashed all over it in black, and in the process has created a masterpiece.

The opener, Jasper Town is a mix of rockabilly, hillbilly and r’n’b done to the backbeat of Rollin’ and Tumblin’ and sets the scene for half an hour of mayhem. Skin 'Em Lee is death and butchery to the sound of a New Orleans party! B-T-K reminds me a bit of the Ray Campi Rollin’ Rock sound – the touch of Ronnie Weiser obviously looms large in the mind of Mack. Fistful Of Knuckles features a wonderful combination of violence and beautifully melodic rockabilly guitar.

The Killin’ Dozens is hot rockin’ blues and I loved the weird Let Me Drive You Home Dear, a rocker with a nice acoustic feel, enhanced by some fine honky tonk piano. The pick of the album for me are the two rockin’ hillbilly numbers Let's See You Cheat On Me Again and The Man Who Could Not Die. The former tells of the wayward nightlife of “stealin’ cars and titty bars” while the latter is a bitter tale of revenge, “I know it’s hard to draw a breath when your ribs are caving in, but girls let’s see you try to cheat on me again”. You can’t beat a good ol’ love song!

I love this album. It’s great to have him back at the top of his game. Mad Mack is Back.

Wednesday 12 August 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No.61 - Willie & the Poor Boys

Willie & the Poor Boys - Saturday Night

When you consider who the musicians are that make up Willie & the Poor Boys, it's surprising that they weren't actually better than they were. Don't get me wrong, some of the stuff is great, but there's a fair bit that sounds like they're going through the motions. I dare say they all loved it and it was one of those labour of loves where the wine flowed and the backs were constantly slapped. They'd make one hell of a pub band, but what pub would be big enough to house this lot. Bill Wyman - bass, vocals, Charlie Watts - drums, Andy Fairweather Low - guitar, vocals, Chris Rea - vocals, Geraint Watkins - keyboards, vocals, Mickey Gee - guitar, vocals, Terry Williams - drums, Ray Cooper - percussion, Jimmy Page - guitar, Paul Rodgers - vocals. I know they've all got credentials, but the star of the show for me is Geraint Watkins. I'm probably biased but sod it, the likes of Wyman, Rea and Jimmy Page don't need boosting.

The Poor Boys boogied their way through a gumbo of rock & roll, country, R&B and soul. It's Geraint Watkins' blorious blast through Roy Brown's Saturday Night that shines above all others. Geriant's vocals have all the exitement of the original and his harsh voice sounds like he's already enjoyed too many such nights. He actually songs a bit, Sunday morning! The horn section and Watkins' own piano lay down a full New Orleans beat, sounding like these British guys were born and bred in the Big Easy. This is rock 'n' roll as it should be played - tight of sound and joyous in nature. Geriant Watkins is a national treasure who should be applauded loudly before he goes the way of Mickey Gee and it's too late.

Recommended listening: Paul Rodgers is pretty good on Otis Redding's These Arms of Mine, Ray Cooper is fine, fine, fine on Lee Dorsey's Can You Hear Me? and would you be surprised that I loved GW's reading of Amos Milburn's Chicken Shack Boogie.

Monday 10 August 2009

The Meteors - Hell Train Rollin'

The Meteors - Hell Train Rollin'
People Like You Records

Tracklist: Surfing Home On a Dead Girl, Hate Train, Psychobilly Number 1, Another Day On Fire, The Old Man's Down the Road, Down and Dirty, If Thats the Way You Want It, Creepy, Pure Evil, Devil Bone, Cut by Cut (Slice by Slice), This Town, 4lb Hammer

I think it's 24 official albums in 29 years for the Kings of Pyschobilly, The Meteors. The lynchpin through this time has been guitarist and vocalist P. Paul Fenech, who is again the dominant force on Hell Train Rollin'. The early work with Nigel Lewis was such a breath of fresh air and their first two albums, the immortal In Heaven and the relentless follow-up Wreckin' Crew are two of my favourites albums and are rightly reagrded as pyscho classics. To me, In Heaven is the benchmark for pyschobilly in the same was that Elvis' Sun singles are to rockabilly. The Meteors have gone through many line-up changes since 1980 and currently features Simon Linden on bass and Wolfgang Hordemann on drums. The trio are a tight as a drum and the good name of the band is in safe hands.

Hell Train Rollin' won't surprise anyone, it's full of all the gore and hate you'd imagine, and musically comes with the full-steam attack that a mosh-pit demands. The opener, Surfing Home On a Dead Girl, is everything the title says - the dark ominous tone of Dick Dale's guitar being more the inspiration than the Beach Boys style of surf. Fenech released a solo surf album as The Surfing Dead so this isn't new ground for him. It's a great start before all miserable bastards are invited on to the Hate Train. I really enjoyed the frantic Psychobilly Number 1 (I'm the bastard son of the devil's rock 'n' roll) and John Fogerty's The Old Man's Down the Road is the perfect vehicle for Fenech.

The album really kicks to life for me with the two manic rockers Down and Dirty and If Thats the Way You Want It, before going into pure pyscho heaven with Creepy, which has some tasty Fenech guitar. It's probably the best soing here and reminds me of the early stuff as does the dark and moody, Pure Evil. Devil Bone is bit of rockin' Chicago blues with harmonica to the fore. So all told, a really strong album that should appeal to old fans. I've just played it again this morning and the guy in the car with me who isn't in to my music actually liked it! The problem is,. People who aren't in to it, never get to hear it because there's no music channels on the radio or tv with enough balls to try something different.

Sunday 9 August 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 60 - Ellis and the Angry Teens

Ellis and the Angry Teens - Don't Mess With The Teds
Goofin' EP GRCD 684

Ellis & The Angry Teens are a Teddy Boy trio from Finland who have enjoyed a status as one of the top ted bands in Europe. Lead singer and guitarist Ellis famously joked that rockabilly was born in Finland in 1975, not in America, citing Teddy & The Tigers as the inspiration. They’ve recorded a handful of albums over the years and they’re all peppered with future teddy boy anthems.

My favourite is the Alcohol EP from 1998 with two classics of the genre in We Like Alcohol and Don’t Mess With The Teds. The latter is like the 70’s revisited, all echo, attitude and energy ala Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers in their prime. On it’s release on Goofin’ it was destined to be a hit on the rock ‘n’ roll circuit, steeped in the sound of the teddy boy legends, Johnny & the Jailbirds, the Riot Rockers and the Flying Saucers. The song advises folks that the best way to avoid a good kickin’-in is to cross the road and don’t mess with the teds. It comes with a couple of hot guitar solos and a few rebel yells. Classic teddy boy music.

Friday 7 August 2009

Aaron Tippin - He Believed

Aaron Tippin - He Believed
Nippit Records

Tracklist: He Believed, I Got It Honest, Country Boy's Toolbox, My Blue Angel, Working Man's PhD, Bad Latitude, Ready to Rock (In A Country Kinda Way), Whole Lotta Love On The Line, I Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way, Honky-Tonk Superman, Could Not Stop Myself, Trim Yourself To Fit The World
When we were lucky enough to get CMT Europe in the 90's there were a handful of acts that I fell in love with and still continue to enjoy. Among them was Alan Jackson, Tracy Byrd, Confederate Railroad and upo there with the best, Aaron Tippin. He always seemed like a kick-ass country kinda boy, even if his muscles and mustache gave him the look of the gay dancer that you know but don't like to go out on the razz with. Tippin scored some great hits with a series of hard-core rockin' country (the best being the first I heard by him, Ain't Nothin' Wrong With The Radio) and the odd ballad. He's been relatively quite over the past for years but he's now recorded (well last year, but I've only just got a copy) an album for Nippet Records that will be sold exclusively through the wonderful Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. What great places they are, me anmd my misses spent hours in those things when we were in Tennessee a few years back. Aaron Tippin is the latest country singer to performer to lend his name to an ever growing list of CD's sold exclusively through Cracker Barrel, following Merle Haggard, Alabama, Josh Turner, The Charlie Daniels Band and Lonestar among others.

He Believed is a twelve song affair with 6 new tracks and 6 old hit singles. The hiots should need no introduction with Honky-Tonk Superman and Working Man's Ph.D telling you everything you need to know about Aaron Tioppin, and the beautiful ballad, My Blue Angel, surely the best vocal performance of his career. Of the new songs, the title track is a heartfelt tribute to his father who died a couple of years ago in a car crash. Co written with Aaron's wife Thea, it's a ballad with lashings of gospel and tells the story of the rock his father was to him. Ready To Rock (In A Country Kinda Way) is a full-on country rocker with crowd participation, that will appeal to fans of Brooks and Dunn and Toby Keith. On first hearing I thought it was a bit contrived, but the second time I played it was in the car, and loud, and I really enjoyed it for what it was - kickin' country. I also enjoyed the honky tonkers, Bad Latitude and Country Boy's Toolbox. So all told it's a worthwhile purchase, just a shame you're only getting 6 new ones.

Thursday 6 August 2009

Introducing..CC Jerome’s Jetsetters

CC Jerome’s Jetsetters
El Toro ETCD 6042

Dutchman CC Jerome (real name Jeroen Van Gasteren) paid his dues for a decade on the American scene with the likes of Lee Rocker and Levi Dexter. Now back in Europe he has teamed up with Dean Black on bass, Coen Molenschot on drums and a host of guests on piano, sax and other instruments together with his own contributions on lead guitar.

The opener, Hot Rod Party, and Hi Fi Baby are fine, hot rockin’ blues with rumbling guitar and sax break. Wine and Roses is a blues stroller with an harmonica that gives it the feel of Chess in the 21st Century. Johnny Guitar Watson’s Getting’ Drunk smokes with a couple of lovely blues guitar break. On second hearing I really grew to like the poppier, I’m In Love With you which starts off pretty mundane before turning into a nice 60‘s soul type number.

Of the covers, I was impressed by I’m Ready and a Hammond organ can’t spoil Charlie Rich’s Mohair Sam. I was less impressed with Honey Hush and although Gene Taylor gives the piano a good bollocking on the Killer’s I’m On Fire, the drums were too heavy for me.

Favourite songs on the album has to be I Like Ike’s Trouble Up The Road, a barnstormer and Oh Baby, a stroller that comes with a Duane Eddy twang. A strong release for El Toro and Jerome alike. It’s got a cool little album cover as well.

Billy Lee Riley - Times Obituary

Billy Lee Riley was a rock’n’roll pioneer and a member of the famous Sun Records stable, where his label mates included Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis. His biggest hit came with Flying Saucers Rock and Roll (1957). Although he struggled to repeat that record’s chart success, he returned to popularity during the rockabilly revival of the 1980s and he toured Britain and Europe regularly.

Born into a poor, sharecropping family in Pocahontas, Arkansas, in 1933, he was taught to play guitar and harmonica by the blues musicians with whom he worked in the fields — to supplement the family income he had been picking cotton since he was only 6.

At 15 he lied about his age and joined the US Army, serving for four years from 1948 to 1952. On his discharge he returned to Arkansas and joined the Ranch Boys, performing hillbilly songs on a local radio station before he moved to Memphis to work in his brother-in-law’s restaurant.

He arrived at a propitious moment, just as black rhythm ‘n’ blues and white country music were coming together in the city to create rock’n’roll, and he made his first recordings in 1955 for the tiny Fernwood label, owned by “Cowboy” Jack Clement and Slim Wallace. The label recorded in a garage with only limited technical facilities and so to master what was intended to be Riley’s debut single, Trouble Bound backed with Think before Your Go, Clement took the tapes to Sam Phillips at Sun Records.

Phillips was so taken with Trouble Bound that he hired Clement to work for him and signed Riley to a recording contract, also employing him and the drummer J. M. Van Eaton and the guitarist Roland Janes from his backing group as members of the Sun house band.

Trouble Bound eventually appeared on Sun as a single in 1956, backed with a new cut Rock with Me Baby, after Phillips had rejected Think before You Go as too country. But it was Riley’s next release, Flying Saucers Rock and Roll, that took him into the American charts. Its timing was perfect, riding the crest of the rock’n’roll explosion and the growing fascination with UFOs and on the crest of the Soviet launch of the first Sputnik.

The record’s spectacular success led Riley to rename his band the Little Green Men and to dress them in green baize suits. With his film-star good looks and Presley-like stage moves, stardom seemed guaranteed. Yet the follow-up single, Red Hot, featuring Jerry Lee Lewis accompanying Riley on pounding piano, fared less well. In later years Riley claimed the reason was that Phillips and Sun failed to promote it properly because they were too busy pushing Lewis’s own Great Balls of Fire.

He continued to record for Sun until 1959 without further significant commercial success, although his 1950s Memphis recordings today are considered rockabilly classics and Bob Dylan has cited Riley as an early influence. After leaving Sun he started his own label before moving in 1962 to Los Angeles, where he became a studio session musician, playing on records by the Beach Boys, Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin, among others.

He returned to Arkansas in the early 1970s and abandoned music to start a construction business. By 1978, however, Flying Saucers Rock and Roll and Red Hot had been rediscovered by a new generation of music fans.

After his early Sun recordings were reissued on the Charly label and hailed as lost rockabilly classics, Riley returned to performing and became particularly popular in Britain where the likes of Shakin’ Stevens helped to restore his brand of music to commercial favour.

He continued to perform and record regularly for the next 30 years. His 1997 album Hot Damn! was nominated for a Grammy award and his final release, Hillbilly Rockin’ Man (2003), on which he returned to his country roots, was critically well received.

He played his final show in June 2009 at the Rock and Soul Museum in Memphis, by which time he had an advanced cancer.

Billy Lee Riley, singer, was born on October 5, 1933. He died of cancer on August 2, 2009, aged 75.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Rockin' Song of the Week No. 59 - Boom Boom Cats

The Boom Boom Cats - Rooster in a Henhouse
(from Tell Me Who... Told You 'Bout Lovin' - Vinylux CD V0006)

The Boom Boom Cats were a quartet of young rockers from Baltimore, Maryland who seem to have hit the scene running and disappeared as quickly as they arrived. The mainstays of the band were singer and chief songwriter Eddie MacIntosh and wicked guitarist called Joe! The rhythm section Mark Pettijohn on drums and bass player Lee Verzosa lay down a solid beat but it’s the guitar that shines throughout Tell Me Who... Told You 'Bout Lovin'. My favourite on the album is Rooster In The Henhouse, a boppin’ bit of hillbilly with Eddie and Joe both in fine form.

Recommended downloads: the sparce rockabilly boppers, Tell Me Who and Everytime That Record Plays. Of the covers, Crazy Crazy Lovin' is most acceptable, true to the original with hot guitar all over it.

Imelda in the Times

It was nice to open up the Times today and see a picture and review of Imelda May at the recent Cambridge Folk Festval. Just a shame to reviewer, Stephen Dalton, wasn't a bit more upbeat. He described the festival in general as "a generally pleasant weekend, but hardly a persuasive advert for folk music as a living, breathing, relevant musical force."

That didn't bother me, but I was a bit disappointed to read further on that "even award-winning young stars of the folk scene, such as the English minstrel Jim Moray and the Irish retro-jazz rockabilly chanteuse Imelda May displayed more energy than originality." Not sure after all this time, how original you can be in the confines of rockabilly and folk. If you venture too far then it just ain't rockabilly (or folk).

Monday 3 August 2009

Billy Lee Riley - RIP

I've just heard that the great Sun rockabilly artist Billy Lee Riley has died. I know he's been suffering really badly and it's probably a blessing for him and his family, but it still doesn't make it any less sad. I'm gutted, he was a great figure within the world of rockabilly.

Billy Lee passed away yesterday (August 2nd, 2009) with his family at his bedside.

I had the great fortune to meet Billy Lee and also exchanged many emails with him. I saw him live and was knocked out by his version of Pearly Lee. All we've got left now is the music, but what a fabulous consolation that is.

Rest in peace Billy Lee - you were up there with the greatest.