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April 2016

Johnny “Spazz” Hatton

in Interviews
Johnny "Spazz" Hatton
Johnny “Spazz” Hatton

The silky-voiced Tony Bennett. Country music queen Dolly Parton. Legendary protest rocker Bob Dylan. “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” Elvis Presley. All four rank amongst the most recognizable names to ever pick up a microphone; all four have reached the pinnacle of success in their respective music genres.
And all four have utilized the slap bass skills of John “Spazz” Hatton.
Although best recognized as a member of the Brian Setzer Orchestra, John Hatton has been slapping the upright bass for years. From his days as Kansas City, Missouri’s go-to bassist to his television theme song work; from his unlikely British Top 10 hit with Big Daddy to his recent stint with popular swing band Royal Crown Review, John has done it all.
How does John Hatton do it? How did he adapt from playing violin with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra to standing on his bass with the Brian Setzer Trio? How did he land a gig with the one and only Elvis? And just how did John acquire the nickname “Spazz”, anyway? I recently spoke with the musician to find out.

Conducted by Denise Daliege-Pierce


After years of playing the violin and a two-year stint with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, why did you decide to forego the instrument?
Johnny “Spazz” Hatton: I just got too many gig calls with the bass.

What made you choose to play the upright bass?
My dad said, ‘Why don’t you try bass?’ He was a teacher with the St. Louis School District. I got a bass; learned all the notes. There was a gal at my school who played bass. She was first chair [in the school band]—I think my dad gave her first chair because she was so tall. I wanted first chair! She became bass player with the swing band. A friend of mine played cello, and he had a guitar with bass strings on it—it was an old Sears & Roebuck guitar, and he had cut new notches in the nut. That was [with] the Marauders, my first high school band. Girls said we were cool. We started making money and playing teen dances, and I had this little book that I wrote our gigs in; what we made.
I kept playing the violin into our college years and was concert master. I had been playin’ bass with The Morticians. We’d have our schoolmates follow us, kind of in a funeral procession, and we’d turn our [car] lights on. We wore black suits and black turtlenecks; that’s how we got the name “Morticians”. We played these little towns in Missouri.

How difficult was it to switch from the violin to the upright bass?
It was pretty easy to switch over to the string bass. The fingering is pretty easy. Kids see bands today and they say, ‘I wanna play guitar! I wanna play drums!’ Those are cool. They never say, ‘I wanna play bass!’ I dropped out of college after five years, just a half year from my masters, and started playing jazz clubs. I got called up for the draft and failed my physical. Otherwise….

What type of bass do you use? Why that particular brand?
One I use for Brian Setzer is King Doublebass. They’re in Santa Ana, California. These guys—or one of ‘em did—his name is Jason Burns. He would take old Kay basses and paint ‘em with, like, twelve coats. Plywood basses are best for playing rockabilly. You need a bass that doesn’t have so much tone. Hand carved basses are best. They found that, if they layer ‘em with paint, they have a better tone. It has a really lousy tone, but when you plug it into an amp, it just kicks. Jason and his friend, Brad Johnson—he became CEO—do a great job. I also use different basses for my jazz and studio gigs. I named them. Would you like to know their names?

Of course!
Well, there’s Berta, she’s German; Consuela, my Mexican handmade bass; my Ampeg bass, Peg; Kay, my Kay bass. My King bass is named Boom Boom; my flame bass—the one with the flames on it—is Blaze, and Dale, after Dale Evans. How many is that? Seven?

How did you meet Three Sounds pianist Gene Harris? What was your experience working with him like?
Gene—he had a lot of friends in Kansas City who would hire him for different functions. I worked for [pianist] Pete Eye. Gene would come in and see Pete play. I became good friends with Luther Hughes, Gene’s bass player. Luther left, and he said, ‘Do you want my gig?’ [My wife and I] loaded up the motor home—it was more of a van with a high top. My wife’s brother-in-law sold me a motor home. It was really nice. I remember when Gene was off, we’d park at Marina del Rey. There was a whole line of motor homes there. I played with Gene for about two years and on Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow. I got a little disenchanted. He was gonna do another album, and he didn’t need me on it. I went back to Kansas City; did some jingles.

You also had the chance to work with movie and television music composer, Stan Worth. How did that collaboration come about?
I was home about two months and got a call from Stan Worth. His bass player was leaving, and he asked me if I wanted that gig. He was the guy who wrote “George of the Jungle”, “Rocky the Flying Squirrel”…a bunch of others. We sold the house and the motor home, and went back to California. I started working with Stan at the Hilton Inn—that was about ’74.

What television theme songs did you record with him?
We did “Fun Factory”—that was a variety TV show with Bobby Van. We did a TV show called “High Rollers”; Stan was musical director on “Name That Tune”.

While living in Kansas City, you had the opportunity to play bass for Elvis Presley. What are your memories of performing with “The King”?
This was around 1968-’69, and I think that this was when he did the ’68 Comeback tour. I wasn’t really an Elvis fan. I had been playing in this big time music scene. Musicians didn’t travel with big bands back then—they would hire local musicians to play with them. I played with Liza Minnelli, and someone called me and asked me if I wanted to do the Elvis show, and I said, ‘OK!’ We went down to the rehearsal and were told to wear black pants and a white shirt. They gave me a vest to wear. I bought a couple Elvis albums to listen to what he sounded like. The musicians were told, ‘You guys are gonna just play the introduction, the 2001 theme.’
Before the show, I’m backstage, and I saw Elvis and the Colonel talkin’ in the hallway. Elvis sees me waiting there, and he says, ‘You want me to sign those for ya, sonny?’ He signed my two albums. I don’t know what happened to them.
We’re on the stage and the whole house goes dark. We start playing the 2001 theme. The flashbulbs start goin’ off. It looked like noon during the day. That will always stay with me until I croak. There was one guy [Charlie Hodge] playing an acoustic guitar. He wasn’t plugged into anything—I think it was just for show. He’d follow Elvis around the stage and hand out scarves. [Elvis] was wearing a white jumpsuit with all the studs and the bell bottoms, and a red scarf. Ronnie Tutt, who’s famous for the Octopad, played that gig.

The musicians you have had the chance to perform with are a virtual who’s who of the industry: Little Richard, Hank Ballard, Al Jarreau, Brian Setzer—the list goes on. Who was your favorite to work with, and why?
Well, I think Setzer, ‘cause he’s so high energy. I had to kick up my performance with him. I didn’t really know how to play rockabilly. I met Geoff Firebaugh from Nashville. He showed me flapping, where you use both hands. Other guys showed me, ‘Here’s how you stand on the bass.’ Plus, the music: you have to be able to sight read notes, “flyspeck”, as we say in the business. The second time is just changes. The musicianship is incredible. I’m overjoyed to be associated with that.

While we’re on the subject of Brian Setzer and musicianship, during live Brian Setzer Orchestra shows, while the big band takes a break, you join Brian and drummer Tony Pia onstage for a stripped-down, Stray Cats-style mini set. How do you enjoy performing as part of the trio as opposed to the entire big band?
It’s weird. I like the big band because I like playing with the horns, and I’ve been playing jazz since Kansas City.
The trio is fun. It’s a workout. You’re throwing the bass in the air, and that’s fun. The music in the big band is reading—and hard. I learned how to climb on the bass in two hours, but sight reading notes took me twenty years. That’s the enigma.

During the 1980s, you joined Big Daddy, an eight-piece group that turned modern songs into ‘50s-style classics; a “Weird Al” Yankovic meets Sha-Na-Na type of project. Did the group’s overseas success with its cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” surprise you?
I think a couple of guys in the band had good business sense. Marty [Kaniger] had a skill on the phone and was good at sales talk. We were in [the movie] Book of Love. We did things with Little Richard; we did a video with him and Vin Di Bona, the producer of America’s Funniest Home Videos. We did Las Vegas for five or six years at the Tropicana. We played in Lake Tahoe at Caesars. We did a couple tours of England. We had a tour of Australia. I remember driving north of London to Newcastle, listening to the radio, and “Dancing in the Dark” came on. We changed stations, and it was playing on another station. Simultaneous play of “Dancing in the Dark”! The cool thing about that band was we all played a role in the arrangements. It was a three-ring circus without a ringmaster.

Is there any chance of a Big Daddy reunion?
We did Bubbapalooza in the ‘90s. We decided to get the band together for a show, but we could only remember 45 minutes of songs. We all got drunk. I think we should get into the studio and see what happens.

How did the “Spazz” moniker come about?
Everyone kinda had their own persona in that band. We had a biker guy, a ‘Bubba’ kind with greasy hair, a gold-lame-lightning-bolts guy….What about me? I saw this other band called Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries. They had a bass player. His character was a nerd. I got a slide rule and a bow tie, and I got a flat top. Nobody had a flat top. I found some old glasses from the ‘70s and put some tape on them.
Up at Tahoe, I got to sing a song. I sang “Stagger Lee”. I’d rip off my coat during the song, as if I was a sex god. I tripped over too many mikes and knocked ‘em over—it wasn’t deliberate, I was just clumsy. Stagehands started calling me “Spazz”, and it stuck.

You’ve also performed with rockabilly pioneer Billy Lee Riley.
That was a great, great experience. Ray Hermann, lead alto [sax for the Brian Setzer Orchestra] and Johnny Hallyday helped. Brian Setzer had been playing with [Hallyday] “The French Elvis”. Ray got me and [then BSO drummer] Bernie [Dresel] on one of his recordings, “Blue Suede Shoes”. The Montreux Music Festival wanted to do a tribute to Sun Records in Switzerland. We backed up Sonny Burgess, Billy Lee Riley; Brian May. Billy Lee told me, ‘When I was playin’, the bass was only slapped if there wasn’t a drummer.’

Who are some of your favorite bassists, and why?
Ray Brown, for his melodic playing, and Jacko Pastorius. Oscar Peterson—I used to have a record I’d listen to over and over again. Dick Youngstein of UMKC Conservatory of Music…when I heard this guy play, I’d go, ‘Wow, that’s how it’s played!’ His bass boomed, growled…was angry. Bass should pound in jazz. [It’s] the constant in jazz and swing. Bass is what holds it all together.

You have played nearly every style of American music, from jazz to swing to rockabilly. Which is your favorite to perform?
I gotta lean toward swing and rockabilly/big band. I like that power. The bass and the drums is the power. Same with rockabilly—bass and drums just drive it. I’m still lucky to be doin’ it. I deduct the cost of strings and music expenses from my taxes, and ‘cause I’ve taken losses the past few years, now, they [the IRS] call it a “hobby”. I don’t know how to do anything else.

Do you currently perform with any other acts when you’re not on tour with the Brian Setzer Orchestra?
I’ll be playing with this group called Richard Cheese & Lounge Against the Machine. He opened for Brian’s band. He’ll take the filthiest song—the filthiest rap song—and turn it into a lounge song. It’s hilarious.

Let’s return to the subject of the Brian Setzer Orchestra. How did you become a member of the group?
It was because of friends I knew in the band. Bob Sandman was the sax player in Big Daddy, and he could sight read. Bob and I had played in other situations; he knew I was a good reader. Bob got the gig as a tenor sax. Mike Acosta resigned, and Bob Sandman got the musical director chair. This was before they had The Dirty Boogie album. We never listened to Brian Setzer or the Stray Cats, but we heard what Brian was doing and said, ‘This is jazz!’ We knew all the guys in the band. I was workin’ in a band here in L.A. called the Hodads. If the Brian Setzer Orchestra made $1,000 a week, we were makin’ three times that much a week. I had a financial hardship, so I turned him down. He was using Mark Winchester from Tennessee, but flying him in and hotels were costing too much.
On my first gig, at the Hollywood Hard Rock, they said, ‘Here’s the book; here’s the tunes. We go on in 40 minutes.’ It was excruciatingly loud. Everyone else used earplugs; I hadn’t used earplugs before. Brian was playing through two amplifiers, Bernie was bangin’ away on the drums, and I couldn’t get my earplugs in. In my book, there was a chart with brown splatter on it. I asked what it was, and someone told me, ‘Oh, that’s blood. The bass player’s fingers exploded.’ The guys were wearing white shirts, and blood sprayed all over the back of ‘em.
That was a one nighter. Brian started calling me to help him and Bernie demo the songs. I also did the master recording for what became Vavoom!, although they replaced my parts, I think with Mark Winchester. I knew they were going to do it, and I said, ‘OK.’ Mark Winchester left, and [Setzer’s solo album] Nitro Burnin’ Funny Daddy was the first album with me on bass.

Johnny "Spazz" Hatton
Johnny “Spazz” Hatton

Which BSO album that you have contributed to is your favorite?
That’s hard to say. That’s gotta be the most recent one [Wolfgang’s Big Night Out]. They got Frank Comstock to do the charts—he wrote the music for Dragnet and Adam-12. He hadn’t written anything in years. He said he didn’t know if he could do this anymore. They started crankin’ out two charts a week. This, you had to read the note in the arrangement. [Comstock] called me up, ‘cause I wrote an article in a local musicians paper, and wanted to thank me. The “Nutcracker” chart—Frank said he wrote that chart for Les Brown.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra has been nominated for Grammy awards on numerous occasions, most recently for Wolfgang’s Big Night Out. How did it feel to receive the nomination?
Hey, I wish we could’ve got it. Turtle Island String Quartet got it. We’ve gotten nominated for every CD since I’ve been on: Nitro Burnin’ Funny Daddy; the Christmas albums. I think last time, George Harrison was nominated, and he was dead.

That doesn’t seem fair to the other musicians.
They shouldn’t allow dead people to get nominated. Turtle Island String Quartet—at least they have talent. Music isn’t real anymore—it’s all canned. There’s no talent in that.

Arguably, you’ve achieved your biggest success with the Brian Setzer Orchestra–and at a latter stage in your music career, too. What are your thoughts on this success?
It’s about time! It is totally weird you think I’m too old to make the big time. It’s a dream come true. I subbed for the bass player in Europe for Royal Crown Review—he doesn’t like to travel—and everywhere we played, people recognized me from the Brian Setzer Orchestra. I still think of myself as a jazz player playing $100 gigs. What’s cool is I don’t have to buy equipment anymore—I get free amplifiers or whatever. I want to play it and see where it goes.

John, thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. Do you have any final comments that you would like to share with the readers of the Rockabilly Chronicle?
If any kids are reading this, or aspiring musicians, they should all learn to sight read. It opens doors. Learn to play everything. I play Dixieland. I played a symphony gig a few weeks ago. Learn to play jazz; learn to play disco. I do the disco stuff. I brought the bass to a gig and they told me we were playing disco; I said that I’ve got the electric bass in the car, but it worked out really well. It’s a love affair I’ve had with the string bass. Learn to play with feeling. Tony Pia told me, ‘Show up on time, play your ass off and keep your mouth shut.’

Truly Lover Trio

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/T
Truly Lover Trio - Bullseye
Truly Lover Trio – Bullseye

Truly Lover Trio – Bullseye

Twinkletone TR104
Bullseye / Twice Sorry / Pretty Baby / Hora de Llorar / Stranger / The Truth / You’re Fine Fine Fine / Blue For You / A Cat Called Domino / Right Or Wrong / You / Love Crazy Baby / Do The Bop / Stranger / Twice Sorry / Blue For You / Do The Bop.
No matter you like Truly Lover Trio or not (personnally I do) you must admit that Marcel Riesco has created a real signature sound and you can recognize one of his song after just a few bars. Not everybody can say that. He’s also one of the very few rock’n’roll/rockabilly performer to explore melodic territories with a real will to write songs, not just dancing and bopping ditties, see what I mean? Riesco has the knack to write melodies that hook you (Twice Sorry,Pretty baby, You). And yes Roy Orbison comes to mind, but also Buddy Holly (You’re Fine, Fine, Fine) and Marty Robbins (the beautiful “the Truth”). Of course you’ll also find straight rockabillies (Kenny Parchman’s Love Crazy Baby, Orbison’s Domino), rockers like “Do the Bop” (a killer sure to fill the dance floors) or the title track featuring Dawn Shipley on B-vox.
“Bullseye” is surely Truly Lover Trio’s best album (so far…) and if you liked “Dance” and “Dig It” you’ll have with Bullseye the best of both world: the melodies and the rockin’ sides.
As usual with Truly Lover Trio the album is full of demos, outtakes, alternates and even a hidden rockabilly version of “Do The Bop”.

Truly Lover Trio - Dig It
Truly Lover Trio – Dig It

Truly Lover Trio – Dig It

Twinkletone TR102
Let’s Go Out Tonight (Dj Mix) – Dig It – Party Baby – Cuando Vas a Comenzar – Take Me Home – It’s Time – Dream Come True – I’ll Be Cryin’ – Breakin’ Up is Breakin’ My Heart (Live) – Let’s Go Out Tonight (OutTake) – Together – Chains of Love – Don’t Sweat It – Dig It (Demo) – Let’s Go Out Tonight (Thunderbird Version)
This is the third album from LA’s Truly Lover Trio, and the best so far. The first one was a solid debut with lots of rock’n’roll, the second was more “pop” sounding, revealing broader influences. “Dig It” represents the best of this two worlds.
You have Sun influenced rockabilly with tons of echo and a powerful slabasss (that makes a welcome return after the use of an e-bass on the previous album) and melodic rockabilly (Take Me Home, Dream Come True). Of course, Roy Orbison is never far and that’s no surprise when you see that Marcel Riesco’s label is called Twinkletone, doesn’t that sound like a hommage to Roy’s Twinkle Toes? The Big O’s Breakin’ Up is especially well covered, the band getting the true essence of the song, in a similar vein “Party Baby” sounds like a forgotten Orbison tune and is a pleasure from start to end. You’ll find some Spanish flavour too, “Cuando Vas A Comenzar” is a solid rocker and “It’s Time” a beautiful ballad with Spanish guitar and latin beat. Album after album, Riesco feels more confident with his voice and it shows and slow numbers like “I’ll Be Cryin“. On a personnal side I enjoy a lot Chains Of Love with its fine doo woop backing vocals. As usual with Truly Lover Trio you have plenty of bonus songs and/or alternate takes including a demo version of Dig It and no less than three versions of “Let’s Go Out Tonight” (DJ mix, out-take and Thunderbird version). I warmly encourage you to get this platter because Truly Lover Trio are really a one of kind band that have no other equivalent on the scene today. Dig it ? Sure !

Truly Lover Trio - Dance
Truly Lover Trio – Dance

Truly Lover Trio – Dance

Twinkletone Records – TR 2006-111
Dance – Spring Fever – Find a Fool – Cool Cutie Cute – Twinkle Toes – Pretending – Secrets in the Wind – Baby Come On – Bullet to my Heart – Un Tonto Mas – She – Dance – Baby Come On
Truly Lover Trio is going further into the style that made songs like “Blueberry Eyes”, “King Of Hearts” and “Sleepless Nights” highlights of Hey Little Girl, his previous album. Actually “Secret In The Wind” reminds “Sleepless Night. The band is now playing full-time with an electric bass (John Carlucci : The Hexxers and previously the Fuzztones) and left aside the slap bass and the rockabilly songs you could find in their set previously. The production is really well done with notably a special work on the guitar with various sounds and the use of an acoustic rhythm guitar too. It’s a mix between Beatles influenced pop songs (“Dance” and its fine harmonica), 60’s rock’n’roll and of course a good dose of Roy Orbison for the inspiration (listen to “Cool Cutie Cute”). The Big “O” is also present here with the sole cover “Twinkle Toes. Marcel Riesco can really craft some killer pop songs like “Spring Fever” or “Pretending” and his voice is really made for that. Every rule has its exception of course and “Bullet To My Heart” is a welcome exception and an excellent wild rocker with mean guitar. It must probably be one of the highlights of his live set. There’s some bonus too. Two old songs, one from 1999 in Spanish and one from 2002 from the same session that gives “Sleepless Nights”, “Lonely Blue Dreams” and “King Of Hearts”. It’s a nice ballad and it’s justice to find it here. The other two bonus tracks are alternative take of “Dance” and the demo of “Baby Come On” with just the voice and a acoustic guitar. But wait ! You have an hidden track : an alternate take of “Pretending”. A good and original second album that benefits of Riesco’s maturity, experience and a tight rhythm section.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lil Mo and the Unholy 4

in Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews
Lil Mo and the Unholy 4
Lil Mo and the Unholy 4

Lil Mo and the Unholy 4 – The Big Payoff!

Rhythm Bomb RBR5911 {2015}
Jake Leg – Big Doow – Cry Lil Girl – Sally Forth – My Search – Dig Boy – I Hear You Knockin’ – Easy Does It – Numbers Not Names – Livin’ Some Before I Die – Slippin’ In – Tornado

If you already know the excellent Doo Wop band Lil Mo and the Dynaflos, Lil Mo and the Unholy 4 is their lead singer’s rockin’ side.
Or to put it in a different manner, the Dynaflos are his Jekyll’s side, Lil Mo while the Unholy 4 let his Mister Hyde speak (and if you’ve heard their cover of Save It released in 2013 you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about!).
But I forget to tell you about the essential: Morris “Lil Mo” Everett has to be one the best singer to appear on the rockin’ scene in the last, say, ten years (at least!). His voice is not only good, expressive and powerful, not only can he sings in tune (don’t laugh this is not that frequent) but his tone has to be one of the most original today, the kind you immediatly recognize. It’s so good to hear someone who doesn’t try to imitate the singers of the fifties and comes with his own personnality.
The band is equally good: Mike Sobieski palys guitar (and what guitar,: clean, sharp, rockin’), on bass you have Randy Stanton who played with Marcel Riesco in Truly Lover Trio like the band’s drummer Ricky Mc Cann formerly of the Playboys and who is now part of Big Sandy’s Fly Rite Boys.

Lil’ Mo and the band penned three songs (Jake Legs, Sally Forth and Numbers Not Names) and the remaining songs are covers ranging from well known material to Rockabilly fans (Slippin’ In, Tornado) to lesser known stuff, all played with the band’s trademark sound that make them sound like originals (like the Rimshots did in their time, I know this is not the only example but it sure is one of the best!).
In the end you have one hell of a hot platter made of hot Rockabilly, wild rock’n’roll, swamp blues (they cover Lazy Lester’s I Hear You Knockin’) and a bit of country swing with an awesome cover of Faron Young’s Livin’ Some Before I Die, filled with energy and a feel of emergency and tension that is essential to this music.

No information could be found on the cover about the studio and/or the producer/recording engineer so I don’t know who I have to thank for making such a good sound. And if I say it’is clean and crisp don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mean TOO clean, I mean clean like Big Sandy’s On The Go or anything recorded in a good studio in the fifties (too many believe that to sound “authentic”, a Rockabilly album has to sound muddy and dirty, but Lil Mo and the Unholy 4 don’t fall on that trap!)

I’m going to grab as soon as I can a copy of their previous album, Rapture and will eagerly wait for the next one.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lil Mo and the Dynaflos

in Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews
Lil Mo and the Dynaflos - Get Up and Dance
Lil Mo and the Dynaflos – Get Up and Dance

Lil Mo and the Dynaflos – Get Up and Dance

Rhythm Bomb RBR 5829 {2016}

Get Up And Dance – Hands Off  – Spellbound – At My Front Door – You Belong To Me – She’s The Most – Miss Magician – Zoop – Shut That Door – Why Don’t You Answer – Closer To The Aisle – Bop, Shake, Boogie – Have Love Will Travel – All Night Long

I won’t try to fool you: though I enjoy listenin’ to some doo-wop from time to time, this is not my main thing and I’m far from being a specialist of the genre. But specialist or not, I know when good music come right across my ears to go straight to my feet. Lil’ Mo and the Dynaflos are a 8-piece little combo with four singers led by Lil’ Mo and his very peculiar and original voice and the usual drums-bass-guitar plus a sax. What you have is basically Italo doo-wop mixed with some early vocal Rhythm’n’ blues (and a bit of rockin’ too). As I said the vocals is amazing with very tight arrangement and the backing band does more than just backing if you see what I mean, working closely with the singers.
Half of the songs are covers (The El Dorados’ At My Front Door, You Belong To Me – that I knew first by Gene Vincent, the Five Keys’s She’s the Most, the Charts’ Zoop, The Maharajahs’s Why Dont You Answer and Richard Berry’s Have Love Will Travel and Joe Houston’s instrumental All Night Long) and the remaining titles are written or co written by Lil Mo (Morris Everett) and Cliff Quan, one of the other vocalist.

It’s been recorded at Wallyphonic Studio by Wally Hersom of Big Sandy fame and the sound is as warm and authentic as one can expect.

All those elements contribute to make of this album one rockin’ little gem, that’ll make you jive in your living room, put a smile on your face and simply fill you appetite for good music. What can I say? Buy it!

Wild Roosters

in Contemporary artists/Reviews/UVWXYZ
Wild Roosters
Wild Roosters – Take It Off

Wild Roosters – Take It Off

Part Records – 693.001 [2011]
Sweet Revenge / Tennessee Zip / Demon Riders / Fancy Dan / Forever Ted / Ride On Rebels / The Only One / Take It Off / Sisters In Crime / Tore Up / Motorbike / Won’t Waste My Time / Raw Deal / Southern Rose

Despite a very distasteful cover (front and back) I really enjoyed Wild Roosters’ latest effort. These Swedish guys are on the scene for quite some time having played with Snakebite, Crossfire or Wild Bob Burgos. As you can easily guess with this pedigree, they play Teddy Boys rock’n’roll with a sound close to Cavan’s Our Own Way Of Rocking. They have good originals and also give a breath of fresh air to well chosen covers (including Burgos’Ride On Rebels). You’ll find the usual anthems about bikes (Motorbike, Demon Riders), girls and Teds with the soon to be a stage classic “Forever Ted”. They sure won’t change the face of Rock’n’roll, but you’re guaranteed to have a good time.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

V/A – The Northwood Story

in Contemporary artists/Reviews/VARIOUS
the Northwood Story
the Northwood Story

The Northwood Story

Red Hot ‘n’ Blue – Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes / Riverside Trio – Forty Miles Away / Lazy Farm Boys – Jack Rabbit / Sure Shots – Fire Engine Baby / Lone Stars – Lonely Town / Rochee & The Sarnos – Woman Eater / Blue Rhythm Boys – That Don’t Move Me (Alternate Take) / Slingshots – Hay Rig Ride / Fireball XL5 – Walking On The Edge Of Midnight / Red Hot ‘n’ Blue – Caldonia / 4 Blazes – Buck Dance Rhythm / Peter Davenport & the Roof Raisers – Bop A Du Bop A Du Bop / Riverside Trio – Dopey Frutti / Slingshots – That Chick’s Too Young To Fry / Sprites – B-I-Bickey-Bi Bo Bo Bo / Fireball XL5 – Blues Don’t Go / Blue Rhythm Boys – Rollin’ And Tumblin’ / Red Hot ‘n’ Blue – Move Baby Move / Riverside Trio – You Lied All Through The Night / Crawdads – Don’t Let Religion Fool Ya

Northwood was one the most exciting label of the mid 80’s, aiming at an “authenthic” sound before the term was coined by so-called purists. This collection gathers 20 songs, including 18 never issued before.
Red Hot’n’Blue are featured here with three songs. Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes is a re-cut of their great blues bopper with a different line-up and a fuller sound. Louis Jordan’s Caldonia is a track that didn’t make it on the album and was scheduled for a 7″. They give it a real jazz treatment by merging it with Babs Gonzales/Dizzy Gillespie’s Oop pop a da. Superb solos from every band members. The third song is a live take of Dick Penner’s Move Baby Move.
The Riverside Trio was the other great name of the label and the other band to have a full lp. Included here are two hillbilly boppers (one from their early demo and a studio outtake from their debut album) and a new version of Doppey Frutti, probably recorded to be released as a 7″.
The Blue Rhythm Boys were another great band on Northwood. Too bad there wasn’t more unissued stuff. Rollin’ & Tumblin’ comes from their 7″ and That Don’t Move Me is an alternate take of the Carl Perkins cover also present on their debut 45rpm, though this take is a lot wilder.
The Sprites (featuring Pascal Guimbard who later played with Red Hot’n’Blue) were a French band playing Gene Vincent inspired stuff. They had two songs on Big Noise from Northwood. Their cover of Vincent’s B-I-Bickey-Bi sounds exactly like the Screaming Kids.
Another promising act was the Slingshots, who were also on Big Noise. They played Rockabilly with a strong rural feel, and released their debut album more than ten years later after their debut on wax. The Crawdads who have one song here followed a similar path by releasing their debut album “On A Platter” in the early 90’s.
The Sureshots became very popular on the scene, they were and still are a solid live band and released some great albums too. Their cover of the Jiv-A-Tones‘Fire Engine Baby was released on a French ep with the French band the Jokers. This is an alternate take.
The Lonestars later evolved into Howlin’ Wilf’s Vee jays. They played rockin’ blues with a touch of jazz. With the two songs featured on the James Dean of the Dole Queue sampler Lonely Town is to my knowledge their only release.
The Four Blazes featured Pat Reyford and have one song here, a hillbilly rendition of Slim Gaillard’s Buck Dance Rhythm.
Peter Davenport is famous for his association with the Stargazers. The Roofraisers were his first post Gazers venture and featured Jacko Buddin on vocals. Bop A Du Bop A Du Bop is one of the two songs that first appeared on Big Noise From Northwood. Great Bill Haley/Jodimars inspired stuff.
This compilation also proposes an unissued songs from Rochee & the Sarnos (Woman Eater) and two songs by Fireball XL5.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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