Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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September 2016

Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S

Chris Sprague – Miles Away

Chris "Sugarballs" Sprague - Miles away
Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague – Miles away

Spinout CD044 [2011]
Driving Along On 18 Wheels – Looking at the World Through a Windshield – Me and this Ole Mack – Miles Away – Devil Went Down to the Truck Stop – Broken Down Diesel – Drag ’em Off the Interstate, Sock it to ’em, J.P. Blues – Slippery Road – Speed Traps & Weigh Stations & Detour Signs – Semi Sweet – Truck Stop a Go Go – Truck Drivin’ Cat with Nine Wives – Leaving It All Behind – Last run – Diesel Smoke On Danger Road – Six Days On the Road – ’til Ugly Gets Pretty – Lot Lizard Lucy
If Red Simpson is the undisputed king of truck driving music, Chris “Sugarballs” Sprague must be the new prince. Miles Away is the third album he releases in this style and he received the supreme acknowledgement when Simpson himself gave him an original song (Til Ugly Gets Pretty) to record. Sprague has penned eight originals that stand without shame near the covers of Dick Curless, Dave Dudley, Del Reeves and Charlie Daniels (with adapted lyrics).
The 18 Wheelers provide the perfect backing, nothing too surprising coming from musicians like Dave Berzansky (Hacienda Brothers) on pedal steel guitar, Zack Simpson on rhythm guitar, Bobby Cavener (Amber Foxx) on bass, Jason Eoff on piano, Dave Stuckey on drums and Amber Foxx on backing vocals. Sprague’s solid voice makes the rest.
Buy it today, tomorrow it’ll be a classic!

Chris Sprague – Diesel Made For Two

Chris Sprague - Diesel Made For Two
Chris Sprague – Diesel Made For Two

SpinCD034 [2008]
Diesel Made For Two – This Old Truck – Runaway Truck – Roll On Big Mama – Let’s Get Drunk And Truck – East Bound And Down – Pray For Your Daddy (He’s A Trucker) – Highway Bound – That’s a Big 10-4 – Big Mack – Diesel On My Tail – Worn Out Wagon – What’s Your 20 – Trucker Brown – The Cutest Truck Driver – Speeding Truck – Overloaded Diesel – Sugarballs Blues
Diesel is Chris Sprague’s second solo album in the truck drivin music genre. He sings, plays guitar, drums, bass, produces and also wrote a majority of the songs. He’s perfectly backed by his brother Frank, who also plays most of the lead guitar and sings harmony, Deke Dickerson and “Crazy” Joe Trischler on guitar, Mitch Polzak on banjo, Carl Sonny Leland on piano, and the amazing Dave Berzansky on steel guitar.

Chris Sprague – Hammer Down

Chris Sprague - Hammer Down
Chris Sprague – Hammer Down

18 Wheeler Records [2005]
Almost Home – Chick Inspector – Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves – I’M Coming Home – There Ain’t No Easy Runs – Girl On The Billboard – Diesel Smoke ‘n’ Cigarettes – It’s Been A Lonely Stretch Of Road – Nitro Express – Peterbilt My Home – Philadelphia Phillies – The Lovin’ Machine – Gear Bustin’ Sort Of Feller – The White Knight
Chris Sprague’s first solo album featuring Dave Biller, Deke Dickerson and Chas Smith. If you dig Dale Watson’s Truckin Sessions, this one is for you.

Chris Sprague – The Sweet Sound Of Sugarballs

Self released [2004]
Right Or Wrong – Hardship – Right Time For Love – She’s Gonna Love – Back To You – Money Makes The Man – Lucy – In My Head – Waiting For You – Masterplan – I DOn’t Care – Cause She’s Mine – All Night Long – Angelyne – Mopar Junk
A fine collection of songs written and sung by Chris when he was playing with his brother Frank in the Sprague Brothers with a nod to Johnny Cash on the cover. Lots of Buddy Holly / Bobby Fuller inspired stuff. See also the Sprague Brothers.
See also The Sprague Brothers and the Sprague Brothers interview.

Buzz Campbell – Hot Rod Lincoln

in Albums/CD/Contemporary artists/Reviews
Buzz Campbell & Hot Rod Lincoln
Buzz Campbell & Hot Rod Lincoln

Buzz Campbell & Hot Rod Lincoln – Runaway Girl

Too Drunk to Drive – You’re Gonna Lose – Runaway Girl – Walk Away – Joints Gonna Jump – Blue – Words by Heart – Invasion from Mars – Blue Moon Nights – 18 Miles from Memphis – Maybe – Queen of Hearts – Betty Page – Isabelle – I Only Go Out When it Rains

At last this is the newest album from Buzz Campbell, now member of Lee Rocker’s band, and Hot Rod Lincoln. And it was worth the wait. It’s a fine collection of mostly self penned songs. The title track, “Runaway Girl” sounds like a modern Buddy Holly tune, a bit like “Gina” by the Stray Cats. Another one inspired by the Kid from Lubbock is “Maybe”. I thought the recipe for that kind of ballad was lost the day Buddy’s plane crashed. You’ll also find plenty of rockin’ songs like “Too Drunk To Drive” with good lyrics (Gotta call my baby can’t drive my car / She’ll be mad cause I’m still at the bar / One more time and she said we’re though / But what the hell else am I suppose to do?) or the sci-fi themed “Invasion From Mars”. Their covers of Stray Cats’ “18 Miles To Memphis” and John Fogerty’s “Blue Moon Nights” are close to the originals, but when a tune is good, why change? “Joint Gonna Jump” brings a touch of jumpin’ jive / early rock’n’roll with horns and piano while country fans will be delighted by “Isabelle”. And if “Walk Away” and “Betty Page” are both built on the same melodic line, when the first one is given a honky-tonk treatment with piano, the second one sounds more like a rockin’ blues with a heavier guitar. A very inspired and varied album, and the cover ain’t bad either.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Mark Kelf & The Valley Boys

in Albums/Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews

Mark Kelf & The Valley Boys – The Best Of

Mark Kelf & The Valley Boys
Mark Kelf & The Valley Boys

Red Bomb – Cut Her Down – Run Like The Devil – Big Big Town – Shut Up Bottle -That Rod’s A Rocket – Don’t Think About You – Boxcar Blues – Hot Rod Daddy – Money To Burn – Loose Woman – Storm Ahead – Cat Daddy – Buzz Boom – She’s Mine – Chain Reaction – Fat Cat Lee – Don’t You Ride That Train – Haunted Hot Rod – Sleep Mama Sleep – Hobo Blues – Never No More – G-1 Johnny – The Crossing – The Hanging Tree

The name of this CD is misleading bus it is not a question of a compilation of the best tracks of this english band but well of a very new album recorded per Mark Kelf and its boys. But on the other hand the superlative is not usurped because we are well in the presence of rockabilly of the best style. It should be said that the gang is not with its first attempt – Mark was part of mythical Fireball XL5 at the beginning of the eighties and these chaps play together since ages (Mark and Richard know themselves since 1976). However, the band has resisted in spite of the changes of crew and the death of one of the members, the double bass player Simon “Dick” Davies. This “Best Of” is their third album (only!) but the first that they carry out for some Americans (NBT in collaboration with Smokehouse Classic records), the two previous were made for the german “Vampirella Records”. Now that I water your mouths you wanna know a little more about the contents? Put that one in your CD player (how that, it is not a vinyl?) and be ready to be beat down in your mug by 24 songs -including 22 self penned compositions by Mark and Richard Howard, the lead guitarist, and two signed by the texan Sonny May- of pure rockabilly without any concession. Well, to be sincere, there’re only two: a little hillbilly can be found and even some (a few) softness as “Fat Cat Lee” and the last song “The Crossing” which is a superb ballad! But before that there is a real rockabilly storm and it start with the very first piece. The “Red Bomb” suits its name well : that one explode like a Burnette Brothers wild rockabilly! And trust me, the remainder is from the same kind (listen to “Cut her Down”, “Don’t Think About You”, “Haunted Hot Rod” just to mention a few!). An excellent album and sayin’ more would be useful: give me the beat, maestro!

David “Long Tall” Phisel

Kieron McDonald (ex-Flatfoot Shakers)

in Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews
kieron mcdonald
Kieron McDonald – Shake that thing

Kieron McDonald – Shake That Thing

Rhythm Bomb RBR 5838

Rockabilly High – Janet Leigh – Why – Go Go Girl – The Knock On My Door – Goodbye Lonesome Hello Baby Doll – I’m The King Of The RoadThe Devil’s Eyes – A Little Love – She Thinks Of Him – Louanne – She Means Nothing To Me – You’re Gonna Be Alone – It’s A Drag

I’ve been a fan of Kieron McDonald brand of Rockabilly since the Flatfoot Shakers, his previous band. He then went on as a solo artist and released a bunch of albums that deserve to be in any decent contemporary Rockabilly collection. His latest one, released on Rhythm Bomb records from Germany but recorded in Australia makes no exception. This is superb traditional Rockabilly with a good dose of Johnny Horton (there’s a hint of I’m Coming Home in King Of the Road and some Lover’s Rock in the Devil’s Eyes). The sound, courtesy of Dave Attana at studio Ignition is period perfect and the band consisting of a who’s who of the Aussie’s scene (Andrew Lindsay, Dave Cantrell, Til Vex and EzraLee) is top notch.
McDonald can really sing and write songs (all tunes but one are originals) ranging from mean rockabilly to honky tonk influenced stuff with a ballad thrown in for good measure and a Jerry Lee type of rocker (I guess that with Ezra lee in the studio it must be hard to resist).
A superb cover in the style of a 50’s movie poster, designed by Chris Wilkinson, complete perfectly this must-have record.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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