Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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April 2017

Uncle John Trio

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/UVWXYZ
Uncle John Trio
Uncle John Trio

Uncle John Trio – For Your Pleasure

Goofin – GRCD6170
Beer Me – Hey Good Lookin’ – Tall Tall Trees – If You Are Lookin’ For Love – Lonesome Tears – All My Ex’s Live In Texas – The Song (I Wish I Never Wrote) – Honky Tonk Man – Guitars, Cadillacs And Hillbilly Music – In The Middle Of The Night – Once Again – Sixpack To Go – Country 24/7 – Blue Blue Day

This is the debut album for this drummerless trio from Finland but playing for 20 years they are far from being beginners..
Eight of the songs are covers and the remaining six are from the pen of singer John Peter Lemstrom (aka Uncle John). His songs are very good and never suffer from the comparison with the covers which is a good point considering that they come from the pen of Hank Williams, George Jones, Johnny Horton, Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Burnette and Don Gibson.
Musically you could compare them to High Noon, especially in the way the instruments are recorded. I suppose that Janne Haavisto who mixed this album and also produced the Texas rockabilly trio is no stranger to that. But Uncle John Trio are more on the Honky Tonk side of things (though there’s a bit of rockabilly here and there too). If another comparison could help you to define the sound, I’d say that they sound in places like a stripped down and acoustic version of Dale Watson.
Good songs, good band, good singer… good buy!

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Atomic Sunset

in AB/Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews
Atomic Sunset - Hot Rods & Pin Ups
Atomic Sunset – Hot Rods & Pin Ups

Atomic Sunset – Hot Rods & Pin Ups

Ceklin Music
Hot Rod Cat – Teenage Queen – Proud Hawk – Chatanooga Choo Choo – Lost Generation – Bloodhouse Worms – Behind The 8 Ball Man – Hot Rods & Pin Ups – Shakin All Over – Devil Woman – Atomic Boogie – Honey Hush – Train In Vain – High Octane Gal – Rock That Galaxy
Formed in 2003 by slap bass extraordinaire Djordje Stijepovic (also lead singer), guitarist Drazen Skaric (both from Havana Whisper) and drummer Sinisa Jovic, Atomic Sunset is a wild modern rockabilly band. Let be honest, if you’re stuck in the 50’s this one has every chances to disappoint you, but if you’re open minded you’ll enjoy it a lot. The album kicks off with 2 Setzer/Stray Cats like tunes. “Hot Rod Cat” wouldn’t be out of place on Setzer’s Ignition and Teenage Queen sounds like Buddy Holly once given the Stray Cats treatment (think “Gina”). “Proud Hawk”, with a bowed bass intro, is a solid surf instrumental on which Skaric’s skill shines. Chattanooga Choo Choo, though good, is a little less convincing partly due to Skaric who doesn’t seem totally at ease as a lead singer. With “Lost Generation” they harden their sound with good backing vocals and made me think a bit about The Quakes. I really enjoyed “Bloodhouse Worms”, a threatening song with a jungle beat played on the toms and a jazzy dialog between the bass and the drums in the middle. With a title like “Hot Rod & Pin Ups” you’d expect a neo-rockabilly tune, but this is more a hardcore tune with syncopated drums, effects on the voice and heavy distorted guitar. To my surprise I liked it a lot. “Devil Woman” is a heavy psychobilly song with a Balkan feel. “Atomic Boogie” is Stijepovic “tour de force”. It’s a jazzy instrumental with a fantastic double bass solo in the middle. If you haven’t seen the video, make yourself a favour and go to Youtube. Skaric plays bottleneck guitar on the boogie blues “High Octane Girl”. This fine album ends on “Rock That Galaxy” a more traditional rockabilly. They also play a couple of covers. “Honey Hush” and “Shakin’ All Over” are modernized and customized to their sound while The Clash’s Train In Vain brings a touch of funky glam pop but finally this cover gives the key to this album. If you’d have to compare Atomic Sunset to a band you’d compare them to The Clash. I mean they are to Rockabilly what the Clash are to Punk music. They try to push the boundaries and dont want to limit themselves to just one type of music. A good and refreshing state of mind.

WIld Ones (the)

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/UVWXYZ
Wild Ones - Sounds like Gene Vincent
Wild Ones – Sounds like Gene Vincent

Wild Ones (the) – Sounds like Gene Vincent

Rockouse – MLP 8804   [1988]
Wildcat Boogie – Two Eyes – Ain’t She Sweet – It Won’t Work – My Baby She’s Gone – In My Dreams – Cruisin’

With such a title and musicians dressed like the Blue Caps circa 1956 you won’t be surprised to find more than a strong Gene Vincent influence on this mini-lp.
In My Dreams, Cruisin and Ain’t She Sweet are lifted from the Sreaming Kid repertoire and a fourth cover, Two Eyes, is a Tommy Steele song. They are played with the right energy and intensity in the vocals and the guitarist is good enough to play some Cliff Gallup inspired parts and despite being very close to the originals, they are not just note for note versions.
The remaining three songs are penned by the band’s singer Didier Borra.
Both It Won’t Work and Wildcat Boogie previously appeared on a single and sound as good as anything the early Blue Cat Trio released. Though there’s no indications of recording date or place, one can assume that all the songs come from the same sessions, or at least the same period, that is to say 1983.
The remaining song, My Baby She’s Gone, is by far the best of the album, opening with a strong slapping bass for two and a half minutes of Rockabilly. It would later be reworked under a new title and with a new sound for the band’s debut album « Crossroads ».

Southerners (the)

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
The Southerners – Barstool Rodeo
The Southerners – Barstool Rodeo

The Southerners – Barstool Rodeo

Bandoleros -. Barstool Rodeo -. I Want A Love -. Let The Teardrops Fall -. Reachin For The Bible -. Lonesome Love -. Ripped In Two -. I’m Moving On -. Lovesick Man -. Forget To Remember -. The Dance -. Goodbye ’53 -. Little Devil -. Blues Medley
The Southerners were a young American (California) combo that played authentic and drumless rockabilly.
On the album, female vocalist Celeste Gilstrap is very well supported by the tight rhythm section of Justin Williams (slap bass) and Byron Williams (acoustic guitar) with fine interventions by lead guitarist Hector Mattos. They deliver a good mix of tunes, all originals but two, mostly penned by Byron Williams.,The album opens with the Mexican flavoured instrumental “Bandoleros”. “Barstool Rodeo” is a solid rockabilly where the team rhythm guitar/slap bass is perfect. Miss Gilstrap’s vocal is very personnal and you cant easily compare her to any other female singer but she would sound more like a female Johnny Cash ‘as you can hear on “Ripped In Two”. After a couple of another rockabilly tracks, you find “Lonesome Love” that slows the pace. That does not mean it’s a smooth tune but a very “threatening” rockin’ one with a nice “dirty” guitar. “Lovesick Man” is a “train song” with the adequate rhythm where both Celeste and acoustic guistarist Byron Williams sing. Gilstrap penned two song “Forget To Remember” and the beautiful “The Dance” another slow and haunting tune. “Goodbye 53” shows the acoustic side of the Southerners with just the vocal and a guitar. This good album ends with a rockin medley of “Saint Louis Blues/Basin’ Street” that starts with just the voice, the guitar and a mandolin and then turns into a wild rockin’ tune before slowing a bit for “Basin Street” and then ends even faster.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Stumbleweeds (the)

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The Stumbleweeds - Evil On Your Mind
The Stumbleweeds – Evil On Your Mind

The Stumbleweeds – Evil On Your Mind

Spinout Records
Evil On Your Mind – Baby I Still Love You – A Girl Dont Have To Drink – Had Enough – Saving My Love – Only Mama – Hard Times Ahead – Running Out Of Money – Look Out Heart Doggone Thing – My Baby Just Walked Right Out On Me – The Trouble With Girls – I Love You Because – Pennsyltucky – Tearin’ Up The Town

The Stumbleweeds are back with their second release! Good news isn’t it? You bet. I really enjoyed “Pickin’ and Sinnin'” their first album. It was everything one could expect from a band that plays 50’s rockabilly mixed with a good dose of Honky Tonk (or vice versa). And Lynnette’s voice was probably one of the biggest surprise. A real country female singer, influenced by her predecessors (Patsy, Charlene and Wanda) but in no way an imitation. A few years later and after some line up changes (Lynnette is the only member remaining) they issue this 15 songs record on Spinout Records. The sound changed with the line-up and they now tends to play a more 60’s influenced country style of music.

The album opens with a great rendition (man, that slap bass sound !) of “Evil On Your Mind” (Harlan Howard via Jean Shepard). Six songs you’ll find here has been sung one day or another by Wanda Jackson or Jean Shepard. But even the mood of the day is 60’s honky tonk with twangy telecaster, you can’t take the rockabilly out of that girl and their version of Janis Martin’s “Hard Time Ahead” is here to proove it. Guitar player Denis Kelly is probably one of the best kept secret in the country guitar world. He can play straight Honky Tonk riffs, Bakersfield and is not afraid to add a little bit of rock from time to time (“Pennsyltucky”) and some blues for good measure. Lenker’s own “Baby I Still Love You” and “Doggone Thing” could have been written in the 60’s. They both have great music (uptempo beat for “Baby” and classic Honky Tonk for “Doggone…”) and fine lyrics and they stand proudly among their elder. John Fuller (remember “Nashville To Nashua” on their previous effort) contributes 2 songs : the unusual (but great) “Running Out Of Money” and “Tearin’ Up The Town”. Ex-Stumbleweeds Mike Feudale returns to write “Had Enough”. This could be “one-more-country-song” but Lenker’s voice and Kelly’s guitar make all the difference. Another contributor to “Pickin’ and Sinnin'”, Chris De Barge, returns with “Pennsyltucky” another good one with change of pace for the refrain.What you have here is a great modern country album that didn’t sell his soul. Even the covert art is perfect and matchs totally with the music.

Cheaterslicks (the)

in Albums/CD/Contemporary artists/Reviews
The Cheaterslicks - Rev Up, Burn Out
The Cheaterslicks – Rev Up, Burn Out

The Cheaterslicks – Rev Up, Burn Out

Western Star WSRC 046 [2010]
Hotrod King – 20 Days a Drunk – I Just Can’t Win – Rumble Of Thunder – You’re Untrue – Cry & Moan – Gimme Just a Little Bit – You’re Still Torturing Me – Hard Working Man – Can’t Hardly Stand It – Well Of Tears – Nobody’s Guy – Mother Truckers – Big Love Guarantee

This platter is one of the most exciting thing I’ve heard in 2010. You seldom find a debut album as good as this one (but the members of the band are all experienced musicians having played with The Prowlers, Kill Van Helsing and Empress of Fur).
Listening to “Rev Up, Burn Out” the names of Brian Setzer’s 68 Comeback Special, Mike Ness, The Blasters, the Reverend Horton Heat, Ronnie Dawson, The Paladins and the Nervous Fellas came to mind. Yes, it’s that good! The core of their music is made of high octane gritty rockabilly always delivered with the good drive, powered by a fantastic slap bass and appropriately recorded by Alan Wilson.
But they’re not happy to stick to just one style. You’ll also find more traditionnal rockabilly, country oriented songs (“You’re still torturing me” that could easily be on the latest Jack Rabbit Slim) and a couple of rockin’ blues numbers too, like “I Just Can’t Win” that features an harmonica or “Hard Workin’ Man” with its Howlin’ Wolf / Captain Beefheart flair (not only for the title but also for the overall feel). One will also find songs that border on psychobilly.
Another great release from Western Star and a band to follow closely.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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