Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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May 2017

Sue Moreno

in Albums/Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews
Sue Moreno - One Track Mind
Sue Moreno – One Track Mind

Sue Moreno – One Track Mind

Western Star Records – WSRC 037
One Track Mind / The Fire Is Burnin’ / Too Late / Time is Wastin’ / Gone Gone Gone / Don’t Hurt Me Baby / Gonna Get Back Home Some How / What About Tomorrow? / Record Hop / Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad / Cinderella Story / Walkin’ With Angels / Time is A-Wastin.

When rockabilly girl Sue Moreno meets the boys of Jack Rabbit Slim, the result is sure to be hot. Contrary to many of her counterparts, Sue doesn’t try to sound mean and plays more on the seductive side of things which is a good and refreshing thing (when you can afford to do it, and she can). She never screams or else, but instead use her warm voice to whisper in your ears.
She penned the Fire is Burnin’ a fine rockaballad with a slight country tinge. Still on the country side are “What About Twomorrow” with a melody that reminds a bit of Buck Owens’ Street Of Backersfield. She also gives a great rendition of Tammy Wynette’s Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.
Jack Rabbit Slim’s frontman Bob Butfoy provided eight songs tailor made for the singer, going from rockabilly to latin-with-a-Johnny-Burnette-feeling (Don’t Hurt Me) and even a country gospel (Walkin’ With Angels). In addition to Jack Rabbit Slim, you’ll find the talent of Jim Knowler (Keytones) on backing vocals as well as producer Alan Wilson playing guitar on Elvis‘Gonna Get Back Home Somehow.
In my opinion the sole low point is their cover of Gone Gone Gone that borrows more to Robert Plant/Allison Kraus version than the Everly Brothers original. But it’s not enough to waste the overall feeling of this excellent album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

sue moreno

The Hi-Q’s

in Albums/Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews
The Hi-Q’s - Hop and Bop
The Hi-Q’s – Hop and Bop

The Hi-Q’s – Hop and Bop

El Toro Records. ETCD-3090
Dirty White Bucks – Hi-Q Boogie – Bop Crazy Bop – Worn Out – Rock ‘n’ Roll Guitar – I Wanna Live – Twenty-One Days – Jungle Boy Jack – Speed Limit – Wiggle Walkin’ Baby – Hop ‘n’ Bop – All The Time
The United States undoubtedly are reconcilied with the rockabilly and to be convinced is only to see multiplicity of high-quality bands which have emerged on the tracks of headlights bands of the US revival of the beginning of the Nineties like Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys, High Noon and the Dave & Deke Combo. It is necessary to add now this Detroit trio make up of Matt Strickland singer (and creator of the site devoted to… rockabilly) and composer of 9 of the 12 titles of this first album published on the Spanish label El Toro. Around him there are not unknown ones but musicians of talent who work already in many prestigious combos: Rudy Varner the double bass player (Starlight Drifters, Jack Scott and the Signal Ranks, Earls Jack & The Jimbos) Paul ‘ Smokey Links’ Cook with the guitar (Missing Links, the Big Barn Combo, Rumble, Tilt-a-whirl and Jack Earls & the Jimbos) and Loney Charles the drummer (Big Barn Combo, Jack Scott & the Top Ranks and Jack Earls & the Jimbos) which are all irreproachable, combining smoothness of the play and constant and fascinating rhythm. This «Hop and Bop» is remarkable from the beginning to the end: of «Dirty White Bucks» which open the disc with the Sleepy LaBeef «All The Time» resumption of while passing by the boppin «à la Burlison» eponymous title and the purple passages like «Bop Crazy Bop», «I Wanna Live»( which makes me think of Ramblin’ James) , «Jungle boy Jack» and the strolling «Wiggle Walkin’ baby». I guess you have already understood it by yourself right now: a VERY highly recommended album
David Phisel

Brian Setzer Orchestra

in AB/Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews
Brian Setzer Orchestra - Don't Mess With A Big Band Live
Brian Setzer Orchestra – Don’t Mess With A Big Band Live

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Don’t Mess With A Big Band Live

Disc 1:
Batman – Drive Like Lightning Crash Like Thunder – ’49 Mercury Blues – Good Rockin’ Daddy – Your True Love – The Dirty Boogie – Sleepwalk – Honey Man – This Cat’s On a Hot Tin Roof – Summertime Blues
Disc 2:
Runaway Boys – Gina – Gene & Eddie – Fishnet Stockings – Stray Cat Strut – Jump Jive an’ Wail – Rumble In Brighton – Rock This Town – House is Rockin’

When Surfdog and Brian Setzer announced they would release live recordings found in their vault it sounded interesting. But the excitement soon turned to disapointment when the show and the setlist was revealed. Taken during the last Japan tour that took place in early 2009, the double album (19 tracks) contains once again Sleepwalk, Summertime Blues, The Dirty Boogie, Runaway Boys, Gene & Eddie, Stray Cat Strut, Rumble In Brighton and Rock This Town. Sure some of them are classics and must be in a Setzer show but why does the guitarist keep playing Gene & Eddie remains a complete mystery to me. This live was the occasion to release some unusual tracks, and you can have some regrets when you know that the band played some very rare songs during this tour like Cry Baby, Ring Of Fire, Maybe Baby, Peggy Sue, Orange Blossom Special or For Lisa with the violin and the clarinet.
Instead of that it’s once again the same thing. The sole songs that are not present on any previous live recordings are Batman, Honey Man (could be good without those awful singers) Gina and The House Is Rockin.
The band itself doesn’t sound very tight and the arrangements are loose especially in the trio part where the comparison with the team Winchester/Dresel is clearly not in favor of the new rhythm section. Sure the sound is good (but not exceptionnal either) but is that enough to buy this album (they could, at least, have included the full show) I let you judge.
Even the ugly cover reveals an hastily made project.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Wolfgang's Big Night Out
Brian Setzer Orchestra – Wolfgang’s Big Night Out

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Wolfgang’s Big Night Out

Take The 5th – One More Night With You – Wolfgang’s Big Night Out – Honey Man – Yes We Can Can – Swingin’ Willie – Sabre Dance – For Lisa – Here Comes The Broad – 1812 Overdrive – Some River In Europe – Take A Break Guys

Note : the reviewers of the Rockabilly Chronicle have different points of view about this album which explains the two reviews.

Brian Setzer has widely been credited as being responsible for the revitalization of two music genres: rockabilly—as the frontman of the Stray Cats—and swing, as leader of the Brian Setzer Orchestra. When I heard of Setzer’s plans to record Wolfgang’s Big Night Out, an album of classical masterpieces with a big band twist, my curiosity was piqued. My exposure to the classics had been limited to hotel lobby music, Looney Tunes cartoons and my husband’s collection of Robert Schumann recordings. Could Brian Setzer breathe new life into one of the oldest music styles ever?
The answer? Yes, he can.
Setzer and company take an electrified romp through a dozen classical standards, from “Take the 5th”—an adaptation of Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 5” , and a fine showcase of Setzer’s guitar wizardry—to “Take a Break Guys”, an interesting cover of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (think Cream playing Christmas tunes after an acid trip). Classical music novices will immediately recognize “Swingin’ Willie”—a reworking of Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”—as the theme from television’s “The Lone Ranger”. The new version screams “big band” so loudly that you’d think your grandfather had cranked up the volume on his record player.
To supplement the traditional instrumentals, Brian Setzer and crew give an interesting spin to a couple of classics with the addition of vocals. “One More Night with You”, adapted from Grieg’s “Hall of the Mountain King”, swings with booming drums, a Setzer guitar solo and lots of horns. The remake is well constructed and so completely different from the original that one would think it to be a freshly composed song. “Honey Man”, an updated version of “Flight of the Bumblebee”, features BSO backup singers Julie Reiten and Leslie Spencer-Smith sharing lead vocal duties. Setzer’s fingers fly in a fiery performance, possibly his best on the entire album, proof positive that Brian Setzer is one of the finest guitarists around.
While “One More Night with You” and “Honey Man” are impressive, Setzer’s take on Beethoven’s “Fur Elise”, “For Lisa”, is not. The tune consists of a violin backed by acoustic guitar and a soft drumbeat, and lacks the joy and power of the majority of the record. The signature Setzer sound is noticeably absent from the song, which would have greatly benefited from Brian just ripping it out on his Gretsch.
Although it misses the occasional step, Wolfgang’s Big Night Out is a fine display of Brian Setzer’s ability to adapt any music style and make it his own. Unusual, energetic and, overall, entertaining, Wolfgang’s Big Night Out is a must-have for this Setzer fan.

Denise Daliege-Pierce

Playing classical music with a non classical band is not a new idea. Bob Wills did it in the 30’s with William Tell and Spade Cooley almost turned that into a trademark with tunes by Bizet (Carmen Boogie), Beethoven and Bach. In the jazz fields John Kirdy cut some wonderful and swingin’ side playing Beethoven and more recently Dave Edmunds, known for his collaboration with Setzer during the Stray Cats days, played Bizet with Love Sculpture and later released a full classical album. This is what Setzer did too for his first non Christmas album with the Brian Setzer Orchestra since Vavoom.
And when you look at his discography in the recent years one can wonder : does Setzer run out of ideas. Two Christmas albums mainly made of covers, one tribute to Sun, one particularly uninspired “ 13” , one live album and this one (again made of non-Setzer songs). The result is really weak which is sad when you know how talented this guy is. Only a few songs sound good. “Take The 5th” an adaptation of Beethoven’s Symphony N° 5 is quite good with a fine swingin’ rhythm, “Sabre Dance” is equally good with its arrangement taken from Edmunds’ version, nothing too exceptional but at least you don’t want to skip the song. By far the best one is “For Lisa” (Beethoven’s Fur Elise) which is turned into a gipsy jazz ala Django with violin, clarinet and subtle brushwork. Listening to this one and songs like Jumpin’ At The Capitol and Beautiful Blues, just imagine how good a full Setzer gipsy album would sound. The other one I would save is “Take A Break Guys” (originally God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen). It starts like a 60’s spy movie soundtrack reminiscent of Lalo Shiffrin with twangy guitar then turns into a 70’s exploitation movie with wah-wah pedal on the guitar.
For the rest, “Honeyman” (Flight Of The Bumblebee) with added lyrics sung by the vixens is unbearable and it’s hard to resist the temptation to destroy you stereo (better skip the song), “Some River In Europe” (Blue Danube) should be a hit in every retirement house, “One More Night With You” is the only one featuring Setzer on vocals and is to be forgotten very quickly. Even when you’re Brian Setzer you can’t turn poor tune into first class material and there’s no miracle with “Yes We Can Can” ( Offenbach ’s Can Can) which evolved into a parody of New Orleans jazz.
Hopefully someone will show Setzer his own DVD of the BSO at Montreal in 1995, when BSO meant excitement and it’ll give him some inspiration for his next release.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
The Slammers Maximum Jive Band - Jive Time
The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Jive Time

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Jive Time

El Toro Records ETCD2036
She Walks Right In – All of Me – Just A Gigolo – Swanee River Boogie – What’d I Say – Hook, Line & Sinker – Stagger Lee – Chicken & the Hawk – Boogie Woogie Country Girl – Shortenin’ Bread – Buona Sera
If you dig contemporary bands like The Stargazers, the Big Six and Ray Gelato’s Giants Of Jive and of course Louis Prima and Louis Jordan this one is for you. Recorded live it proposes a good set of danceable music. I really enjoyed the excellent “Swanee River Boogie” (think Jerry Lee meets a Jive band), “Hook, Line and Sinker” which is full of joy, the instrumental “Shortnin’ Bread” with great saxes (both juicy and screaming) and the rockabilly “Boogie Woogie Country Girl” with a heavy slap bass and piano. That’s too bad they only play covers, and extremely well known ones, cause these guys (and girl) are good musicians and a little bit of originality would have been good. This said, I must say I couldn’t help but tapping my feet while listening to it, so I guess this is the more important, don’t you think?

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band - Hey There You !!!!
The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Hey There You !!!!

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Hey There You !!!!

Hey There You ! – Bim Bam – Choo Choo Ch’Boogie – Oh Marie – Straighten Up And Fly Right – Such A Night – Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chicken – Shortnin’ Bread – Boogie Woogie Country Girl – Swanee River Boogie – Corrine, Corrina – What’d I Say – Bloodshot Eyes – Linda Lu – All Of Me
All right boys, grab your dancin’ shoes, push the furnitures on the wall, roll the rug, you’ll need a maximum of space cause this guys (and girls) are here to make you dance. Captured live on the stage of the Warrington Blues Festival in 2007, this cd shows the Slammers Maximum Jive Band at their best: full of energy, excitement and with a communicative “joie de vivre”. You can hear from every note they’re happy to be here (and the listener regrets he wasn’t there to see them that day), and I think this is the key of the success of such a recording.
There’s no radical departure from their studio album, but as I said, the live recording really advantages them. The powerful rhythm section supports the solists who trade solos. All of them are great players, but I’d like to make a special mention to Claire Hamlin whose talent shines on her rendition of Swanee River Boogie and Ray Charles’ What’d I say. Add James Gray warmful vocal and you’ll have every ingredients for a great band. The show starts with Freddie Bell’s Hey There You, and you’re off for 49 minutes and 15 songs of jumpin’ jivin’ rhythm blues, with a touch of rockabilly here and there, that won’t let you a second to catch your breath. I’ll look forward the next one.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lil Mo and the Monicats / Monica Passin

in Albums/Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews
Lil Mo and the Monicats - Whole Lotta Love
Lil Mo and the Monicats – Whole Lotta Love

Lil Mo and the Monicats – Whole Lotta Love

Whole Lotta Love – Little Heart Attacks – When Girls Sings – Pain and Misery – Waiting and Wanting – Lovely Miranda – Three Cool Cats – Real Gone Jive – I Can’t Help Myself – Trouble In Mind – Too Much Time With Your Tears

Monica Passin (aka Lil Mo) and her deliciously sweet voice are back for another terrific album and, like on her previous recordings, she’s backed up by her partner in rhymes Hank Bones who plays a wide array of instrument (guitars and basses of all kinds, bongo, snare, cornet, dobro…). Another key element is Drina Seay who lends her voice to the beautiful harmonies you can hear on this album. This is really amazing how the voices of the two singers perfectly blend together! (so much that to be honest I first thought that Passin had doubled her vocal track). Russ Wilson completes the line-up.
The singer penned five originals and the remaining songs come from Marty Robbins (Pain and Misery), the Coasters (Three Cool Cats) and the Nettle Sisters (Real Gone Jive). One can also find a cover of Trouble in Mind (that is hard to associate to just one artist).The team Arty Hill and Linda Hill (who also wrote Mascara Tears for Marti Brom’s latest album) and Austin songwriter Terry Joyce have contributed one song each.
It is a very varied and rich album. Musically you cross the land, from the country to the town, from the Honky Tonk sound of Little Heart Attacks to the direct-from-the-Brill-building melody of When Girls Sing (with reference to Ellie Greenwich in the lyrics) and Too Much Time With Your Tears. There’s also some Texas hillbilly swing with I Can’t Help Myself, Hillbilly bop and Rockabilly with Real Gone Jive and the Everly Brothers/Buddy Holly influence can be heard on Whole Lotta Lovin and Waiting and Wanting. Lovely Miranda and its Latin beat tells a little slice of life settled in New York. That’s funny how simple but well crafted lyrics can create pictures in your head.
I love this album so I wouldn’t mind writing more but Bill Kirchen has said it better than me on his introduction: “Monica is a rare triple threat, a chanteuse who can rock and write songs that you swear you grew up with.” I couldn’t agree more.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lil Mo and the Monicats - On the Moon
Lil Mo and the Monicats – On the Moon

Lil Mo and the Monicats – On the Moon

Cow Island Music CIM013 [2009]
I Could Get Used To This – Rockin’ Chair On The Moon – The Boy Who Loves The Blues – Dance Crazed – Why Don’t You Love Me? – Baby Be Good – I Really Love (To Love You) – I’m Here Today – I’ve Got A New Heartache – He’s A Handful – Dreamy

10 years after “Hearts In My Dreams” which is a bit too long for me but I guess this time was necessary to make such a rich and accomplished album and write this perfect songs (9 of the 11 are from Lil Mo’s pen), Monica Passin released On the Moon.
And the good folks at Cow Island with their soon to be legendary good taste didn’t miss the chance to release it on a superb digipack.
The outcome is a very versatile album and perfectly backed by the multi talented Hank Bones (drums, basses, guitar, dobro, steel, piano, cornet…), Lil’ Mo offer a journey through American music from the 30’s to the 60’s.
You find timeless Honky Tonk (I Could Get Used To This and Wayne Walker’s I’ve Got A New Heartache), muscled hillbilly with a rockabilly hint on Bill Haley and The Saddlemen’s Rockin Chair On the Moon and He’s a Handful on which Monica’s voice reminds me of the best sides of Rosie Flores.
Lil Mo (aka Monica Passin) also delivers a poignant appalachian ballad (the Boy Who Loves The Blues with a nice mandolin part and a heartbreaking fiddle) and good ol’ Cajun music with Dance Crazed featuring Steve Riley of the Mamou Playboys fame. Why Don’t You Live With Me is a beautiful pre-war blues with dobro and cornet. Fans of rhythm’n’ blues/soul will rush on Baby Be Good (with a horn section) and those who are in a 60’s mood will be delighted by I’m Here Today that features an amazing organ solo. Another highlight (but which song isn’t?) is I Really Love To Love You a Spector styled pop song (still with Hank Bones in charge of the wall of sound). And what a better way to say goodbye than Dreamy, an acoustic ballad, featuring just Monica’s crystal clear voice and Bones on guitar with some latin and jazzy echoes.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Randy Rich

in Interviews

Randy RichThat’s a classic one I often ask, but I’m always curious to know how you discovered the music you play now ?
Randy Rich: Well, in one way we were lucky growing up in the 80’s. There was still a lot of Rock’n’Roll in TV and radio even in East Germany. One day I saw some Teds in my hometown and thought that’s the coolest look I’ve ever seen. Next thing was I started to comb my hair like Elvis and bought me a 50’s style suit. At least I thought it would look 50’s. Anyway I got more and more interested in the whole thing and realised that I liked a whole lotta stuff from that era without knowing it. One day a friend of mine teased me, that we’re not a real rockabilly gang without a band. I thought about it, bought me an Elvis songbook, and started to play guitar. A czech Les Paul model was my first instrument. Some weeks later weformed our first band “The Crazy Boys”

Tell us how you formed the band. Did you play in other bands before?
Randy Rich: As mentioned before “The Crazy Boys” were my starting point. We played mainly 50’s covers, some originals and even a few songs by modern rockabilly bands like Stray Cats or Dave Philips. In 1995 we split up and I formed the “Shakin Hoppers” where I played the piano. The drummer left us pretty soon and we put the trio “Randy Rich and The Poor Boys” together. In 2000 I moved to England where I joined the “Blue Star Boys”. But 3 years later I moved back to Germany and put Randy Rich and The Poor Boys back together in a different line up though.

I believe you had some changes in the line-up. You even had a guest vocalist.
Randy Rich: Yes we had many line up changes. On the second CD Ike Stoye is singing some harmonies on one song, but apart from that it’s just the band members singing. I always liked the idea of different people singin in a band, that gives much more variety. That is important especially if you are a trio where you’re stuck pretty much with just one solo instrument.

What about the Poorboys?
Randy Rich: Michael Kielas is on drums who played also in “The Crazy Boys” and “The Shakin Hoppers” with me. On the upright bass is Juergen Lange. He also plays with “Eddy and The Backfires”

Who are your favourite artists, your influences?
Randy Rich:  I have to say the “Million Dollar Quartet” are my heroes. Jerry Lee Lewis is probably my all time favourite, but Elvis and Carl Perkins right behind. I love the SUN Sound from Blues, Gospel to the Country side of it. It’s just amazing. I also admire Sam Cooke, Johnny and Dorsey Burnette, Charlene Arthur and so many more….
For guitar playing, I’m of course influenced by Carl Perkins, Scotty Moore, Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, Reggie Young, Al Hopson, James Burton and a dozend other great pickers

You have played, and even recorded, with rockabilly and rock’n’roll legends. How is it to “cross the line”. I mean from the fan position to the backing band.
Randy Rich: It’s absolutely fantastic. I’m so thankful that I was fortunate enough to have made those experiences. To play the songs you love together with the original artists onstage gives you real goosebumps. How can you not be thrilled to play with Janis Martin, Glenn Honeycutt or Eddie Bond. The stars I played with were also just great people and talking to them about the old times is real fun for me.

For those who didn’t have the chance to experience Randy Rich and The Poor Boys on stage, how would you describe it?
Randy Rich: Well, we try to make it as diversified as possible. I like to mix fast and slow songs, instrumentals and harmonie songs, country and rock’n’roll. We’re still using our vintage mics, amps and instrument to give the people the best possible sound for our kind of music. I even restored an old PA that we’re using for small club gigs. You’ll hear some classics, some old songs you haven’t heard before and many of our own compositions. We don’t follow a trend we just love the rock’n’roll the way it was played in the 1950’s and that’s what we’re trying to do now.

A word about your discography?
Randy Rich: So far we’ve released two CD’s on Rhythm Bomb Records, 1 EP on Part Records and last year we’ve put out a single on our own Emerald Records label. We are also the backing band for Glenn Honeycutt on his Rhythm Bomb CD.

A last word
Randy Rich: My biggest wish is, that rock’n’roll gets one day the presence on TV and radio back that it deserves. It’s the best music in the world

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Randy Rich

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