Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Virgil

Virgil has 434 articles published.

Nitros

The Nitros (neo-rockabilly)

nitros_480The Nitros

Early Years

The Nitros story begins in 1984 when Mark Swain (double bass) and his cousin Jon Attril (drums) recruit John O’Malley “I met the band when I answered an advert in Melody Maker. Mark & Jon had advertised for a Rockabilly guitarist so I went along to the audition. It was at Mark’s house in Tottenham, North London. I’d been in bands since about the age of 12 but this was my first Rockabilly band with a proper stand up bass, I was about 15 at the time”.
O’Malley gets the place and the band begins to rehearse with its singer Gary Pudney. For the first time on stage together, they open for The Guana Batz but after a few gigs Pudney quits the band. He’ll resurface in The Griswalds, still as a lead singer. “I didn’t think he was right for the sound we were trying to get. He probably suited more of the Psychobilly sound when we wanted to be like Restless or the Blue Cats.” remembers O’Malley.
The remaining trio doesn’t look for a new singer and decides to carry on with O’Malley taking over the vocals duties. They record “Destruction Road” for Fury Records and “Taxi Cab” and “Echoes Of Love” for Katz Keep Rocking. In 1988 the band releases “Nightshades” their debut mini-lp on Link in the “Chuck Flintstone presents” collection. Mixing fast rockabilly tunes with O’Malley’s inventive and jazzy riffs and a bit of blues, this album is a true masterpiece. The ability of each of them to write originals gives this 8 songs lp plenty of diversity to please the listener like the bluesy “Well Now Baby”, the darker “Misery” and of course plenty of neo-rockabilly, all wrapped up with O’Malley’s inventive and impressive riffs, this album is a true masterpiece.
Sadly this line up doesn’t last long and this first incarnation of the Nitros splits in the late 80’s. “Jon wanted to leave as he had a few personal problems and Mark was losing interest so things just went down hill.” explains the singer “It was good while it lasted and we did quite few good gigs and released Nightshades so it wasn’t all in vain.” Mark will later form the pornabilly (sic) band “The Shocking Truth where he can still be found today.

Second line-up

That doesn’t stop O’Malley who keeps the name and the band going, this time with Gary “Gaz” Day on double bass formerly of The Mysterons and The Frantic Flintstones. They tried two or three drummers that didn’t fit the band, so Gaz called Rich Taylor “It went well so I got the job” . “When I got together with Gary and Rich it was like a whole fresh approach to what we were doing, they were more into the scene and the atmosphere in the band was better, it was more fun. Gary was and still is a great bass player and very enthusiastic towards what we were doing so the sound just got better” recalls O’Malley. The new Nitros secured a contract with the Sun records of modern Rockabilly, Roy Williams’ Nervous Records and go to the studio to record their second album, “Stompin’ Beat”, in 1990. This one features some great moments like “Devil’s Ship” or “Swingsville” a jazzy instrumental that shows O’Malley’s rich influences “I’ve always liked Brian Setzer, he’s great. I started off liking all the usual rock’n’roll guitarist like Cliff Gallup, Franny Beecher, Danny Cedrone and Scotty Moore, they still sound good today. As I’ve gotten older my tastes have widened and yes, I listen to a lot of Django , Oscar Moore and Danny Gatton to try to take some of there style. But my all time hero is Jimmy Bryant, he was so fast and clean, absolutely amazing without a doubt.” In his capable hands this mix is… well, explosive.
The choice of the covers is also particularly judicious with songs from The Polecats, The Beatles and Queen. And if “Stompin’ Beat” doesn’t have the freshness and the exuberance of “Nightshades” it benefits from a tighter rhythm section. But to achieve such a great result hasn’t been easy “Stomping Beat was especially a bit of a nightmare, the engineer was always stoned and couldn’t get anything done, in the end we had to get Pete Gage to take over and mix it, he kind of saved it.” Taylor completes “He was always looking for drugs, so we ended up trying to mix the L.p ourselves. Roy was not happy and we got Pete Gage to mix it.”
Around the end of 1991, John O’Malley was also a member of “Rabbit Action” featuring Phil Connor from the psychobilly band Skitzo on vocals, Mickey Wigfall on bass, and Paul Moxon on drums. “I’d known Phil from the early days of the Nitros, we used to be on the same bill together a lot and we became good friends. Phil is a great guy and I’d love to run into him again.” The band stayed together for a short while “but it just fizzled out”. In 1990 Gary went back to The Frantic Flintstones and brought Rich with him. Together they played on “Cuttin A Fine Line” (Rumble Records) and later “Jamboree” (Anagram). During this sessions, produced by Alan Wilson, Day suggested to reform The Sharks. He was drafted in on bass and recorded “Recreationnal Killer” in 1993. He also debuted his partnership with famous popstar Morrissey.

Colbert Hamilton

Still in 1993 the Nitros released its third LP on Day’s short lived label Rockout : “Something’s Gotta Give”. Another very good one, with Boz Boorer (Polecats and many others) in the producer’s seat. Mostly self written with the exception of Wayne Walker’s All I Can Do Is Cry and Bobby Roberts’Big Sandy this one goes from wild rockabilly to the jazzy “Midnight Special”. A guest singer is also present on four songs “Chris Harvey was with the band for about six months. A great singer but didn’t seem to fit in with our sense of humour. I haven’t seen him since he left the band, maybe he went back to Scotland.”.
The same year they backed Colbert Hamilton, the Black Elvis, on “Still Taggin’ Along”. “We met Colbert when he used to work in Kensington market. We had seen him perform before and thought he was great. We approached him and found out he wasn’t with any band at the time so we got him in and it went from there. Colbert is an amazing singer and front man, he really knows how to put on a show. The two CDs we did together were cool, he had a load of his old songs he’d never recorded and I’d written a bunch of songs so we put them all together and out came the 2 CDs”. O’Malley has very fond memories of the Japan tour backing Hamilton “It was great and we were treated really well, the crowds were just so into what we were doing, I remember me and Rich walking down the town and young Rockabilly kids stopping us to sign pictures and take our photo… Cool.”
In 1994, the band and Hamilton returned to Nervous to release Hamilton’s third lp “Wild At Heart” produced by Alan Wilson (The Sharks) and featuring covers of The Reverend Horton Heat and Thin Lizzy.(Hamilton collaborated with Phil Lynott). For Taylor and O’Malley “Wild at heart is the best one, I wouldn’t change a thing about that one”

The Nitros never officially disbanded but each of them got involved in other projects. Taylor played with Paul Ansell’s N°9,  The Caravans, The Playboys and The Crazy Crocodiles. He also had a project with Dibbs Preston (The Rockats) called The Leopardmen. Day was busy with his own band The Gazmen, The Caravans and of course as bassist with Morrissey.
O’Malley joined the heavy touring band “Good Rockin’ Tonight”. They released numerous albums and his sparkling guitar can still be heard with them today. He also formed The Poker Dots in Spring 2002 with Zac Zdravkovic and Spencer Lingwood, a band inspired by The Platters, The Crew Cuts with a bit of Nat King Cole here and there.
When he thinks about his days in The Nitros, O’Malley says : “It was good fun and I’m glad I was a part of it. ” 

“Something Gotta Give” is now out of print (sadly) but Nigthshades and Stompin’ Beat have been released on the same cd in 2009 by Cherry Red /Anagram. With three bonus tracks and a booklet full of rare photos, this is a must have.
If mp3’s are more your thing, Stompin’ Beat, Wild At Heart (with Colbert Halmiton) and the songs from Outrage vol 1 and 2 are available.

The Nitros
The Nitros (John O’Malley, Rich Taylor and Gary Day)
  • Albums
    Nightshades – Link MLP 062
    Stompin’ Beat – Nervous Nerd049
    Something’s Gotta Give – Rockout Nit001
    Nightshades/Stompin’ Beat CDM Psycho 78
  • with Colbert Hamilton
    Cadillac Baby– Vinyl Japan JRT02
    Still Taggin’ Along – Vinyl Japan JRCD05
    Wild At Heart– Nervous Nerd076
  • Compilation albums
    One track (Destruction Road) on I Love My Car – Fury Records
    One track (Echoes Of Love) on Katz Keep Rocking Vol.1– Link
    One track (Taxi Cab) on Katz Keep Rocking Vol.2– Link
    One track (Big Sandy) on Twenty Blasters From Blighty– NV Comp1
    One track (Running Out Of Time) on Outrage Vol.1– Rage 104
    Two tracks (Midnight Special, All I Can Do Is Cry) on Outrage Vol.2– Rage 105
    Three tracks (I’ll Get Mine, Teenager’s Mother, Something’s Gotta Give) on Five Inches Of Pleasure

© Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Thanks to John O’Malley and Rich Taylor.

swamp dogs

The Swamp Dogs (german psychobilly band)

swamp dogs

The Swamp Dogs

Member of various German rockabilly and rock’n’roll bands since 1982 as a drummer and/or singer, Roland Heinrich aka The Lone Wolf learned to play the double bass in 1984 (one time members of the Percolators and Fall Out) . He formed the Swamp Dogs the following year with Doc Preatorious on guitar and Atilla Yüncüoglu on drums.
Their first influences were the Stray Cats and the Polecats. Between 1985-88, their set included covers of Buena Sera, Black Magic Baby, Live Fast Die Young, Down the Line and Lonesome Train.
Slowly the band gained a following and a distinctive sound. Their influences evolved toward bands like the early Meteors (Nigel Lewis era), The Sharks and The Ricochets. They then opeedn for foreign bands touring Germany like the Wampas, the Long Tall Texans, the Meteors, Batmobile and the Krewmen.

"<yoastmark

The begining of the year 1987 saw the release of their 7” on Rundell Records with two songs taken from their “played live in the studio demo”. Side one is a cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bad Moon Rising. If good it doesn’t bring anything real new to the song, just a good sped up rockabilly version. The flip is more interesting. The self penned “Mind & Music” is good and original and though the sound is a bit “young” (it’s a demo) it shows that the band had broader influences than many of their counterparts.

Later that year, in December, the band went in the studio to record what would be their mini-lp. The idea was to release it to coincide with a tour supporting the Krewmen. But the tour was cancelled and the mini album stayed in the vaults of the label until February 1989. It marked another step in the band evolution, mixing fast rockabilly/early psychobilly (My True Story, Ardath Bay) with garage sound like their excellent cover of Ug and the Cavemen’s Be A caveman. The Sting Rays and The Escalators were at the time a major part of their influences.
As good as it is, this lp is not a true picture of what the Swamp Dogs were in 1989.

Between 1987 and 1989 the band grew dillusioned with the rockin’ scene, especially in Germany. The violence one could find in certain gigs and the fact that more and more bands hardened their sound to include Heavy Metal didn’t sastify them. As a result Doc Preatorius left the band who stopped its activities.

In 1988, the Lone Wolf met Mitch who became the new guitar player and turned him toward new sounds like Jump Blues and Swing. That’s the new direction the Swamp Dogs took in 1989. They also recorded a couple of songs under the name “Little Green Men” available on “Listen To The Apecall”. A full lp was planned for late 1989/early 1990 but never saw the light of day. They dissolved in 1990 after the release of “Jump For Joy” and Heinrich joined the Crackerjack.
He now has a succesfull solo career. Find more infos his current project here. Atilla has also played with his brother in Cruisin a neo-rockabilly German outfit.

Bad Moon Rising / Mind & Music [1987]
My True Story (6 track mini lp) – Rundell [1989]
Jump For Joy [?]
(infos about this release needed please)

Switchblade

Switchblade From left to right : LaCube, Grant, Bolton, Mouse
Switchblade
From left to right : LaCube, Grant, Bolton, Mouse

Switchblade

Mouse (Red Hot’n’Blue) formed Switchblade, a rockabilly/rockin’ blues band, in late 1989 with Graeme Grant (Demented Are Go, Krewmen) on bass, Eric LaCube on drums (who previously worked with Mouse in The Dillas a recording project) and Guy Bolton on lead guitar (Born Bad). The band only lasted one year, then Mouse reformed Red Hot’n’Blue. They gigged in London and its area as well as some festivals like the Hemsby Weekender.
In March 1990 the band recorded 20 songs in a professional studio. Some of them, and some demos recorded in Mouse’s bedroom, are available on the cd album “The Unreleased Recording”. Another demo was released on “Twenty Blasters From Blighty”. The full session eventually saw the light of day in 2016 on Trophy Records under the title “The Lost Album”.

Discography

The Lost Album – Trophy Records – 2016
V/A “The Unreleased Recordings – 1989-1994” DAGCD 3
V/A “20 Blasters From Blighty” – NV COMP 001


Switchblade - the lost album
Switchblade – the lost album

Switchblade – the lost album

Trophy TR005
Baby What You Want Me To Do – Blue Jeans And A Boys Shirt – Blues Blues Blues – Yes I’m Gonna Love You – Chicken Run – No More Crying The Blues – Go Go Go! – Homesick Boy – One Cup Of Coffee – One Part Stops Where The Other Begins – Pink Cadillac – Rock n’ Roll Jump n’ Shout – Come On Baby Take A Little Chance With Me – Three Alley Cats – Waiting For A Train – Warm Love – What Goes On – Wild Wild Lover – You Got To Lose

In April 1990 Switchblade found time to record a full album in a professional studio that remained unreleased until now.
If you look for slick and polished rockabilly this is definitely not for you. The sound is raw and uneven. There’s differences in term of sounds between songs, some sounding more like demos while others seem more “finished”. Their sound is a mix of rockabilly (Grant is one hell of a powerful slap bassist) with a good dose of rockin’ blues with a lot of energy and an emergency feel present all along the album (the fact that it was recorded and mixed in two days probably contributes to that feel).
Mouse penned three songs and the rest is split between rockabilly classics like Orbison’s Go Go Go, Glen Glenn’s One Cup of Coffee and Blue Jeans and a Boys Shirt, Roy hall’s Three Alley Cats, Benny Joy’s Wild Wild Lover and blues like Jimmy Reed’s Baby What You Want Me To Do, Earl Hooker’s You Got To Lose, George Thorogood’s Homesick Boy and some surprise like the Beatles What Goes On.
Despite the lack of homogeneity, it’s, with 19 songs, a good value for money, and if you like Mouse you’ll jump on this one (and the completist will find demos on the Unreleased recordings on Fury records as well as one song, Ride Ride Ride, on the compilation album 20 Blasters from Blighty).

Domino’s (the)

Domino's

Domino’s (the) – It Don’t Mean A Thing

El Toro records – ETCD 6097

It Don’t Mean A Thing – I Can’t Be Satisfied – Flyin To The Station Gate – Minor Swing – The Messaround – The Train With A Rhumba Beat – Cuckoo Girl – Trapped In A Web Of Love – Cannonball Rag – It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie – Why Don‘t You – Je Suis Swing – Tornado – Everybody Said – Rhythm In My Bones

Patrick Ouchene formed the Domino’s in 1989. The band first started mainly as a rockabilly combo and released their debut album for Rockhouse records in Netherland. By their second album as their tastes changed, their sound evolved covering a wider range of roots music.
This best of is basically their “Minor Things” album (released on Big Bang Records) with a couple of bonus tracks.

To be honest, Duke Ellington’s is not the best song to start with. Ouchene’s vocals is a bit too much but the solist are hot. By the second song, Muddy Water’s Cant Be Satisfied, things get way better. From that point, the whole set range from swing (Django’s Minor Swing), Rhythm and Blues (Mess Around), Rock’n’roll (Rhythm in My Bones), French Zazou music (Johnny Hess’ je suis Swing) and of course Rockabilly (Why Don’t You,  Tornado) without forgetting a fine cover of Johnny Horton’s the Train with the Rumba Beat.
The band benefits of the service of a hot rhythm section (it can, featuring Jack fire of the Wild Ones), a solid lead guitar (and some steel too) and most of all, the band secret weapon in the person of Bernard Vancraeynest  who not happy to arrange some of the songs plays violin, cello, piano and saxophones.
All in all a very pleasant album that I was happy to rediscover with this best-of (and I encourage you to do the same).

Available here.

Jekills (the)

jekills-1The Jekills

Country: Belgium
Genre: Psychobilly

Leo Alfano: vocals / guitar
Fofo Mulone: drums
Sergio Vallan: doublebass

The band got together in 1986 under the name of Riot Guns (they were a quartet at that time with Michel Varga) playing neo-rockabilly. One year later, they became a trio, changed their name to The Jekills and started to play Psychobilly.
In September 1989, they released their self titled album that contains 9 songs on their own label that quickly sold out its initial pressing of 1000 copies and was re-released by Tombstone. 
Another song (Père Noël s’est Vengé) can be found on the compilation album “Wreckin’ Around the X-Mas Tree”
Sadly the rise of the band was brutally stopped by the tragic death of their doublebass player in January 1991.


The Jekills - The Jekills
The Jekills – The Jekills

The Jekills – s/t

Tombstone [1989]
Aston – Nobody In The Street – Marilyn Monroe – Gladiators – The Girl Is Mine – You’ll Be A Priest – Psycho Beat – Dr Jekills – Ballade Du Chomeur
A short lp that is the only testament of the short career of this Belgian psychobilly band that had a bright future in front of them.
The band is clearly influenced by Batmobile both for the music and the voice but with enough personnality. The album is not flawless far from it. The sound is a bit thin at places, it’s not always in tune and there’s a couple of filler, for example “Marilyn Monroe” x-rated tribute to the famous actress (“I’d like to f*** her” doesn’t represent what I consider to be great lyrics). But at least half of the songs are very goog uptempo psychobilly numbers with good slap-bass including Nobody’s in the street, Girl is Mine and la Ballade du Chomeur that reminds of Los Carayos.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Tiger Men (the)

Tiger Men 1

The Tiger Men formed in the second half of the 80’s in Belgium with well known name on the local scene coming from the Red Monkeys and the Swampy’s. They were Michel Texier aka Texas : vocals / guitar, Thierry Dupuis : doublebass, Saki : guitar and Gilbert : drums.

They recorded one album (“Tiger Men”) for Kix4u. 
In the early 90’s Texas moved to Bruxelles and left the Tiger Men. They carried on with a new singer, Fabrisio, and a new drummer Jean but split around 1992.  They evolved into The Raggin’ Stuff to play White Rock.

tigermenThe Tiger Men – s/t

Kix4U – KIX3364
Chuck Style ~ Uranium Rock ~ Johnny Was A Bad Boy ~ Tiger Stomp ~ Crawdad Hole ~ Shake Your Hips ~ Gone Gone Gone ~ I Will Miss You ~ I’ll Go On My Way ~ Chris Baboon ~ Love In A Coffin ~ Hit The Road Jack ~ Wild Child ~ Shake Your Money Maker ~ Tiger Man ~ My Babe
The Tigermen were an Belgian quartet from the early 90’s. They played a majority of up-tempo neo rockabillies with clean electric guitar, slap bass to the fore and light drums. If not very always original (half of the songs are covers and many of the 16 titles have similar tempo which is a bit monotonous) and despite a limited voice the result is rather pleasant. Highlights are “Johnny Was A Bad Boy“, a slow bluesy-jazz number with harp that sounds like a cross between Restless, the Wild Ones and Vaya Con Dios, “Tiger Stomp” an instrumental in the vein of Crazy Cavan’s “Crazy Rhythm“,the melancholic “Gone Gone Gone” and the almost psychobilly “Love In A Coffin” that reminds of the Long Tall Texans.
Too bad some covers are just fillers (My Babe, Shake Your Money Maker, Tiger Man…) and reduce the quality of the final result.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Tiger Men
Tiger Men
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