Lee Rocker

Lee Rocker - Night Train to Memphis
Lee Rocker – Night Train to Memphis

Lee Rocker – Night Train to Memphis

Upright records [2012]
Rockabilly Boogie – Night Train To Memphis – Slap The Bass – Twenty Flight Rock – Wild Child – Honey Don’t – That’s Alright Mama-Blue Moon – Tear In My Beer – Lonesome Tears – Built For Speed – So Sad – All I Have To Do Is Dream

Covers albums usually don’t thrill me, that’s the reason why I didn’t expect much from this one. But Lee Rocker’s latest effort. was a surprinsingly good surprise. First he has the good idea to keep it short : twelve tracks like in the good old days of vinyls. Rock’n’roll albums are not supposed to be long. Then he manages to stay true to these classics and make them his own in the same time. With the help of his sister on some backing vocals, a great band (Buzz Campbell, Brophy Dale and Jimmy Sage),  innovative arrangements and an instrumation that goes beyond the drums/double bass/guitar format, like a dobro or a banjo on the Stray Cats’ Built For Speed, he gives to songs that you’ve heard a thousand times a totally new approach and manages to make them sound fresh again.
Vocally, Rocker’s is on top form and especially shines on the more country tinged tunes, like Hank Williams’ Tear In My Bear. The surprise, but that’s a good surprise, also comes from softer tunes like Buddy Holly’s Lonesome Tears and the Everly’s So Sad and All I Have to Do is Dream.
And when he rocks he takes no prisonners like on the Burnette’s Rockabilly Boogie. The sole self penned tune is Slap That Bass. As the title indicates its a slap bass driven rockabilly number with jazzy guitar licks.
There’s no mistakes, although the credits read Lee Rocker on just one track, this album is 100% his own.

Lee Rocker - Hot'n'Greasy Vol.1
Lee Rocker – Hot’n’Greasy Vol.1

Lee Rocker – Hot’n’Greasy Rockabilly Vol.1

Rebel – Crazy When She Drinks – Black Cat Bone – Say When – Texarkana To Panama City – . Stray Cat Strut – I’ll Cry Instead – One More Shot – Blue Suede Night

A collection of live songs recorded at concerts and radio broadcast . The sound is very good, the performance perfect and the setlist perfect with songs taken from Bulletproof, Black Cat Bone and Racin the Devil and a cover of Stray Cats Strut. Nice addition to your collection. According to Rocker there’ll be two more volume released in the forthcoming months.

Kee Rocker - Cat Tracks
Kee Rocker – Cat Tracks

Lee Rocker – Cat Tracks

Stray Cat Strut, Rock This Town, Runaway Boys, Sexy & 17  [2012]
Digital only

The title says it all. Four of the best and most successful Stray Cats songs re-recorded by Lee Rocker and his band. They perfectly manage to recreate the sound of the Stray Cats early albums. I don’t know if Rocker plans to record more Stray Cats songs in the future but being a far better singer today than he was at the time,  it’d be good to hear him re-cut “She’ll Stay Just One More Day” and “Drink That Bottle Down” .

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Scotty Baker

Scotty Baker – Just Like That

Scotty Baker – Just Like That

Press Tone Music [2011]
50 Buick – C’Mon And Fight Me – Broke On payday Again – Just Like That – Tell Me Why You Love Me – Tyre Kickers – Suddenly Alone – Just Can’t Style My Hair – Jacky And Dave – Not Today – I’m Past My Prime – Set Me Loose On That Blonde – That’s The Way I Like It – Doin’ Time On The Passenger Side

Scotty Baker is, after Pat Capocci, Ezra Lee and the Rechords (to name but three) Australia’s latest Rockabilly sensation. With his warm and deep voice, his capacity to write solid originals and a strong backing band, this guy is dangerous! His debut album, features 14 self penned songs and covers a wide range of style.
One can hear a bit of Johnny Cash influences with the boom-chicka-boom Rockabilly of C’Mon and Fight Me or Just Like That, a talkin’ blues ala “Boy Named Sue”. Next to that one will find straight Rockabilly (Jacky and Dave, Set Me Loose On that Blonde), honky tonk with steel guitar (Broke on Payday Again), pumpin’ piano rock’n’roll (Tell Me Why) and bluegrass with (Tyres Kickers). Believe me, the whole album is flawless but if I had to pick some highlights it would be the hilarious “Just Can’t Style My Hair” (with the memorable “I’d rather look like Yul Brynner than David Hasselhoff”), “Not Today” (something like a cross between Hank Williams and Johnny Jano), “Suddenly Alone” that captures the spirit of Elvis’ early ballads like Harbor Lights or Tomorrow Night and “Doin’ Time On the Passenger Seat” a five-minute stroller that closes the album with class.
I really hope to hear more from that guy soon.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Blind Boy Paxton – Dirtiest Little Darling


blindboypaxtonDirtiest Little Darling / Railroad Bill [2012]
Evangelist Records EV001/EVS001

When it comes to ragtime guitar and pre-war blues, very few can do it like Blind Boy Paxton. Close your eyes and this is the closest thing to a time machine you’ll ever find. This talented young boy (he’s born in 1989) hasn’t released a full album yet but you can wait with this hot 78’s recorded at Lewis Durham studio (he of Kitty Daisy and Lewis) and published on his label too. Sida A is a Paxton’s original and features a harmonica accompaniment. The B side, ‘Railroad Bill’ is a traditional songsters song. Also available on 7″ format and digital download.
Look on youtube to find plenty of other numbers recorded during that session.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Roy Brown – Saturday Night

roybrownrb_smallEl Toro R&B 112
Hurry, Hurry Baby – Old Age Boogie (Parts 1 & 2) – Laughing But Crying – Grandpa Stole My Baby – Money Can’t Buy Love – Letter From Home – Midnight Lover Man – Mr. Hound Dog’s In Town – Caldonia’s Wedding Day – Trouble At Midnight – Crazy, Crazy Women – Everything’s All Right – Bootleggin’ Baby – No Love At All – Up Jumped The Devil – Don’t Let It Rain – Ain’t No Rockin’ No More – Queen Of Diamonds – Gal From Kokomo – Worried Life Blues – Fanny Brown Got Married – Black Diamond – Shake ‘Em Up Baby – Saturday Nite – Everybody – The Tick Of The Clock – I’m Stickin’ With You – Party Doll – Let The Four Winds Blow
It would be a mistake to summarize Roy Brown’s discography to “Good Rockin’ Tonight”. In addition to Deluxe/King, he cut sides for Imperial, Home Of The Blues, DRA and even Chess and died in 1981 after making a well deserved triumphant return to New Orleans. This mammoth cd (29 songs) presents his lesser known sides recorded for King between 1952 and 1955, and 6 tunes from his Imperial sessions. Brown’s new home had no plan to change a formula that was successful and this sides are in the same vein of his precedent releases, sharing the same arrangements or themes (“Ain’t No Rockin’ No More” is a sequel to his massive hit). “Mr Hound Dog’s In Town” (which is nothing but a adaptation of Hound Dog) is slightly different accompanied by just a guitar-bass-drums trio. The Imperial sides show a different side of Brown with an unexpected cover of Buddy Knox’s Party Doll which saw his return in the charts in 1957 (#13) followed by “Let The Four Wind Blow” (#5). A good addition to anyone interested by Blues shouters and a good replacement to the Classics (1951-1953) cd which is now hard to find.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Rockabilly Mafia

rockabilly mafia
Rockabilly Mafia

Rockabilly Mafia

This interview was conducted a few years ago forthe 25th anniversary of the Rockabilly Mafia and was initially published on Jumpin’ from 6 to 6. It’s still relevant today so I decided to also put it on this website.
If you don’t know the Rockabilly Mafia, their sound could be described as a mix between eighties neo-rockabilly and the Meteor label records with a strong emphasis on the rhythm due to the propulsive slap bass of Ted Harbeck (who also sings in English and in German), the steady and powerful drumming of Bjorn Karl (and before him “Ding Dong” Dalecki) and the simple but always effective (like a modern day Luther Perkins) guitar of Karsten “Tex” Willer.
Beside the usual rockin’ texts or the declaration of faith like “Ich Brauch Kein Hip Hop” (I don’t like Hip Hop),I Love Rockabilly” or “Rockabilly Beat” some of their songs have a strong “nostalgic” feel like “I Have To Leave The Graveyard“, “What Happened to My Hometown” or “Seine Tochter weiß viel mehr ” a story about a rape which is rather unusual for this kind of music.
Ted kindly agreed to talk about the evolution of the band and the scene, their position on the same scene and the difference between writing songs in English or in German…

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis

How did you get into rockabilly/rocknroll?
Here I just can tell my own story. It started for me in summer 1976 with Bill Haleys “Rock around the clock” , when I heard that song on a grammarschool-party it was the moment to change my life…After a few years I transformed myself into an early 80’s Rocker, since 1982 I am wearing drapejacket or frogcoat and creepers, it was not so easy to get through Elmshorn in a red kneelong jacket alive in those days, as far as I remember Willer had one, too. We got punched up several times, never won a battle and never changed our style. You may have realized the difference between the clothes I wear still and our music, it was common in that time to wear f.e. 70ies Teddyboygear while listening to the Polecats. I still do. It is hardly to believe that Mafia during the years again and again was titled as a british-rockabilly-band, most of the critics seem to have mix up my outer apperance with the music we make.

What did appeal to you in that music?
The Rhythm. To me it was always the rhythm, especially the slapbass-rhythm. There is an orginal 50’s filmscene where a reverent says: “If you ask todays teenager what they like about this rocknrollmusic they say the Beat! The Beat! The Beat!” How true is that! So the sound of our band, which is somehow a kind of naked rhythm, follows this direction.

How did you get together?
I founded the Rockabilly Mafia on 27th of September 1985 during the party for my 20th birthday. I played the bass and sang, Kai Beyer played the guitar, Malte Kob was on Sax(!!!) and Andreas Ding Dong Dalecki was on drums. One year later we recorded the first EP “Rockin in the graveyard” without the saxman, few month later Beyer left and was replaced by Tex Willer, who stayed since then. Dalecki made the job for nearly 11 years, when Björn Karl took over the Drums and stayed, too. So there is no change in the line-up since 1997.

What were your influences then and what are they now?
The song “Serious Rockin” tells it. There were the cat bands (what says in this context strayCATS, poleCATS, blueCATS, rockCATS), Restless, and , for my part, Red Hot Max. Tex had lot of expericences in oldschool psycho and other Neo-Bands. Even today I like the sound of Bill Haley, while Tex was a Gene Vincent Fan from the start and still is. With Björn more “Big band drum sounds” reached the band, what brough us even more rhythm. For we are doing these things for so many years, today we are mostly influenced by ourself, lousy but true. When Willer appears with a new riff, the game starts again. I am more influenced by the things which happen to me and give me new ideas for texts. From the musicians we like I have to name Restless, Space Cadets, Dave Phillips and the Hotrodgang, the Keytones, you see, this is a neorockabilly-programe from the 80’s, just as we are.

Did you think it would last that long when you started Rockabilly Mafia?
No. To be honest, I did not thing of it anyway. When we started off with the Rockabilly Mafia it was my main aim to produce songs, anyhow. Tape-recorded, or, if possible, records. It was not my aim to have gigs, I wanted preserved music, frozen time for eternity, and I took the musicians I needed for the sessions. This is, by the way, how RockabillyMafia got its name, because I used different musicians for every single musical crime. When Tex Willer joined in in 1986, things became more stated and were able to go on and not to start all over again with every song. The name remained. I did not care about the future of the band, I tried to conserve what we had.

Did you se some changes on the European Rockabilly scene since your beginning?
Are you joking? The scene changed completely more than once during the last decades, it spread and many folks joined in who I would never expect to come. The proper answer to this question would fill a book. Most striking to me is a certain change from 80’s rebelism to the so called “authentic”-style of late 90’s, which produced (to me) a complete change in style, because the Neorockabilly-influences faded or made their way in the psychobilly-direction, while the recording-techniques and ways of playing the instruments of many bands sound like 50 years ago, which to me is not a sign of quality, to be honest. Today I do not care about scenes to much anymore, we found our way, historical statements are for scientists, we do rockabilly.

Your first releases were mostly sung in English. Then you started to sing more and more in German. It is an important thing for you and do you think that writing in your own language improves your songwriting?
With this questions we reach the more interestic grounds, which only can be understood in the context of time. Early 80’s brought a special kind of New Wave to Germany, combined with german lyrics to more or less british Wave-Sounds, it was called NDW, which meant Neue Deutsche Welle (German new wave).
Liking Rockabilly it was neccessary for me to do the same thing with this music, and it started off with several more or less rude drinking songs like “Die Bierbrauerin” (which is nothing but a list of german beers mentioned in a silly love story) or “Der falsche Weech”(which I wrote in an English version as “I took the wrong way home” first, funny…). This song is still the last official song in every Rockabilly Mafia gig.
Other bands like the “Ace Cats” had done german lyrics before in a Rocknroll context, and the Düsseldorf-based “Panhandle Alks” had their very own kind of Rockabilly with German texts before we did it, anyway. But we were in the lucky position to improve the german texts with the years, away from the drinking-songs to stories, which I was not able to tell in English, because it is not my language from birth on. “Panhandle Alks”, by the way, did the same thing stressing other plots, which made them for me very interesting to listen to. So today our german texts in my opinium are better than the English ones, which often somehow stay at the surface of things. In our Geman texts I deal with suicide, tragical stories of runned down tennagers, the passing of time with the grave as inevitable end of the story, a special kind of “rock-therapy” to get over life given experiences of the harder kind…

So to come to the point: The german lyrics do not improve songwriting, but at a certain point in our band history and in the history of german rock music it was necessary to reach the audiance in their very own language, which was and is german. There was no internet in those days, there was no need to communicate with folks outside of Germany, there was no market for our music outside Germany (and still is not, beside some interested specialists all over the world) so it is not surprising we did our songs in German, and to be honest even the english texts were made for germans, what is funny because these texts now seem to be understandable for english speaking folks outside of english speaking countries, what adds some strange “international” flair to a band, which always was meant and founded as a local northgerman band with local textplots. For British ears what we do sounds very “Krautish”, I suppose. Within our repertoire we now play half german and half enlish texts, and this will be the same for the future.

So you dont believe that rockabilly and rocknroll have to be sung inevitably in English?
Not our way of Rockabilly.
If you want to be understood in wide parts of the world, you have to use english. But to me the question is, if it necessary to be understood worldwide. Answering local questions in local language can be an answer for everybody worldwide, who is in a similar situation and willing to listen. This maybe includes the will to understand the used language. If not, the audiance will not get the text, but this is not my fault.
Long years ago I saw a concert of the spanish band “Rockin Borders”, who played there full set in spanish. It was an experience I will never forget, for that was a good band, and I became so interessted I found someone to translate their texts, and they were good, too. Anyone, who uses music and text to express hisself, is able to use it the very way he/she likes to, so finally nothing is inevitable except death.

Do you thing that singing in German can be an obstacle for you to play in international events like Hemsby, the Rockabilly Rave or the Screamin Festival in Spain?
I thing it is the Rockabilly Mafia, which is an obstacle: We sing part of programe in german ( which could be avoided easily, because we have more than 150 songs in our repertoire, there should be enough in english…), we are somehow 80’s-fossils with a local backround, who do not fit in the todays picture of the global-hep-cat, all our songs are selfpenned, so there is no recognising of famous standard-hits beside recognising the Mafia-standard-hits. Who of those organizers of those mentioned events should care about something like the Rockabilly Mafia? Why should the Mafia care about these events? In fact we have never been asked to play these festivals, and yet I am not sure what to answer if we should be asked some day.
It was great to play the “Satanic Stomp” here in Germany, ironically it was worlds biggest psycho-event we were asked to play for, a strange change, strange, but funny and we had a great time, we have to thank our Manager Lonesome from mental-hell for opening this new world to us.

On the other way does it help to get gigs or with the medias in Germany?
No. The german medias are not interessted in Rockabilly Mafia, and we play so few gigs that we never had problems to get them. Up to now we got Gigs until october 2010, thats pretty enought to play.

What is your point of view about the “authentic rockabilly” thing?
The song we got most negative critics on is the above mentioned song “Serious Rockin”, which gives somehow the answer to this question. When we started with this music, we wanted to do our own thing, and we still do today. This is a way, which one can like or not, but in the end it is the easy to understand what happens: Unique music by unique persons, using Rockabilly as their vehicle. Since the 90’s another kind of musician than us wanted to preserve something, what seems to them more orginal, some kind of “back to the roots”-Rockabilly in the style of the mid 50’s. I think this “Getting-back-movement” was absolutely understandable in a time, which generated more and more techno and other different styles, but understandable or not, in my opinium this was (and is) no proper way of spending your life as a grown up person at the turn of the millenium.

The problem is, if you are doing the same thing in a different historical context, you are doing NOT the same thing. What once has been a teenage-rumour, is, done again 50 years later, maybe just imposter-rubbish. In addition, and this is even more important, the kind of musician, who today plays the old stuff, is another type of person than the one who played it in the past. The guys in the 50’s were head-of-the-arrow, so to say avangard of rockmusic, which pioneered things and did more or less the same thing every Rockmusician of every style did since then: They rocked, no looking back, no future plans, just rock. The kind of musician, who plays this music in exactly the oldfashioned style today, to me appears like some museum-warden, and nothing could be less authentic in the true maening of this word, if you have a look on the musician who plays, not on the brilliant immitated notes of the music he plays.
To say it in lyrics:
“It is an inappropriate idea to cover songs from those past times, if you´ve got somehting to anounce, anounce it by yourself.
You don´t honour good ideas repeating them like a parrot, you can´t sing all your life the songs you sang when you were twelve.”
Enought of that.

A word about your partners in crime Tex and Björn?
Of course. Tex and me are friends for about 28 years now, which is a pretty long time. The Rockabilly Mafia made during nearly 25 years 38 records, on 37 of them Tex played the guitar. He has a very rhythm-orientated sound, the typical guitarists-ego-diddling was never his business, what makes Rockabilly Mafia Sound so straight to the point. Combined with the very strong drumset of Björn, we found an absolutely rhythm-orientated-sound. Björn joined us in a moment of the band history, where we were nearly finished. His fresh and punchy play reburned the fire in 1997, and still does. You see,all three of us made a long way together..

But in the end, just listen to what we are doing, this expresses more than dump words. Please do not mind that I did not tell too many personel things about Björn and Tex and me, I think this is of no impartance in this context.

Out of Luck (psychobilly)


Out of Luck – Killer Coupe

Part Records Part-coutofluckkillercoupecdd-6100.002 [2014]

The Change Of  the Plymouth – Killer Coupe – I Pack My Bags – Gangster – I’m So Lonely – My Baby Is A Centerfold – Heart Of A Fool – Your Best Buddy – My buckets got a Hole In It – I go For A Walk With My dog – Drop Dead – Demons In the Tank – Kickin’ Up A Row
Out of Luck returns with a brand new kick ass album featuring eleven originals and two covers (Heart of Fool and My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It). Led by the strong voice and the powerful slap bass of Karl Rascal with Rocky on guitar and Beppo May on drums, they perfectly mix their varied influences with classic Rockabilly, neo-rockabilly (one can hear shades of Brian Setzer in the guitar of I’m So Lonely), old school psychobilly kinda like the early Nekromantix or even the Scum Rats with, which is more unusual for this type of band, a heavy dose of country music which makes them sound at places like European cousins of the Reverend Horton Heat. A very good album.

outofluck-greetingsfromoutbackvilleOut of Luck – Greetings From Outbackville

Part Records Part-CD 6100.001 [2012]
Greetings From Outbackville – 49′ Plymouth – Ain’t Got No Job – Rockabilly Rocker – Black Kat – Midnight Drive – Johnny Ultracool – Out Of Cash – Josephine – Into The Valley – I Wanna Kill – Psycho Fantasies – Sunrise At The Foggy River – Cruisin’ – Rainy Day – Love Is An Expensive Affair – Several Ways To Die

Out of Luck is a terribly good and powerful trio who plays revved-up rockabilly that often borders on old-school psychobilly. This album is a subtle balance between the early recordings of the Meteors, Guana Batz and even Mad Sin and more traditional rockabilly stuff with some Reverend Horton Heat in between. The original songs (all but one) are very well written. The sound is also particularly good with a very natural and warm recording of the double bass (not that horrible sewing machine sound one can too often hear in that style of music). As a bonus they included six live tracks to convince you to see them on stage. It’s good to see bands like Batmobile or Skitzo (to name but two) reform, but this music needs new blood, and with band like Out Of Luck the future seems assured.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis
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