Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

Memphis Rockabilly Band (the)

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the memphis rockabilly band - Betty Jean

The Memphis Rockabilly Band – Betty Jean

Blind Pig Records BP2186 [1986] 
Cant You See – Betty Jean – I Don’t Care Tonite – I Cried a Tear – Rio Grande Moon – I Gotta Go – Pleated Pants – Mean Like Betty jean – Take It Slow – Stay With Me – Keep Me Waiting

The Memphis Rockabilly Band released this album in 1986. But Betty Jean is not really an album but a collection of démos and various recordings from different origins and line-ups of the band.
Jeff Spencer said about it “Blind Pig didn’t pay for us to record. They mostly just took our demo tapes and some older stuff and made an album. I never cared much about it.” This partly explains why the result is uneven in term of quality and sound. Of course Spencer’s voice shines throughout and Bill Coover is a guitar ace but the final result lacks of homogeneity.

There’s some interesting foray into latin (Rio Grande Moon) and country music (Stay With Me with a pedal steel). One will also find some very good rockabilly like Pleated Pants, Mean Like Betty Jean, I Gotta Go or Keep Me Waitin with piano and sax. But the remaining tracks are either average material like Take It Slow or the title track or wasted by the poor production. And the cover design doesn’t really help either.

More infos about the Memphis Rockabilly Band

Sureshots (the)

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The Sureshots - Four to the Bar
The Sureshots – Four to the Bar

Sureshots (the) – Four to the Bar

ID Records – NOSE 16 [1987] / Reissue Raucous Records RAUCD 212 [2007]
Four To The Bar – I’m On Fire – Right Behind You Baby – Am I Blue? – I’m Uneasy – No Show Dole Cheque Blues – What I Got For You – China Town – Little Pig – Broken Heart – Wanna Know – True Love

Four to the Bar is one of those album that changes the face of Rockabilly back in the mid 80’s. The Sureshots were at the time of this recording Gary Allen on vocals, Joe Guillan on guitar, Colin Mee on drums and Pete Hardy on double bass. They recorded this album in 1987. Produced by Pete Gage who also worked with Restless, Fractured, Frenzy and later Rusti Steel, and the Rattlers, it became an instant classic.

It opens witht Four to the Bar, the title track, penned by Allen, a highly melodic tune with a strong jazz feel, courtesy of Guillan’s amazing guitar solo.
I’m On Fire, not the Springsteen tune but another original by drummer Colin Mee, is a hot blues bopper in the same vein than Sure Like the Look in your Eyes by Red Hot’n’Blue.
Their cover of Right Behing You Baby, made popular by Ray Smith is pure Rockabilly gold. It also shows Guillan’s versatility, this time you can hear him in fiull Cliff Gallup mode.
Their version of Am I Blue is modeled around Cochran’s version though slighlty (too much?) faster. They calm down with the jazzy ballad I’m Uneasy co-written by Allen and Guillan. Allen is equally at ease with cool stuff than he is with mean number or hot boppin’ rockabilly like What I got for you. Truly a great singer.
Chinatown, the old jazz standard is another guitar tour de force. After a short intro and one verse that sounds as a launch pad, Guillan jumps into three amazing and inventive solos. The production serves the song well with a solid work on the rhythm section and the acoustic guitar.
Back to solid Rockabilly with Little Pig (Dale hawkins and later Buzz and the Flyers and the Polecats) and the Moonlighters’ Broken Heart. After all these years and to my ears, the Sureshots still hold the title of best cover of this song, despite many attemps by other bands. Mee’s Wanna Know brings a bit of Diddley beat and Perkins’ Your True Love concludes the album in beauty.
The cd reissue by Raucous records features No Show Dole Cheque Blues as a bonus, a Rockabilly / blues number recorded for the compilation album the James Dean of the Dole Queue.

Ridgetop Westernaires (the)

in Contemporary artists/R/Reviews/Singles

Ridgetop WesternairesRidgetop Westernaires (the)

Lookin’ For Better Days / Johnson City
Jet Tone – JET 102 [1996]

I first believed that the Ridgetop westernaires single was one of the very first recording made by Wayne ‘the train’ Hancock but considering the release date, 1996, this is more likely a side project (Wayne’s debut album being released in 1995.)
The Ridgetop Westernaires consisted of Wayne Hancock, Kevin Smith on double bass, Shaun Young on drums (who also recorded it at his own Jet Tone studio), Chris Miller on steel and Todd Wulfmeyer on guitar (in other words the Jet Tone Boys). All the ingredients of Hancock’s music are here and the musicians are top notch as youcan guess. One can even hear a drum solo which is not usual in Hancock’s music. Both songs will later be re-recorded on later albums. Lookin’ for better days will appear on Wild Free and Reckless and Johnson City on That’s What Daddy Wants still with Miller on steel.

Mouse Zinn

in Albums/Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews/UVWXYZ

Mouse ZinnMouse Zinn – The Embassy Recordings


Foot Tapping Records – FT172  [2017]

Time Is Going By – That’s The Way – In Thoughts Of You – Searchin’ – Bar Hoppin’ Baby – Shush Don’t Tell ‘Em – Jealous Guy – Folkstone Skies – I’ve Waited So Long – Mooshataino – One Thing I Ain’t Got – Don’t Need No Star In Heaven

Is it still necessary to introduce Mouse? Well for the youngest: Mouse Zinn is the man behind Red Hot’n’Blue, the space Cadets and Switchblade. As you can see his name alone is enough to stir interest of any decent Rockabilly fan. And if I tell you that he recorded this album with none others than Darrel Higham on guitar, David Doel on double bass and Gordon Doel on drums (both from the extraordinary Doel Brothers) I can feel the excitment in your ears and in your feet. Having said that, I could almost stop my review here… but I’m a professional and I’m going to tell you a little bit more.
While Vigilante man, his previous solo album, covered many different styles, this one focuses on what Mouse Zinn does best: Rock’n’roll and Rockabilly. Three songs are penned by the singer, including the excellent “Shush Don’t Tell Em” that has a slight Gene Vincent feel and a new version of “Something I Ain’t Got” previously recorded by Red Hot’n’Blue on Ain’t Gonna Stop.
Higham contributed the desperate rocker That’s the Way and Gordon and Dave Doel added three more originals.
The remaining five songs are covers from the catalogs of Whitey Gallagher, Joe Fury, Jimmy Driftwood, Eddie Cochran (a rockin’ version of I’ve waited So Long) and… John Lennon (which is not that surprising after all, considering that Mouse and Switchblade already covered the Fab Four.)
After all these years, Mouse proves that he still has it and I would be more than pleased to hear another batch of tune from him with the same backing band.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Mouse Zinn

 

Midniters (the)

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Midniters - Easy MoneyThe Midniters – Easy Money

 

Razor [1988] – Planet X [2018]
Easy Money – Little Devil – Dead Man`s Curve – Sin City – Better Of You – When The Walls Come Tumbling Down – Another Nail In My Heart – Swords Of A Thousand Men
Easy Money (Demo) – Nightshift (Demo) – Walls Come Tumbling Down (Demo) – Gun Law (Demo) – Dead Man’s Curve (Live) – Little Devil (Live) – Walls Come Tumbling Down (Live) – Swords of 1000 Men (Live) – Easy Money (Live)

The Midniters formed in the mid 80’s. After appearing on Fury’s compilation album they released their debut album in 1988 for Razor with Steve Jeffery on vocals and guitar, Nick Wade on drums and Mark Beard on double bass. This album is now reissued on cd with extra bonus tracks.
Being friends and labelmates with the Long Tall Texans, it would be all too easy to compare both bands. And though they sure share some similiraties in term of sound, the Midniters have enough personnality in their songwriting or vocally speaking to avoid this comparison.
With only 8 songs, Easy Money (the original album) is a relatively short affair which is always a good thing for a debut album. Not only you won’t find any filler but it allowed the band to spend more time on each song. And with the help of producer Roger Tebutt (Long Tall Texans, Happy Drivers, but he also worked with the Meteors on Sewertime Blues) they tried different things in term of sound and texture and used the studio as a creative tool. This is not your usual “Live-in-the-studio-with-a-pack-of-beer”
As I said the songwriting is pretty solid, oscillating between neo-Rockabilly and Psychobilly. Fans of heavy double-bass will also appreciate this album too and since it’s been remixed I believe it helps too (since I only owned the original on cassette I can’t remember if that fat bass sound was already in the original mix.)
Six of the songs are originals and the covers are Jan and Dean’s Dead Man Curve and Tenpole Tudor’s swords of 1000 Men.
Tracks 9 to 12 are demos including two songs that didn’t make it to the album but they possibly are from another era of the band since a sax can be heard on Nightshift.
Five excellent live tracks rounds up the package.
All in all a very good and well deserved reissue.


Midniters Terror IncognitoThe Midniters – Terror Incognito

Planet X [2017]
Got Too Hurry – Personal Jesus – Dead Man’s Hand – Pistolero – In the Shadows – Motorbike Mike – House of Stone – Terror Incognito – Drive By – Face in the Dark – All Out Attack – Butchers Basement

Here’s a new Midniters album, nearly 30 years after Easy Money. But if you expect a trip down memory ane, let me tell you you’re plain wrong. ”Terror Incognito” is here to tell you that we’re in 2018, not 1988 !
The Neo-rockabilly bordering to Psychobilly of their first effort evolved into a modern form of Rockabilly with a harder and a fuller sound. In the same time they added elements of New-wave. This mix of influences, some songs could be defined as Adam Ant meets the Stray Cats makes them sound at place like the recent Quakes album. Some songs are much harder and more psychobilly that are not that far from the early Nekromantix.
All songs but two are originals written by Steve Jeffery, the cover being Depeche Mode’s Personnal Jesus in a very personnal rendition and a Spaghetti western influenced instrumental composed by Steve Stevens (guitar player for Billy Idol.)
It’s good to see a band that dosn’t try to run after its youth and return to create and propose something new.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Mouse Zinn

in Interviews

Here’s an old interview conducted a couple of years ago when Mouse released his Vigilante Man album.

 

Well, it’s been a long while since you last been into a studio recording. How does it feel to be back?
Mouse Zinn — Ha, the last time I recorded ANYTHING was back in 1999/2000 for the Space Cadets lp “cadets A-Go-Go”, after that, for no reason I embarked on a 10/11 year ‘silence’. For some reason I had no urge to do a anything creative, and quite honestly needed a break. in the 90s not 1 year passed by without me doing something, Red Hot n Blue ( 4 albums) Space Cadets (3 albums) Kid Rocker (2 albums) and countless other little projects with other bands, producing songs, writing songs, the Chessie Bits, live shows,record hops and so on….it was a mad decade. In the noughties all I did was record hops and shows with the Space Cadets. Then it dawned on me that 10 years had passed and i hadnt recorded a single song,thats a long long time in a musicians life y’know! it feels really good to be doing something again and recording has always been my favorite part of the whole business.

What decided you to make this record?
Mouse Zinn — I decided to go and do a solo project because I just had this desire to do something. I was watching all my old mates put out songs and cds etc..etc…, watching all these new bands recording and putting out stuff and I kind of felt ‘left-out’ i guess. why hadnt i did a recording for such a long time? I really dont know, all I can say is this… in that time I’ve had a lot of great ideas of what I ‘really’ wanted to do, and it didnt involve another band, this was going to be something I wanted to do, My ideas, MY control, MY style and MY desicions on what will and will not be on a new recording. So it had to be a solo project with me at the helm as MOUSE ZINN, with musicians helping me with what I wanted to do.

You’ve always been in a band configuration (Red Hot’n’Blue, Space Cadets, Switchblade). This time it sounds like a real solo album. Does it change something in your approach?
Mouse Zinn — Im now 27 years onwards from my 1st Red Hot n Blue recordings back in 1983. And in that time I’e always been part of a group as such, so now I see myself as an artist who would more prefer to have a solo part to my reportoir, and also do the shows with the Space Cadets. lets see how it pans out, but the future could be very strange on the rockin scene, and who knows, I may even be asked to do my Red Hot n Blue songs 20 years from now when I’m in my mid-60s, you just never know. so at the moment im focusing on this new solo thing and getting my 1st solo album out for xmas/new year.

Can you tell us about the songs we’ll find on the plater? What kind of music, styles, songs etc…
Mouse Zinn — First of all, “vigilante Man” is an album of covers, I didnt want to write songs for this album, its a collection of some of my favorite songs that I’ve put my own stamp on and have wanted to record for a long long time. im almost finished recording it now and its sounding great and, at last, all of them ideas of the last 10 years are coming to fruit, its sounding really really good. its basically a country album with rock-a-billy elements and rockin rhythms inthe 50s style that i like. theres songs of war, death, sorrow, gunfights, vigilante men, its all dark and has a message to say, its a really thought out album which has taken most of this summer to record and plan. its all been recorded at my good friend Ricky Lee Brawns recording service in Luton, Valvemobile Studios (rickys home) all recroded on old microphones, mixing descks and machines. Ive also had 3 different band line ups to give the album a different feel thoughout. weve got fiddles, banjos, accordians, mandolins, drums, bass, electric guitar all sorts of differnt things going on. and…ITS ALL BEEN RECORDED LIVE!!! no drop-inns, no overdubs, nothing. what you will hear on vigilante man is acomplete 15 songs recorded in a room, just the way they used to do it, once the songs over, THATS IT!!,.. its done and nothings added nor taken away, it is a true LIVE album, my first EVER!! if we didnt get the right take , we’d do it again, and agian and so on till we got the right take. Im really happy with the album so far…really happy!!

Who played with you on this sessions?
Mouse Zinn — Playing on the new album is a lot of different musicians that I’ve admired from a distance for a long while and always wanted to record with them in some way, so the solo album gave me this chance to get them together just for the recordings. The first 4 recordings were done with the Union Canal String Band, a local Luton Bluegrass outfit who I heard busking at the Hot Rod Hayride in 2009, since then i wanted to do some bluegrass/country numbers and the guys very niceley agreed to come record at Rickys Valvemobile studio in Luton. so, the first four songs comprise of Jamie Mockbridge-banjo/accordian, Jimbo Alpin-Rhythm Guitar/Harmonica, Dan Robinson-Bass and Jon Rickards-Mandolin /Fiddle.
The 2nd line up I wanted a more rockin approach on so I asked 3 old pal from around the scene to come to Luton to do 6 songs, on this line-up was Paul Gaskin-Lead guitar, Ian ‘Dollar bill’ Bowerman-Drums and Kevin Klump-bass.
In the next 10 days I’ve got 5 more songs to do to finish the album, and my final muicians are going to be some of my fave guys at the moment, some fresh blood and an old man you can say! it will be, Ricky Lee Brawn-drums, Darren Lince from Jack Rabbit Slim on Lead Guitar, Dazza from Slim Slip and the Sliders on Bass, and a final addition will be Daniel Jeanrenauld on lead guitar who will play lead guitar on a track he wrote called “Its Gonna Rain”. The whole album is produced by Ricky Lee Brawn at Valvemobile studio in Luton, England.

Where does the name “Vigilante Man” come from by the way?
Mouse Zinn — Vigilante Man is the title of the album and its an old Woody Guthrie tune I’ve always loved and it just seemed right to call the album Vigilante Man as its a solo album and it fits!

Do you have a label or will you revive Zinn to release it?
Mouse Zinn — At the moment I’m trying to ‘pimp’ the album around to labels to see who’s interested in putting it out, so far I’ve asked Rollin Records U.K, Rhythm Bomb records Germany and El Toro Records in Spain, at the moment nobody has given me a concrete yes as the albums not finished yet so they havent heard the final ‘cut’ and wont do till Oct/Nov this year. Anyhow, if nobody wants it I will do it myself, ive had experience with releasing records and know the market well, so I wont hesitate in putting it out if nobody wants it. I had it before in the early 90s, i tried everybody to ‘pimp’ out the lp “Hey There Man” by Red Hot n Blue, NOBODY wanted it, I had Faith in it and put it out myself and sold 1000s of copies, and I’ll do the same with this if I have too. One way or another, “Vigilante Man” WILL BE OUT by December 2010/January 2011 the latest! Probably on my own ZINN label.

Do you have something to add about it?
Mouse Zinn — Im looking forward to the release of Vigilante Man, looking forward to 2011 and another year of rockin, looking forward to all the all-dayers and weekenders im all-raedy booked at as a DJ (which is very busy)..looking forward to doing shows with the Domestic Bumblebees for a year, looking forward to recording a brand new Space Cadet album next autumn, and then in 2012, looking forward to re-froming the Space Cadets for our first shows in two and a half years. we will have a busy 2012 for sure!!! So, still so much to do and much fun to have, you have to enjoy what you do more than anything. NEVER think its work, its always been fun for me, thats why i keep doing it year in and year out! KEEP IT REAL, KEEP IT FUN!!!

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