Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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2013

Haystack Hi-Tones (the)

in Albums/Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews
Haystack Hi-Tones - Rockin' Hall
Haystack Hi-Tones – Rockin’ Hall

The Haystack Hi-Tones – Rockin’ Hall

{2013}
Evil Train – Good & Lonesome – It’s Driving Me Crazy – One Sweet Letter From You – Rain Rain – Bo-Bo Ska Diddle Daddle – What A Lonesome Life It’s Been – The Joke’s On You – Leave My Baby Alone – Someday I Know He Will – I’m In A Whirl – Can I? – Hou Je Echt Nog Van Mij Rocking Billy – Rockin’ hall

When one thinks about the Netherland he often reduces this beautiful country to a serie of cliches like tulips, Amsterdam, canals, windmills and narrow boats which is partly true, but rock’n’roll fans are cleverer than that and know what the real treasure of this country is: hillbilly and rockabilly female singers. And they have good reasons to be proud with Miss Marie Ann (with or without the Ranch Girls), the Bugaloos, Lil Esther, Sue Moreno and… the Haystack Hi-Tones who return after an 11 year hiatus. It doesn’t mean they remained inactive, while Marjos kept on playing with the Hi Tones, Annita released two highly recommandable solo albums. But when you listen to this brand new album you can’t help but think that it would have been criminal not to reunite because oh boy, their voices blend so perfectly. This is top hillbilly harmonies with a hint of rockabilly played by a band that has nothing in mind but the pleasure to play. There’s a joie de vivre that sweats from every grooves (okay it’s a cd) of this album. Do you remember the old Esso ad that said “put a tiger in your tank”, with the Haystack Hi Tones you can put a smile (actually two) in you player. So, check the list: good singers, beautiful harmonies, great band, good choice of songs and icing on the cake superb package designed by Oh My Lucky Star. The only question is “What are you waiting for?”.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Rockats – Reviews

in Albums/Contemporary artists/R/Reviews
The Rockats - Rockin' Together
The Rockats – Rockin’ Together

The Rockats – Rockin’ Together

Lanark {2013}
Why The Doubt – Rockin’ Together – Bad Love – Road To Hell – Kitten With a Whip – Old Hickory Road – Pink and Black Cadillac – Reckless – Red Headed Rockin’ Gal – Sweet Sweet Charlotte – Tear The Roof Off – Why Do You Love Me.

For many young Rockabilly fans who, like me, discovered this music in the 80’s, Levi & the RockatsLive At the Louisiana Hayride and the RockatsLive at the Ritz were almost as important the Stray Cats debut album for their rockin’ education. They influenced countless bands (including a certain trio from Masapequa) and still continue today. So what was my surprise when I heard that after a 10 year hiatus the Rockats were back with a brand new studio album. Not a best-of, not a live, but 12 brand new sparkling songs written by the band (and their producer Quentin Jones who made a terrific job). And believe me cats, you should hide your kittens for this boys are still full of energy and they claws are sharper than ever.

Rockin’ Together” kicks off with “The Doubt” a superb modern rockabilly that sets the pace of the album: Dibbs’ vocal on top, solid guitars and rhythm section and top notch production. The title tracks lives to its name. “Why Do You Love Me (If I Don’t Treat You Right)” is a superb modern number that a strong commercial appeal without selling itself. Next is “The Road to Hell” a pure Rockabilly with an Elvis feel and featuring what Brian Setzer calls in his liner notes “the twin rockabilly guitar attack” of Barry Ryan and Danny Harvey.

Another highlight for the guitars is the surf tinged instrumental “Kitten with a Whip” penned by drummer Mike Osborn. With the next tune, they prove to be more than able on the honky tonk side with “ Olde Hickory Road ” featuring harmony vocal, piano and pedal steel effect on the guitar. They definitely should do more like this (actually you should try Dibbs’ solo album for more in that style). By comparison, Red Headed Rockin’ Gal is more on the blues side completed by finger snaps for that late 50’s rock’n’roll feel. You can find the same feel in Sweet Sweet Charlotte a rockaballad with echo not far from Gene Vincent.

Then the album ends with a string of three rockers. Starting with Tear the Roof Off (very appropriate name), going harder with “Bad Love” (not that far from a rockin’ Morrissey) and climaxing with the hot rocker ‘Reckless Rebel” again featuring strong guitar parts.

As a result, this is a great album and one thing is certain: the Rockats will continue to inspire many more bands!

More infos at www.lanarkrecords.net


The Rockats – Make That Move

RCA [1983]
Burning – One More Heartache – That’s the Way – Go Cat Wild – Never So Clever – Make That Move – Be Bop A Lula – Woman’s Wise

With Make that move the Rockats slowly departed from their neo-rockabilly sound to explore new territories. It was recorded in two sessions; the first one with Lewis King on drums for the title track and Marvin Gaye’s One More Heartache and the second with new drummer Mike Osborne. Both were produced by Mike Thorne of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love fame.

The result is a mix of all the things that influenced the band at the time. Never so Clever and their cover of Buzz and the Flyers Go Cat Wild are straight rockin’ tunes though with a modern sound. On the other hand That’s the Way (with keyboards) and One More Heartache have a strong new wave influence. And right between those two extremities you have Make That Move, a modern rocker with a catchy melody and the excellent Burnin’ that wouldn’t be out of place on Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell.
The cd reissue contains two bonus tracks recorded for the movie Where the Boys are.


the Rockats - Live at the Ritz
the Rockats – Live at the Ritz

The Rockats – Live at the Ritz

Island – ILPS 9626 [1981]
Rockin’ Baby – Rite Time – My Way – Go Kat Wild – (Don’t Treat Me Like A Dog) Love This Kat – Start Over Again – Krazy Baby – 50 Miles From Nowhere (A 1000 Miles From Home) – (Knockin’) At My Front Door – Wrong Rite Reason – Room To Rock – All Thru The Nite – I Wanna Bop

Signed to Island records, the next and natural move for the Rockats was to release a lp. After a failed attempt to capture their energy in studio, the label decided to record them in their natural environment: the stage. The result was Live at the Ritz, recorded, mixed and pressed in 48 hours. 
After an enthusiastic and drunken introduction by Billy Idol, the gang kicks off with Rockin’ Baby, a boppin’ rockabilly with fine Gallupin’ guitar. With the second song, Rite Time, the doubt is no longer possible: we are in 1981 not 1956. The Rockats don’t re-create, they totally make the genre their own by including elements of their era like Punk, as proved by their rendition of Cochran’s My Way, covering contemporary bands like Buzz and the Flyers (Go Kat Wild) and writing their own originals (All Thru The Nite; 50 Miles From Nowhere…).
Sure, their youthful exhuberance can sometimes lead to confusion but much to the chagrin of some purists, this bravado is closer to what Gene Vincent or Billy Lee Riley should sound on stage and despite some minor flaws the full platter is a neo-rockabilly rollercoaster. Culminating with the wild Krazy Baby, it contains just a few slower numbers to let you take your breath like the torrid Love this Kat (written by Bobby and Larson Paine who later wrote stuff for Brian Setzer and Stray Cats) and the bluesy Start All Over Again, quite close to the early Rolling Stones.
Listening to this album more than 30 years later, it is impossible not to aknowledge the huge influence the Rockats had on the whole rockin’ scene.
As the time of writing this it hadn’t, to my knowledge, been properly reissued on cd, except maybe in Japan.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Jackson Sloan & the Rhythmtones – The Shack Sessions

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S
Jackson Sloan - the Shack Sessions
Jackson Sloan – the Shack Sessions

Shellac Records {2013}
Don’t Run Away From My Love – Can’t Find A way – My Chance has Gone – Same Old Suit – Across The Border – I Forgot To remember – Kickin’ Up The Dust – Big talk – Small Town Girl – No No Don’t Do It – Why Don’t You Let Me Know – Ghost Train.

I’m always more than pleased to find a Jackson Sloan album in my mailbox. The Shack Sessions makes no exception, far from that, it’s the singer’s strongest effort to date (Rent Party and Oop Bop Sh’ Bam included) and his deep voice has never sounded so good. Coupled with his ability to write originals (all songs are from his pen) and that’s it, another killer.
It takes a few bars of “Don’t Run Away From My Love“, featuring the Metrotones on B-vox (they appear on three more) and hear Pete Cook (tenor) and Alex Bland (Baritone) trading licks to agree with me. If you don’t you must be dead, or at least lost for good music. Next are two more slices of juicy Rhythm’n’Blues. “Same Old Suit”  features Laura B. (who had a records by herself on El Toro, check it out) on duet. It is followed by “Across the Border” a latin tinged tune with a Fats Domino groove with West Weston on harmonica (who played with Sloan in Rent Party). “I Forgot to Remeber” is a fine ballad, but “Kickin’ Of Dust” changes the pace and rocks with the welcome addition of a steel guitar (more like that on the next album please!). “Small Town Girl” and  “Why Don’t You Let Me Know?” see the horn section augmented by Graeme Turner (Drifters, Big Town Playboys and the list goes on…) on alto and tenor and you’re in for some sax madness. With Sloan, you can be sure that Big Joe Turner is never very far and “Ghost Train” the last and best track of the Shack sessions, propelled by Dave Raven’s slap bass proves it with class.
Go to www.jacksonsloan.com to grab a copy of that little masterpiece.

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