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The Shadowmen

The Shadowmen - True Love Highway - Rhythm Bomb
The Shadowmen – True Love Highway – Rhythm Bomb

The Shadowmen – True Love Highway

Rhythm Bomb RBR 5785 [2014]
Revenoorman – Sleep Rock-A-Roll Rock-A-Baby – Aint That A Dilly – Rebound – Oh Sally – True Love Highway – Warm Love – Baby’s Gone – See It My Way – Poor Boy Blues – Cant Find The Door Knob – Don’t Mean Maybe, Baby – Have A Ball – Love Bug – Kitty Kat – Baby We’re Trough

The Shadowmen are a five-piece band from Albuquerque and “True Love Highway” is their debut album. This excellent piece of music is sure to make the delight of 50’s sounding rockabilly lovers, espacially those who dig the Texas style of Alvis Wayne, George Jones, Sid King or Buddy Holly.
Their originals, 6 out of 16 songs, are solid and don’t detract from the very well chosen covers. Their main singer, Josh Garcia, can easily switch from hillbilly to hot rockabilly and his hiccups, unlike too many singers, don’t sound like a gimmick. Lead guitarist Tom Sanderson plays tasty licks and one can hear the influences of the greats like Hal Harris or Hank Garland. Jeremy McDonald is the band’s second singer and sings harmonies on their hillbilly number and Jimmy and Johnny influenced stuff. He also engineered the recordings and a special kudos must be given to his excellent work. You’d never believe it’s been recorded in 2014 but think of the Gold Star studio in the second half of the 50’s instead. The mix is clear and it allows you to hear and appreciate each instrument and musicians (too often modern bands think that “authentic” means “muddy”).
Really looking forward their nexty efort.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale


wheelsfargoWheels Fargo and the Nightingale – At the Hayride

Part Records {2014}
Intro – Love Me To Pieces – Hogtied Over You – My Hillbilly Boys – It Makes No Difference Now – It’s My Lazy Day – I’m Talkin’, Walkin’ – Jealous Heart – Ugly And Slouchy – Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor – Keep Your Hands Away – Juke Box Blues – Divorce Me COD – Pistol Packin’ Mama – The Christmas Presents’ Blues – Lookin’ At The Moon – Lone Gone Lonesome Blues – Rocky Road Blues – Loose Talk – Bo Weavil

Despite its name “At the Hayride” is not a live recording but a solid 20-song studio album.
Though I wasn’t totally seduced by their previous effort, I must say that this one marks a big improvement. With a full array of stringed instruments (mandolin, banjo, fiddle, steel guitar, guitar…) they rip through a set of Maddox Brothers and Rose influenced stuff with bluegrass, a bit of  honky tonk and some western swing and rockabilly thrown in for good measure. A fine cocktail if there was one.
Antonella – aka the Nightingale – takes the lion’s share of the lead vocals with her fiery, confident and powerful voice, but there’s also some male lead vocals, a couple of duets and some fine harmonies one can expect from such a record.
The musicianship is solid too and they have a secret weapon with Matteo Ringressi who can play most of the aforementioned instruments and take all the lead parts but the electric guitar.
I just regret they didn’t include more original material for their three self-penned songs are very good with a special mention to Christmas Present Blues.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale - Songs of Calico
Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale – Songs of Calico

Wheels Fargo and the Nightingale – Songs of Calico

Part Records [2011]
Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow – House Of The Rising Sun – Victorian Lady – Night Train To Memphis – Down Down Down – Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Cotton Fields – Foot Prints In The Snow – Rocky Top – Crazy Arms – Calico – The Auctioneer – Molly And Tenbrooks – T For Texas – Littlie Maggie – I Hate My Neighbor

This Italian band defines itself as “the ultimate rocking bluegrass string band” and, guess what, this is exactly what you’ll find on this platter..
The songs come from the catalogs of Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, the Stanley Brothers and so on. As you can see we’re in well known territory and a little bit more originality in the choice of the songs would have been better. In addition to these covers, Antonella, the lead singer, has penned three songs.
It’s very well played and sung (though the Italian accent could be disturbing at times, but let’s say it adds to the charm) but lacks of that little extra something that makes the difference between average and good records. It’s too bad because their originals are quite good, especially I Hate My Neighbors, and a full album like that would have been far more superior.

.Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Ruby Ann


ruby ann - run wildRuby Ann – Running Wild

Rhythm Bomb Records – RBR 5752 [2014]
One More Time – Half past Crazy – You Gotta Pay – Always Gone – Anytime – Have A Heart – Bossman – Same Thing – Heartless Man – Watchdog – Got The Feeling – Run Wild
Oh my soul! With the release of “Running Wild”, Portuguese songstress Ruby Ann has entered the very close club of the great singers (in which she’s in very good company with Deke Dickerson, Big Sandy…). Recorded in Chicago at Hi-Style studio by Alex Hall (who also plays piano) it gathers an impressive cast of musicians: Beau Sample (double bass), Patrick Morrow (drums), Bill Pekara (guitar), Joel Paterson (guitar and harmonica), Eddie Clendening (guitar), Josh Bell (sax) and Sophia Wolff (backing vocals).
It features some well chosen covers and a couple of originals tailor-made for the singer from the pens of Big Sandy, Mark Winchester (Planet Rockers, Brian Setzer) and Ken Mottet.
As Big Sandy puts it in his introduction, this twelve-song effort showcases Ruby Ann’s incredible versatility. Whether it’s a country tinged song or a soulful ballad, a rock’n’roll or a British blues invasion number (Anytime by Riot Squad) she’s always on top. Not only she can sing anything (I’d bet she could sing the phone book and make it sound hot) but she has the rare capacity to make covers that sound as if they had been written specifically for her.
In that, she’s very similar to Marti Brom (another permanent member of the “greats” club) who can easily go from All I Can Do Is Cry to I Go To Sleep without effort.
Highly, highly recommended (and let me add one more highly just for the superbly designed digipack.)

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Billie and the Kids – Jukebox Daddy

billie-and-the-kids-jukebox-daddyRhythm Bomb Records – RBR 5757 [2014]
Scorched – Your First Kiss – Bumble Bee – Jukebox Daddy – Blueprint Of My Heart – Maybe – It’s Wrong – How Can You Leave A Man Like This – I’ve Got A Feelin’ – Lonely Days – Come On and Fool Around With Me – You’re Gonna Be Sorry – Need You Tonight – Your Love – Tough – I’m Wise – I Thought I Told You Not To Tell ’em

I realised that this one was on my list of record to review for quite a long time and I quickly put it in the player. After a few bars of the first song I thought I had made a mistake, the sound I hear didn’t match the picture I saw on the booklet. How could a strong and “black” voice like that come from such a young and frail lady? I double checked, pinched me (one never knows) but I soon had to admit the reality: Billie & the Kids don’t come from New Orleans but from Zagreb, Croatia and Jukebox Daddy has not been recorded for Savoy or Modern in the fifties but for Rhythm Bomb in 2013.
These boys (piano, guitar, double bass, drums and three saxes as well as a couple of guests) and girl nailed the sound of their favourite records (Etta James, Ruth Brown, Varetta Dillard) perfectly and make it sound natural. It’s due to their musicianship and ease, but mostly to their ten originals penned by Jurica Stelma, the band’s bassist that include ballads, boppers, jumpers and some latin too.
Don’t miss it.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Lucky 13


lucky-13-come-back-home-cdLucky 13 – Come Back Home

Part Records PART-CD 6111.001 [2014]
Black Slacks – Moonshine – Jungle Fever – You Are My Destiny – Come Back Home – Bad Girl – Get Off The Road – 44 – Maniac Babe – Bad Reputation – Purple Flames And The Lost 13 – Wish You Were Dead – The Cats – Far Far Away – In The Moon For You – Tough Guys – 44 (acoustic version) – In The Bar – Liar – Happy End.

Lucky 13 are a hot rockin’ trio centered around the charismatic personnalities of Ed Mind on guitar and Ani Romance on electric bass with, on this platter, either Jimmy Cash or or Lance Matthyssen on drums. Both Romance and Mind write solid originals and sing which brings a lot of variety in term of sound and style.
The songs gathered on “Come Back Home” have been recorded over a period that goes from 1998 to 2012.
Their music takes its roots in the rockabilly of the fifties and goes as far as Psychobilly in the style of the Anagram era of the Meteors with everything cool in between. You’ll find some rompin’ instrumentals, 60’s Girl bands stuff (Paul Anka’s You are My Destiny excellently sung by Romance), 80’s neo-Rockabilly (a superb cover of Red Hot’n’Blue’s Bad Girl or Moonshine that many of us discovered on the Deltas debut album), and some darker stuff reminiscent of the Cramps or Empress of Fur (and their bass palyer can stand proudly next to Candy Del Mar, Ivy Poison or Venus Raygunn in term of “girl with a bad attitude”.)
If you like real rockin’ music and don’t aim for a purist sound, and dig the bands mentionned above, be sure to grab a copy of this platter.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Gone Hepsville



Gone Hepsville – Lotsa Rhythm

Rhythm Bomb records RBR5770
Lotsa Rhythm – Hip As I Can Be – Lazy Town – She Won’t Shut Up – The Jump – Born 15 Minutes Late – I’m Gone Hepsville – I Ain’t Crazy – Fake Out – 3am Romance – Sweet Defeat – Surrendered – Rockin’ Bug – When Mister Woogie Beats The Boogie – Hepsville Stroll – Trix On Trixon – True Fine Mama That Loves Me – I’m In Flames

Gone Hepsville is a six piece band – that also goes under the name of the Fireballs – and they comes from the Czech Republic. They play good old Rock’n’roll with a very traditionnal sound (it’s been recorded at Lightning Recorders in Berlin by Axel Praefcke) in the style of Bill Haley, the Treniers, Freddie Bell or closer to us the Big Six.
All songs are band’s originals and they’re pretty well done. The double horn attack of Petr Janovský (tenor sax), and Pavel Zlámal (baritone sax) take no prisonners and are the real engine of the band. Behind them the rhythm section, with piano, is super tight (powerful slap bass and swingin drums). Both Petr Pospíšil (upright bass, ) and Pavel Štursa (guitar) sing lead which brings a lot of variety to the setlist as do the instrumental tracks.
This is the kind of music that talks directly to your feet and is sure to make you jump, bop and rock.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis