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Big Beat Records

Hatchetmen (the)

When the Stargazers disbanded, Ricky Lee Brawn briefly joined the Chevalier Brothers (with Ray Gelato and Anders Janes). He was then invited to join the Tempo Toppers. The Tempo Toppers consisted of Dot on guitar, Tony Hilton on double bass, both from The Lone Stars who appeared on the James Dean of the Dole Queue compilation album. Tony also played with the Rimshots, not the Rockabilly/Hillbilly Bop band that features John Lewis. Ben (Morris?) was on vocals.

They rehearsed (at least once) with Lee Thompson (Madness sax player). Brawn left after a few months, and the band changed its name to the Hatchetmen. It then featured a bloke called Roy on drums, John Wallace (ex-Stargazers) on baritone and tenor saxophone and William Gibbs on tenor.
The sextet eventually recorded a mini-lp for Big Beat Records in 1985. Vic Keary produced it. His producers credits included Big Jay McNeely and Little Willie Littlefield’s Happy Pay Day (featuring John Wallace and Tony Hilton).

Strangely, the band’s high potential and the musicians’ quality didn’t show up in the final product. The repertoire is borrowed from Chuck Higgins, Amos Milburn, Peggy Lee, Louis Jordan and Good Lewis. But the songs lack vigour and energy and don’t swing much, which is a shame for this kind of music. In addition, the singer tends to do too much, and his interpretation is not very natural.
Vick Keary’s production doesn’t help, either. This brand of music begs for a warm sound, but the sound here is very modern, close to Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive, where a juicy brand of Rhythm‘n’Blues would be needed.
Nevertheless, it contains excellent and exciting moments, particularly some beautiful saxophone parts. Keary is also a saxophonist; you can hear it in how he puts the instrument forward. Dot is, as usual perfect, but her guitar is too buried in the mix to appreciate it fully.
After the band disbanded John Wallace kept on playing with numerous bands and eventually rejoined the Stargazers. Dot and Tony joined forces with James Hunter to form Howlin’ Wilf and the Vee-Jays in January 1986. Gibbs wrote a successful saxophone method for Mel Bay and now lives in Dubaï.
We’d be more than happy to hear from you, if you have more infos about Ben and Roy.

the Hatchetmen
Discography

Choppin’ Around
Big Beat Records NED 11 [1985]
Real Gone Hound Dog – Johnson’s Rag – Right Now – Why Don’t You Do Right – Pelican Jump – Deacon Jones

Hatchetmen (the)

Hatchetmen (the) – Choppin’ Around

Big Beat Records NED 11 [1985]
Real Gone Hound Dog – Johnson’s Rag – Right Now – Why Don’t You Do Right – Pelican Jump – Deacon Jones

hatchetmen

The Hatchetmen released this mini-album (six tracks) in 1985. The group consisted of six musicians (vocals, guitar, double bass, drums and two saxophones), including John Wallace (Stargazers) and Dot and Tony (Howlin’ Wilf and the Vee-Jays).
On paper, the combo promised to be exciting, but the potential of the group does not seem to be found on vinyl. The repertoire is borrowed from Chuck Higgins, Amos Milburn, Peggy Lee, Louis Jordan and Good Lewis. However, the songs drag and lack energy, and the singer tends to do too much.
In addition, the production of Vic Keary, who worked with Big Jay McNeely and Little Willie Littlefield, gives a very modern sound to the whole, closer to Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive than Rent Party, for example. In the end, there are still beautiful saxophone parts (Keary is also a saxophonist, and you can hear it in the way he puts the instrument forward), and Dot, who is always perfect, although too discreet. It’s not much.

Fred ”Virgil” Turgis

Sting Rays (the)

Sting Rays (the) – On Self Destruct

Sting Rays

Big Beat Records SW82 [1983]
Dinosaur – Math of trend / Another Cup Of Coffee – You’re Gonna Miss Me

With On Self Destruct, the Sting Rays released an impressive debut EP. What made their sound so peculiar was using a double bass to play Garage and Psychedelic influenced stuff. One could say that this single made the bridge between the early Psychobilly scene and the Garage scene. Dinosaurs opens with the Sting Ray theme played backwards then erupt into a wild form of Psychobilly, a bit like a raucous version of the Ricochets. The same can be said about Another Cup Of Coffee. Math Of Trend is Psychedelic with a dash of sixties pop. This excellent and essential piece of vinyl ends with a frantic cover of You’re Gonna Miss Me, the Thirteen Floor Elevator’s hit.

Debbie & Jackie

Bananamen (the)

Bananamen – The Crusher

Big Beat Records – NS 88 [1983]
The Crusher / Love Me – Surfin’ Bird

Though it was fairly easy to recognize the Meteors on the cover of the Clapham South Escalators single, the identity of the Bananamen was less obvious and more mysterious.
Here’s the story. In 1983, Ace Records released a reissue of a three-song single by the Bananamen. The Bananamen were supposedly a Minneapolis quartet that released this single in 1965 on Hava Banana records. The group was playing a noisy brand of trash, and one could see the direct influence on the Cramps. The use of a double-bass in their line-up was surprising and pretty unusual for the time. Except that… these songs were actually recorded in 1983, and instead of being from Minneapolis, the Bananamen were, in reality, the Sting Rays in disguise. I remember some reviews at the time writing that the Bananamen were so ahead of their times. There’s nothing like an excellent musical hoax. These songs later appeared on the CD compilation Single-Minded. But if you can, try to grab a copy of the original single. This music is meant for that.

Debbie & Jackie

The Blue Rhythm Boys

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Blue Rhythm Boys - At Last (wild records)
Blue Rhythm Boys – At Last (wild records)

Blue Rhythm Boys - At Last (Big Beat)
Blue Rhythm Boys – At Last (Big Beat)

The Blue Rhythm Boys – At Last

Big Beat CD WIK 105 {1992}
Wild Records {2010}
That’s The Stuff You Gotta Watch – I’ll Go Crazy – Person To Person – I’m Walkin’ – It Isn’t Right – Cajun Love Affair – Trace Of You – Crazy Mixed Up World – Ride ‘N’ Roll – Babe’s Comin’ Home – Mother Earth – I’ll Try – Hoochie Coochie Man – Come On Back – Wang Dang Doodle – Breathless – Blue Rhythm Boogie – Go Ahead On – Catfish

Wild records has the good idea to reissue this now hard to find jewel, first released in 1992 on Ace / Big Beat.

At Last“, seldom an album had a so perfectly suited title. This 19 songs album (15 on the 10” vinyl) fulfilled a wait of almost 10 years. Recorded live in one hectic 10 hour session it finally shows the Rhythms’ on a long distance and it was worth the wait.
The line-up has changed a bit since the EP. Ashley Kingman (Red Hot’n’Blue, Rockin’ Rocket 88 and now Big Sandy And His Fly Rite Boys) joined Ansell and Carlisle on second guitar while Matt Jackson (a gifted guitarist too) was on drums and Nick Gillroy on bass. They took advantage of this fuller line-up to delve into a more rhythm and blues/Chicago blues repertoire with songs by Willie Dixon, Fats Domino, Howlin Wolf, James Brown, Memphis Slim and Little Walter. They are often close to the originals (Hoochie Coochie Man, Wand Dang Doodle) while sometimes playing them in a rockin’ blues way (“The Stuff You Gotta Watch”). Conway Twitty’s I’ll Try is turned into a blues with pumping piano and soulful vocal from Ansell and a scorching guitar solo that make this song one of my favorite (if you’re interested). The frantic covers of Tommy Cassell’s Go Ahead On and Jerry Lee’s Breathless are here to remember us they started as a rockabilly band as do Ansell’s own “Come On Back” with another wild solo from Jim Carlisle (what a guitarist!). Another fave of mine is Cajun Love Affair with harp and some French lyrics to add the Louisiana flavor.If you like good rockin’ blues with a touch of rockabilly and soul here and there, put your hand on this one. All killer, no filler !

Available at Wild Records.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Blue Rhythm Boys - Northwood
Blue Rhythm Boys – Northwood

The Blue Rhythm Boys – Northwood ep

Northwood Records.-NWEP 101
Rollin & Tumblin/My Happiness/That don’t move me /Nobody but you

In the world, there are some enigmas which remain unexplained and others which find sometimes their resolution. But while waiting for this moment of “light”, the men think hard fantasise and seek placebos. For a long time the Elvis “My Happiness” version, the first recording of the future King for the Sun label remained a mystery, an “all the dreams” object for wild imagination of the whole wide world rockers. Was it possible to sense an already germinated hillbilly cat magic in this title? Even some suspicious people wondering whether this legendary Graal really existed until it was finally discovered and published for the first time ever.
But before this magic moment, a blue EP enabled us to have an idea of what this song was supposed to sound by a young Elvis. This mono recording Ep released back in the early eighties by the no longer alive british label Northwood had on his cover written in some large black capital letters framed by musical ranges what seems to be the name of the band : “The Blue Rhythm Boys”. But inside of that modest blue cover there was four tracks of pure rockabilly blues dynamite which included a presleyan “My Happiness” cover
Paul Ansell, the singer, for whom it was the first band, gives us an idea with his inhabited voice of what one dreamed being Elvis interpretation of that Betty Peterson and Borney Bergantine song. It was like holding in your hands the real one copy Sun single and being Indiana Jones listening to that relic of the past!!! It was for my part the first time that I heard a “so much fifties sounding” combo. The other tracks were “Rollin & Tumblin” (Muddy Waters), That don’t move me (Carl Perkins) and Nobody But You (Little Walter) and are real killers played by some of the finest british musicians of that era (Jim Carlisle – slide guitar, Allen Thow – bass and Jeff Tuck – drums). If you haven’t already lived that experiment and even if we all know today the Elvis “My Happiness” cover, it’s never too late to listen to what has become a rockabilly milestone for many rockers around the world.

David “Long Tall” Phisel