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D.D. Kid Combo

in Reviews
DD Kid Combo
DD Kid Combo

D.D. Kid Combo

Martin’s Garage ‎– STR-MGV-005 [2017]
Bad Luck Baby / Goodbye Baby

Coming from Martin’s Garage the label that gave us the excellent Star Time Playboys, here comes the D.D. kid Combo.
How do you like your blues? If you like it wild, mean, dirty and raw, if you like Hound Dog Taylor or modern artists like Pat Capocci, jump on this brilliant single (by the way, two songs are way too short).
With a full frontal attack of DD Kid’s guitar aptly supported by a excellent slide, an acoustic guitar and drums, these guys take no prisonners.
There’s quite a few excellent rockin’ blues combo on the scene right now, and judging by this single, DD Kid Combo are at the very top; I’m eagerly waiting for more stuff from this band.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Juke Joint Cruisers

in Albums/Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews
The Juke Joint Cruisers - s/t
The Juke Joint Cruisers – s/t

The Juke Joint Cruisers – s/t

Juke Joint Records
Hot Rod Guy – Juke Joint Jumpin’ – Nagging, Nagging – Road King – Tore Up – Diamond Ring – Your Love – Rhythm Rustler – The Last Petal – Latina Tina

The Juke Joint Cruisers come from Colorado and they are Randy Watson (guitar and lead vocals), Mike Boyce (double bass and lead vocals) and Lee Lippstrew (drums). This is their debut album and it’s been entirely recorded live which is the best way in my opinion to record this music. Produced and recorded by the band It’s a very solid album, featuring all original material. They have the good idea to keep it short (10 songs and 30 minutes), which avoids the temptation to include second choice material. All the songs here are first rate and varied. It also takes you back to the good old vinyl days a feeling reinforced by the Side A and Side B on the back cover. Their sound mixes rockabilly with rockin’ blues and the result is sure to appeal to fans of Lee Rocker, the Nervous Fellas and most of all the early Paladins. In addition you’ll also find more country oriented stuff like “Nagging, Nagging ”, latin beat (Latina Tina) and a Chuck Berry meets Link Wray and Duane Eddy instrumental (Rhythm Rustlers). No rockin’ album would be complete without a rockaballad and Boyce’s The Last Petal perfectly fills this void.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Joel Paterson

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews

joelpaterson2Joel Paterson – Handful of Strings

Ventrella
Speedin’ North – Twin Guitar Shuffle – Pensacola Rhythm – After You’ve Gone – Swingin’ Easy – Northern Gentleman – Callin’ the Cat – La Paloma – Flyin’ Low – Seven String Ride – Blue Steel Serenade – Mable’s Rock – Fender Freeze – King Freddie’s Blues

One thing is certain: Joel Paterson is a man of taste. So, when he decides to record an all instrumental album on which he plays all the instruments (he’s also a man of many talents) it doesn’t sound like all those sterile records that too often sound like a guitar method. He draws influences from all the guitar greats. The more obvious here being Les Paul and Buddy Merrill but it covers a wide spectrum of genre from the Jimmy Bryant tinged “Pensacola Rhythm” to the funky tribute to freddie King (King Freddie Blues) with jazz, rock’n’roll and plenty of Joel Paterson in between. And as usual with Ventrella the package is superbly designed. Highly recommended.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes

in Reviews
Nico Duportal & his Rhythm Dudes - Dealing with my blues
Nico Duportal & his Rhythm Dudes – Dealing with my blues

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes – Dealing with my blues

Rhythm Bomb Records ‎– RBR5844 [2016]
Don’t You See – I Know The Rules – Now Hush – The One To Blame – I Will Unfriend You – Mess And Chaos – Benzola Ascensor – Sometimes – Brand New Day – Junior’s Mambo – Soul Patch – Long Way To Go – Mess And Chaos (Acoustic Bonus Track)

Nico Duportal,French ace guitar player and singer, is not the kind of guy to rest on his laurels. One year after the excellent Guitar Player (that I hope you all own) he releases a brand-new platter that is even better. Once again, the Rhythm Dudes (Pascal Mucci on drums, Alex Bertein on baritone, Thibault Chopin on upright bass, Sylvain Téjérizo on tenor and Olivier Cantrelle on piano and organ.) are here to provide the perfect background to let the many talents of mister Duportal shine.

While his previous album was almost 100% rhythm’n’blues, “Dealing With My Blues” expands his musical horizons and shows the influence of many other genres, including a heavy dose of Soul with, terrific idea, the use of an organ (and if you like Jimmie Va. There’s someTilt a Whirl band, you’ll be delighted) Mambo too with Junior’s mambo penned by  Tim Lelegems ex-Fried Bourbon and Shakedown Tim and the Rhythm Revue, a band recently produced by Duportal. There’s also a bit of of surf (Soul Patch), a hint of Calypso (the One to Blame) and more modern things like Mess and Chaos (that Don Cavalli co-wrote) that shows that Duportal is not a “revival” guy and that his music is not a piece of museum.

All songs are originals mostly penned by Duportal but bass player Thibault Chopin composed two (and co-wrote another). In addition to Junior’s Mambo Tim Lelegems co-wrote I will Unfriend You (facebook friends beware!) and last but not least French blues legend Benoit Blue Boys penned Benzola Ascensor an instrumental on which he also plays harmonic (by the way Nico will appear on Benoit Blue Boy’s forthcoming album, a tribute to French Rock’n’rollers of the of the fifties like Mac Cak.)

Buy it here or if you order from France here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes - Guitar Player
Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes – Guitar Player

Nico Duportal and his Rhythm Dudes – Guitar Player

Rhythm Bomb Records  – RBR5800 [2015]
When I’m Gone – Lost In The Game – Polish Woman – Oh Baby – Can’t Afford To Lose Her – She Knows How – Real Good Lovin’ Tonight – Big Mary’s – Guitar Player – Oh Oh – Josh & Slim – Much Later – Polish Woman (bonus track, unreleased version)

If you dig 50’s black rhythm’n’blues, stop what you’re doing right now and run to your local record shop – if it still exists – or go to Rhythm Bomb’s website to buy Nico Duportal’s amazing fourth album. When you listen to it, you’d swear that someone has unearthed a lost recording made for Peacock or Specialty and put it on cd.
The last time I had the same level of enthusiasm for a similar artist was at the turn of the millenium when I listened to Nick Curran’s debut album.
Like Curran, Duportal has the whole package: the voice, a guitar style in which one can hear the influences of Tiny Grimes, T. Bone Walker, Gatemouth Brown and Johnny Guitar Watson and the songs (and he even has the look!). Six out of 12 are originals he wrote or co-wrote and double bass player Thibaut Chopin wrote another one. The cover are well selected coming from the catalog of Jackie Brenston, Titus Turner, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Eddie Bo.
One word has to be said about the Rhythm Dudes without whom this album wouldn’t be such a success. The rhythm section (Olivier Cantrelle on piano, Pascal Mucci on drums and Chopin on bass) keeps a steady beat whith precision and swing (yes, both!) while the horns (Alex Bertein on baritone saxophone and Arnaud Desprez on tenor) are groovy, juicy and hot.
A must have.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Cow Cow Boogie – Somewhere Down The Line

in Reviews

cowcowboogieRhythm Bomb
Somewhere Down The Line – Home Cookin’ – Cash On The Barrelhead – Track 49 – Steam Heat – Rain – Sleep With One Eye Open – Ain’t No Friend Of Mine – Love To Live – Heart Stays Broken – Wild – She’ll Be Gone – Caravan

The world needs more band like Cow Cow Boogie. Why? Because they are cool, but even more important they don’t seem to care about boundaries . Led by the powerful voice of Deborah their lead singer, the band blends together elements of different styles and make them work to create their own distinctive sound by merging a blues harp, a rockabilly guitar, a western swing steel and a predominant slap bass. Their drummer adds his own touch by playing shuffles with brushes, drum rolls ala Fever or banging his tom toms like a wild papoose.
In the end, the songs range from blues with a hillbilly beat to rockabilly with a blues feel and all the combination allowed by this line-up with a touch of jazz and some 60’s girl groups  feel thrown in for good measure.
Definitely cool!

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Red Hot’n’Blue

in Stories

The Red Hot’n’Blue story – part 1

The first half of the eighties was an exciting time for rock’n’roll in Great Britain. Rockin’ music saw a new life in the charts, young bands like The Meteors, The Ricochets and the Deltas were experiencing new sounds, taking good old rockabilly in a whole new direction. The Polecats and Restless were there too, making releases that would later be described as Neo-rockabilly.
Then in the wake of the Stargazers a bunch of new bands prefered a more traditionnal sound (paving the way to the « authentic rockabilly » movement of the late 80’s). Among this bands some of the best were the Riverside Trio (rockabilly-hillbilly-blues), the Krewmen (blues with Carl Sonny Leyland), the Blue Rhythm Boys (rockabilly – rockin’ blues) and the one we’re going to talk about in this article:  Red Hot’n’Blue.

by Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Thanks a million to Kevin Ellis, Ashley Kingman and Mouse for their help.

In the begining

It all started in 1982 when Mouse Zihni’s ex-girlfriend phoned to tell him that her current boyfriend Dave Bourne who played drums was looking for a singer to start a band. She remembered they both used to go to East Croydon Railway Club where Mouse would sing with the local band and that he had a good voice. At the time his favorite singers were Gene Vincent, Tommy Steele, Billy Fury and later Louis Jordan and Big Joe Turner.
A meeting was arranged for a rehearsal and Mouse met the rest of the soon-to-be band, Dave’s twin brother Andy on bass and Sam Crabtree on guitar, in a cellar near Emerson Street where Crabtree worked during the day. The rehearsal went well and a few weeks later he was asked to join the band full time.
They worked a lot, playing covers of the club hits. They gradually started to gig in the South London clubs but didn’t really go anywhere. According to Mouse “Sam didnt want to do new songs, he was happy to cover the songs he knew and that was that, so thats what we did, we were a cover band doing songs from the 50s. it was small time fun and got me some much needed money“.

One night Mouse met guitarist Ashley Kingman who was not totally a stranger to the still unnamed quartet: Sam Crabtree sold him his first guitar and Dave and Andy were in the same school though a bit older. “I met Mouse in the toilet of the Castle pub, they used to have a regular monday DJ there. I seen Mouse with Red Hot n Blue, dug the show and told him I played guitar and was looking to join a band.” recalls the guitar player. They already had a good guitar player but after some debating he was asked to join on rhythm”.
Having played with local combos like The Outer Limits (a psychobilly band) and Dr Muscle Brain Valves, a blues trio with drums, guitar and harp/vocals it wasn’t Kingman’s first band. For the story the drummer in both bands was Gary Bonniface, who later went on to form the Vibes.

The newly formed quintet still needed a name. That’s when Mouse came with Red Hot’n’Blue, a tribute to Dewey Phillips’ radio show, the first one to play Elvis Presley records on air.
But not long after that Crabtree left the band to join the Blue Rhythm Boys “They were doing well and he just wanted the fast train out rather than take the slow train with us” remembers Mouse. After his stint with Paul Ansell’s band Crabtree went on to form Cat Talk. Without lead guitarist the band couldn’t go on. They stopped gigging for about six months but didn’t stop working. They were hard at writing original material (including the future club hit “Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes” and Ashley spent this time to move from rhythm to lead. At this time the band rehearsed in the music shop where Ashley worked.

Red Hot’n’Blue - First publicity photo - Summer 1984 - Dave, Ashley, Andy & Mouse
Red Hot’n’Blue – first publicity photo – Summer 1984 – Dave, Ashley, Andy & Mouse

Introducing Ray Frensham and Northwood Records

When they felt ready they started gigging again and from this moment things moved quickly. Red Hot’n’Blue appeared at the weekender on the Isle of White and that lead to more shows in Europe and up and down the UK and gained the attention of Ray Frensham of Northwood record. He had the project of a compilation album and asked the band to record some songs for it. They agreed and, wanting to expend their sound, asked saxman Kevin Ellis to guest on the recording. Ellis was a well trained musicians being a member of Clive Osborne and the Clearnotes for two years.
So on November 3rd, 1984 Red Hot’n’Blue headed to University of East Anglia for their first recording session produced by Peter Davenport of Stargazers fame. Three songs were cut that day. “Get Back on that Train” written by Andy, “I wanna tell you that I love you baby” and “So Lonely On My Own” both from the pen of the team Kingman/Zihni. Two of them (“Get Back…” and “I Wanna tell you…” ) were released in June 1985 on the compilation album ”Big Noise From Northwood”. The other bands featured on that comp were the Sprites (French rockabilly band influenced by Gene Vincent), The Slingshots, Peter Davenport in full Bill Haley/Jodimars mode with the Roof Raisers and the Riverside Trio. The remaining third track “So Lonely On My Own” would later appear on the band’s debut album. Years later an early version of “It’s My Lucky Day” surfaced and have probably been recorded during the same session as it clearly shows Davenport’s influence.

Big Noise From Northwood” (Northwood NWLP 1002) received good reviews and Ray Frensham started to consider the possibility of recording a long player with Red Hot’n’Blue. With Kevin now a full time member (since December 1984) the young rockabilly band that played cover has mutated into a tight rockin’- rockabilly – jump blues outfit and was in high demand and appeared in all-dayers in UK and Europe, appearing on stage with the likes of The Jets, Red Hot, the Blue Rhythm Boys, the Keytones,the Riverside Trio, Rochee & the Sarnos and Johnny Powers whom they backed.

The Northwood Years

Red Hot’n’Blue , the classic line-up.
Red Hot’n’Blue , the classic line-up.

By 1985 Red Hot’n’Blue was getting more and more attention. More gigs were pouring in and with its popularity rising it was soon obvious that a full length album was the next step. “Ray frensham thought there was a buck to make out of us he signed us up for a album” jokes Ashley.
The summer of 1985 was spent gigging and rehearsing new material for the planned album and in August (19th -21th ) the band went to Alaska studios (just under Waterloo station) with Boz Boorer in the producer seat to record what would be “Wait’n’See”. Cut in three days it’s an extraordinary solid work for a debut album.

It features a majority of self penned songs – mostly by the pair Kingman-Zihni, but Andy co-wrote three songs and producer Boz Boorer contributed the title track – and only three covers (Yes I’m Gonna Love You, Dick Penner’s Move Baby Move and Myron Lee’s Aw C’mon Baby).
It covers a wide range of style : from boogie blues in a Slim Harpo style (Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes) to rockabilly (Clicketty Clack, Move Baby Move) a bit of jump blues (It’s My Lucky Day, Bad Girl), a jazzy ballad (So Lonely On My Own), a latin instrumental with a Django Reinhardt feel in the middle (Hey Gringo) and rockin’ blues in the best Chess Records tradition (Postman Blues with harp played by Little Paul (from the Blubberry Hellbellies) and the Diddley tinged Take A Walk Up The Apple Tree).

Wait'n'See - Northwood - 1986
Wait’n’See – Northwood – 1986

It was mostly recorded live with very few overdubs ( the guide vocals part were often kept).
Wait’n’See remains a good memory for all involved : “Most of it was cut live, then we took bits away and added different shit in its place. Amazing but kind of tedious and time consuming. Boz somehow pulled it into shape. I still think its a good record.” says Ashley. “It was good fun and I learnt a lot from it” remembers Kevin and Mouse adds “it was a happy affair and we did a cool job on it”. 15 songs in all were recorded, 13 ended on the album (the 14th track of the record, “So Lonely On My Own”, comes from the sessions made with Peter Davenport the previous November). The remaining two songs were “Without You” and a cover of Louis Jordan’s “Caldonia”. When you listen to it, it’s very close to “Wait’n’See” so it’s probably the reason why it didn’t end on the album. It finally got released on the compilation album “The Northwood Story” on NV Records in 1991.

Mixed in September and October by Boorer and Kingman, it was released in January 1986 and received rave reviews “When it came out it got a four out of five star rating in Record Mirror and other magazines of the day, even INXS only got a 3 star rating, how things changed!”. Red Hot’n’Blue toured to support the release and it sold very well though it seems that the band didn’t see a lot of money from that (same old story).

Red Hot’n’Blue in the streets of Bristol, 1986
Red Hot’n’Blue in the streets of Bristol, 1986

Even when they were headlining the all dayers, Red Hot’n’Blue kept busking a lot to earn some extra cash. One day while they were playing in the street of Camden, a man approached them, gave his card and told them to call him as he liked the band. The man was Trevor Horne from The Buggles who scored several hits as a producer with Grace Jones, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Art Of Noise… It was a big chance for the band to get a wider audience than the rock’n’roll circuit but it never happened. Mouse : “Ash told Ray Frensham and Ray was over the top and too pushy and Trevor backed off the situation. This was one of the stupid things that Ray did, and the first of many as far as I’m concerned, he could be a real wanker at times…” . For Kevin it was “very sad really because we were onto big things”.

From that moment, things started to decline “[We had] a good ride for about a year and then we kind of all started pulling against each other. We let Ray get wedges in between us and me and Mouse split from the twins.” recalls Ash. Ray didn’t want Dave and Andy in the band any longer and by April 1986 the twins were gone (“not a thing I enjoyed at all, I went along with it, but that was all” says Mouse). They were replaced by Stuart Simpson from the Slingshots on drums and Paul Diffen (Sugar Ray Ford and later Blue Cats) on double bass. Pat Reyford (Sugar Ray Ford too) also joined on alto sax. For Mouse “Ray was trying to run us and mould us into a jump jive sort of blues thing”.

Soon after the twins were gone, Red Hot’n’Blue entered in studio with the new line-up and a session piano player called Sir James (it seems that neither Ray Frensham nor Mouse remember his name). Boz Boorer was also present and added a second guitar on some recordings. The songs made were a reworking of “Sure Like the Look In Your Eyes”, “I Wanna Tell You That I Love You”, “Without You” and “Sad In My Heart”. The latter being a cover of The Man Upstairs that had it released on single on Sideline Records in 1985. The sound was definitely fuller but didn’t really fit Red Hot’n’Blue. Somewhere they had lost what made their specificity, their rocking edge, and Boz’s production this time was more “radio friendly”. This said the version of “Sure Like the Look In Your Eyes” recorded this day still stands well today. It was envisaged as a “cross over” single, backed with “Caldonia”, but it never materialized. This sides were reissued years later on Crazy Love record.

The new direction taken by the band didn’t really please them “It wasn’t what I wanted to do, I wanted to do rock n roll and blues not big band stuff, I liked it but didn’t really want to be in a big jump band” recalls the singer. It was also very hard, and costly, to take such a large band on the road and the twins weren’t too happy with the band using the name Red Hot’n’Blue. At the same time Mouse started to become a popular DJ on the London scene and slowly the excitement of the beginning started to fade away. For Ashley “it wasnt the same after the twins were gone.”. The relation with Ray Frensham weren’t that good too. There was money problems and it wasn’t long before the band and the label parted ways. The line-up changed again with Terry Clancy (Cat Talk / Scat Cat) joining on bass and John Day on second guitar but in the own word of Mouse “the band just ran out of steam and it came to a very quick final shortly after the weekender up in Southport at the end of 86.”.

To be continued

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