Buddy Lee – Let’s Rock Tonight
Self released 
Let’s Rock Tonight – Careful Baby – Digging A Hole To Bury My Heart – Don’t Be Gone Long – Hip Shaking Mama – Long Blonde Hair – Everybody’s Loving My Baby – Pepper Hot Baby – If I Had Me A Woman – I’ll Cry Instead – Here COmes That Train – Gone Gone Gone – Have Myself A Ball – My Baby Don’t Rock – Ugly & Slouchy – Rock All Night
Buddy Lee is none other than Buddy Dughi, whom we know for his solo albums and his band, the Hot Rod Trio. He is accompanied here, as usual, by his wife Suzy Q on double bass and the faithful Pete Bonny on drums (both also play in the Hot Rot Trio, and Bonny and Dughi played together in the Rockits in 1988). A fourth member, Kevin Bullat, completes the band on steel guitar.
Let’s Rock Tonight! is made of sixteen covers ranging from classics such as Long Blonde Hair, Gone Gone Gone, and If Had Me A Woman, as well as less common tracks. There is also a cover of the Beatles’ I’ll Cry Instead, which is unsurprising because this track has a solid Rockabilly structure and shows that the Fab Four knew their roots. This song has been covered many times by Rockabilly bands, whether it’s the Polecats, Stringbeans or the Nitros, and before them by Joe Cocker in a fantastic version (go and have a listen, you’ll thank me).
Buddy Lee achieves a real tour de force with this album, remaining both faithful to the original versions while appropriating them, ultimately giving a very personal album.
If Buddy Lee covers these songs, it is with sincere love. He does not transform them into something they are not. It is this same approach that guides the instrumentation. The take-off guitar is clear, precise and inventive, the double bass propels everything up, and the drums remain discreet: there’s no doubt it’s a Rockabilly album.
The addition of steel is a great idea. It not only refers to the early years of the genre – think of the beginnings of Carl Perkins or Charlie Feathers – it also adds a second solo instrument and echoes the vocals in a subtle call-and-answer arrangement. Let’s talk about this voice, an authentic Rockabilly voice with hiccups and tremolo. Sometimes it sounds a bit like a hillbilly version of Levi Dexter.
So it is not by attacking the deep form of the songs, which would be too easy, that Buddy Lee appropriates them, but rather by his personality (his voice, his guitar playing), his talent and his respect. As the veteran that he is (I hope he won’t blame me for the term), Buddy seems to know these tunes so well and understand them that he knows where to place subtle variations and how to play with them so that, eventually, they become Buddy Lee/Buddy Dughi tracks.
If you add to that an excellent band, you get a more than recommendable album!
Fred “Virgil” Turgis