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el toro records

Aces (the)

Aces (the) – No One Rides For Free

the aces

El Toro ETCD 6044
You’re Gonna Loose – Stole Something From Me – Shed Some Light On Me – Knee Deep In Mud – Drinkin Song – Need Your Lovin’ – Down In The Cave – Mr Highway Man – House On The Hill – Kanka Kanka

If you believe that Eric Clapton is a blues god, well, nice to meet you and see you later. But if you like your blues raw, dirty, primitive, and threatening, the Aces are the band for you. With two guitars, drums, harmonica, and distorted vocals, this California (Santa Rosa) combo plays a lo-fi electric blues with a hypnotic beat that takes its roots in the likes of Hound Dog Taylor and RL Burnside. They add a good dose of garage with a “straight in your face” powerful wall of sound. Imagine if the Cramps had taken their main inspiration in Chicago blues instead of rockabilly. But enough of comparison they build their own sound, keeping things simple and effective, no flashy licks here or 20 minutes solos, but guitar player Derek Irving keeps things varied, playing slide guitar on some tunes and sitar on others, like on “Down On The Cave” with its “Smokestack Lightnin’” inspired riff.
It’s music with guts and sweat and, in the end, a truly great album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Rossella Scarlet

Rossella Scarlet & the Cold Cold Hearts – The Day Will Come

Rossella Scarlet

El Toro Records ET-15.128 [2019]
You Were So Blind – A Painting On the Wall – The Day Will Come – Wondering

Rossella Scarlet comes from Italy and is now living in London. She just released her debut ep on El Toro backed by the Cold Cold Hearts (I suspect the young lady to be a Hank Williams fan.) This terrific musical aggregation consists of Graham Murphy (Jump Cat Jump, Frantix) on guitar, Phil Morgan (Lynette Morgan & The Blackwater Valley Boys, Doel Brothers) on steel guitar, and Emma Goss (Sara Vista, Something Shocking) on double bass.
If you like classic country music straight from the late 40s/ early ’50s look no further, this ep is for you. Three songs are from the pen of Miss Scarlett, and Frankie Riedel wrote the fourth one (Wondering). So not only we have a pretty good singer with a vibrant voice but also a solid songwriter.
“You Were so Blind” is a superb hillbilly that has nothing to envy to Wayne Hancock. “A Painting on the Wall” is a soulful ballad with a haunting steel guitar. Though good, it could easily be one minute shorter to be more efficient.
B-side kicks off with “The Day Will Come,” another tune strongly-led by the double bass. Supported by a delicate guitar picking, “Wondering,” a duet with Phil Morgan, closes the set in beauty.

Mitch Woods

Mitch Woods Jukebox drive

Mitch Woods – Jukebox Drive

El Toro Records
Jukebox Drive – Drunk – Boppin’ The Boogie – Blue Light Boogie – Saturday Night Boogie Woogie Man – Blues Hangover – Boogie Woogie Bar-B-Q – Tipitina – Boom Boom – Parchman Farm – Swell Lookin’ Babe – Mitch’s Boogie

Piano player Mitch Woods has made quite a name on the blues/jump scene, releasing numerous albums. He also worked with legends such as John Lee Hooker and Earl King to name but two.

His touring led him to Europe where he stopped in Barcelona, Spain. There, he met one of the finest gang of blues and jump musicians : The Lazy Jumpers. Together they recorded these fine piece of jumpin’ blues, boogie woogie and juicy rhythm and blues.

Half of the 12 songs are Woods’originals, but if the credits weren’t written, you’d swear these are covers as they perfectly fit in the rest of the material. The general inspiration rangess from Louis Jordan to Jimmy Liggins, but you also find a straight blues number with Hooker’s Boom Boom (not very original idea of cover, but well played so… enjoy), a bit of rock’n’roll (the Little Richard inspired “Swell Lookin’ Babe“) and on the jazz side a solid six minute version Mose Allison’s Parchman Farm.

Another nice addition to El Toro Rhythm & Blues serie and one more evidence of the Lazy Jumpers’ talent.
Buy it here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Wise Guyz (the)

Wise Guyz

Wise Guyz (the) – Don’t Touch My Greasy hair [2011]

El Toro
Don’t Touch My Greasy hair – It’s Not Right – I’m A fool – Heat – Hey hey Little Chick – I’ve Kissed You baby – Jukebox Jumpin’ – Rock Me Baby – I wanna Be – Moonlight In The Dark – Kissin’ Is On My Mind – Really Rocket – Girls babies Chicks & Hunnies – Hold Me baby – Let’s Fly To The Stars – Love Me Or Leave me – Goodbye My Baby

This is the fourth album for the Wise Guyz. This quartet comes from Ukrain. The first listen makes clear that Johnny Burnette is an obvious influence for these guys. They try to vary things by bringing a sax on “Heat”and “Hold Me Bay” but it’s not very well exploited and fail to convince like their doo wop attempts (I’ve kissed You). The constant distortion on the voice is, at the end, very disturbing and I was curious after two songs to hear how the singer really sounded. Could he sing without that artifice? It’s only on the 15th song, a gentle ballad, that his “real” voice” could at last be heard. It proves that the band should really play more in this way.

Their originals are good, but far from being unforgettable, and once again I maintain that 17 songs are way too much for a rock’n’roll album , and after 8 songs they all sound more or less the same. Too many musicians forget that Rockabilly is mainly a music made for 45’s.

For fans of desperate rock’n’roll things.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Arsen Roulette


Arsen Roulette – The Lost Recordings

arsen roulette - the lost recordings

El Toro Records ETCD7000 [2005]

I Get Up – All Through The Nite – She Was My Baby – Boppin’ Lil Betty – Gone Crazy – Don’t Say Goodbye – At The Drugstore – Hop Up Honey – Tonight Tonight – Baby Likes To Rock And Roll – Jinx On Me (Demo) – 7 Lonely Nites, Days (Demo) – Spinin’ Around (Demo) – Lonely Blue Teardrops (Demo) – Gone Gone Gone (Demo)

Arsen Roulette, has just released an album on the Spanish label El Toro that gathers all his pieces recorded during 2003-2004.

This «Lost Recordings» album is hot, very very hot: it is likely to burn your CD player and set your boppin’ shoes on fire! Arsen is not the calm kind. This wild double bass player has tailored 15 cuts, alone and with friends. Among these friends, there is thee Rockin’ Lloyd Tripp who holds the lead guitar on most cuts. Also, on the titles recorded with the Ricochets, Arsen’s preceding band, is Matt Pavlovic. So you can be sure that you’re gonna find some «rockabilly weapons of massive destruction». As this is the case; it is definitely not rockabilly for queers or sissies! James Chance, the drummer, beats like a nutcase, the guitar groans, shouts whereas the double bass slaps and snaps. Arsen adores Jerry Lee, and in his work one finds the fever and the urgency of Killer. The first title “I Get Up” starts with the sound of the needle of a record player on an old vinyl with a piano sound à la Jerry Lee.

So after starting gently, the second piece All Through The Nite is gonna wake you up like a hundred cups of coffee bursting directly into your heart and your head! Be prepared because you won’t find any rest before At The Drugstore (the seventh cut!) and then back to your frenzy boppin’ with Hop Up Honey. The last five are almost all demos (the sound is not that good but the power is still here) except «Lonely Blue Tear Drops (an out take) a catchy rockabilly ballad that just thrills me so mean!
David “Long Tall” Phisel

Arsen Roulette – Let’s Get On With It

Arsen Roulette - Let's Get On With It

El Toro Records ETCD7001

Let’s Get On With It-Chance On Me-Messed Up-I Do For You-Shake It Around-Sounds That Charge-Bop Away Blues-Honky Tonk Alone-On The Prowl-Lovin’ On My Mind- Shake Loose-Strolling Back To You

Arsen Roulette’s “Lost Recordings” was already a pure dynamite rockabilly fuckin’ good album but what about Let’s Get On With It? An Atomic bomb would be the suitable expression so much the power of this El Toro Records produced album is huge with his 12 good penned and recorded songs by Arsen and his band on pre-1959 material and instuments.

Before their european tour, Arsen Roulette and the guys went on studio and signed an undeniable rockabilly success that got the fever to heat an ice-cold old maid. The band with some new Drugstore Romeos is made up of some of the best musicians: Mark Millard on drums, Alex Vargas from the Vargas Brothers on bass and last but not the least Matt Pavlovcic, the faithful young guitar wizard.

Be prepared for this rockabilly shock that grab you from the beginning with his eponymous track ‘till the very end. No fillers but only pure wild kick-ass mule rockabilly killers!

And don’t you ever think that I‘ve been paid by Arsen to say all that good about his album or that I want to thank him for using an extract of my previous review in his sleeve’s liner notes to do his first album promotion. If you do think so, The Long Tall will put a voodoo spell on you!!!

So if tonight you got “some lovin on your mind” but your baby says don’t “take a chance on me” and left you tellin’that she won’t be “strollin’ back to you” instead of being all “Messed up”or “on the prowl”, ready to “Honky tonk Alone” just remember that Arsen Roulette is a ready to share hepcat that will tell you “I do for you” some “Sounds That Charge” to “Bop Away The Blues” and “Shake it Around” till you ”Shake It Loose” so… “Let’s get on with him”

David “Long Tall” Phisel

Caroline Casey


Caroline Casey & her Stringslingers – This Broken Crown

Caroline Casey

ElToro ETCD3022

Caroline Casey is the second “half” of the Casey Sisters, a rock’n’roll-rockabilly band that released two albums on the Tail label. She makes her solo debut with this album on the Spanish label El Toro.

While her ex-partner in crime Lil’ Rachel chose a Rhythm’n’Blues way (check her two fantastic albums, also on ElToro), Caroline, backed by the always excellent Lazy Jumpers, offers here a fine late 50’s/early 60’s honky tonk/Bakersfield album full of steel guitar (and dobro too), fiddle, twangy guitars and country shuffles on which she wrote every songs but four. Her strong and powerfull (and beautiful) voice perfectly fits the genre.

Of course you’re in well known territories but it never sounds artificial, repetitive or “cliché”. There are plenty of slight variations that make the album enjoyable from start to finish. “Little Pink Mack” has a truck driver song vibe in it and it makes you dream about a duet with Chris “Sugarball” Sprague. “Used Wedding Ring” is a poignant waltz written by Al Urban. “Treshold” changes the pace and brings a slight touch of Tex-mex with trumpets and castagnets. Another highlight is “Six Empty Bottles” in the vein of “Heartaches By The Number”. You’ll find a western swing touch with “That Kiss Is There” an uptempo number with excellent piano and fiddle while “Dark Of Night” adds a touch of gospel and “Texas Boogie” closes the album with… a boogie.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis