Rockabilly, Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Elektraws (the)

in Reviews

Elektraws – Shock Rock

Nervous records NERCD083 [1996]

Lost In A Time Vortex – Raving Mad – Elektones – Heartless Man – Fist Fight – Mad Man – Get Tattooed – I`m Gone – Let`s Cry Out – Delirious – Hell`s Bent On Rockin’ – Gallows Birds – Thurdering Love – Shock Rock – Lost In A Time Vortex (#2)

French Psychobilly band the Elektraws first started as a Rockabilly band under the name of the Bobkatz in 1991. They recorded some demos with covers of 50’s classics like Something Else, Rockhouse, Long Blond Hair but also tunes like Gary Glitter’s Rock On which was also recorded by the Happy Drivers on War.
Around 1993/1994 they decided to change their sound and morphed into a psychobilly band called the Elektraws. From the beginning, the line-up remained steady: Nicolas Hervier on double bass and vocals, his brother François on drums and Georges Defretiere on guitar.
The Elektraws first appeared on the compilation album “Banana Juice Kongpilation.” They then sent a demo tape to Roy Williams of Nervous records and the result was not only an appearance at the Big Rumble but also a record deal with Nervous. In October 1995 they recorded their debut album “Shock Rock” with Alan Wilson (of Sharks fame) engineering and producing.
In a period (the mid-nineties) when more and more bands were adding metal elements to their psychobilly (Nekromantix, Krewmen…) the sound of the Elektraws was quite refreshing. One could hear the influence of Frenzy (both versions of Lost in a Time Vortex could easily figure on Hall of Mirrors), early Meteors, Sharks and they Ricochets (both bands cover Jimy Wages Mad Man.) On Elektones, an instrumental tune, one could also hear a bit of surf. But the most obvious influence of all, both musically and vocally, is the one of Batmobile.
Of course, the album is not flawless. The main problem being the drums that are not always in place. But it’s only on a couple of songs and the whole album remains a very enjoying experience.
In 1996 they recorded songs for a possible second album with a more agressive sound but split soon after. These recordings can be heard on “Alive” on Klub 333 label.
Nicolas went on to join the Hellbats. Sadly in 2006, he was shot in the street after a fight and died.

The Radioactive Kid

Scamps (the)

in Reviews

The Scamps – Don’t Be Worried

Studio SDH – SDH311 [1984]
Don’t Be Worried / Live Fast Die Young

Debut single by the Scamps before the morphed into a Keytones / Restless influenced band. On this single the line-up of this French band was Bruno Peisey (vocals), Joël Lagnier (guitar), Frederic Mascrier (slap bass) and Marc Kornet (drums.)
A-side starts with a slow introduction then evolved into a mean rockabilly with a touch of psychobilly number. B-side is a cover of the Blue Cats.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Be Bop Creek

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Be Bop Creek – Plan B

Be Bop Creek

Cherry Doll – Emelynn Gal – Waiting for Summer – Alone and Crying – You’ll Be Gone – Free as a Breeze – Homesick Bop – No Squares Allowed – To Win Your Heart – GI Blues – Jilted Again – Bye Baby Bye

This French band returns with a new album and a refurbished line-up. The band is now Rocky on double bass,  Nico on guitar and Larry who joins Steve Bongo of the Deltas and Dana Stewart of the Racketeers in the club of the singers/drummers.

Be Bop Creek have some pretty cool original numbers penned by Larry in which one can hear the influence of the great figures of the genre. Emelynn Gal evokes the sound of mister Blue Suede Shoes hiumself, Carl Perkins and Waiting For the Summer, one of my favourites if that interests you, nailed that Eddie Cochran attitude perfectly. Elsewhere you can hear a bit of Johnny Burnette or some Elvis and the Blue Moon Boys

The covers are rather obscure and not your usual Sun/Meteor stuff. It’s good to hear a band that digs a bit to propose something new and finds tunes that you’ve not heard a zillion times. As much as I like this song, I guess I couldn’t hear another version of “All I Can Do Is Cry.” The most original being probably the cover of Some Kinda Earthquake’s You’ll Be Gone morphed into a hillbilly bop with additional lyrics from Larry. This also proves that those guys are open minded which is always a good thing.
They’re also a good dose of blues with Homesick Bop, a mean blues bopper with maracas, and No Squares Allowed more in the Chuck Berry vein. Although the later is not that original, Nico on guitar turns it into a great tune. This young guy sure knows how to use those six strings while Larry and Rocky lay down a perfect beat. Larry also has a mean and very good voice with no French accent.

Last but not least, Bob Butfoy of Jack Rabbit Slim / Bob and the Bearcats fame wrote the laudatory liner notes.

Be Bop Creek on the web.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Happy Drivers

in Contemporary artists/GH/Reviews

Happy Drivers - Jump Baby Jump
Happy Drivers – Jump Baby Jump

Happy Drivers – Jump Baby Jump

Scalen – SC513 [1987]
Jump Baby Jump / My Boppin’ Rockin’ Babe

Happy Drivers formed in 1985 with Arnold Baker on lead vocals. Jump Baby Jump was first demoed with a sax and BAker but was re-recorded after he lzft for this single.
It’s as its title indicates a jumpin’ song, not very original in its structure and a bit young and thin in term of sound. The b-side is far better and more original with stop-start structure, and an interesting guitar solo. A new version of this song will later appear on their debut album.

Happy Drivers - We Shall Be Going On
Happy Drivers – We Shall Be Going On

Happy Drivers – We Shall Be Going On

Babe Please Don’t Go – We Shall Be Going On – My Bopping Rocking Babe – The Fun Of It – Midnight Train – Popeye – Low Rider – Old Black Jack – Long Blond Hair – You Will Never Come Back Again – Oh Babe – My Daddy’s Banjo
When you listen 20 years later to an album you liked a lot as a teenager, it’s very hard to actually know if you like it for good reasons. Does this album really have qualities or is this just pure nostalgia? For “We Shall Be Going On” the answer is : both.
On one hand, if you want to be objective, one can say that the sound is a bit thin, Jean Christophe’s voice is from time to time totally out of tune and his pronounced French accent a bit too present. But this album has also some qualities. The boys wrote their own songs (even if Low Rider sounds very close to Stray Cats’ Built For Speed) with varied influences from straight rockabilly to blues, with detours by neo-rockabilly and bit of country too (you can find a banjo on a couple of songs). The covers, including Dave PhillipsThe Fun Of It” are very well chosen. All this elements, and I can’t deny a bit of nostalgia too, make of this debut album an enjoyable listening experience, even two decades later.

Happy Drivers

Happy Drivers - Indians on the Road
Happy Drivers – Indians on the Road

Happy Drivers – Indians on the Road

Indians – I’m Not A Hero – Tear It Up – Nervous Man – Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You – Crawdad Hole

Compared to their debut album, this mini 10” album is plain good. The Happy Drivers, on a short distance that advantages them, deliver six songs : three covers and three solid originals. Since their previous release, they have hardened their sound. Not exactly psychobilly, but no longer 50’s rockabilly, they created their own brand of modern rockabilly. “Indians” features the appropriate drum beat, as you can imagine, and a citation of The Shadows’ Apache (of course). Next you have “I’m Not A Hero” a wild modern rockabilly that shows how tight the band was at that time. The third original,  “Nervous Man,” is nervous for sure, a really heavy number (strong guitar and raspy voice) that prefigures what will follow with “War” their third album. JC has really worked on his voice and you also hear that the band benefited of a real studio and enough time to work their sound. Regarding the covers, “Tear It Up” and “Crawdad Hole” are good but the one that steals the show is “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You.” Originally by Joan Baez, also played by Led zeppelin, they turn that song in a frantic rockabilly. Simply perfect.

Happy Drivers - War
Happy Drivers – War

Happy Drivers – War

La isla bonita / I cry Jerry Lee / I shoot da sherif / Lame de fond / Arena // Indians war / Crazy life / Rock on / Fire down below / I cry freedom / Blood & war

The third album by the French trio marks a new step for the band. Alain (ex Wampas and Los Carayos) replaced Mickey Black Finger on bass (who later went to play with The Grizzly Family). Alain also brings with him lots of influences that one didn’t find in the band’s sound previously like hardcore and heavy metal (Cro-Mags, Black Flag). He also sings two songs including a one in French.
Contrary to their first releases, they worked with a “real” producer, namely Roger tebutt who worked with The Long Tall Texans. The sound gets harder and harder and the trio explores new territories by covering the likes of Madonna (an explosive version of La Isla Bonita), Bob Marley (imagine i Shot Da Sheriff if Marley was on speed instead of weed) and Gary Glitter (Rock On). Some songs stay closer to the rockabilly idiom (I Cry Jerry Lee), while other are strictly hardcore/punk rock like Arena. Another tune (Lame de Fond) sounds like a French folkloric song, a way some members of the band will follow after the band splits.
Despite some good songs here and there, the following albums of The Happy Drivers were disappointing compared to War who was the perfect combination of rockabilly, psychobilly, hardcore and alternative rock.

Happy Drivers (Alain Wampas, Jean Christophe Jehanne, Thierry Pietel)
Happy Drivers (Jean Christophe Jehanne, Alain Wampas, Thierry Pietel)

The Pussykillers

in OPQ/Reviews/Singles

Pussykillers - David Vincent les a vu
Pussykillers – David Vincent les a vu

David Vincent les a vu /Zombie Rockers
KRUEL K 8803 [1989]

The Pussykillers were a French Psychobilly band from Poitiers and consisted of Bill (vocals), Kub (doublebass / b-vox), Erick (guitar / b-vox) and V(drums / b-vox). They played  a brand of heavy psychobilly influenced by the Meteors and the early Coffin Nails. Actually, their singer shouted more than he sang. They also played some gigs with Thierry Petel (Happy Drivers) on drums but they split in the early 90’s. It seems that their guitar player later comitted suicide.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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