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Victor Leed

Victor Leed – Thanks Rock’n’Roll

Big Beat Records – BB805 [1980]
But In Your Eyes – I Forgot To Love – Blue River – To Change My Life – Jenny – Don’t Be Looking For Trouble – She Don’t Care – Shy – Too Much To Be Right – Thanks Rock And Roll

Thanks Rock’n’Roll is one of the best, if not the best, Rockabilly albums ever produced in France. It can compete with everything recorded in Europe at the same time.
Victor Leed started his musical career as an Elvis Presley imitator, but soon, under the guidance of French collector Ding Dong, he found his way and oriented his style toward a more traditional and Fifties sounding style. In 1980, he recorded Thanks Rock’n’Roll with Patrick Lozac’h on lead guitar, Donald Rieubon on drums, Jean Jacques Astruc on rhythm guitar and Freddie Legendre on double bass. This album is nearly perfect. The band perfectly nails the Rockabilly sound and manages to capture the excitement of the Sun sessions without sounding like an imitation or a reconstitution. In other words, the music is lively and doesn’t sound like a museum piece. It’s also mainly due to the songs (all self-penned chiefly by the team Leed/Astruc) that capture the genre’s spirit and essence.
And, of course, there’s Victor’s voice. It’s a clear and beautiful voice, able to mix the young Elvis Presley’s energy and Ricky Nelson’s softness while remaining 100% Victor Leed. The repertoire mixes Rockabilly, country-tinged tunes, and beautiful ballads (Jenny, Shy) that are the perfect vehicle for this unique voice.
More than four decades later, this mini-album remains a timeless jewel. I can only hope that today’s young rockers will rediscover it and that Victor’s name will find the place it deserves in the contemporary Rockabilly story.
Sadly, Victor left us way too soon, dying at age 44 in 1994.

Fred ’Virgil’ Turgis

Rocco and the Rays

Rocco and the Rays – Palmdale Sun

RR 69 [1987]
I Get Excited – The Cat Blues / Wild Train – The Rider

Rocco and the Rays

In December 1984, Rocco (ex-Rocco et ses Frères, named after Visconti’s film) joined forces with Johnny Delco and Bruno (ex-Stalin Girl) to form the Jivaros. Playing wild Rockabilly, the group kept that line-up for a while. Finally, in September 1985, the trio was joined by Claudio, the Rocco et ses Frères drummer, and the group became Rocco and the Rays.
In 1986, the group recorded their first album, a four-track under the leadership of Marc Police (Wampas, Pasadenas) and Alain Wampas (Wampas, Los Carayos, Happy Drivers).
The result, although frustrating by its shortness, is no less dazzling. The four songs skillfully mix influences and, in just four tracks, build the band’s legend. The group introduces Morriconian influences into its Rockabilly, bordering on classicism, to better distance itself from it the next minute. From I Get Excited, a snappin’ Rockabilly all in contained savagery, to the hillbilly of the title track, there is absolutely nothing to throw away on this mini-album. The production perfectly highlights Rocco’s superb voice, who knows how to be captivating and, the next moment, switch to the wild or a torrid style akin to Gene Vincent.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Scamps (the)


Scamps (the) – Shake Your Hips

Nervous Records NEP 006 [1991]
Shake Your Hips (live) / Afore Ye Go – Keep On Going Straight


The Scamps first recorded Shake Your Hips on their debut mini-album in 1986 in their “Restless meets the Keytones” style. This Iive version recorded in 1991 is way more heavier with a steady and menacing beat. There’s a very great solo by Joël Lagnier on guitar and the band knows how to interact with the audience.
The two tracks on side B comes from the album Mayday and both are self-penned. Afore Ye Go is a superb modern Rockabilly, led by Joël’s slide guitar and a solid double-bass. Keep On Going Straight is a fast tune on a boogie-rock beat (think Sure Like The Look In Your Eyes). Both songs are close to what Restless recorded with Steve Whitehouse on Movin’ On.

Scamps (the) – Play Man

Note Records – SCAMPS 1 [1989]
Play Man – Hayride to Hell / Shake Your Hips – Sh-Boom

Scamps - Play Man

The Scamps (Bruno Peisey: vocals, Frédéric Mascrier: double bass, Joël Lagnier: guitar and Alain Fatras: drums) released this maxi single in 1989 on Note Records, a German label. The A-side consists of two new recordings. The title track is a superb Neo-Rockabilly that equals anything recorded by Restless on Beat My Drum. The western-tinged Hayride to Hell is a cover of Hoodoo Gurus. The song shows that the band draws inspiration from a wide range of styles.
On side B are two songs from the band’s debut mini-LP that have become stage favourites over the years: the Keytones-sounding Sh-Boom and their excellent rendition of Slim Harpo’s Shake Your Hips.

Scamps (the) – Don’t Be Worried

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


Debut single by the Scamps before they 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. B-side is a cover of the Blue Cats.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Hot Rod 56

Hot Rod 56 – Special Time

Self released [2021]
I Don’t Care – Everyday – Big – If You Tell Me – Leave This Town – I Don’t Know Why – Keep Your Big Mouth Shout – Oh Why – Special Time – Please Stay Away – I Don’t Cry No More – Shout ‘Til Broad Daylight

hot rod 56

To quote one recent Nobel prize who also happens to be a singer, “people are crazy and times are strange.” That’s also what the fine members of this French Rockabilly trio must think because they titled their brand new album Special Time.
I don’t know if that’s the travel they made to the USA a couple of years ago, when they went to Deke Dickerson to record their previous EP, but I find the band’s sound slightly different on this one. When they used to play a brand of modern Rockabilly influenced by the likes of Brian Setzer and Robert Gordon, they now sound more traditional on this new album.
As for their previous effort, Gilles (guitar) and Mickey (double bass) split the vocals, and Alex is still on drums with his precise, powerful yet swinging touch. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
Mickey opens the set with I Don’t Care, a Cochran influenced tune with a solid drive. Every Day follows next. It’s a mean Boogie-blues featuring Phil on harmonica, perhaps not the most original song of the album, but it’s terribly efficient nonetheless. Back to Rockabilly with Big, and its Johnny Kidd meets Johnny Burnette feel. If You Tell Me takes us back to Cochran. But if I Don’t Care was in the C’mon Everybody/Summertime Blues mould, this one is more in the vein of his ballads and benefits from the presence of horns. Leave This Town brings a welcome touch of hot Rhythm’n’Blues, with a screamin’ sax and sizzling guitar solo. The next song is a superb Country-rock on which Gil makes good use of the Bigsby. It makes you want to hit the road and cruise on a desert highway.
Keep Your Big Mouth Shut is a traditional Rockabilly with fine picking throughout. Oh Why is another country-rock tune with a Boom-Chicka-Boom à la Johnny Cash, and the harmonica brings a western touch to it.
The titled track has a heady guitar riff, not dissimilar to Bo Diddley. The surprise came from Please Stay Away From Me, a soulful ballad enlightened by the saxophone. I Don’t Cry No More is more in a Chicago Blues vein and not that far from what the Paladins recorded on albums like Years Since Yesterday. The album ends with Shout ‘til A Broad Daylight, a more traditional Rockabilly tune with a Hillbilly flair.

Hot Rod 56 – Let’s Play Again

Self released
Don’t Cry – Let’s Play Again – Next Time I’ll be True – I Like To Watch Girls – Flying Saucer Rock’n’roll – Come Back – F….. Radio – Love Always Die – Double Talkin’ Baby – All Night Long – Rockbilly Boogie – Lovin’ Time – Teddy Boys Never Walk Alone

Hot Rod 56 is a French Rockabilly trio and “Let’s play Again” is their third album. The first one was good, the second was excellent (and both are out of print, that’s a sign) but this one is even better. It’s loaded with 12 killer tunes (and only 3 covers). The vocals parts are split 50/50 between Gilles (guitar) and Mickey (slap bass), two excellent musicians but if you ask me, their secret weapon is Alex their drummer who manages to hammer like no tomorrow and swings in the same time, a bit like Scott Churilla, one of the Reverend Horton Heat’s drummer or Bernie Dresel in the Brian Setzer’s 68 Come Back Special. Talking about Setzer, the Gretsch wizard is an obvious influence but it’s not such a surprise. Like many of their generation (including me, how time flies!), they made their apprenticeship of rockabilly with the Stray Cats or Robert Gordon. Hot & Speed was the name of their previous effort. Those words also apply to this one but you can add powerful to the list too, courtesy of the great sound that captures on disc the energy of their live set.The set kicks off with Don’t Cry a superb modern rockabilly that borders on psychobilly with a slight Roy Orbison’s Domino feel in the melody. The next two numbers are in the neo-swing vein on which they are joined by a smoking horn section. Back to rockabilly with I Like To Watch Girl, but closer to the roots and the Sun sound. Talking about Sun, Flying Saucer Rock’n’Roll is the first of the three covers (the other two being Gene Vincent’s Double Talking Baby and Johnny Burnette’s Rockbilly Boogie), the Stray Cats never played it like that, they surely should have. The horn section returns for Come Back, a swinging tune that reminded me of 80’s bands like the Stargazers or Sugar Ray Ford. After a short interlude (F* Radio) it’s time to play the B-side or its digital equivalent and what a better song than Love Always Die. This country-rocker on which Gilles’ deep voice makes wonders is sure to please fans of Johnny Cash and the Planet Rockers. All Night Long is a bluesy song with a juicy sax that really made me think of the Blasters with Lee Allen (yes they are THAT good). Another rockin’ blues follows, with harp, and this darn good album closes with Teddy Boys Never Walk Alone that would make Crazy Cavan proud.If there was a justice on earth, Gilles, Mickey and Alex would tour the world and the Baseballs would be their roadies.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Les Vierges

Les Vierges – Aux Mains Des Mongolo Boppers

Monsieur Vinyl Records – MVR 006 [1984]
Kill Kill Bop – Les Martiens Attaquent / Morte Ou Vive – Je Suis Cinglé – La Nochès De La Muertos Vivantès

Les Vierges formed in Montpellier in 1984 with Alain Picon (vocals), Gilles Picon (Bass), Stéphane Poisson (drums), and Philippe Rondeau (drums). Their first release was a split Ep with the Mongolo Boppers, an early incarnation of the band with Dom from OTH on guitar. OTH was a Punk-Rock band from the same town that covered the Meteors with French lyrics (Get Off My Cloud became Interdit Aux Chiens and You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down was turned into Ne Les laisse pas tomber.) Didier Banon, who played drums with OTH, also played bass with Les Vierges at the band’s beginning before Gilles came on board.
Les Vierges play Kill Kill Bop Bop and Les Martiens Attaquent. Both are a mix of Garage, Psychobilly with a bit of Twist that’ll become the band’s trademark.
The Mongolo Boppers play the remaining three tunes, which are a bit more Punkish, though one can hear the influence of the Meteors (Je Suis Cinglé sounding a bit like Get Off My Cloud.)
All five songs deal with zombies, necrophilia, Martians and boppin’ with chainsaws.
The single came in a beautiful silkscreened cover that perfectly sums up the spirit of the band. Only 500 copies were pressed.

Les Vierges – Sur La Planète De La Terreur

Les Vierges - sur la planète de la terreur

Monsieur Vinyl Records – MVR 007 [1984]
Le Jour Où Les Vierges Envahirent La Terre – L’Homme Fourmi Atomique / Surf Survie

That very same year, a three-song single (Sur la Planète de la Terreur) followed. Like the previous one, it comes in a beautiful package.
Musically it showed no significant changes in terms of style. Le Jour Où Les Vierges Envahirent La Terre is a superb instrumental with surf influences. Surf Survie also has a surf vibe, but with some Country and a bit of Twist thrown in for good measure, and L’Homme Fourmi Atomique is closer to the Nigel Lewis period of the Meteors.
All that in less than five minutes, that’s what I call a lesson of concision.
1000 copies were pressed.

Les Vierges – Pas La Peine D’En Faire Trop Pour Se Faire Remarquer

Les Vierges - Pas La Peine D’En Faire Trop Pour Se Faire Remarquer

Virga 4 – 001 [1986]
J’En Fais Trop – Mongolo Stomp – La Créature Des Mondes Extérieurs – Les Martiens Attaquent – Déplaire / A Quoi Bon – Majorette – Je Pense A Toi – Les Mauvaises Filles Venues De Mars

Shortly after that, the band worked on a split 10“ with Les Shériffs. Some test copies were pressed, but it never saw the light of the day. The songs that the band recorded were Vittel, La Créature des Mondes Extérieur, A Quoi Bon, Je pense à toi, and Mongolo Stomp.
In 1986, they re-recorded these five songs for Pas La Peine D’En Faire Trop Pour Se Faire Remarquer. This excellent album, still entirely sung in French, is a superb collection of nine tunes in a general spirit close to the first Meteors and the Sting Rays, while some songs draw more towards the Cramps. The band invited some guests like Spi (OTH) and Pascal Comelade, whose organ brings a welcome Psychedelic touch in places.

Les Vierges – Detresse

Les Vierges - Detresse

Virga 4 – 002 [1987]
Detresse – Supplice / C’est ça / Sais Tu Pourquoi Lorsque Tu Poses La Main Sur Le Zip De Mon Jean Je Deviens Hystérique

Released in 1987, Détresse, the band’s third single, shows a slight change in their sound. The band added a healthy dose of Country music to their Garage, especially on side A. C’est Ça is more Rockabilly, whereas Sais Tu Pourquoi Lorsque Tu Poses La Main Sur Le Zip De Mon Jean Je Deviens Hystérique (whose title is almost longer than the song itself) is full throttle Garage.

Les Vierges – Les Vierges

Les Vierges - Les Vierges

Gougnaf Mouvement – GM 023 [1987]
Kill Kill Bop – Les Martiens Attaquent – Morte Ou Vive – Je Suis Cinglé – La Nuits Des Morts-Vivants / Surf Survie – Le Jour Où Les Vierges Envahirent La Terre – L’Homme Fourmi Atomique

Also in 1987, Gougnaf Records gathered the first two singles on one beautiful 10”, with one side playing at 33rpm and the other at 45.

Les Vierges – Guitares… Et Petites Pépés

Les Vierges - Guitares… Et Petites Pépés

Virga 5 – 090058 [1994]
Mon Jardin Est Un Paradis – Virga Stroll – Le Cubain – Elvis Zombies – Cimetiere – Je T’aime Encore – Plaire

Fans had to wait until 1994 to see another album from Les Vierges titled Guitares… Et Petites Pépées. It picks things up pretty much where the previous one left off. The sound is perhaps a little cleaner and tamer than their earlier releases and the whole is less unbridled. Musically speaking, the album leans more towards Twist and Country music than Garage. There’s also more variety in the instruments and one can hear a mandolin on Le Cubain and a banjo on Cimetière. But Les Vierges remain Les Vierges and their verve and humour are still present.

In recent years, the band reformed. They published one live album titled En Concert… Et En Quelque Sorte (that also includes some studio tracks) and a new album has just been released.

Les Vierges on facebook.

Katmen (the)

The Katmen – Hell’s Love


Association De Malfaiteurs Productions – MALFRATS 018 [1992]
Baby Blue Eyes – Don’t Be – Money Got The Power – Good Drinkin’ Tonight – All I Need – Only Mate – Nervous Breakdown – Wrong Girl – Hell’s Love – Come Back Nelly – Cadillac Car – Dead’s Dealer

The Katmen (Moustapha Idir aka Mouss: double bass and vocals, Lahcène Marir aka Las: guitar and Thierry Ipranossian aka Lou: drums) were a French trio active between the mid-1980s and early 1990s and came from the Saint-Etienne area. The trio first recorded a demo tape and then released a full length album titled Hell’s Love in 1992. This album is excellent, with a powerful double bass that will delight fans of the genre, even if the vocals – in English – sometimes lack a little confidence. The sound of the band is not that easy to pigeonhole. Still, it could be stored halfway between the edgy Rockabilly of the early Stray Cats (talking about that, their title Money Got the Power is a little reminiscent of Ubangi Stomp) and the early-Psychobilly bands. A song like Hell’s Love, by its melodic side, recalls the sound of the Quakes during their Voice of America / New Generation period. Good news, it seems that the album will be reissued on vinyl soon.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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