jim knowler

Bamboozle

Bamboozle – Retrograde

Bamboozle

Jimena records – RIGHT339 [2019]
Five past ten – the Lowdown – Rockin’ Man – Heebie Jeebies – Ice Cold Beer – Just Like You – Toxic Nightmare – Daddy’s Girl – Fever – Mayhem

Bamboozle came to my attention with their cracking cover of Nick Cave’s Red Right Hand. I put the band’s name in one corner of my mind and, to my great shame, I must say it stayed here for a while until I received “Retrograde” their debut album.
I was like “oh yeah I remember, the band that plays that Nick Cave’s cover” when I put the cd in the player. One minute later, I was hooked, and by the end of the last song, I was blown away.
First, let me introduce the band. On drums a well-known figure on the rocking scene: Les Curtis. Les played with Solid Smoke, Bob & the Bearcats, Mouse Zinn, Kid Rocker, etc. Also another familiar name, mister Jim Knowler of the Keytones (he also played with the Stargazers) on guitar. And last, but certainly not least, Serena Sykes aka the bass pixie, on double bass, vocals, writing, and production.
This trio forms the core of the band, but this album also features Keith Wilkinson on acoustic guitar and Peter Clifford on piano.
Five past ten is the perfect opener and describes precisely the sound of Bamboozle: fifties influenced music with a modern edge. While Curtis keeps the beat and Knowler flies on the fretboard, Sykes proves you can be a girl who sings Rockabilly without ending all your verses with a growl.
Sung by Knowler with harmonies by Wilkinson the Lowdown is part Buddy Holly, part Dave Edmunds, and 100% killer!
Sykes’ Rockin’ Man hardens the sound with a menacing riff bordering on Psychobilly. Out of sudden, Knowler jumps into a hot solo that is sure to please fans of Mark Harman and John O’Malley. Heebie Jeebies is not a cover but another Sykes original that she sings with grace. A jazz tune that swings as hell with superb backing vocals. This song is the occasion to salute the brilliant production work. And not only Retrograde is well recorded, but it’s also perfectly mixed.
Knowler returns on lead vocals with two songs. The hillbilly tinged Ice Cold Beer and Just Like You a Doo-Wop-a-Billy that wouldn’t be out of place on any of the Keytones albums.
The following two songs show the vocal range and how equally at ease at singing and writing any rocking style. Toxic Nightmare has a bit of Surf/Walk Don’t Run flair to it while Daddy’s Girl is one hell of a Rockabilly song.
The last two songs are covers from Little Willie John (Fever) and Imelda May (Mayhem.) On the paper, these choices first let me perplex. I’m not the biggest fan of Miss May, and I thought, “Does the world really need another cover of Fever?” But once again Bamboozle won over me. They took a fresh and brand new approach on Fever and Mayhem, full of energy, let me wanting for more which is the perfect way to finish a Rock’n’roll album.
Without a doubt, the band worked hard to produce such a good record. Now it’s your turn to work, buy it (https://www.bamboozlehq.co.uk/) and support Bamboozle live!

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Keytones (the)

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The Keytones – Shake your hips

Keytones - Shake your hips

Roof Records – RR LP 103301 [1988]

Shake Your Hips – Coastin’ Along – Lonely Road -Why Do Fools Fall In Love – The Munsters – That’s When Your Heartaches Begin – Swimming In Pink Champagne – Now’s The Time – Soft Pillow – Volare – Good To Be Alive – Only For You – I Got A Woman – That’s My Desire – The Missable Kind – Young Emotions

This album released on vinyl in 1988 and later reissued on cd with four bonus tracks features mostly new recordings of songs previously released on single, ep or album.

That said it’s a very good one so there’s no reason to ignore it.

Their cover of Slim harpo’s Shake Your Hips opens the set with a powerful doublebass and a mean and hypnotic guitar. The band’s Coastin’ Along is what I’d descripe as a typical Keytones song, when doo-wop meets neo-rockabilly.

No trace of doo wop in Lonely Road, this is pure neo-rockabilly. Frankie Lymon’s Fools Fall In Love seems written for them. Next is a cover of the tv theme of the Munsters in another version than the one available on Speak After the Tone.

Elvis’ That’s When Your Heartache Begins is turned into a jivin’ doo-wop number. The new version of Pink Champagne is relatively close to the one previously issued, same goes for Only For You.

Now’s the time is a fast and short Rockabilly tune in the style of Just Because. Back to Keytones sweetness with the jivin’ Soft Pillow. I guess by the time we reach Volare we’ve lost the wild Rockabilly cats (too bad for you guys) but that’s why I like the Keytones. Good to be Alive is a rockin’ doo wop and probably one of the Keytones’ best original tune (and excellent guitar solo by the way).

Their cover of I Got A Woman owes more to Elvis than Ray Charles – which is not surprising – but they bring a good variation to make it their own. That’s My Desire is another one that seems to have been written for them.
The two remaining songs are two originals in their own doo-wop/jive style.

If you already own the singles, this album is maybe a little ess essential than Speak After the Tone but otherwise that’s a very good one.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Keytones-speak after tones-front
Keytones – speak after tones

The Keytones – Speak after the tone

[1987]
Ghost Of Lonely Heart – I Guess You’ll Never Know – Swimming In Pink Champagne – Angel From Paradise – Munsters – Only For You – Tickity Tock Of The Clock – Stars In Your Eyes – Stained Glass Lies – Whats Cookin’ Tonight – Girl – My Gals Been Foolin’ Around

Released in 1987, Speak AFter The Tone is the band’s first full length. It contains twelve songs, 11 originals and one cover (“Munsters“).
There’s no big departure in their sound from their previous singles, it’s the same good mix of doo-wop (Only For you), jive and rockabilly (Angels From Paradise). Most surprising is “Stained Glass Lies” with its heavy guitar and pounding drums that seems a bit out of place in all that sweetness. The musicianship is top notch with swingin’ rhythm and jazzy licks thrown in for good measure.
Nice package too with beautiful gatefold sleeve that includes the lyrics. To my knowledge it’s never been reissued on cd.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Keytones – Good to be alive

Keytones good to be alive

Red Sky Records – Key 3 [1985]

Good to be Alive – Now’s the Time

Another great single by the Keytones (Jarrod Coombes, Jim Knowler and Cliff Marshall) with two originals penned by Knowler.

Good to be Alive is a doo wop/jive tune like only the Keytones can craft while Now’s the time is an uptempo Rockabilly with a powerful slap bass.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

keytones keytones keytones