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Hatchetmen (the)

When the Stargazers disbanded, Ricky Lee Brawn briefly joined the Chevalier Brothers (with Ray Gelato and Anders Janes). He was then invited to join the Tempo Toppers. The Tempo Toppers consisted of Dot on guitar, Tony Hilton on double bass, both from The Lone Stars who appeared on the James Dean of the Dole Queue compilation album. Tony also played with the Rimshots, not the Rockabilly/Hillbilly Bop band that features John Lewis. Ben (Morris?) was on vocals.

They rehearsed (at least once) with Lee Thompson (Madness sax player). Brawn left after a few months, and the band changed its name to the Hatchetmen. It then featured a bloke called Roy on drums, John Wallace (ex-Stargazers) on baritone and tenor saxophone and William Gibbs on tenor.
The sextet eventually recorded a mini-lp for Big Beat Records in 1985. Vic Keary produced it. His producers credits included Big Jay McNeely and Little Willie Littlefield’s Happy Pay Day (featuring John Wallace and Tony Hilton).

Strangely, the band’s high potential and the musicians’ quality didn’t show up in the final product. The repertoire is borrowed from Chuck Higgins, Amos Milburn, Peggy Lee, Louis Jordan and Good Lewis. But the songs lack vigour and energy and don’t swing much, which is a shame for this kind of music. In addition, the singer tends to do too much, and his interpretation is not very natural.
Vick Keary’s production doesn’t help, either. This brand of music begs for a warm sound, but the sound here is very modern, close to Joe Jackson’s Jumpin’ Jive, where a juicy brand of Rhythm‘n’Blues would be needed.
Nevertheless, it contains excellent and exciting moments, particularly some beautiful saxophone parts. Keary is also a saxophonist; you can hear it in how he puts the instrument forward. Dot is, as usual perfect, but her guitar is too buried in the mix to appreciate it fully.
After the band disbanded John Wallace kept on playing with numerous bands and eventually rejoined the Stargazers. Dot and Tony joined forces with James Hunter to form Howlin’ Wilf and the Vee-Jays in January 1986. Gibbs wrote a successful saxophone method for Mel Bay and now lives in Dubaï.
We’d be more than happy to hear from you, if you have more infos about Ben and Roy.

the Hatchetmen

Choppin’ Around
Big Beat Records NED 11 [1985]
Real Gone Hound Dog – Johnson’s Rag – Right Now – Why Don’t You Do Right – Pelican Jump – Deacon Jones

Nina and the Hot Spots

Nina and the Hot Spots – Monkey Business

Nina and the hot spots

Part Records PART-CD 6116.002
Hot Spot Boogie – This Cat’s Sleeping (In A Big Bass Drum) – Can’t Believe You’re Gone – Monkey Business – Magic Fire – Cruisin’ Baby – Pretty Face – Little Bit – Mars Marriage – Everytime – Barber Bop – The Day – Love ‘n’ Seduce

Nina and the Hot Spots are Nina Salhab (lead Vocals, blues harp), Christian Dietkron (guitar), Sebastian König (drums), Thias Salhab (double bass) and Uwe Pickardt (saxophone).
After an excellent mini-album released in 2015, the band returns for our biggest pleasure with a full-length album. What strikes the listener when he puts the record in the player and plays the first song is the quality of the recording and how tight the band is. The rhythm section blends perfectly to lay down a solid groove, and then the saxophone erupts into a hot solo. But wait! I forgot to mention something! Sorry guys, but the one who steals the show is Nina with her superb and confident voice.
This Cat’s Sleeping (In A Big Bass Drums) is a solid rocker with a strong Stargazers feel. The next song is also in the Rock’n’Roll mould. Although it borders on Twist, it never falls into it. The title track is more Rockabilly-tinged yet jazzy at the same time. It features a superb harmony part between the sax and the guitar to launch the solo. Glen Campbell’s Magic Fire could and should be the theme of the next Jame Bond film. All songs but this one are originals, either penned by Nina, Uwe or Thias, who takes the lion’s share. Pretty Face brings a welcome touch of Latin beat while Little Bit Of This is a boogie blues, which sees, what an excellent surprise, the lady playing the harmonica (more like this one on the next album, please.)
Mars Marriage brings a different beat than your usual Rock’n’Roll and somehow evokes me the best of the Speedos. The highly melodic Everytime brings a touch of pop with a slightly modern feel. The Day is a ballad in the grand tradition of the Fifties, while the last tune ends the selection with a solid Diddley beat.
All in all, you have a good and varied album, which is sure to make you have a real good time.

Available here
Nina and the Hot Spots website.

Nina and the Hot Spots

Nina and the Hot Spots – Cha-Ching!

Part records [2015]
Get Up – Rock Me Crazy –  Schwing Dich –  Farmer Girl – I’m In Love

A good and varied five songs ep by this German combo. Get Up and Rock Me Crazy are two Rock’n’Roll and Jive tunes with solid saxophone with a touch of Jazz that are sure to please fans of the Stargazers. Schwing Dich is sung in German and leans more toward German Rock’n’Roll singers like Conny Froboess or Peter Krauss.
Farmer Girl is a duet with a strong hillbilly flair, with nice finger picking guitar and harmonica. The last song is a slow blues-jazz number that sounds as if it had been recorded in the wee hours of the morning in a small and smoky jazz club.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Rhythmaires (the)

Rhythmaires (the) – Breakfast in Bed

Pink and Black PWB 001 [1985]
Breakfast In Bed – Stormy Weather – Drivin’ To My Baby’s House – Trans-Europa Express (Live)

The Rhythmaires started around 1981 under the name of White Lightnin’, with Stuart Warburton on vocals, guitar ad saxophone, Phil Morris on double bass, Gary Leach on drums, and Paul Murphy on lead guitar. Murphy later joined the Crawdads. They took the name of Rhythmaires when Big Dave Machin joined the band on drums. This line-up lasted one year before the group split to reform as a six-piece combo. By 1984 the Rhythmaires were Warburton still on vocals, tenor saxophone and harmonica; Cyril Chadwick on alto and tenor saxophones; Ian park on rhythm guitar; Jeff Pilkington on lead guitar; John Wilton on double-bass and Dave Machin on drums.
With two saxes and two guitars and the solid rhythm section formed by Machin and Wilton, it was a compelling band that recorded this ep at Twilight Studio, Salford.
Penned by Warburton, the title track is a solid jive number, quite similar in the style to the Stargazers with a touch of jazz. Their cover of Stormy Weather is in the same vein, with some doo-wop backing vocals thrown in for good measure. Nice. B-side opens with another rockin’ original that leaves plenty of room to the musicians. A live cut completes this excellent ep.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Oo-Bop-Sh’bam – Oo-Bop-Sh’bam

Oo Bop Records – oobopr 001

The Oo-Bop-Sh’out – Well Alright – Rock Rock Rock – Just Love Me Baby – Big Mamou – Be My Guest – Rooming House Boogie – Lillie Mae – Kindey Stew – Let ’Em Roll… For Big Joe – Flip Flop Fly – Wish You Were Mine – Braking Up The House – I Like To Bop

In the ’80s, England had a vast scene of small jazz, blues, jump and jive bands like The Chevalier Brothers, Howlin’ Wilf and the Vee-Jays, King Pleasure, Big Town Playboys, etc.

One of the best of these new bands was Rent Party. They were swinging and jumping like no other, and Jackson Sloan, their singer, had a voice tailor-made for this kind of stuff. After Rent Party, he played in the jazz fields, and he’s now back to his first love with Oo-Bop-Sh’bam, a combo of solid and experimented musicians.

Bass player Dave Lagnado has played for James Hunter, tenor sax player Andy Dummet has shared the stage with Solomon Burke and Otis Grand while the other saxman, Julien Greaves, has played with the Rolling Stones. Not to forget another ex-Rent Party, Alan Savage on drums who played with Hubert Sumlin, Paul Lamb, Joe Jackson and even Freddy Mercury. And as a special guest they have Ray Gelato who wrote the liner notes and blows in his sax on two tunes. You can now see that I didn’t use the word “experimented” lightly. Together they play a solid mix of blues, boogie-woogie and highly enjoyable rhythm & blues. Three songs are from the pen of Savage and Sloan (one together and one each.) The remaining eleven are covers of Smiley Lewis, Tiny Bradshaw, Amos Milburn, Fats Domino, and Big Joe Turner, who is not only covered but has a song dedicated to him (Let ’Em Roll, a nod to Roll ’Em Pete). It’s not a big surprise as Sloan has a deep and powerful voice close to the Boss of Blues. Roscoe Gordon’s Just Love My Baby allows Paul Garner to play great T-Bone Walker licks. Also remarkable is pianist work, in the background, but with a constant and driving presence on “Rooming House Boogie,” or in the foreground with a great demonstration of boogie-woogie on “Breaking Up The House.” For all the dancers, jivers, foot tapers, and lovers of juicy saxes and real blues voices, this one is for you!
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Stompy Jones (ex the Swing Session)

Stompy Jones – Stompy Jones

stompy jones

Jewel Records JR-0403
Oh Marie – Mary Had a Little Lamb – Whistle Stop – A Woman’s Intuition – Close Shave – Without You Here – You Can Depend on Me – That’s Earl, Brother – Mondine – That Wig’s Gotta Go – Boogie Woogie on a Saturday Night – Can’t Find My Baby – Rug Cutter’s Swing – Dream – Knock Me a Kiss – Juke Box Judy – Along the Navajo Trail

Stompy Jones is a sextet (bass, drums, piano, trumpet, saxophone and vocal) known formerly as The Swing Session, and even this cd is not exactly a new one (it’s been released in 2003).

What kind of stuff do they play? Imagine Louis Jordan’s Timpany Five playing a jam with Fletcher Henderson and Louis Prima as a guest. The “swing” is something not that easy to describe: you have it or you don’t. Saying this boys have it is an understatement, just listen to their rhythm section: subtle and efficient. From the second this album opens with “Oh Marie” (a song so much heard you thought it was hard to give it something new but they do) you’re hooked by “Pops” Walsh’s voice, bluesy and warm with a feeling that is very hard to find today.

They don’t just play this music right, they write it too. From the Jordanish «A Woman’s Intuition» to the humourous «That Wig’s Gotta Go» à la early Ray Charles and the beautiful instrumental ballad «Without You Here», Stompy Jones shows once again they have it. I could also mention «Can’t Find My Baby» a superb bluesy number with Pops litterally speaking with the muted trumpet, «Dream» originally a ballad given the Prima/Butera’s treatment and «Along The Navajo Trail» with its Roy Milton meets The Sons of The Pioneers style. And cherry on the pie, this record is wonderfully packaged with informative liner notes about each song. Make yourself a favour, go to and order it.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Stompy Jones – That’s Alright

Stompy Jones

Blowin’ To California – Don’t Lie To Me – Lost Mind – Born To Love Her – That’s Alright – Hot Sauce Boss – If You Love Me Baby – Wakin’ Up Baby – After Hours – Highway 99 – Hand Clappin’- Keep A Knockin’- Spiderweb – Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens

A decade or so ago, the swing craze took the USA by storm. All of sudden everybody and his cousin dressed like Jim Carrey in the Mask, discovered the sweet taste of martini and blew in a sax. But few bands played this music right and even fewer really understood it.

Stompy Jones (formerly known as The Swing Session) weren’t made of the same (young) wood. This guys have roots. They perfectly assimilated the elements of the small bands from the 30’s to the 50’s like Louis Jordan of course or Count Basie and have put the science of the arrangement to its highest point.

Buy when this album (their fourth) arrived, I was surprised to see that Pops the original singer of the band was no longer there (I later heard he had to quit due to health problems) and had some apprehensions about the newest one. Will he be as good as his predecessor? I only had one thing left to do : put the cd in the player. After a few bars of “Blowin’ To California”, the first song, my doubts quickly vanished. If different – and we didn’t expect a impersonnator, didn’t we? – the young was equally talented as his glorious elder. The band faced some minor changes too, but man they’re always incredibly tight and though they’re only six on stage they make you believe you listen to a whole big band. Like Louis Jordan did before, they swing the boogie, they rock the blues, they jump the jazz – always with class – and at the end they leave you breathless with a big smile upon your face.
Now that most of the swing bands have moved to a new trend, Stompy Jones is still here, alive and well and ready to shake your shack.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band


The Slammers Maximum Jive Band - Jive Time
The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Jive Time

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Jive Time

El Toro Records ETCD2036
She Walks Right In – All of Me – Just A Gigolo – Swanee River Boogie – What’d I Say – Hook, Line & Sinker – Stagger Lee – Chicken & the Hawk – Boogie Woogie Country Girl – Shortenin’ Bread – Buona Sera
If you dig contemporary bands like The Stargazers, the Big Six and Ray Gelato’s Giants Of Jive and of course Louis Prima and Louis Jordan this one is for you. Recorded live it proposes a good set of danceable music. I really enjoyed the excellent “Swanee River Boogie” (think Jerry Lee meets a Jive band), “Hook, Line and Sinker” which is full of joy, the instrumental “Shortnin’ Bread” with great saxes (both juicy and screaming) and the rockabilly “Boogie Woogie Country Girl” with a heavy slap bass and piano. That’s too bad they only play covers, and extremely well known ones, cause these guys (and girl) are good musicians and a little bit of originality would have been good. This said, I must say I couldn’t help but tapping my feet while listening to it, so I guess this is the more important, don’t you think?

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band - Hey There You !!!!
The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Hey There You !!!!

The Slammers Maximum Jive Band – Hey There You !!!!

Hey There You ! – Bim Bam – Choo Choo Ch’Boogie – Oh Marie – Straighten Up And Fly Right – Such A Night – Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chicken – Shortnin’ Bread – Boogie Woogie Country Girl – Swanee River Boogie – Corrine, Corrina – What’d I Say – Bloodshot Eyes – Linda Lu – All Of Me
All right boys, grab your dancin’ shoes, push the furnitures on the wall, roll the rug, you’ll need a maximum of space cause this guys (and girls) are here to make you dance. Captured live on the stage of the Warrington Blues Festival in 2007, this cd shows the Slammers Maximum Jive Band at their best: full of energy, excitement and with a communicative “joie de vivre”. You can hear from every note they’re happy to be here (and the listener regrets he wasn’t there to see them that day), and I think this is the key of the success of such a recording.
There’s no radical departure from their studio album, but as I said, the live recording really advantages them. The powerful rhythm section supports the solists who trade solos. All of them are great players, but I’d like to make a special mention to Claire Hamlin whose talent shines on her rendition of Swanee River Boogie and Ray Charles’ What’d I say. Add James Gray warmful vocal and you’ll have every ingredients for a great band. The show starts with Freddie Bell’s Hey There You, and you’re off for 49 minutes and 15 songs of jumpin’ jivin’ rhythm blues, with a touch of rockabilly here and there, that won’t let you a second to catch your breath. I’ll look forward the next one.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis