neo-rockabilly

The Tin Cans

 

The Tin Cans – Back For More

Tin Cans

PART-CD 6101.002 [2021]
The Time Is Right – Boppin’ On – Lost In Swamp – Illusive Love – You Drag Me Down – Anyway – Sound Of The Highway – Free As A Bird – Poor Man‘s Blues – Ship Of Lost Souls – I Need To Know – The Girl Next Door – Please Mr Postman

The Tin Cans return with a brand new album, full of original material except for The Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman. The band consists of Claudius Wolke (ex-Magnetics) on double-bass and lead vocals, Sebastian Glenz (Scannerz) on guitar and Martin Putela (The Cambles) on drums.
The first song, The Time is Right, is pure Neo-Rockabilly gold, with a haunting guitar riff, in the style of RestlessVanish Without A Trace. Mark Harman influenced quite a few guitar players, but Sebastian „Semmel“ Glenz is, without a doubt, one of the best. Boppin’ On is more traditional, with a slight boppin’ Hillbilly edge.
Lost In the Swamp is a great and powerful country-rocker that finds the band sounding like the Planet Rockers. The next song, titled Illusive Love, is a highly melodic rock’n’roll tune propelled by a solid double bass. In the same style, you’ll find I Need To Know, with harmonies. Back to pure Neo-rockabilly (can Neo-Rockabilly be pure, hum, that’s a good question) with You Drag Me Down, followed by Anyway, which is more in the boogie blues vein as is Poor man’s Blues in the second half of the album.
Sound Of The Highway is one of the best cuts of the album. One could describe it as country-rock meets British Rock’n’roll à la Johnny Kidd. Free As A Bird pursues in the Country vein, but this time, it’s a western ballad, with another fine picking part from Semmel. Ship Of Lost Souls is a fast neo-Rockabilly tune, maybe not the most original of the set, but very efficient.
With its Beatles-tinged melody, fast rhythm and beautiful harmonies, The Girl Next Door made me think, “Wow they sound like a German Neo-Rockabilly answer to the Bellfuries.” Even Wolke’s voice reinforces this feeling. Really, really great! The album ends with Mr Postman (also covered by the Fab Four, by the way), turned into a ska number. And it works.
All in all a very pleasant album, warmly recommended to anyone who likes Restless, Dave Phillips, the Blue Cats, or simply has good taste in music.

Buy it here.

The Tin Cans – Unbreakable

Tin Cans

Mad Drunken Monkey Records MDMO15 [2012]
I Got The Rhythm – From One To Four – From The Bottom Of My Heart – Turn That Music Down – Once Again – Searching For You – Go Buddy Go – I Wanna Know – Crying Shame – Please Come Back – This Is It – Letter Of Goodbye – High On Rock ‘n’ Roll – That Day Went To The Devil – Lady Of Leisure – Brave Rockin’ Heart
Formed in 1996, the Tin Cans are now firmly established as one of the top Neo-rockabilly band in activity today. To tell you the truth with Unbreakable their sixth album, they probably release one of the very best albums of the genre. With 15 self penned songs it’s a rare case of all-killer-no-filler record. Yes sir! Here you’ll find superb musicianship from the strong rhythm section to the hot guitar of Semmel. The Tin Cans doesn’t seem to care about the musical trends that come and go on the rockin’ scene they play their own vision of Rockabilly and album after album like a joiner who sands down a piece of wood to obtain the perfect curve, they refine their vision. To achieve this they use elements of 50’s rockabilly mixed with 80’s neo-rockabilly, a bit of country twang, a touch of ska, all of this played with a 21st century feel. A brilliant that comes in a nicely designed digipack.
.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Smell of Kat

Smell of Kat

Smell of Kat – Raw Beat

Vampirella Music – 10200009-7 [1997]

Nothing More But Shout – You’re Gonna Die / Evil Girl – Raw Beat

“Smell of Kat” is the name of an excellent song by Stringbeans, a Finish neo-rockabilly trio. This is also the name of an equally excellent quartet from Spain. Smell of Kat formed in 1994, and in 1996 the band recorded their first EP. The line-up consisted of Javi Caballero on vocals, David Mourello on double bass, Christobal Saez on drums, and Javi Uroz on guitar. All four songs are originals.
Their music falls somewhere in the blurry zone between fast Neo-Rockabilly and Psychobilly, a bit like the Blue Cats meet the Ricochets or something like that. The instruments are well played, and the tight rhythm section keeps a solid beat throughout. Superb production too.

The radioactive Kid

Levi Dexter

Levi Dexter and the Ripchords – In the Beginning

In the beginning

Mistral Records BLOW 1 [1980]
I’m Gone – It’s The Beat – Cat Fight – 21 Days in Jail

Sometimes when a band splits, it’s a colossal waste of talent. On the contrary, the split of Levi and the Rockats gave us two great bands: the Rockats and Levi and the Ripchords. A bit like the original Blue Cats’ split gave us Dave Phillips and the Blue Cats with Clint Bradley.
Anyway, back to Levi Dexter. When he parted ways with the Rockats, he quickly searched for potential members to form a new band. Dexter approached different musicians for the Ripchords, including Brian Setzer and his brother Gary. Still, the line-up finally settled on Danny B. Harvey on lead guitar, Jimmy Reed on rhythm guitar, Dave Curry on bass, and Pat Brown on drums.
This hot combo cut this EP in April 1980 at Alaska studios in London. It features three originals and one cover.
Danny Harvey penned two songs: I’m Gone and Cat Fight. The former is a superb fast-paced Rockabilly number, the latter has a menacing mood, which carries the theme of the song. You’d expect the violence to erupt anytime. Also, it features a fine slide guitar on the solo.
It’s The Beat, written by the singer, is a mid-tempo dancing tune with drums to the fore, not surprisingly with such a title.
The fourth track is Magic Sam’s 21 Days In Jail. Dexter and the Ripchords turned the song into a superb Rockabilly with a powerful double-bass and Harvey’s guitar galloping (or should I say “galluping”) behind the melody.
In 1980, the band managed to capture the excitement of the Fifties while keeping it relevant for a contemporary audience that saw the arrival of Punk. Forty years later, it still sounds fresh.


Levi Dexter & The Ripchords – I Get So Excited

I Get so excited

Fresh Records – FRESH 40 [1981]
I Get So Excited – The Other Side Of Midnight

Recorded in July 1981, Levi and the Ripchords’ second single shows a slight departure from the band’s debut effort. After Curry and Reed decided to return to Los Angeles the previous Summer, the band recruited Bobby Brennan on double bass, and Danny Harvey remained the sole guitar player. It’s also produced by the expert hands and ears of Richard Gottehrer (Blondie, Robert Gordon, the Strangeloves, Holly and the Italians). It finds Dexter and the Ripchords leaving the traditional Rockabilly idiom to flirt with Neo-Rockabilly. Suffice to compare the Other Side of Midnight’s version recorded by Levi and the Rockats on their Louisiana Hayride album with this one. The former is played in a medium train beat and sounds traditional, whereas the latter is slightly faster, the vocal is meaner, and the guitar sound is more modern. Those differences may sound subtle, but in the end, you almost have an entirely new song.
I Get So Excited is from the pen of Danny Harvey, and drummer Pat Brown is in the same vein. I always get chills when the song stops and Harvey erupts into an amazing, yet brief, guitar solo.


Levi – The Fun Sessions

levi the fun sessions

PVC Records – PVC 5905
I Get So Excited – The Other Side Of Midnight – Victim Of Kool – Let Er Roll – Jitterbop Baby

Both I Get So Excited and Other Side Of Midnight were released as a single in 1981. Victim of Kool comes from the same session (July 1981) produced by Richard Gottehrer. It sounds like a modern version of Gene Vincent’s Dance In The Street.
The remaining two songs, a cover of Hal Harris’ Jitterbop Baby and Sid King’s Ler Er Roll, come from a Trident Studio session in London in November 1980. The sound is more traditional and closer to the band’s debut single in terms of sound.


Pomp!
Levi Dexter – Pomp!

Levi Dexter – Pomp!

Jappin’ and Rockin’ JRCD3 [1992]
Other Side of Midnight – Just Go Wild – Hot’n’Cold – Lolita – Joint Jumpin – Dub-Scratch Boogie – Crazy Blues – Everytime – Stealin Corn – Motorhead Baby – All Night Rockin’

In 1985 Levi Dexter gathered a fine array of musicians and did what he does best (and better than many): ROCK! The result was Pomp!
Actually there’s more than just rockabilly here and everyone who likes good music will find something on this platter that is sure to please him . Of course the amateur of Neo-rockabilly as defined by Dexter with the Rockats and the Ripchords will be knocked off by his new version of his classic “Other Side Of Midnight” – that plays in the same league as, say, everything the Blue Cats recorded on the Tunnel in term of modern Rockabilly – or by his interpretation of classics like “Hot’n’Cold”. But there’s also a good dose of good old Rock’n’roll with saxophone, a jazzy ballad (Lolita) with a great solo that is worth the price of the album itself (even if it sells for big money on the internet now!) a rockin’ blues with steel guitar (Crazy Blues) and a bit of western swing influence (Everytime) too. There’s even an instrumental in the Bakersfield style.
As I said before, “Pomp” is not that easy to find but definitely worth the hunt.


Levi Dexter - Roots Man
Levi Dexter – Roots Man

Levi Dexter – Roots Man

Dextone Records/Rhythm Bomb records RBR5776 [2014]
Roots Man – Honey Bun – Completely Sweet – Oakie Boogie – Boppin’ Bernie – Rollin’ To The Jukebox Rock – Hadacillin Boogie – I’m Laying It On The Line – Put Your Cat Clothes On – Move Around – The Man Who Counts – Hurricane – Restless – Cannibal Party

Levi’s back! Not that he was really gone – though he’s a real gone cat but that’s another story – but his latest album released jointly by his own label Dextone records and Rhythm Bomb records sounds like a sonic bang and a slap in the face. A shoot of Rock’n’roll directly injected through your ears to your feet. Boppin’ fever guaranteed.
Roots Man, quite an appropriate name, was recorded live mostly o n vintage gear and it shows. One can hear the emergency and the excitement that make the essence of Rockabilly. Special mention also to the perfect backing band: Buzz Campbell (Hot Rod Lincoln, Lee Rocker) sets his guitar on fire while Johnny Bowler (Guana Batz, Head Cats and many others) and Stinky provide the beat.
Among the 14 songs, three are Dexter originals. The title track is a hot rocker with stop-starts arrangements with Levi naming his favourite rockers while Campbell answers with the appropriate riffs. Boppin’ Bernie (I wonder who this Bernie can be?) has a slight Gene Vincent feel and is sure to make you… bop! The third song, quite possibly my favourite track, is the humorous Cannibal Party that sounds like a mix between Jungle Rock and the MeteorsVoodoo Rhythm.
The remaining songs are covers from the songbooks of Larry Donn, Eddie Cochran, Carl Perkins, Don Rich & the Buckaroos, Jack Guthrie, Benny Joy, Hank Penny and, that’s a good point, contemporary artists like Bob Butfoy( Jack Rabbit Slim) and Steve Bloomfield. Dexter assimilates them, mixes them with his own influences (Do I hear a bit of Cavan on Oakie Boogie?) and in the end the songs are what I call “Dexterised”, sounding 100% Levi.
A must have.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Levi Dexter (Photo by Bernie Dexter)
Levi Dexter (Photo by Bernie Dexter)

Cellmates (the)

The Cellmates – On Parole

the Cellmates

Rage Records Rage LP 103 [1990]
Road To Riches – Nobody’s Guy – Blue Moon Baby – The Hustler – The Contract – Riot In Cell Block No. 9 – Lady Seduction – Eyes That Didn’t Care – Russian Roulette – On Parole – Getta’ Kick – Tallulah

The Cellmates formed in Leicester in early 1989 with Steve Orbell on vocals, Nick Withfield on drums, Kev Downes on guitar, and Mark “Moff” Moffat (previously in Go-Katz) on slap bass. They quickly started to write their own material and recorded a two-track demo. After playing some support gigs, notably for the Long Tall Texans, they caught the attention of Rage records, and they recorded their sole long-play under the direction of Roger Tebbutt (Long Tall Texans, Happy Drivers) in 1990. The Cellmates played bouncy neo-rockabilly, with special care to melodies and arrangements. To sum it up, this is not just Rockabilly played at a fast pace. The guitar is excellent and innovative; the slap bass works very well with the drums, and Orbell is a more than competent singer. Some songs show some Psychobilly influences creeping in, like The Contract, Lady Seduction, or Russian Roulette. Most tunes are originals except for three covers: Dave Diddle Day’s Blue Moon Baby, The Recalls’ Nobody’s Guy, which sounds a bit like It’s All Over Now, and Riot In Cell Block no9, which alternates bluesy parts with fast neo-rockabilly on the chorus. On Parole is a hidden treasure that deserves to be rediscovered today. The Cellmates were an excellent band. Sadly, though they began working on a second album, the label folded and the band split in 1992. Five songs remain unreleased to this day. If you like the early Long Tall Texans, Restless and the Nitros, On Parole is the album you need to complete your collection.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Happy Drivers

According to the legend, the band formed in June 1985 after a Jack Scott show. Initially a quartet, with Arnold Baker on lead vocals, Jean Christophe Jehanne on guitar and lead vocals, Thierry Petel on drums, and Franck Marivain on double-bass. The quartet became a trio when Baker left. Then Christian Pujol (aka Mickey Black Fingers) joined the band. When he quit at the end of 1988, the remaining two members contacted the Crabs’ double bassist, but it didn’t work. Following the advice of Alain of Les Vierges, they got in touch with Alain Marietti, who played with Los Carayos and Les Wampas.
This article focuses on the band’s early releases before they moved away from Rockabilly and Psychobilly.

Happy Drivers – Demo

Right String, Wrong Yo-yo / Jump Baby Jump / Tear It Up / London Rock

On these recordings, Arnold Baker sings the two jive/rock’n’roll tunes (Jump Baby Jump and Tony Crombie’s London Rock). Both feature a saxophone, and Jump Baby Jump, though not very original benefits from an excellent guitar part. Jean-Christophe Jehanne takes lead vocals on the Rockabilly stuff, Carl Perkins’ Right String, Wrong Yo-yo and Johnny Burnette’s Tear It Up, the former having a powerful slap-bass part.


Happy Drivers – Jump Baby Jump

Happy Drivers
Happy Drivers

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

On this single, the band now evolves in trio format. Jump Baby Jump is a new version recorded for this single with Jehanne on lead vocals. It suffers from Jehanne’s accent, a recurrent problem on many of his recordings, and it’s a bit young and thin in terms of sound.The b-side is far better and more original with a stop-start composition and an interesting guitar solo. A new recording of this song was made for their debut album.


Happy Drivers – We Shall Be Going On

happy driversIguane Production – Iguane 001 [1987]
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

Shortly after their single, the trio recorded We Shall Be Going On, in their rehearsal room in December 1987.
When you listen thirty years later to an album you liked a lot as a teenager, it’s not easy to 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 the one hand, if you want to be objective, one can say that the sound and the production (or the lack of) are 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 also has some qualities. The boys wrote their own songs (even if Low Rider sounds very close to Stray CatsBuilt For Speed) with varied influences from straight rockabilly to blues, with a dash of neo-rockabilly and a bit of country too (you can find a banjo on a couple of songs). The covers, including Dave Phillips The Fun Of It, are very well chosen. All these elements – and I can’t deny a bit of nostalgia – make this debut album an enjoyable listening experience, even three decades later.


Happy Drivers – Indians on the Road

happy drivers indiansGougnaf Mouvement – GM 038 [1988]
Indians – I’m Not A Hero – Tear It Up – Nervous Man – Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You – Crawdad Hole

Recorded in April 1988, less than six months after their debut album, Indians show the band’s rapid evolution. Compared to their debut album, this mini 10” album is plain excellent. It also shows that the short distance advantages the trio. Since their previous release, the Happy Drivers have hardened their sound. Not exactly psychobilly, but no longer 50’s rockabilly, they created their 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. The third original, “Nervous Man,” is nervous for sure with loud guitar and raspy voice. It prefigures what will follow with “War” their third album. JC has worked on his voice, and you also hear that the band benefited from a real studio and enough time to refine 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.” Initially penned by Anne Bredon in the late fifties as a Folk song, Joan Baez later popularized it, then Led Zeppelin covered it on their debut album. The Happy Drivers turn that song into a frantic rockabilly number. Simply perfect.


Happy Drivers – War

happy drivers war

Boucherie
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

Recorded in January 1990 and released in March of the same year, 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). Not only Alain brought his bass but also many influences that one didn’t find in the band’s sound like hardcore and heavy metal (Cro-Mags, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and so on). He also sang two songs, including one in French.
Contrary to their first releases, they worked with a “real” producer, namely Roger Tebbutt, who worked with The Long Tall Texans. The result is a harder sound, and the album sees the trio exploring new territories. They cover 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 others are strictly hardcore/punk rock like Arena. Another tune (Lame de Fond) sounds like a French folk song, a path some members of the band will follow after the group splits.
Despite some good songs here and there, The Happy Drivers’ following albums (Toowomba and Epica Carmina) were disappointing compared to War, which was the perfect combination of Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Hardcore, and alternative rock.

In 2017, Jean-Christophe appeared in Spain at the 25th Psychobilly Meeting. Too bad he didn’t choose to reform the band with its original line-up for the occasion. He then formed a new incarnation of the band called Happy On The Road with Gaybeul (Demented Are Go, Surf Rats and a electric-bass player. The trio recorded and released an album in Fall 2020.

Happy Drivers

happy drivers

Happy Drivers

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

Restless

Restless – Ready To Go!

Restless ready to goBluelight Records BLR 33205 2 [2020]
Love Like A Bullet – Ready To Go – Crime Don’t Pay – 18 Wheels – One Way – Hellbound – Knee Deep In The Beat – Shake Your Body – Open Road – Bid For Freedom – All Night Long – If I Can Ever Let Her Go

After forty years of service to the cause of Rock’n’Roll, Mark Harman has decided to bring down the curtain on Restless. That’s a shock. It’s hard for me to imagine a world without Restless. Theband has always been part of my musical landscape. I can tell you when and where I bought Why Don’t You Just Rock?
However, this sad news was counterbalanced by the announcement of a new studio album recorded by the four-piece line up of the band, which put on wax Vanish Without A Trace, one of the very best Neo-Rockabilly of all time.
The wait is finally over and here’s Restless’ final studio album the well-named Ready To Go! (I’m optimistic and hope that the band will maybe release a live album or a rarities compilation featuring all line-ups of Restless, one can dream.)
Ready to Go! is a vibrant album with songs penned by each member of Restless. It’s also perfectly recorded, with the band making full use of the studio and trying things with their producer Mika Railo. The sound is crystal clear, and the listener can hear every subtlety from the superb slap bass sound (you hear both the slap and the notes) to the different layers of guitars.
Love Like A Bullet, a rip-roaring boogie-blues with a modern edge, is the perfect opener. The title track is a wild Rockabilly with a Johnny Kidd feel. After a classic opening, Crime Don’t Pay develops into something completely different and very catchy. Restless songs have that quality to evolve into unexpected directions.
Jeff Bayly’s writing contribution is small in terms of quantity but not in terms of quality. His 18 Wheels is a superb Rockabilly tune with a country twang.
As a Buddy Holly fan, I was totally under the charm of One Way, a highly melodic tune with superb guitar arrangement between Harman and Malone. Hellbound is a country tune with a dark ambiance, featuring no less than six guitars and none played by mister Harman. This is the opportunity to mention his superb vocal performance, not only on this song but on the whole album. His talents as a guitarist are often praised, for good reasons, but we tend to forget just how fantastic a singer he is.
Knee Deep (In the Beat) changes the mood and is more on the jazz side. Nice piano playing too.
Shake Your Body is one of the most modern songs of the album. It mixes a threatening feel with a touch of what I would describe as Glamabilly. Surprising at first, but very addictive.
Next is Open Road, a beautiful country tune with a ’60s vibe. Bid For Freedom is more traditional, sounding like a cross between Sun Rockabillies and Marty Robbins. After that moment of calm, All Night Long, a fantastic Rocker with powerful slap bass and slide guitar, takes no prisoners. And here we are, the last tune of the final Restless album. If I Can Ever Let Her Go is a jazz-tinged number with piano and brushed snare. One could easily imagine the band playing it in a small club, in the wee hours of the morning, with the chairs on the tables.
What else can I say? It’s sad to see them go (though I’m sure they have plenty of solo projects) but it’s a good thing to see them leave the scene at the top of their game releasing what is probably one of their best albums.
The LP version has two different songs (Gotta Get Out, and Here She Comes.)
Available at Goofin Records and Raucous.


Restless ‎– Love Like A Bullet

restlessBluelight Records ‎– BLR 45143 7 [2019]
Love Like A Bullet – Get Up And Get Out

In the recent years, Restless went back to their mid 80’s quartet line-up consisting of Mick Malone on guitar, Jeff Bayly on bass, and, of course, Ben Cooper and Mark Harman, respectively on drums and guitar and vocals. This line-up gave us the best (the Vanish Without a Trace ep that I hold as one of the best neo-rockabilly records ever made) and After Midnight an album that needs to be reconsidered (see review below).
Penned by Cooper, Love Like A Bullet starts with the band shouting “Gotta Give me your love” that reminded me of the opening of What Can You Say? then the tune evolves into a rip-roaring boogie blues with a modern edge. The result is both a classic and a contemporary song.
The b-side, penned by Malone, is exclusive to this single and won’t be available on the forthcoming album, which is a reason good enough to buy it, but the quality of the song is another good reason.
These two songs augur the best for the album that will be released in 2020. And since the band has decided to call it quit, it will probably be their last which is very sad. But if all the songs are from the same wood, Restless will leave the scene on a very high note.


Restless live in TokyoRestless – Live in Tokyo 1989

Foot Tapping Records
Intro-Ghost Town / People Love A Show / Radar Love / All By Myself / Roll Your Monkey Maker / Vanish Without A Trace / That’s Alright / Neutron Dance / Ice Cold / 16 Tons / Baby Please Don’t Go / Edge On You / Money Honey / Little Pig / Long Black Shiny Car / Mr. Blues

This album, with the Sharks‘ Live in Japan and Frenzy‘s Live in Japan tends to make me believe that the best live albums are recorded in Japan with Steve Whitehouse slapping the double bass. If the Meteors Hell in the Pacific could easily prove me wrong on the first point, the Blue Cats’ On A Live Mission certainly confirms the second.
In 1989 Jeff baily left Restless and the band considered calling it quit. But with a tour of Japan scheduled, Ben Cooper and Mark Harman decided to hire a temporary bassist, namely Steve Whitehouse, to honor the booking. As Mark said in an interview to Deathrow “If Steve had said no, then if would have almost certainly been the end of Restless. Thankfully he said yes and after five minutes of rehearsing we went to Japan.
The result as I said is an excellent live album with a surprinsigly tight band – considering the condition this line-up embarked to the tour – that plays all the classics (you can check, they’re all here) with carefully choosen covers and more unusual stuff like People Love A Show, a song that previously appeared on the b-side of Ice Cold.
Recorded by Pete Gage and mastered with the help of Alan Wilson you can’t go wrong in term of sound. Most of all this recording perfectly completes the other live albums released by Restless.
The choice of Whitehouse proved to me a pretty good one since the band recorded three studio albums, including the excellent Movin’ On, with him.


Restless – Beat My Drum

The Madhouse Recording Co. ‎– NUTA LP 001
Radar Love – Neutron Dance – Beat My Drum – Do What I Do – London Boy – New Orleans – Dance With The Devil – Get It While You Can – Tumblin’ Down – Big Wheel – Crossed Line – Ain’t Got You – Just Can’t Take It

In late 1987, Mick Malone left Restless, and the band was back to a trio again. It didn’t weaken the group, and the following year, Harman, Cooper, and Baily were back with a vengeance with Beat My Drum.
Maybe they thought that after the heavy produced After Midnight they had something to prove, but it found Restless in fine form.
Beat My Drum sounds like a perfect mix of the band’s first three albums. You can find the neo-rockabilly of Why Don’t You Just Rock? on Do What I Do, the modernity of Do You Feel… on Get It While You Can and the pop edge of After Midnight in their covers of Radar Love and Neutron Dance. But most of the time, helped by the clean production of Pete Gage, all these influences merge to create a unique style that will be Restless sound in the forthcoming albums.


Restless - Live at the Klub Foot
Restless – Live at the Klub Foot

Restless – Live at the Klub Foot

Trophy Records TR002
Roll Your Money Maker – Fools Gold – Last Chance Baby – Baby Please Don’t Go – Bottle On The Beach – Long Black Shiny Car – Girl On Death Row – Live A Lie – Ghost Town – Ice Cold – Edge On You – Love Me – Mr Blues

Recently Alan Wilson (of Western Star and the Sharks fame) found a box full of tapes recorded at the Klub Foot, the mecca of Psychobilly and Neo-rockabilly in the mid-80’s. These tapes needed to be restored and cleaned, a very costly process and two of these shows (Batmobile and Sting Rays) were released on Anagram/Cherry Red Records. Sadly the sales weren’t enough for the label and they called it quit. Knowing he had history in his hands, Wilson created a sub-label to his own Western Star to keep on releasing this stuff.
The second release in the serie concerns another well established name on the scene: Restless. I don’t think it’s possible to find someone who doesn’t like Why Don’t You Just Rock? or Do You Feel Restless? They made a name on both rockabilly and psychobilly scenes. When this gig was recorded in September 1984 they were at their finest, the line-up being original members Mark Harman on guitar and Ben Cooper on drums plus bassist Jeff Baily and, freshly recruited, Mick Malone on second guitar. The quartet plays killer tunes one after another (with the exception of the Phantom’s Love Me which doesn’t fit them well – sorry Mark you’re not a wildman). This set even features an original that never appeared on a studio album and written by Malone.
Buy it at Western Star


Restless – Ice Cold

Restless Ice ColdABC – ABCS 013T [1987]
Ice Cold (The 1987 Remake) – The Hunt Goes On / Stranger – People Love A Show

In March 1987, the four-piece line-up of Restless recorded a new version of Ice Cold. It’s a very different than the one you can find on their debut album. This new version has little to no connection with Rockabilly except for powerful slap bass. It’s almost a brand new song. The tempo is slower, the drum production is more massive, and there’s a slight variation on the melody. The result is surprising at first, but quite addictive.
The Hunt Goes On is an excellent modern-Rockabilly with once again a superb double bass part by Jeff Baily. The weak point is maybe the drums sound that betrays the date of recording.
Let’s put it frankly, Stranger has nothing to do with Rockabilly. It’s in the straight line of the material recorded by the band for After Midnight, but, on the other hand, this is probably one of Restless unsung gem.
Back to modern Rockabilly in the pure Restless style with People Love A Show. This one, with Ice Cold, was also released as a single.
Despite what have been said about this period of Restless, it was one of the band’s most creative peak; this 12” EP, featuring songs that weren’t available elsewhere, proves it.


Restless – Just A Friend

Restless just a friendABC – ABCS 012 [1986]
Just A Friend – The Girl Invisible

Just A Friend, the A-side comes from After Midnight. It has a 80’s pop meets jazz sound that one could find find in some bands of that era. It’s clean and features as usual a superb solo by Mister Harman. The Girl Invisible first appeared on the B-side of the Vanish Without A Trace ep. It’s one of the band’s best modern rockabilly effort.


Restless - After Midnight
Restless – After Midnight

Restless – After Midnight

ABC [1986]
What Can You Say – Somebody Told Me – Do You Really Need To know? – Trouble rides A Fast Horse – Bye B B By By Bye – How Can I Find You? – You Lose – After Midnight – Dark Blue Sea – The Face – Just A Friend

Back in college, thanks to a friend, I discovered Restless chronologically. I was blown away by Why don’t you just Rock? and amazed by Do You Feel… After that, Paul Harman left the band, which was joined by Jeff Baily on double bass and Mick Malone on second guitar. This line-up released Vanish without a Trace, one of my all-time favorite modern Rockabilly recordings.
Then, the quartet released After Midnight. I was young and dedicated to Rockabilly body and soul. I didn’t understand it and, you know how you are when you’re a teenager, I felt betrayed. Did Restless sell out? Nevertheless, I kept on buying Restless records, and the following albums were, to my relief, more to my tastes.
Now years have passed, I’m older – my quiff is far long gone – and, I hope, wiser. I decided to revisit After Midnight. And I was pleasantly surprised. More than that, it’s actually an excellent album. Sure, if you expect Why Don’t You Just Rock part. 2 you’ll be disappointed, but if you approach it with an open mind you’ll be rewarded with solid melodies and some of Mark Harman’s best guitar parts (listen to the way he jumps on the solo of the title track for example.)
The band also had the ambition to go beyond the Rockabilly label. After Midnight featured more adventurous songs in terms of melody and arrangements, hence the presence of horns, accordion, synths, and keyboards of all sorts. So, yes, maybe they pushed it too far at places, and the production, especially now, seems dated, but you can’t blame an artist for having the will to create.
In 1990, Madhouse reissued the album under the title Kickin’ Into Midnight. It is a remixed version without the horns and most of the arrangements. It’s quite good, maybe more rockin’, but to be honest, I wonder if I don’t prefer the original mix. Anyway, it’s good to have both.
So if you think that anything that Elvis recorded after the Army was crap, you can live without that album, but if you’re curious, open to new melodies, and not too allergic to the production sound of the ’80s, you’ll find plenty of good things.


Do You Feel RestlessRestless – Do You Feel Restless?

Nervous Records NERD015 [1984]
Bottle On The Beach – Here I Am – Fool’s Gold – Down At The Swamp – Alabama Jailhouse – Prisoner Of Love – Sob Story – Crack Up ‘n’ Fall To Pieces – 16 Tons – Baby Please Don’t Go – Here I Am (dub version) – Sweet Surprise

Released in 1984 on Nervous records, Do You Feel Restless is the second full-length album from the British trio. It sounds like the modern counterpart of their debut album, with songs that Nervous could have judged too adventurous to be included on their debut album. Ben Cooper, the drummer, takes the lion’s share in terms of songwriting with seven songs out of twelve (the cd reissue features fifteen songs.) The other tunes are covers (Alabama Jailhouse, Baby Please Don’t Go, Sixteen Tons), and one song penned by Mark Harman (Bottle on the Beach) and another by the whole band (Crack Up And Fall to Pieces.)
While Why Don’t You Just Rock remained in the boundaries of Rockabilly with very few modern elements, Do You Feel Restless explore new territories. It flirts with Psychobilly at places, adds a touch of Reggae (Here I Am), and thus creates a new brand of modern Rockabilly that will be their trademark in the following years.


Restless - Why Don't You… Just rock!
Restless – Why Don’t You… Just rock!

Restless – Why Don’t You Just Rock

Nervous records Ner004 [1982]
It’s A Scam – Ice Cold – Why Don’t You Just Rock! – High Time – Last Chance Baby – Tag Man Tag – Long Black Shiny Car – Face In My Gin – Yellow Cab To Midnight – Morning Comes Slowly – Black Cat – Travellin’ – High Time 2* – Later* – That’s Alright* (*cd only)

Restless debut album, Why Don’t You Just Rock, was like a lightning in a bottle. The band had it all: the songs (mostly penned by singer and guitar player Mark Harman), the talent (with Harman’s guitar everywhere but also a tight rhythm section made of his brother Paul and Ben Cooper on drums)  but also the freshness and some form of carefree attitude that you have when you’re a teenager and you play that kind of music. Thus, they brought something new to the genre, making a lively album that rocks, bops, swings and rolls. A 80’s equivalent to Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps (a huge influence on the band).
There’s no need to do a song by song review, each number here is almost a classic: the title track, Ice Cold, Yellow Cab to Midnight, High Time (with its crazy jazzy guitar), Long Black Shiny Car. Unlike many they’re not afraid to play a ballad (Morning Comes Slowly) seriously.
And if you still need to be convinced, just count the numerous band this particular album influenced. They are legions. Restless, with Why Don’t You Just Rock, almost define, with the Blue Cats and a couple more bands, what neo-rockabilly is.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Restless
Resless (Mark Harman, Paul Harman, Ben Cooper)

Resless (Mark Harman, Paul Harman, Ben Cooper)
Resless (Mark Harman, Paul Harman, Ben Cooper)

1 2 3 12