Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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neo-rockabilly

Fretz (the)

in Reviews

Fretz psychobilly neo-rockabillyFretz (the) ‎– Don’t Fret

JPM Records ‎– FRET 1
Don’t Fret – Better Change Your Ways – Wishful Thinking – A Place In The Sun

An excellent though rather short mini lp by the Fretz, a neo-rockabilly band from Suffolk released around the mid 80’s. The Fretz were Jason Scopes on lead vocals and lead guitar, Mark Parker on double bass and Paul Smith on drums. The first three songs show the influence of Restless, Scopes guitar playing being clearly influenced by Mark Harman.
The last tune of the ep is more modern, closer to the style of Frenzy’s second album “Clockwork Toy”. All in all a very good ep. If you dig bands like Restless, the Nitros and the Cellmates this one is for you.

Fretz

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Crazy Legs

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Crazy Legs – Cool & Hot

Crazy Legs Cool & Hot

Tally-Ho Records – TH 201090

Cool Hot Jump Boogie – Singing The Blues – All Fool’s Day – I Should’nt Love You So – Diamonds & Lovers – It’s So Easy

Released in 1990, this second ep is a more accomplished effort. The sound and the production are way better and each member of the band improved his musical skills. And it features four originals for only two covers.

Cool Hot Jump Boogie sounds a bit like the Ringlets Trio with a dash of early Batmobile. Marty Robbins is given the doo wop treatment. Next is a galloping neo-rockabilly number with a powerful slap bass. Christian Kron sings lead on the Keytones inspired I Shouldn’t Love You So and Buddy Holly’s It’s So Easy. Diamonds & Lovers is a gentle and very good ballad.

Crazy Legs

Crazy Legs – Hello, Hello

Crazy Legs - Hello Hello

Tally-Ho Records ‎– TH 14189  [1989]

Hello, Hello – Crazy Legs – Ring Of Fire – Let´s Fall In Love – Death In Neck – A Teenager In Love

Crazy Legs is a German band formed by Mike Reuter on double bass and vocals, Armin Frob on guitar and Christian Kron on drums. Hello Hello is their first effort on vinyl and was released in 1989.

If a bit young in term of sound, this ep shows the potential of the band. This is neo-rockabilly in which one can hear the influence of bands like the Keytones to name but one.

The result is quite enjoyable with two self penned songs (Hello Hello and Death in Neck) and four covers. Gene Vincent’s Crazy Legs is an obvious choice and is pretty good. Ring Of Fire is sung by Christian the drummer. Cole Porter’s Let’s Fall In Love seems to be a mountain to high to climb for the band but to be honest this has too be one the hardest song to sing whereas Dion’s Teenager In Love suits them better.

Crazy Legs

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Rockats – Reviews

in Albums/Contemporary artists/R/Reviews

The Rockats - Rockin' Together
The Rockats – Rockin’ Together

The Rockats – Rockin’ Together

Lanark {2013}
Why The Doubt – Rockin’ Together – Bad Love – Road To Hell – Kitten With a Whip – Old Hickory Road – Pink and Black Cadillac – Reckless – Red Headed Rockin’ Gal – Sweet Sweet Charlotte – Tear The Roof Off – Why Do You Love Me.

For many young Rockabilly fans who, like me, discovered this music in the 80’s, Levi & the RockatsLive At the Louisiana Hayride and the RockatsLive at the Ritz were almost as important the Stray Cats debut album for their rockin’ education. They influenced countless bands (including a certain trio from Masapequa) and still continue today. So what was my surprise when I heard that after a 10 year hiatus the Rockats were back with a brand new studio album. Not a best-of, not a live, but 12 brand new sparkling songs written by the band (and their producer Quentin Jones who made a terrific job). And believe me cats, you should hide your kittens for this boys are still full of energy and they claws are sharper than ever.

Rockin’ Together” kicks off with “The Doubt” a superb modern rockabilly that sets the pace of the album: Dibbs’ vocal on top, solid guitars and rhythm section and top notch production. The title tracks lives to its name. “Why Do You Love Me (If I Don’t Treat You Right)” is a superb modern number that a strong commercial appeal without selling itself. Next is “The Road to Hell” a pure Rockabilly with an Elvis feel and featuring what Brian Setzer calls in his liner notes “the twin rockabilly guitar attack” of Barry Ryan and Danny Harvey.

Another highlight for the guitars is the surf tinged instrumental “Kitten with a Whip” penned by drummer Mike Osborn. With the next tune, they prove to be more than able on the honky tonk side with “ Olde Hickory Road ” featuring harmony vocal, piano and pedal steel effect on the guitar. They definitely should do more like this (actually you should try Dibbs’ solo album for more in that style). By comparison, Red Headed Rockin’ Gal is more on the blues side completed by finger snaps for that late 50’s rock’n’roll feel. You can find the same feel in Sweet Sweet Charlotte a rockaballad with echo not far from Gene Vincent.

Then the album ends with a string of three rockers. Starting with Tear the Roof Off (very appropriate name), going harder with “Bad Love” (not that far from a rockin’ Morrissey) and climaxing with the hot rocker ‘Reckless Rebel” again featuring strong guitar parts.

As a result, this is a great album and one thing is certain: the Rockats will continue to inspire many more bands!

More infos at www.lanarkrecords.net


The Rockats – Make That Move

Rockats make that moveRCA [1983]
Burning – One More Heartache – That’s the Way – Go Cat Wild – Never So Clever – Make That Move – Be Bop A Lula – Woman’s Wise

With Make that move the Rockats slowly departed from their neo-rockabilly sound to explore new territories. It was recorded in two sessions; the first one with Lewis King on drums for the title track and Marvin Gaye’s One More Heartache and the second with new drummer Mike Osborne. Both were produced by Mike Thorne of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love fame.

The result is a mix of all the things that influenced the band at the time. Never so Clever and their cover of Buzz and the Flyers Go Cat Wild are straight rockin’ tunes though with a modern sound. On the other hand That’s the Way (with keyboards) and One More Heartache have a strong new wave influence. And right between those two extremities you have Make That Move, a modern rocker with a catchy melody and the excellent Burnin’ that wouldn’t be out of place on Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell.
The cd reissue contains two bonus tracks recorded for the movie Where the Boys are.


the Rockats - Live at the Ritz
the Rockats – Live at the Ritz

The Rockats – Live at the Ritz

Island – ILPS 9626 [1981]
Rockin’ Baby – Rite Time – My Way – Go Kat Wild – (Don’t Treat Me Like A Dog) Love This Kat – Start Over Again – Krazy Baby – 50 Miles From Nowhere (A 1000 Miles From Home) – (Knockin’) At My Front Door – Wrong Rite Reason – Room To Rock – All Thru The Nite – I Wanna Bop

Signed to Island records, the next and natural move for the Rockats was to release a lp. After a failed attempt to capture their energy in studio, the label decided to record them in their natural environment: the stage. The result was Live at the Ritz, recorded, mixed and pressed in 48 hours. 
After an enthusiastic and drunken introduction by Billy Idol, the gang kicks off with Rockin’ Baby, a boppin’ rockabilly with fine Gallupin’ guitar. With the second song, Rite Time, the doubt is no longer possible: we are in 1981 not 1956. The Rockats don’t re-create, they totally make the genre their own by including elements of their era like Punk, as proved by their rendition of Cochran’s My Way, covering contemporary bands like Buzz and the Flyers (Go Kat Wild) and writing their own originals (All Thru The Nite; 50 Miles From Nowhere…).
Sure, their youthful exhuberance can sometimes lead to confusion but much to the chagrin of some purists, this bravado is closer to what Gene Vincent or Billy Lee Riley should sound on stage and despite some minor flaws the full platter is a neo-rockabilly rollercoaster. Culminating with the wild Krazy Baby, it contains just a few slower numbers to let you take your breath like the torrid Love this Kat (written by Bobby and Larson Paine who later wrote stuff for Brian Setzer and Stray Cats) and the bluesy Start All Over Again, quite close to the early Rolling Stones.
Listening to this album more than 30 years later, it is impossible not to aknowledge the huge influence the Rockats had on the whole rockin’ scene.
As the time of writing this it hadn’t, to my knowledge, been properly reissued on cd, except maybe in Japan.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read the whole Rockats story here.

Ravenna and the Magnetics

in Contemporary artists/R/Reviews

The Magnetics – Rockabilly Fools

the magnetics rockabilly fools

Rollin’Rock LP-025 [1980]
Bound To The Sound – Rockabilly Fool – Waterproof Love – I Like Your Kinda Love – Hypnotized – Headaches & Heartaches – Rock Around With Ollie Vee – Bang Bang – Willin’ & Ready – Good Love – Hot Pink Cowboy Boots – Changing All Those Changes – I Need Your Love – Swamp Sally

The Magnetics – Mean Mean Man

Rollin’ Rock 45-050 / RoundeletROUND 1001

Mean Little Mama / Mean Mean Man

Mean little 7″ indeed.
A side, sung by Jeff Poskin and is a cover of Roy Orbison’s Mean Little Mama . It’s a wild piece of Rockabilly.
B side is a cover of Wanda Jackson’s Mean Mean Man sung by Ravenna. It features a superb guitar solo that rocks like no tommorow.

Ravenna and the Magnetics – Tennesse & Texas

Rollin Rock /Rondelet ABOUT 1008 [1981]
Tennessee & Texas – Find My Baby for Me – The Turning Tide – Surefire Shaker – Lonely Weekends – Waitin’ To Come Back – I Never Lie – Nite Owl – Feel So Good – Baby That’s All Right – 6918 Peach – Vibrate

Ravenna & the Magnetics - partRavenna and the Magnetics – Rockabilly Fools / Tennessee & Texas

Part-CD-691.001
Bound To The Sound – Rockabilly Fool – Waterproof Love – I Like Your Kinda Love – Hypnotized – Headaches & Heartaches – Rock Around With Ollie Vee – Bang Bang – Willin’ & Ready – Good Love – Hot Pink Cowboy Boots – Changing All Those Changes – I Need Your Love – Swamp Sally – Tennessee & Texas – Find My Baby for Me – The Turning Tide – Surefire Shaker – Lonely Weekends – Waitin’ To Come Back – I Never Lie – Nite Owl – Feel So Good – Baby That’s All Right – 6918 Peach – Vibrate

Very good idea from part to reissue on one cd this two album by Ravenna and the Magnetics. Too often overlooked and neglicted in modern rockabilly history. Ravenna and the Magnetics formed in the late 70’s and disbanded in late 1982. The first 14 tracks represent the bands’ debut album recorded at Rockin’ Ronny Weiser’s studio. At the time they went under the name of the Magnetics and were a tight rockabilly combo with Ravenna (aka Freda Johnson) on vocals, Tom Bergham on guitar, Jeff Poskin on second lead guitar and vocals, Steve Grindle on slap bass and Tom Svornich on drums. Both Ravenna and Poskin sang lead sharing the vocals duties equally and writing the stuff they sang, with occasionnal help from Bergham and Grindle. This brings a great variety to the album. Ravenna has a strong voice, in the style of Sparkle Moore and Janis Martin. One can also hear the influences of Carl Perkins, Buddy Holly (covered twice with Rock Around With Ollie Vee and Changing All Those Changes) with a contemporary twist.
After a few line-up changes, Ravenna and the Magnetics recorded Tennessee & Texas. They had lost Poskin who left to form the 88’s but added a saxophone and a piano. As a result Ravenna sang lead throughout and the sound of the band morphed from straight rockabilly to piano led rock’n’roll, most of the original being written by pianist Richard Hogan. Two songs taken from a single complete the set.
Retrospectively it’s hard to imagine that in the wake of the Rockabilly boom initiated by the Stray Cats they didn’t have more exposure. They could easily have national chart success. Maybe they were too raw at places and Rollin Rock’s distribution probably couldn’t handle a national distribution (that’s why the Blasters moved from Rollin Rock to Slash). On a sad footprint to the band’s history, Ravenna passed away in 1997, at the very young age of 42). It’s good to see that her talent is now available to a brand new generation of young Rockabilly fans who will enjoy the Magnetics’ music and perpetuate her legacy. The cd comes with a thick booklets featuring the original liner notes written by Ronny Weiser, a band bio by Tom Bergham, a detailed discography and additionial infos from Bernd Holzapfel and Paul Diffin (Sugar Ray Ford, Blue Cats) who played with the band during their European tour (many rare photos included too).
Get yourself this piece of Rockabilly history.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Ravenna & the Magnetics

Javes (the)

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Javes (the) – TV Quarrel

Javes tv quarrel

Razzle Dazzle Records – RAZ 811101 [1985]

TV Quarrel – 77 Sunset Strip – Stranger than Paradise – Jivin’ with my baby

The Javes were a German trio formed by Torsten Langner on guitar and vocals, Jürgen Berger on double bass and Oliver Hartmann on drums. They released this ep with four original songs in late 1985 / early 1986.

The title track is pure neo-rockabilly in the style of Restless’ first album. Very good guitar, solid double bass and drums and screams. Both 77 Sunset Strip and Stranger than Paradise border on early Psychobilly. If you want to pursue the comparison with Restless, let’s say those two tracks would be more at their place on Do You Feel rather than Why Don’t You Just Rock. Despite what I can say, don’t believe this guys were copycats, it’s just to give you an idea of the sound.

The last track is Jivin’ With My Baby which has a superb jazz feel to it with brushed snare drum and appropriate jazz chords.

Maybe the production is a bit thin at place and a fuller sound would have been better (especially when you know that they recorded some démos for Northwood later that year with Boz Boorer.) But that’s just one minor flaw (so minor you can’t even call it a flaw.)

Both Jurgen and Torsten later joined 45rpm.

Javes

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Saint Dom and the Sinful

in Contemporary artists/Reviews
Saint Dom and the Sinful

Saint Dom and the Sinful – Holywell Dene

Get Up & Get Out – Motorbike Rider – Mr Saint – Ghost Town – Holywell Dene – Cause i Do – Cat Feet – Jenny Won’t Play No More – Phantom Lady – Slaphouse – One Foot In the Grave – Mohawk

Better late than never as they say. It’s never been so true. First I should have written this review a long time ago. Then because Saint Dom took 30 years to release this album.

The band originally formed in 1983, featuring Simon Badminton who later formed Spook and the Ghouls, and disbanded in 1987 their only recording legacy being some demos.

In 2011 they reformed with Peter Turner (Sureshots, Johnny and the Roccos) on double bass and Mark Coppin (Sureshots, Sugarpuff Demons) on drums. In early 2016 they finally started to work on an album and two years later Holywell Dene was born.

And let me tell you, that was worth the wait! This is one of the very best neo-rockabilly album I’ve ever heard. Not “the best of 2017” or “one the best of the decade”, no I repeat: one of the best I’ve ever heard! It can stand proudly near anything released by Restless, the Sharks or the Blue Cats.

All twelve songs are penned by Dom Malia (aka Saint Dom) who’s not happy to be a mighty fine songwriter and one hell of a singer is also an ace guitar player (listen to Cat Feet their instrumental.)

The album kicks off with Get up and Get Out. Man! If I had to explain what is modern Rockabilly to someone who doesn’t have a clue, I’d surely use this song and the Blue Cats’Man with a mission.

After such a strong opener you have to be good. And Saint Dom and the sinful are! The songs follow one after another always bringing something new. Some are very close to Psychobilly like Mr Saint or One Foot in the Grave. Others are more traditionnal like Cause I Do (with a riff similar to the Moonlighters’ Broken Heart) or the title track with its powerful slap bass. It must be noted that the slap bass is particularly well recorded; You can hear both the slap and the bass and the sound is warm.

A bit of glam can be heard on Ghost Town (maybe it’s the intro that makes me say that) and some boogie blues on Jenny Won’t Play No More with guest harmonica player Scotswood Slim. Talking about guest, Steve Clark of the Neutronz can be heard adding a touch of Mark Harman influenced guitar on some tracks.

If at this point you didn’t understand that you should order this record without delay, I guess one of us has a problem… No seriously, order it right now!

Saint Dom on reverbnation.

Saint Dom at Raucous records.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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