Rockabilly, Psychobilly and everything in between.

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neo-rockabilly

The Rockits

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rockitsThe Rockits – The Rockits

Award Records ‎– SH-1001 [1988]
Cruisin’ All Night – TwoTimin’ Baby – Stood Up

Formed in the mid-80’s The Rockits, previously known as the Top Cats, were a neo-rockabilly band heavily influenced by the earlier cat bands such as Stray Cats and Polecats. They were Buddy Dughi(Vocals/Lead Guitarist), Pete Bonny (drums), and Steve Herney (double-bass). This is their sole release, a three-song ep in pink, and black vinyl.
It contains two Buddy Dughi originals, “Cruisin’ All Night” and “TwoTimin’ Baby”, along with their tribute to Ricky Nelson, “Stood Up.” Dughi and Bonny later founded the Hot Rod Trio and Suzy Q & Her Be-Bop Boys.

Outer Limits

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Outer Limits – The Chase

outer limits

Dog Rock SD 106 [1985]
The Chase – Tell Me

The Outer Limits line up on their debut single was Martin “Johno” Johnson on lead vocals and guitar, Mick Fletcher on bass, Paul Gaskin on guitar, and Rob Tyler on drums.
The Chase is a great early psychobilly/neo-rockabilly number. The flip is good too, though far less original since it borrows heavily (lyrics and melody) to Brand New Cadillac.

Outer Limits – Edge of Time

outer limits

Dog Rock SD 107 [1985]
Edge Of Time – The Car – Lago – The Quest

On their second release, a 12″ EP, Outer Limits played as a trio with Johnson switching on bass.
The music also changed a bit. The band added a solid dose of new-wave to their brand of neo-rockabilly. The result is close to the four-piece line-up of Restless or some of Dave Philips‘s sides. Not very surprising coming from Rob Tyler and Paul Gaskin.
If you dig neo-rockabilly with a modern edge like the previously mentioned bands or the G-Men, this one is for you.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Honey Hush

in Reviews

honey hushHoney Hush – Honey Hush

Rockhouse Records – MLP 8418 [1985]
Nowhere Train – Rock-Itis – Getaway Girl – You’re the One that Done It – She’s so Fine – Pink and Black

Honey Hush came from the Netherlands and formed in the early ’80s. After one single included here, they released this mini-lp.
This is neo-rockabilly at its best.
The singer is excellent, the band is perfect (powerful slap bass and light guitar that takes you straight into the 80’s), and they have solid originals. They complete the set with two well-chosen covers: Thomas Wayne’s You’re The One That Done It and a live version of Sonny Fisher’s Pink and Black.
Furthermore, if the tone is mostly neo-rockabilly oriented, they’re not afraid to bring a bit of psychobilly with Nowhere Train or play in a more classical Rockabilly vein with She’s so Fine. They even add a bit of jazz (with brushed snare) on Rock-Itis. As a result, it gives a very varied mini album.
Moreover, the six-song format let no place for average tunes.
After these recordings, Honey Hush changed its name and became Archie.


Honey Hush – Getaway Gal

honey hushRockhouse Records – SP8305 [1983]
Getaway Gal – She’s so fine

Rockhouse records released this excellent debut single by this Dutch neo-rockabilly band in 1983. Getaway Gal features a superb guitar solo that is reminiscent of Mark Harman. B-side is more traditional.
Both songs will appear on their mini-lp.

Honey Hush
Honey Hush

The Rockats – Secret Hearts

in 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 – Plays Elvis

Rockats plays ElvisHeartbreak Hotel – Baby Let’s Play House – Blue Moon – Good Rockin’ Tonight
This four-track mini cd was a Japan bonus sold with Downtown Saturday Night. I don’t think it was available separately.
The title says it all, what you’ll find are four Elvis Presley covers. Being the excellent singer he is, Dibbs has no problem to revisit the King’s repertoire.
Barry Ryan plays two hot and bluesy solos on Heartbreak Hotel (which also, like the original, features a piano.) Back to straight Rockabilly with Baby Let’s Play House. Though they remain respectful to the originals, the band bends the songs to make them fit in their style. This is by no mean a sterile act of recreation.
The highlight of this EP is the cover of Blue Moon. The band had an excellent idea to blend the melody with Sleepwalk. The result gives a very atmospheric mood, almost like a dream while Preston flies over this version with class and elegance only attained by Chris Isaak (and Elvis) before him.
The closing number is a smoking rendition of Good Rockin’ Tonight.
Though it’s not easy to find, it definitely worths the hunt.


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.

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang

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Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang - Wild Youth
Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth

Rockhouse [1982]
Wild Youth – She Will Come Back – 56 Boys –  Tainted Love – Love Me – My Turn – On The Move – One And Only – Flea Brain – Should I Ever Love Again – Summertime – Baby Blue – Just Can’t Believe – Wow

Having left the Blue Cats in 1980, Dave Phillips took some time off before forming his own band. Still with Gene Vincent in mind he named his new band the Hot Rod Gang after the 1958 movie featuring the screaming kid. The first line-up consisted of John Day and Ray Thompson on guitars, Rob Tyler on drums and of course Dave Phillips on double bass and lead vocals. But it’s the second line-up with Mark Harman from Restless on guitar replacing both Day and Thompson that entered the history of modern rockabilly. Harman was the perfect choice, his fast Gallup influenced licks being the perfect complement to Phillips. The trio recorded Wild Youth in late 1981 and contrary to what the cover reads it’s Tyler on drums and not Andrew Wrightson who was the band’s driver (even on the cd reissue features the mistake).
One can suppose that the label (Rockhouse for both) acted with Phillips the same way he did with the Blue Cats’ second album (with Clint Bradley) hence the presence of many familiar cover in a more traditional style (Flea Brain, Summertime, Baby Blue and the Phantom’s Love Me sung by Harman). But there’s enough modern stuff to make of Wild Youth a benchmark in Neo-Rockabilly history, the best known being their cover of Tainted Love. It’s an instant classic that will have a lasting influence on many young bands.
Essential to any decent collection.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Dave Phillips

Dave Phillips – Rockhouse Mini L.P. Collection

Rockhouse Records – MLP 8420 [1985]

Brand New Beat – The Fun Of It – In My Dreams – So Now You’ve Lost her – You Don’t Want to Know – The Trip

I said it before and I’ll say it again, mini lp are often the best support for Rockabilly. It’s short, every number counts and there’s no place for fillers.
Dave Phillips’ mini lp for Rockhouse is the perfect exemple of that statement.It’s almost perfect and dare I say, even better than his debut solo album.
Once again one can hear the influence of Gene Vincent, with the covers of Brand New beat (imagine Vincent revisited by Restless of vanish Without A Trace period) and In My Dreams which is probably the weakest song of the album (but to his discharge it’s hard to compete with Vincent on that type of song.)
The four remaining tracks are originals. You Don’t Want to Know features Mark Harman of Restless (and former hot Rod Gang member) on guitar and is a rockin’ ballad with once again the shadow of Gene Vincent over it.
So You’ve Lost Her is a medium rocker while the Fun of it is a fast neo-rockabilly with breaks later covered by French band the Happy Drivers on their debut album and the Trip is Worth th eprice of the album alone. This fast modern rockabilly number (with a dash of psychobilly) is a modern masterpiece.

Dave Phillips – The Best Of

Rockhouse records ROCKCD8603
Tainted love -’56 Boys – Wild youth – She will come back – Love me – On the move – It was free – The trip – Every walk of life – I saw her standing there – Sunshine girl – So now you lost her – The fun of it – Brand new beat – I’m gonna die – I’m driving home – Boogie up roar – Pink thunderbird – Cat man

If you don’t have any of the solo albums of Dave Phillips or the Blue Cats (which is, in my opinion, a shame), you should definitely acquire this best-of album.
It covers the “Rockhouse years” of the fame double-bassist, with songs from the first Blue Cats album, the studio recordings (including the hit Tainted Love) and two live songs lifted from the Live at the Rockhouse compilation album.
It also shows that Phillips always had the best musicians to back him, Rob Tyler on drums and aces like Mark Harman, Paul Gaskin and Mick Malone on guitar.


Dave Phillips – Understatements

Kix 4 U Records ‎– 4U 3334
Rescue – Desert Town – Every Walk Of Life – Next Stop – Night Life – Paradise For The Children – The Trip – Room At The Top – Sunshine Girl – I Saw Her Standing There – Dancing Shoes – The Fun Of It!

Following the success of Tainted Love, Bert Rockhuizen of Rockhouse/Kix4U pushed Dave Phillips to add even more modern elements on Understatements.
Hence, despite having good melodies, most of the album is made of pop/new wave-influenced music with a modern production that has little if nothing in common with Rockabilly.
Nevertheless, a bunch of great self-penned Neo-Rockabilly numbers (The Trip, The Fun of it, and the Beatles influenced Next Stop) and two good rocking covers of the Beatles’ I Saw Her Standing There and Buzz & the Flyers’Every Walk of Life, save half of the platter.


Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Look Out!

Bank Of Troy Recordings ‎– AR-92-1-33, My Way Records ‎– WAY LP 1223 [1992]
New Job – Git It – Goin’ Up The Country – It Was Free – She’s A Woman – No Comeback – Joy Ride – Ain’t That Good News – Handsome Johnny – Linda Lou – A Soft Growl – It’s Murder On The Streets

After going too deep into the musical experimentation with “Understatements” his previous album, Dave Phillips wisely chose to return to what he does best: ROCK! And what a better band than the original Hot Rod Gang (the faithful Rob Tyler on drums and Mark Harman as well as Paul Gaskin on guitars) to help him?
The result is a superb twelve track album. Some tracks a pure neo-rockabilly (almost Psychobilly for “It’s Murders On the Streets”); others are more traditional sounding. As usual with Phillips, there’s special care to write melodic songs (or cover songs with strong melodies), and he’s attached to add a variety of instruments (piano, harmonica, flute) to explore styles and moods. There’s even a slow, which is always a good point!
The only low point being the drawing on the cover.

Available here.


Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Good Thing

Fury Records F3035 [1995]
Good Thing – I’ve Just Seen A Face – Rollin’ Danny – Teenage Partner – Here Comes The Night – Linda Lu (Live Recording)

Recorded in 1995, Good Thing features Rob Tyler on drums and Darrel Higham on guitar. This mini-album features six covers. Next to the now mandatory Beatles cover, there are songs from Fine Young Cannibals, Gene Vincent, Hank Noble, and Ray Sharpe.
Good Thing, the song, captures the same vibe as Tainted Love. Phillips is as usual extremely at ease when it comes to singing Gene Vincent his idol, and both Here Comes the Night and Linda Lu rock (the latter being recorded live.) Surprisingly, they do not convince with their cover of the Beatles, which is usually one of their strong points.
The whole atmosphere is very laid back, and it benefits to the final result.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read our in depth interview with Dave Phillips here.

Crazy Legs

in Reviews

Crazy Legs – Suspicious Mainz

crazy legs suspicious mainz

Tally-Ho Records TH 310314 [2014]
Tornado – Lonely Blue Boy – Elevator Rock – Come Go With Me – Mahlzeit – In My Dreams – Sittin’ On Top Of The World – I Will Follow – Personal Jesus – Do What I Do – So Sad – Well Respected Man – Raindrops Or Teardrops – Hey Good Lookin’ – Morning Of My Life – Baby Let’s Play House – Your Love Is True

Suspicious Mainz, a word of play between Elvis’ Suspicious Mind and Mainz, the native town of the band, is by far Crazy Legs’ best effort, both in terms of sound and musicianship.
The album is a good balance between well-known covers, more obscure tunes, some surprises (Bee Gees’ Morning Of My Life and Depeche Mode‘s Personal Jesus), and self-penned tunes.
Among those are Malhzeit, a rocking instrumental, I Will Follow in their very own style and sung by Christian the drummer, Well Respected Men with a Diddley beat, Raindrops and Teardrops another one in the manner they polished all through the years and Your Love, a heavier tune that closes the platter. Close? Not exactly. If you wait a little, you’ll hear a hidden track, a second and more rockin’ version of Conway Twitty’s Lonely Blue Boy.

Available here

Crazy Legs – Wir Sind Wieder Wer…

crazy legs wir sind wieder wer…

Tally-Ho Records [2001]
Buona Sera – Es ist so einfach – Hallo, Hallo – Kansas City – Rip it up – Louise – Soll ich bleiben oder geh’n? – Wir wollen Rock – So geht das jede Nacht – Gutnacht Sweetheart – Giddy up-a Ding-Dong – Honey don’t – Wildwood Boogie – Green Door – Boppin’ the Blues – Have a Ball – Route 66 – Rock House – Pink Thunderbird – Cherished Memories – House of the Rising Sun – 20 Flight Rock – I’m a Fool – Don’t push – More than I can say – Everybody’s moving – Little Pig – Tell me the Place

With 28 tracks, this cd is a good value for money. Songs 1 to 10 are studio recordings with three originals and seven covers ranging from Louis Prima’s Buena Sera to Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go. They’re all sung in German. My German is not good enough to tell if they respect the lyrics, though looking at the titles, I think so, but the musicianship is excellent.
The remaining tunes are live recordings, mostly consisting of covers. It’s a good complement to the studio sides.

Crazy Legs – The Vinyl Years ’89 – ’93

crazy legs - the vinyl years

Tally-Ho Records [1999]
Hello, Hello – Crazy Legs – Ring Of Fire – Let’s Fall In Love – Death In Neck – A Teenager In Love – Cool Hot Jump Boogie – Singing The Blues – All Fools’ Day – I Shouldn’t Love You So – Diamonds & Lovers – It’s So Easy – Wedding Bells – All State Tennessee Ball – Drinkin’ Wine Spodee-o-dee – Carol-Ann – Tennessee – You’ ll Be Mine – Rockin’ Henry – Loving You Is – I’ll Be Watching You – Too Much Drinkin’ – Folsom Prison Blues – I’m Just Living – Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Red Hot – Stella Got A Fella – Always It’s You – Since You Broke My Heart – Shirley

This 30-tracks album gathers the early recordings of the band, that were until now, only available on vinyl. In addition to the band’s first two EP’s and their debut album, you’ll find six additional bonus tracks recorded between 1991 and 1993. All but one are sung by Christian Kron, the best being “Shirley,” which also features a saxophone.

Crazy Legs – Rockin’ Out, Swingin In

Tally Ho Records [1992]
Wedding Bells – All State Tennessee Ball – Drinkin´ Wine Spodee-o-dee – Carol-Ann – Tennessee – You´ ll Be Mine – Rockin´ Henry – Loving You Is – I´ll Be Watching You – Too Much Drinkin´ – Folsom Prison Blues – I´m Just Living

Crazy Legs’ debut album features solid originals and three covers from the catalog of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Stick McGee. To be honest, these covers are not the strongest point of the album. Otherwise, it’s a very good one.
Musically, not much has changed. It’s still the same brand of neo-rockabilly and doo-wop close in style to the Keytones. The biggest difference you will find from the previous recordings is that the band is now better and tighter. The little flaws in the voice one could find in their debut ep and single are now corrected.
Their guitar player sings on “Carol-Ann” and the drummer takes lead on “I’ll be Watching You” and “I’m Just Living” (both excellent). Having three different singers brings a lot of variety to the sound of the band.

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 – 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
Crazy Legs

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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