Jets (the) – The Isolation Sessions #2
Krypton Records KRYP CD215 
Crazy Baby – Open Up Your Heart – Steppin’ Out Tonight – Would You – Love Bug – Jitterbop Baby – Somebody To Love – Bop Machine – Midnight Dynamos – Sleep Rock’n’Roll – Lovers Once Again – Mountain of Love – Lonely Hearts – Baby Take Me Back
As you can guess from the title, the Jets recorded this album during the third lockdown, with each musician playing from their home. They decided to invite Darrel Higham as a guest singer/musician. The result is a killer combination that takes no prisoners. I don’t have much to say about this excellent record. The Cotton brothers and Higham are such consummate professionals so that you can expect mean rock’n’roll, wild guitars, smooth vocals, sweet harmonies and more. The performance is solid, and you’d never believe they didn’t record it in the same room. The set mixes covers and originals, most of the songs having been recorded by the band before. So this is more like a live album (albeit without an audience) than a studio one.
They even managed to make me appreciate Matchbox’s Midnight Dynamos far more than than the original one.
Jets (the) – Stare-Stare-Stare
Krypton Records – KRYPCD 205 
(You Just Don’t Know How To) Treat Your Man – Oh Baby Please – 1,2,3 – Stare-Stare-Stare – When The Cats Away – Pussy Cat – Hearts On Fire – What A Fool – Lovers Once Again – Kiss Me – Little Orphan Girl – One Heaven – Saturday Night – Put My Lips All Over This Town – Can’t Live With ‘Em – Lookin’ Pretty Good – Nashville Blue
The Jets recorded and released this album in 1996. There’s no big surprise nor significant departure in terms of sound, but that’s another Jets classic.
The first track is a mean Rock’n’Roll with a haunting riff, and the result is not that far from Restless’ Madhouse years. Oh, Baby Please is a superb Doo Wop. Back to Rock’n’Roll with 1,2,3, which sounds like a modern version of Elvis’ All Shook Up. The title track is a Doo-Wop ballad with a dash of Rock’n’Roll, but the result is a bit marred by the synthetic production. Much better is When the Cats Away, a modern Rockabilly in the Dave Edmunds style. Pussy Cat brings a touch of blues with a Johnny Kidd and the Pirates feel. Hearts on Fire is a solid stroller, and it just needs a piano to turn into a great Little Richard tune. What A Fool is a wild Rockabilly with powerful slap bass. After that, you need to calm down, and Lovers Once Again, a lovely and gentle ballad is perfect. But the rest doesn’t last long when Kiss Me, a Johnny Burnette-tinged song, blasts through your speakers. Next are two slow tunes: a doo-wop (Little Orphan Girl) and a tender ballad with steel (One Heaven). Saturday Night is a Rockabilly with a hillbilly beat. It contrasts with Put My Lips All Over This Town and its modern production. Can’t Live Em is a stripped-down Rockabilly, and Looking Pretty Good evokes the sound of Elvis circa 1956. The album closes with a superb instrumental with dobro and fingerpicking.
Even if the production is sometimes a bit synthetic on some tunes, Stare, Stare, Stare remains a highly enjoyable album despite an ugly cover.
Jets (the) – Cotton Pickin
Krypton Records KRYP200 
Nervous – Be-El-Zebub Boogie – Penny Loafers And Bobby Sox – Would You – Heartbreaker – Bones – Razor Alley – Can’t Keep A Good Man Down – Primadonna – I Didn’t Like It The First Time – Oh Judy – The Hunter
Cotton Pickin, the Jets’ fourth lp, is more or less made of the same wood as its predecessor. You’ll find Neo-Rockabilly (Nervous, Razor Alley) and even a song bordering on Psychobilly (the Hunter.) Still, in the Rockabilly idiom, there’s plenty of Rockabilly tunes with Doo-Wop embellishments (Would You, the Sparkletones’ Penny Loafers And Bobby Sox, I Didn’t Like It The First Time.) Talking about Doo-Wop, it wouldn’t be a Jets album without a couple of pure Doo-Wop tunes. Here you have Dion’s Prima Donna, Heartbreaker (that sounds a bit like Runaround Sue), and Judy performed acapella by the three brothers.
A mean Rock’n’Roll (Can’t Keep A Good Man Down), a boogie with jazzy echoes (Be-El-Zebub Boogie), and Bones, an instrumental in the vein of Steel Guitar Rag complete the set.
Jets (the) – Session Out
Nervous Records NERD 021 
Jitterbuggin’ Baby – Dan O’ Dell – Drunk Again – Charlene – Moonshine – Bye Bye Baby – Open Your Heart – Forget The Love – Did Anyone Tell You – Millionaire Hobo – Cry The Blues – Slippin’ In
After beginning their career with Roy Williams as a manager, the Jets (Bob, Ray and Tony Cotton, respectively on double-bass, guitar, and drums) went on to international fame with EMI scoring hits and TV appearances.
For their third album, they returned to Williams and Nervous records. And the result is one hell of a rocking album produced by the band. All songs are originals, either written by Ray or Bob, except for Millionaire Hobo and Slippin’ In.
The opening number sets the moods for what will follow: top-notch production, tight arrangement (excellent twin guitar part), and superb musicianship.
Next, you find Dan O Dell. It’s a Rock’n’roll number yet with a Jazz mood and a nod to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s 16 Tons. It also sees the Jets’ secret weapon’s introduction: their vocals harmonies. Drunk Again follows. Jet-propelled by Bob’s fantastic slap-bass, I can easily imagine it recorded by Eddie Cochran.
Charlene is a pure Doo-wop candy that seems to come straight from the fifties. Maybe these three brothers have a special connection or something, but their voices sure blend magnifically.
How about an instrumental after that? With a title like Moonshine, don’t be surprised to find a strong Hillbilly touch.
Bye Bye Baby is a soft Neo-Rockabilly with, once again, a great guitar part that mixes rockabilly with jazz.
The B-side begins with Open Up Your Heart, a Rockaballad with the brothers’ harmonies. More rockin’ is Forget the Love. Imagine Right Behind You baby with a Neo-Rockabilly feel. Sounds great? The result is even better. Still rockin’ but more classical, the stripped-down sound of Did Anyone Tell You evokes the legendary recordings made by Sam Phillips.
Next are two Doo-wop tunes: a storming rendition of the Fantastics’ Millionaire Hobo and the more classical Cry the Blues.
To confirm the Neo-Rockabilly orientation of this album, a breathless rendition of Slippin’ In concludes the set.
Jets (the) – Love Makes The World Go Round
EMI – EMI 5262 
Love Makes the World Go Round – I’m Just A Score
Back in the early 80s, the Jets achieved the delicate task of reaching commercial success without selling themselves out.
This single is a perfect example of that. The sound is undoubtedly more radio-friendly than the most hardcore Rockabilly bands, but the Cotton brothers remain faithful to the genre. Suffice to compare their cover of Love Makes the World Go Round with the original by Perry Como. They bring everything to turn it into a Rockabilly tune, soft Rockabilly maybe, but Rockabilly nonetheless. The same goes for the flip-side, with its powerful slap bass, subtle harmonies, and delicate guitar.
Jets (the) – Who’s That Knocking
EMI – EMI 5134 
Who’s That Knocking – I Seen Ya
Excellent single by the Cotton brothers. The A-side is a fast-paced doo-wop on which the band sees its line-up augmented by Mickey Gallagher on piano and Davey Payne on saxophone, both from Ian Dury and the Blockheads. The B-side is another superb example of their brand of soft Rockabilly with a terrific guitar.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Official website: http://www.thejets.co.uk/