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Paul “Doc” Stewart

Paul “Doc” Stewart

Paul “Doc” Stewart is an unsung hero of the Psychobilly / Rockabilly scene. Unless you’re a maniac like me who likes to read the covers from top to bottom (and even read the dead wax just in case…), you may not be familiar with his name. But Paul “Doc” Stewart recorded, engineered, and produced some of the best and the most innovative bands of the genre, including the Quakes, the Rapids, the Rattlers, Outer Limits, the Pharaohs, Frenzy, Torment…
Impressive, isn’t it? Well, here at the Rockabilly Chronicle, we thought that the man deserved an interview. So here it is, and thank you, Mr Stewart, for your work!

First, I’d like to know how you became interested in Rockabilly and Psychobilly?

Well I come from a family that has produced many musicians and performers over several hundred years, so it’s in the blood, and I was of course born in the mid 1950s, so l started to become aware of music then and in the pre Beatles 60s.
My mother was always on a mission to make sure my brothers and I were aware of the two most important things in life… which were Blues and Jazz. De who was eldest brother, was eight years my senior and he played a lot of rock and roll. When I say played I do mean played, he had a guitar and I can remember him with his ear pressed to the speaker of our old black and white TV, calling out the words of songs to my mum, who would write them down in shorthand, then type them up so he could learn them. So I grew up with a lot of rock and roll in the house.

What led you to produce albums?

I was always into the technology of making music, I got my first tape recorder in 1968 and started making recordings then. In 1973 I made my first professional recording of a band called “A Phantasy Circus”, which led to them getting a showcase with WEA Records and I just carried on doing things in music from then.

How did you get in touch with Roy Williams, with whom you worked extensively?

I worked at London’s most famous rock venue, the Rainbow Theatre, where I designed, installed and ran the recording studio and rehearsal facilities but after about 18 months I had the opportunity to go to the USA, so went there and worked with a number of bands while developing a business with my brother, who by this time was a DJ on a station in Charleston SC.

Frenzy
Frenzy

When I came back to the U.K., I was working both in photography and live sound with all manner of bands, including King Kurt at the University of North London. I then got a call from a studio in Harrow in the north of London. They told me that the owner Ozzie Burns, who was the original producer of the BeeGees was sadly very ill with cancer and they wanted me to run the studio for him. I had only been there about three weeks when a Teddy boy walked in to the place, with a BMX bike, about two sizes too small for him. This was of course Rockin’ Roy Williams. He lived nearby and had seen the studio and as it was near enough for him to borrow his kid’s bike to get there, he decided to check the place out.
We spoke about rocking music, Rockabilly, Psychobilly and the fusion with Punk. He booked some time and the next week Frenzy arrived. I was initially booked as the engineer, but as is my way started making suggestions and shaping the sound, so I became co-producer by default, and the band acknowledged this by giving me a production credit on the album.

You often shared a co-producer credit with Williams. How did you work together?

I’m not really sure there was ever a conscious co-production strategy, normally we had both heard the bands before we went into the studio, I always tried to see them live if possible too. Then we would start to run through the tracks and get a feel for the sound. Roy left things like mic selection and miking up to me, and that’s the first point you can start influencing the final overall sound. Then we would both suggest things to the bands and hopefully they would take it on board.

We did have a few differences of opinion on some tracks, pretty early on I wanted to change the way the bass drum sounded in the recordings, making it sharper and more modern. Roy sometimes wanted a more old fashioned deeper sound. In most cases I think we went with what suited the rest of the recording and the modern sound stayed. On the Pharaohs album Blue Egypt you hear on the track “Tomb of the Dead” the “Panic at the Desk” mix, which frankly I hated, it was Roy’s baby even though in the absence of a digital delay, I had to do by copying, cutting a splicing the tape. The straight mix which came out on Zorch Factor One was a far better result in my opinion, but Roy was paying the bills, so the better mix got relegated to the compilation.

Many young bands recorded their debut album with you. Is that something you had to consider when working with them? Was a part of your job devoted to familiarising them with the studio?

Many bands and performers I’ve worked with have been “Studio Virgins” and you need to show them the ropes, but in the main the Psychobilly bands I worked with were professional and understood that my job was to get the best possible performance and result for them. A few who did have studio experience were surprised that I didn’t want to record everything as completely separate parts, but really wanted, at least on the first take, to get an organic sound where everybody sparks off one another. After that, you can over dub and polish the performance, if you need to.

You’ve worked with bands with drastically different sounds, from the Jazzabilly of Get Smart to the heavy Psychobilly of Skitzo or the Quakes. How did you approach each project?

I always listen to the band and try to find that special something that they have to offer. In advertising it’s referred to as the USP or unique selling potential, a good band will have a “Unique Performing Potential”, something that sets them apart from the run of the mill. I look for that and try and enhance it

How did you work with the bands in the studio? Did you suggest covers, changes in the songs’ structures or different arrangements? Can you give some examples?

Quite often the arrangements of a song can be not quite right for recording and need a bit of a tweak to get them right. As an example “The Outer Limits” EP “The Edge of Time”, needed a bit of depth, because as a three piece with bass guitar, the sound was a bit light. I was working with Steve Rispin as my engineer at the time, and we programmed some really fat organ sounds on my Yamaha DX7/CX5 synth.
We also used that for the spacey keyboard sound on The Pharaoh’s track “Tomb of The Dead”. On that track and “Turkey Dance” from the same album, I had an old friend of mine, Mike Abramov, (who is sadly no longer with us), put down some violin. Mike was a Blues and Klezmer man, so Psychobilly was not his thing at all, but he liked the guys in the band, and they liked him so it worked well.


With The Rattlers’ “Take a Ride” sessions, that also led to the mini album “Rock” the band were short a couple of songs and having watched a Bond movie the night before, I suggested they do the James Bond theme. I wrote it down on the track List as “Jimmy Bond goes Psycho (007)” the record company, with a complete lack of imagination, called it “007 theme” on the sleeve. On a technical note, I’ve been asked about the space sound of the bass slap on that track. I had the loan of a great piece of kit from France, called an Infernal Machine from a company called Publison. I just dialled the sound on that ‘til it sounded right. Tin Pan Alley, was adjacent to Soho, which is London’s red light district. While out for lunch the guys saw an adult shop, which was selling shall we call them inflatable companions. They came into the studio and with all of us suggesting lines, they wrote “Blow up Baby”. Later we went back in the studio and I knew a woman who was a former interpreter and by then the international secretary of a trades union. She was quite straight laced, but when I asked her she came down to the studio, translated the words of “Blow up Baby” into the various European languages and coached Mark Carrington of the correct pronunciation. That’s how the Euro-Mix on “Rock” came about.

You produced some of the most “experimental” bands on the scene, like Torment, Frenzy, the Rapids, and the Pharaohs. Those bands weren’t narrow-minded and were not afraid to include modern elements. Was it something you were looking for?

The Rapids
The Rapids

Frenzy were highly experimental and I really liked working with them and Torment another band from the same part of the world, where by the way I now live. Torment’s Simon Brand was very open to discuss the structure of the tracks and how we were going to do them. “The Mystery Men” EP we did was a great project, with the title track and “Rock Strong” being really special, but all the tracks on that are good. It’s a shame we didn’t do a full album. I did one track for a compilation with the Rapids at Village Way and really liked them. By the time we got round to the album “Turning Point”, I was at Tin Pan Alley and was more or less running the place and was also the main client, this meant that I had more time to spend on the projects. This meant I could work with the bands to develop the sounds. A lot of good tracks came out of that studio at that time. The albums by The Pharaohs and The Rapids had really good production values I think, and were out of mainstream Psychobilly. Roy once said to me that he thought that “Turning Point” sounded like it didn’t belong on his label, it should be on a major.

I’ve read in an interview that Coffin Nails weren’t that happy with the sound of their debut album and said that you and Roy Williams tried to make them sound like Demented Are Go.

the Coffin Nails (Paul “Doc” Stewart produced their debut album)
The Coffin Nails

Really! I’d not heard they thought that, about Demented are Go I mean, I knew they weren’t happy with the album, which I’m told is still their biggest seller and of course established them as a band. Nothing could be further from the truth as neither Roy or me tried to make them like any other band. As I said, my approach is to find what makes the performer special and enhance that. We brought out what made them special and that was Dave Ward the singer, after he left them, in my opinion, they were pretty mediocre, but tracks like “Werewolf Bitch” and “Myra Hindley” are belting Psycho tracks. I think the truth may be that they had a set idea of what they wanted to sound like and were unhappy giving any kind of creative control to the producer. However as I said I’m told that the fans liked and bought it. And it’s still being streamed today.

Are there unreleased sessions that you worked on?

Yes there are perhaps one or two tracks that I did just with Paul Roman of the Quakes I think I’ve not seen on anything. I also laid down some tracks with The Ant Hill Mob, who were a Neo-Rockabilly band and I think at that time the only one in the UK with a female singer. Lost Moment Records asked Roy and I to produce them and I think they weren’t happy with the way it was going. I went to Village Way Studios for some thing else, only to find them in the control room with another producer, mixing my tape. I was told that when Roy replaced the guitar solo with whistling, they didn’t like it, which to be fair to Roy, was the wrong decision on their part as it really raised the track. I still have a copy master of the tracks from that session, so they may see the light of day at some point.

You not only produced the Quakes’ debut album, but I believe that you also shot the picture for the sleeve that is famous for its Stray Cats reference.

I alway had a parallel career in photography and decided to do a photo shoot with the Quakes. Paul Roman had the idea to pastiche the Stray Cats cover, and I found the location, the basement of a Safeways car park, which was pretty dank. My ex knew the manager so I organised it, I also shot the image of the three of them in black and white, which has become an icon. I also shot the cover for Skitzo Mania.

the Quakes - picture by Paul “doc” Stewart
The Quakes © Paul “Doc” Stewart

Do you have special memories or anecdotes you’d like to share?

Loads, but we’ll have to change all the names to protect the guilty. I think my favourite experience was at the Klub Foot one night. A kid walked up to me and said, rather aggressively, “You’re Paul “Doc” Stewart and you produced the Rattlers’ “Take a Ride”. I admitted that yes it was me, at which point he grabbed my hand and shook it say “I’ve worn out three copies of that mate, its my favourite record ever”’

Is there a band you would have liked to work with?

Lee Gotcher from the Rapids renamed himself J. C. Lee, and did an interesting album in Japan, I would liked to have worked with him again as a solo project.
Also, I would like to have worked with the BlueCats/ Beltane Fire. Also I did a couple of tracks with the Sidewinders, I thought that they had really great potential and would love to have done an album with them.

They’re all different, but is there an album that you’re particularly proud of?

Where do you start, I enjoyed making them all so it’s a bit like asking which of your kids is your favourite. There’s not one I’m not proud of and believe me there is some mainstream stuff I engineered that I’m embarrassed by, the rockin’ stuff I love it all.

Why did you stop producing bands?

I stopped having it as the main stream of my activity as I hated the way the music scene was going, with far too many bands just producing sampled computerised garbage, rather than learn their craft and play music. But I’ve never really stopped, having done a few mixes for bands over the years. In fact if there are any good psycho bands out there who want to send me a demo, I could be tempted into the studio once again.

Can you tell us more about that Doc-A-Billy project?

Doc-A-Billy - Paul “Doc” Stewart's Psychobilly Years
Doc-A-Billy – Paul “Doc” Stewart’s Psychobilly Years

I’ve talked to a few of the labels I’ve worked for and I have a list of my favourite tracks from over the years. I’ve been putting together some of them for a limited edition vinyl and CD release (Doc-A-Billy – Paul “Doc” Stewart’s Psychobilly Years) and I plan to film some interviews with the bands in question. I’m developing an online documentary channel at the moment and this would be ideal for that.
(so keep your eyes open and check this site. We’ll give you more info as soon as the album hits the shelves).

This interview © Fred “Virgil” Turgis & the Rockabilly Chronicle / Paul “Doc” Stewart.

Paul “Doc” Stewart on discogs.
Paul “Doc” Stewart is a famous photographer with many exhibitions and books under his belt: http://www.paulstewartphoto.co.uk/

Frantic Flintstones

Frantic Flintstones – Bedrock!

Raucous Records RAUC002 [1987]
Bedrock – Hot Head Baby – Let’s Go Somewhere – Sugar Daddy

Released in 1987, Bedrock is the first-ever effort on wax by the Frantic Flintstones. All the ingredients are already in place: demented vocals from Chuck Harvey, furious slap bass by Gary Day, and simple but effective guitar. Three fast-paced Psychobilly tune and a slower one, Sugar Daddy, to conclude.
One thousand five hundred copies were pressed; 1000 with a printed sleeve and 500 with a white sleeve.


Frantic Flintstones - Nightmare On Nervous
Frantic Flintstones – Nightmare On Nervous

Frantic Flintstones – A Nightmare on Nervous

Nervous Records NERCD034 [1988]
Hellfire – Monte Carlo or Bust – 44 – Please Cool Baby – Oh Baby oh Yeah – Alley Cat King – Gone Gone Well Gone – Red Chevy – Ring ring ringin’ – What the Hell – Sugar Daddy – Frantic Flintstones – Safe Surf – Shake Your Honey Maker – Old Jack Joe – Jack the Ripper – Whisky Bottle Baby
Released in 1988, A Nightmare On Nervous marks the debut of a prolific career. In a certain aspect you can compare it to an early Johnny Cash album. By that I mean that this guy turn their weak points into a strength. With a guitarist far from being a virtuoso, they build their songs around Chuck’s distinctive voice and a solid rhythm section that features Gary Day on bass. Sometimes the system shows its limits. Songs like “Suggar Daddy” and “Monte Carlo and bust“, though good, could easily be one minute shorter. But this album is full of classics approaching different styles : early psychobilly (Alley Cat King, What The Hell), neo-rockabilly (44, Red Chevy) and even a wild rockin’ blues (Billy Fury’s Since You’ve Been Gone renamed here Gone Gone Well Gone). The cd version features 5 bonus tracks recorded later with Gasty on bass : two covers played the Flintstones way “Shake Your Honey Maker” and “Old Black Joe“, “Safe Surf” a semi instrumental (Safe surf repeated a dozen times doesn’t count as lyrics, does it?) variation around “Hang 10”, “Jack The Ripper” is not Screaming Lord Sutch’s but another version of “Necro Blues“, and an excellent original “Whisky Bottle Baby” previously known in a live version on the “Live & Rockin'” album.


Frantic Flintstones - Live and Rockin'
Frantic Flintstones – Live and Rockin’

Frantic Flintstones – Live’n’Rockin

Link  [1988]
Alone Again – Round the Mountain – What The Hell -. Shake Your Moneymaker – No One Stays – Rockin’Bones – Necro Blues – Hang Ten – Bedrock – Old Black Joe – Gone Gone Well Gone – Playschool Baby – Just Because -. Whisky Bottle Baby – One Night Stand – Blue Christmas

The Live and Rockin’ serie on Link was mostly a poorly recorded (and often poorly played) affair. One notable exception was the Frantic Flintstone live album recorded during the Rocking Out tour in November 1988. Despite being recorded just after the departure of ace bass player Gary “Gaz” Day who is replaced by Gasty from the Blue Ridge Rockets, it found the Flintstones in top form playing classics one after another. The songs come from Nightmare on Nervous, Rockin’ Out and for the large part Not A Christmas Album recorded a couple of weeks after this gig. It hasn’t been reissued on CD which is a shame but you can download it – legally – on Amazon or on other sites that sells music.


Frantic Flintstones – Well Gone In Europe

frantic flintstones well gone in europeKix4U KIX 3358 [1990]
Ole Black Joe – Alcohol Buzz – 44 – Honey Maker – Necro Blues – Gone Gone Well Gone – Let’s Go Somewhere – The Race Is On – Legion Song – Cryin’ Eyes (Country Mix – Broke Up (f/mushrooms Mix) – Endless Sleep (Skankabilly Mix)
The Frantic Flintstones released many albums often with the same songs. In the end, you keep wondering if you have another best-of of slightly different versions. This is what happens with “Well Gone In Europe.” Except if you’re a total and absolute completist, you can live without that one.


Frantic FLintstones - Take A Hike
Frantic FLintstones – Take A Hike

Frantic Flintstones – Take A Hike

Kix 4 U KIXCD3363 [1991]
Your Cheatin’ Heart – Dream On-Blue – Just A Dream – Sweet Nothings – So Sad – Little old Lady – Necro Blues – Burned’n’Turned – Rockin’ Bones – Frantic – Honey Maker – Gone Gone Well Gone – Blue Xmas – Santa Bring My Baby Back – Santa Claus Is Back In Town – Old Black Joe – Dream On-move
Though the sound is quite good, this album is far from being essential. Actually, on the 17 songs , 7 come from “Not A Christmas Album”, 3 are re-recorded versions of Flintstones classics (Burned and Turned, Rockin’ Bones, Necro blues) and in the remaining 7, Dream On is featured two times (a slow one and a fast one). That said the new versions are excellent, the group is in fine form and the Frantic Flintstones have released far worst than this album. One for the completist.


Frantic Flintstones – Rockin’ With The Frantic Flintstones

Rockin with the Frantic FlintstonesRumble Records – GANG 011 [1991]
Tom Dooley – Gotta Know – Brown Eyed Girl – Therapy

Out of the four songs that constitute this EP, only Therapy is unissued, the other three being lifted from Cuttin’ A Fine Line. It’s a Doo-Wop tune with only Chuck, a vocal accompaniment by the band and light piano.
You never know what to expect with the Frantic Flintstones and that’s why they are great!


Frantic Flintstones – Cuttin’ A Fine Line

Rumble RUMBCD009 / Raucous RAUCD0000106 [1991]
Chilled bones – You’re the one who done it – Sweet Marilee – Jungle love – Time of day – You got me rockin’ – Tom Dooley – Gotta know – Brown eyed girl – Boneshaker baby – Slowly killing me – Don’t want you baby – Drug squad – West of London – Love me – Am I that easy to forget.

Released in the early nineties for the German label Rumble Records (Scum Rats, Rockabilly Mafia, Punishers etc.) “Cuttin’ A Fine Line” finds the band in superb form with the return of Gaz Day on bass with Rich Taylor on drums (Nitros), Pug still on guitar and of course the unmistakable voice of Chuck Harvey. This excellent album (one the very best ever released by the band) mixes classic psychobilly numbers (Chilled Bones, Don’t Want You Baby that features Gaz on lead vocals), blues (Time Of A Day), first class rockabilly (You’re The One That Done It, Sweet Marilee, Gotta Know), skiffle (Tom Dooley) and some country songs like West Of London and Drug Squad that deals with one of Chuck’s favourite subject. The selection is rounded with two acoustic numbers (Elvis’Love Me and Am I That Easy To Forget) with just Pug and Chuck that announces their following album, the all acoustic Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through.


Frantic Flintstones - Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin' Through
Frantic Flintstones – Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through

Frantic Flintstones – Skin Up, Chill Out, Just Buskin’ Through

Rumble RUMCD018/ Raucous [1992]
Hello Marylou – Blue Moon of Kentucky – Will the Circle be Unboken – You Are my Sunshine – Tom Dooley – I Can’t Help it – Born to Lose – Goodnight Irene – It’s Hard to be Humble – Love me – Drugs in the Valley – Take me Home, Country Roads – I Gotta Baby – Am I That Easy to Forget
The only thing predictable with the Frantic Flintstones is that they are unpredictable. For this record originally released on Rumble Records in 1992 the band – reduced to just Chuck and Pug – went for an acoustic session. The mood is very laid back and the repertoire is made of covers of classic rockabilly and hillbilly tunes taken from the catalog of Hank Williams, Mac Davis, John Denver, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, Johnny Cash, The Carter Family and though they appear in brand new version here, some of them have been recorded by the band before. It’s not completely representative of the style of the Frantic Flintstones but it’s a nice addition to your collection.


The Frantic Flintstones - Rock it Boy
Frantic Flintstones – Rock it Boy

Frantic Flintstones – Rock it Boy

Rumble RUMBCD024 [1993]
Marylou – You Call Everybody Darlin’ – You Ain’t Nothing But Fine – I Cant Trust Me In Your Arms Anymore – Carry Me Back To Old Virginia – Blues Stay Away From Me – Blue Moon Of Kentucky – Your Cheatin’ Heart – I’m Walkin’ – Sweet Baby Doll – Will The Circle Be Unbroken – So CLose To Heaven – Jimmy Jazz – Love For A Nutter – Broken Heart

Originally released in 1993, this is the third Frantic Flintstones’ album for the German label Rumble records. And like “Cuttin’…” and “Skill Up…” it has a strong rockabilly flavour in it. The line-up for this one is Chuck, Pug, Johnny Bowler (Get Smart, Guana Batz) and Scag. It’s a very good album that only lacks of original songs, but with a charismatic band-leader like Chuck (and a solid band to back him) that’s not such a big problem. The band draws into the catalog of Jerry Lee Lewis, hence the presence of a piano, Ricky Nelson, Rockin’ Sydney, Johnny Burnette/Delmore Brothers, Hank Williams and delivers an excellent rockabilly version of the Clash’s Jimmy Jazz. As usual with the FF it features different versions of previously released tunes like Blue Moon Of Kentucky, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Your Cheatin’ Heart wasted by the backing vocals. “Love For A Nutter” is a demo recorded with Alan Wilson that announces the following albums (X-Ray Sessions and Jalmboree) and the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. Bowler closes the set with a vocal prestation on “Broken Heart” that won’t figure as one of the highest moment in the Frantic Flintstones history. It’s been reissued on the British label Raucous Records with a slightly different cover.


Frantic Flintstones - Jamboree
Frantic Flintstones – Jamboree

Frantic Flintstones – Jamboree

CDMPSYCHO15 [1993]
Detroit Dirtbox – Love For A Nutter – Your Time Is Up – Mean Mean Woman – Diablo – Stay With Me – Sweet Georgia Brown – Lunatics (Are Raving) – Busted – Mindkill – (To The Devil)A Son – Oh 898 – Candyman – He’s Waitin’ – Sad N’ Lonely – Suspended – Chop-Chop, Slash Slash – Honey Child – Hey Chuck – Detroit Bloodbox

Previously issued in 1993 but out of print since then, Anagram had the good idea to reissue this 20 songs album in their Psychobilly serie. Produced by Sharks frontman Alan Wilson who also plays most of the guitar parts, with former bassist Gary Day back in the line-up, this is one of the 3 best album the Frantic Flinstones ever made and probably the richest in styles approached. Wilson is one hell of a guitar player and songwriter and his team with Chuck Harvey is just perfect. From “Diablo” with its surprising jazzy solo in the middle, to the country tune “To the Devil A Son”, and even a waltz (“Sad’n’Lonely”) they apparently have fun to work together and explore various kind of music. Some guests are present too. Detroit Donny plays harmonica on “Detroit Dirt Box” a bluesy instrumental and on Roy Orbison’s “Candyman”, Sonny West, who had an album on Nervous, plays some guitars and sings The Sonics’ “He’s Waitin’”. Alan Wilson sings “Mindkill” he co-wrote with Hodges. This one can be seen as the first song from the resurrected Sharks for this is during this recording that Gaz Day convinced him to reform the band. Psychobilly is present, of course, with”Your Time Is Up” which is not far from “What The Hell” on their debut album, “Sweet Georgia Brown” (not the jazz standard) and the great “Love For A Nutter”, although I do prefer the demo version issued on “Rock It Boy”. Add a bit of rockabilly (“Honey Child” and “Mean Mean Woman”) and if you still wonder why are the Frantic Flinstones so great, just ask yourself who could better than them sing a song about a psycho killer like a sixties pop ballad?

The Radioactive Kid

The Jets (British Rock'n'roll band)

Jets (the) – The Isolation Sessions #2

the jets isolation sessions

Krypton Records KRYP CD215 [2021]
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.

www.thejets.co.uk/


Jets (the) – Stare-Stare-Stare

Jets

Krypton Records – KRYPCD 205 [1996]
(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

Cotton Pickin

Krypton Records KRYP200 [1988]
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

jets session out

Nervous Records NERD 021 [1986]
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

Love Makes the World Go Round

EMI ‎– EMI 5262 [1982]
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

the Jets

EMI ‎– EMI 5134 [1981]
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/

the Jets

Catmen (the)

Catmen - Cutting through the red tape
Catmen – Cutting through the red tape

The Catmen  – Cutting Through The Red Tape

Nervous Nerdcd060 [1990]

She’s The World ~ It’s Too Late ~ I Keep Thinkin’ Of You ~ Why Would I Lie ~ Gone Ridin’ ~ I Still Can’t Get Away ~ I’ve Lost The Race ~ I Need You Tonight ~ I’m Gonna Make Her Mine ~ Loving You ~ You Turn Me On ~ I Think She Will ~ Little Devil ~ I Can’t Go On ~ I Can’t Live Without You ~ I’m Still In Love With You.

The Catmen, were a neo-rockabilly trio from Holland that played a very smooth kind of melodic neo-rockabilly. Cuttin’ Through the Red Tape was their second album. Their music could be best described as Restless meets Chris Isaak even if their singer isn’t as good as the Californian boy, but their rendition of Gone Ridin’ is quite good. They worked hard on the melodies and vocal arrangements too helped by Pete Gage in the producer’s seat. Mark Harman of Restless plays guitar on two tracks. Not bad but like many album, they should have reduced the number of songs to concentrate on the superior material and avoid repetition (16 songs of lost love are way too much).


The Catmen – Catmen

catmenNervous Nerdcd044 [1989]
Tell Me – There’s A Girl In My Heart – Who Was She? – Be Good To Me (Hold Your Love) – Glad To See You Baby – Will You Stay – The Running Man – Lost Without You – She’s Drivin’ Me Mad – My Little Girl – Tonight – Trivialities

The Catmen were a neo-rockabilly trio from the Netherland with Bernard Verheij on guitar and lead vocals, Robert Woudman on double-bass, and Paul Dookernamp on drums.
They play a very original brand of neo-rockabilly with a pop side axed on the melodies. One could relate them to the Vanish Without A Trace/After Midnight era of Restless. The songs are good; the musicianship is solid; it’s just too bad that the vocal is a bit approximative and sometimes slightly out of tune.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Freddy Frogs

Freddy Frogs ‎– At My Front Door

Freddy Frogs

Nervous Records ‎– NERD 013 [1984]
Cheap Thrills – Boppin ‘N’ Jivin – Roxy – Desperate – Livin’ In The Dark – She’s So Mean – Crazy Little Mama – Ain’t Got No Home – Don’t Make Me Wait – All The Girls (Do The Bop) – Pledging My Love – Feelin’ No Pain – I Don’t Care Any More – No Frills

When asked who was his favorite musician, Brian Setzer once answered ‘Freddy Frogs’. This lp, first released in 1982 by Off the Wall records, then licensed to Nervous records in 1984, gathered the sides recorded by Frogs (real name Ferdinando Toscano) with his two bands: the BMT’s and No Frill. The BMT’s featured Tommy Byrnes, who briefly joined the Stray Cats in 1984 as the second guitarist.
The lp opens with Cheap Thrills, a classic Rock’n’Roll in the style of Bill Haley with sax and appropriate backing vocals and handclaps. The program of Boppin and Jivin’ lays in its title. It bops, it jives, and it features fine doo-wop backing vocals too. The next track, Roxy, is an excellent soft Rockabilly. It’s followed by a slow in the best tradition of the Fifties. Freddy Frogs delivers a superb vocal performance, perfectly backed by the band. Livin In The Dark is a good rocking song. Maybe not the most original but quite effective. She’s So Mean is a superb Rockabilly with a blasting saxophone solo. Crazy Little Mama, a cover of El Dorados & Magnificents, is a fantastic doo-wop with a solid dose of Rock’n’Roll in it.
The B-side opens with the logical choice of Clarence Frogman Henry’s Ain’t Got No Home. Don’t Make Me Wait has echoes of Buddy Holly while Do the Bop is in Danny and the Juniors’ style.
You must be one hell of a singer to sing Pledging My Love and compete with Johnny Ace and Elvis Presley. Frogs totally makes this song his own, and his version has nothing to envy to anyone. Feelin’ No Pain is more modern, showing some New-Wave influences, especially in the bass line. Back to boppin’ Rockabilly with I Don’t Care Anymore. No Frills that concludes the album is an instrumental track that answers the LP’s first song, showcasing the piano and the saxophone.
A genuinely great Rock’n’Roll album.
Sadly Freddy Frogs passed away in 2009 at age 66.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Buzz and the Flyers

Buzz and the Flyers – Little Pig

Buzz and the flyers

Sing Sing Records ‎– S1002 [1980]
Little Pig – You Crazy Gal You – Let’s Bop

Buzz and the Flyers were one of the leading bands of the Rockabilly revival of the late seventies. Like the Rockats and Robert Gordon, they helped to pave the way for the Stray Cats‘ international success.
This EP features the group’s early line-up with the fantastic Dig Wayne on vocals, Michael Gene on guitar, Pete Morgan on bass, and Rock Roll (if you have to choose a nickname to play this music, you might as well pick this one) on drums.
Syl Sylvain, of the New York Dolls, produced it and released it on his own Sing Sing label. It’s interesting to see that at the same time, Jerry Nolan, drummer of the New York Dolls, played with the Rockats.
The A-side is a cover of Dale Hawkins’ Little Pig. Its bare-bone and sparse sound captures the Rockabilly spirit like very few managed to do since the fifties.
Even better is You Crazy Gal You. This one has a strong Charlie Feathers feel without sounding like a carbon copy. Listening to this today, you realize that the fantastic Michael Gene is one of the Rockabilly scene’s unsung heroes. His style incorporates the best of Cliff Gallup and Scotty Moore to mix it with more moderns elements.
This essential EP end with a frantic cover of Jack Earl’s Let’s Bop.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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