Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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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

The Krewmen

in Albums/Contemporary artists/IJKL/Reviews


The Krewmen – Ramblin’ / I’m Gonna Get It

the krewmen

Lost Moment LM024
The Krewmen were one of the best band to emerge from the british rockabilly scene of the mid-eighties along with Red Hot’n’Blue, The Riverside Trio and The Blue Rhythm Boys to name but a few. The band was formed by bassist Tony McMillan in 1982, first as a rockabilly combo. After a few changes, the Krewmen found its best line-up with : Tony McMillan on bass, Jimmy Faye on drums and a young Carl Sonny Leyland on guitar, harmonica, piano and vocals. Together they pushed the band toward a more bluesy sound. Ramblin’ is a great “delta-blues meets Chicago blues” stuff. The electricity is here but you still have a big country flavour. This tune shows what a great slide guitarist is Carl Leyland, too bad he doesn’t play it anymore. The b-side, “I’m gonna get it” is a Jazz Gillum song. Listening to this version shows that the Krewmen were more than a “cover band”. They play this song and make it their own. The song, the voice and the harp are clearly bluesy, but the way McMillan slaps his bass and the scorchy guitar look toward rockabilly. Let’s call it rockabilly blues.The band recorded an EP and this single with this line-up, both on lost moment. Then they disbanded and soon after Tony McMillan came back, this time on guitar, with a new version of the Krewmen. Carl Leyland and Judge Faye were no longer here and the sound of the day was “modern rockabilly” to soon evolve into psychobilly. Carl Leyland later moved to the USA and became the famous piano player we know and Fahy joined Get Smart . The “original” Krewmen were an amazing band and it’s really sad they didn’t last long enough to release a full length album but Lost Moment re-released this legendary recordings on a CD called “Klassic Tracks From 1985!” (LMCD054) and you can find some other Krewmen recordings on Carl Sonny Leyland’s album “I Like Boogie Woogie” (On The Hill OTHRCD 001). Look for them, they definititely worth it.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Early Krewmen with Carl Sonny Leyland
Early Krewmen with Carl Sonny Leyland
The Krewmen - Into the Tomb
The Krewmen – Into the Tomb

The Krewmen – Into the Tomb

Lost Moment Records ‎– LMLP 014 [1987]
Let Loose – Should I Stay or Go – Devil’s Daughter – Public Enemy Number One – Hava Nagila – Curse of the Pharaohs – Solid Gold Easy Action – Hostage – I’m Not Dead – Swamp Club Ball

Third and last release with the classic Psychobilly line-up of the Krewmen (Tony Mc Millan on guitar, Mark Cole on vocals, Dominic Parr on drums and Jason Thornton on double bass).
The sound hardens a bit compared to the Adventure and Sweet Dreams with a fast paced cover of the Clash’s Should I Stay or Should I Go (a song that was heavily covered by Psychobilly bands at one point). Other covers are T-Rex Solid Gold Action and a Dick Dale inspired version of the traditionnal Hava Naguila.
All in all it’s a solid album, though maybe a little less essential than the first two albums.


The Krewmen - Plague of the dead
The Krewmen – Plague of the dead

The Krewmen – Plague of the Dead

Lost Moment [1988] – Reissue Part Records – PART-CD 6114-001 [2014]
Plague of the Dead – I’m Not Your Stepping Stone – Scream of the Banshees – Jeanie Jeanie Jeanie – What’s Wrong – I Can’t Stop – Take a Little More – The Clock – Legend of the Piper – Do You Wanna Touch – Beat the Devil – My Generation

One can distinct three main periods in the history of the Krewmen. The first one was the Rockabilly-blues years that saw the release of two singles with Carl Sonny Leyland. Next they changed their style to psychobilly with Mark Cole on vocals and the recordings of three classic psychobilly albums (the Adventure of, Sweet Dreams and Into the Tomb). Cole eventually left in 1987 and Tony McMillan, then guitar player took over the vocal duties and came with a new line-up including Steve Piper on drums and a Mark Burke.
The sound changed with the line-up too, getting harder and including different elements than Psychobilly and Rockabilly like metal, punk rock, glam rock. “Plague Of The Dead” combines all those influences. The choice of the covers reveals this orientation and McMillan’s varied tastes. From Eddie Cochran’s Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie to Gary Glitter’s Do You Wanna Touch via The Who’s My Generation and Steppin’ Stone (Paul Revere, The Monkees but also covered by The Sex Pistols). Tony quotes classic rockers like Chuck Berry and Elvis for influence but he also adds Alice Cooper, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Jimmi Hendrix and Sex Pistols to the list.
It wasn’t easy to follow Cole and their first three albums, but McMillan succeeds to renew the band and “Plague Of The Dead” contains some very good moments like “Legend Of The Piper”, “Take A Little More” and the previously mentioned covers. It’s  also quite refreshing to see a band that doesn’t care about boundaries.
So once again it’s agood job from Part Record to reissue this album (with interesting booklet that contains press clips). Hopefully they’ll release the rest of the band’s discography in the near future. One can only regret the label didn’t include the non-album b-sides released at the same time as bonus.


The Krewmen - Power
The Krewmen – Power

The Krewmen – Power

Lost Moment LMLP 021 [1990]
Devils Lair – Miranda – Undead – The Rats – Anymore – Stone – Get Lost – 2 Souls – Knight Moves – Back To The Ball

Little by little, fans of the Krewmen saw them adding more and more hard core elements to their music and slowly drop the rockabilly idiom out of their sound. This musical position culminates with Power, which is plain hard-roce with heavy and distorted guitars, hard pounding drums with breaks, raspy voice and powerful slap bass. Some elements are even strictly heavy metal / hard rock with tatseless guitar like Knight Moves.
It’s still very well produced and play and features ecellent tunes like Back to the Ball a follow up to Swamp Club Ball from Into the Tomb, but far from the traditionnal psychobilly sound of the three albums released with Mark Cole.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Frenzy (psychobilly)

in Contemporary artists/EF/Reviews

Frenzy - Hall of mirrors
Frenzy – Hall of mirrors

Frenzy – Hall of Mirrors

Nervous NER016 [1985]
One last chance – Schitzophrenic emotions – Choice – Hall of mirrors(1) – Frenzy – Asylum moves – Skeleton rock – Sweet money – Ghost train – Long gone – Surfin’ bird – Was it me? – Wound up – Frustration – Hall of mirrors(2) – Robot riot – Cry or die – All alone – Torment

If a label “classic psychobilly album” would exist, Hall Of Mirror would be among the first to deserve it.
In 1983, the split of the Sharks allowed Steve Whitehouse to fully concentrate on his new project: Frenzy. By many aspects Frenzy were more adventurous than the Sharks. It marked a new step for the psychobilly scene that was in full bloom and the band went into musical territories rarely explored by slap bass led combos. The recording of Hall Of Mirrors began with Simon Brand on guitar and Merv Pepler on drums, this trio having already released one ep for a Dutch label (included on thecd reissues of this album). But Brand quickly left the band (he later formed Torment) with only three songs ready for the forthcoming album (Frustration, Frenzy, Sweet Money).
Whitehouse eventually hired Kev Saunders to complete the album. Both Saunders and Pepler came from different musical horizons and combined with the double bassist’s rockabilly background the result was an unusual, unique and explosive combination.
Musically speaking, Whitehouse fast slapping and technique proved to be a lasting influence for the many psychobilly bassmen that followed.
Hall Of Mirrors offered originals (including a reworking of the Sharks’ Skeleton Rock) and one cover (Surfin’ Bird) probably the only weak track of the album (but who could come after the Trashmen and the Cramps?).
The lyrics also set up new standard. I addition to the usual crew of ghosts, skeleton etc. you can also find songs about madness, frustration and teenage angst.
Brilliant!


Frenzy - Clockwork Toy
Frenzy – Clockwork Toy

Frenzy – Clockwork Toy

I.D. Records ‎– NOSE 8 [1986]
Clockwork Toy – I See Red – Misdemeanour – Nightmares – Love Is the Drug – Mexican Radio – Howard Hughes – In My Prison – Aftermath – Nobody’s Business

With Clockwork Toy, Frenzy confirmed their status of “Psychobilly band with more than two ideas in their songs”. The accent is put on arrangements and variations, giving more elaborated melodies (and sometimes more pop sounding) than your usual fast paced rockabilly (Misdemeanour, Clockwork Toy, Howard Hughes…). And if Whithehouse’s heavy slap bass links the whole thing to the rockabilly idiom (listen to “I See Red” – which spent some decent time in the indie charts – or “Nightmares“), the sound of the guitar doesnt owe anything to the genre. There’s a lot of production work. A powerfull live band, they also want to prove they can deliver a “real” album and not only a hastily live in the studio recording of stage favorites. These’ll remain a constant (with varied degrees of success) in Frenzy’s carreer. Retrospectivly, it sometimes turns to the disadvantage of the band and this will to explore technology shows its limits. The synthetizer’s sound on “Love Is A Drug” (yes Roxy Music’s one) or the drums on “Howard Hughes” sound terribly dated now, and let’s say it, very cheap.
But this minor flaws left aside, Clockwork Toys is as important, for different reasons, as their debut album and still stands today as a classic of the genre.
It’s later been reissued on cd with two b-sides from the same period and 3 songs from Sally’s Pink Bedroom


Frenzy - Live at the 100 Club
Frenzy – Live at the 100 Club

Frenzy – Live at the 100 Club

Nervous Records NER 033 – Raucous Records [1988]
I see red – Misdemeanour – Love is the drug 4.House on fire – Howard Hughes – The hunt – Clockwork toy – Migraine – Gotta go! – It’s All Over Now – Robot riot
In the quantity of live albums released by psychobilly bands, many were disappointing, whether they were poorly recorded (remember the Live & Loud serie on Link) or the band wasn’t able to recreate the studio recordings on stage. Among the best you find The Long Tall texans’ Five Beans In The Wheel, The Sharks’ Live In Japan, a couple of Meteors and… Frenzy’s Live At The 100 Club. Recorded in 1986, it’s a magic combination of a perfect recording and a tight band of true professionnals, playing at that time 150 dates per year. The set draws heavily into “Clockwork Toy” recorded that same year.They kick off with a roaring version of their indie charts hit “I See Red”. “Misdemeanor” quickly follows, featuring a pumping slap bass, showing how good Steve Whitehouse is.Roxy Music’s “Love Is A Drug” is far better than the album version. The keyboards parts being replaced by a guest saxophonist giving a bit of a ska touch. They alternate “straight in your face” wild numbers (House On Fire) with their more complex and melodic songs (Clockwork Toy, Howard Hughes) with equal degrees of success. Next are a couple of covers, The Ricochets'”Migraine”, The G-Men’s “Gotta Go” and a epic 8 minute “It’s All Over Now” a song previously performed by Withehouse in The Sharks’ set. This perfect disc ends with a 100 mp/h rendition of their “early” classic “Robot Riot” that almost manages to make you forget the studio version. Issued on vinyl by Nervous in 1988, it’s been reissued by Raucous in 2001.


Frenzy - best-of
Frenzy – best-of

Frenzy – The Very Best-Of

Rage CD 107 [1990]

A very good overview of the band’s seven first years including songs from Hall Of Mirrors, Clockwork Toy and This Is the Fire as well as unreleased stuff like Long Gone recorded live at Hemsby and some b-sides too.


Frenzy – Live in Japan

Frenzy Live in JapanRaucous Records RAUCD046

Nervous Breakdown- Clockwork Toy – Misdemeanour – Hall of Mirrors – I See Red – This is the Fire – CC Rider – Love is a Drug – Mad Mad World – Brand New Gun – Long Gone – Tush – Robot Riot – It’s All Over Now – Cry or Die

Another very good live album recorded in Japan (see Restless and the Sharks for others great live albums recorded in jpan with Steve Whitehouse) in 1993.

It’s a very powerful set with all the classics and a couple of covers like Brand New Gun (Tall Boys), Tush (ZZ Top), Nervous Breakdown (Cochran), CC Rider (Elvis) and Royx Music’s Love is a Drug.

It’s very different – and yet very complementary – to Live at the 100 Clubsince Carl Parry has a very Metal sound compared to Kev Saunders who was more ‘new wave meets rockabilly’. It sometimes a bit too much, but more often than not it works very well, even with the songs from Hall of Mirror and Clockwork Toy.

Frenzy

Frenzy

Scared Stiff

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Scared Stiff – Dark Streets

Scared Stiff

Link Records Link LP104 [1989]

Johnny Cynic The Untouchables My Babe She’s So Fine Tear It Up Dark Streets Scared Stiff Ghost Hunter One More Bite Elvis O’Leary

In late 1988 / early 1989 Chuck Flintstone contacted Dave Finnegan in order to release an album of Irish Psychobilly legends Shark Bait but the band had already split.

Finnegan hastily recruited some musicians (Ciaran Murphy on guitar, Johnnie Bonnie on drums and Willo O’Brian on bass as well as a couple of guest) to record this album containing songs from the Shark Bait catalog.

The album contains its share of very good songs, all originals being from the pen of Finnegan. From the psychobilly sound of Johnny Cynic and She’s so Fine (both with wild double bass) or Ghost Hunter to the title track that sounds like what could be described as Psycho-folk. Quite different – but very good – is One More Bite featuring an accordion or the Untouchables that starts with a jazzy mood before evolving into a furious neo-rockabilly.

Next to those very good songs, their covers are totally useless and are only here to release a lp rather than a mini album.

The album also suffers from a poor production (or the absence of production should I say) and a poor mastering .

Two songs (Ghost Hunter and One More Bite) were later reissued on Long Lost Psychobilly Vol. 1 (Treasures From The Vaults Of Link Records).

Shortly after the release of the album Scared stiff disbanded and Dave Finnegan appeared in the Alan Parker’s movie the Commitments before fronting his own Commitments band for a while.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Spectre

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Spectre – Spectre

Spectre

Killjoy Records Kill O28

Out Of Time – West – I’ve Been Fine – Spectre

Spectre is a psychobilly band from Los Angeles and this is their (brilliant) debut single.

Out Of Time is a fast psychobilly number with a mean guitar riff. Andy their guitar player really knows how to craft this little riffs that enter your head then dance in and with your brain for a while. West sounds like something like the Quakes meet Torment with a western twang. Really good!

Both I’ve Been Fine and Spectre are led by a powerful slap bass and sure will delight all fans of old school psychobilly.
Their strength (or their talent call it whatever you want) is of course in the way they deliver the songs but also in their songwriting. Their songs are traditionnal (I guess that if you grew up listening to psychobilly in the 80’s you won’t be disapointed) yet original.

Good debut, now I’m waiting for the lp!

As usual with Killjoy this is a limited edition of 500: 400 copies on black vinyl, 50 on clear/black vinyl (band edition) and 50 on grey vinyl (Killjoy Records edition).

Available here

Spectre on Facebook

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Three Blue Teardrops

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Three Blue Teardrops – Ballin’ Jack/Morbid Teenage Love Song

Three Blue Teardrops

Swelltune Records SR45-004 [2018]

At last some new music by Three Blue Teardrops!

Dave Sisson, Randy Sabo and Rick Uppling are back with a brand new single recorded at Hi-Style studios.

Side A is a hot jiver that benefits of the addition of a saxophone and features a mean and superb solo.

B-side is even better. Imagine a sad rockabilly ballad with female backing vocals produced by Shadow Morton. I was almost expecting to hear car crash sound effects in the middle of the song.

Buy it at Swelltune records.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Three Blue Teardrops - Rustbelt Trio
Three Blue Teardrops – Rustbelt Trio

Three Blue Teardrops – Rustbelt Trio


A-OK – Shocked – Lincoln ’59 – Alone At Last – Headin’ For Disaster – American Way – Hard-Boiled – Little Lovely – Lord Send Me An Angel – Damage Control – The Dead Know Nothing – I still Dream Of You – I’m Still Standin’ Here
The fourth album relased by Three Blue Teardrops, more than 10 years after their debut release ‘One Part Fist” on the legendary British label Nervous Records. I’m a huge fan of Alan Wilson’s work as a musician (The Sharks) or as a producer (Frantic Flintstones, Gazmen, Colbert Hamilton…) but I was a little disappointed by his production on “One Part Fist”. I think he tried to give some kind of English psychobilly sound to a 100% American band which didn’t really fit them. The two following albums are now very hard to find but are more reflective of what their true sound is. So is “Rustbelt Trio” produced and released by the band. Here you have a real wild rocking and stomping modern rockabilly album made of 13 songs (all band’s originals, half written by guitarist Dave Sisson and the other half by upright bassist Rick Uppling). One of their best quality is to be able to mix genres, adding traditional vocals harmonies on heavy rockers, or enhance what could be a classic hot rod song (Lincoln 49) with a fine and swing drumbeat. Harmonies and superb brushed snare can also be found on “Alone At Last”, a teenagers’ song with a modern edge. The sound hardens a bit on “Headin’ For Disaster”, which talks about alcoholism and self destruct (Stayin’ out late at the beer joints, poppin’ pills and livin’ hard / Drivin’ too fast on the highway, slow at work and feelin’ tired / You’re lookin’ older everyday you spend gettin’ bent / But pretty soon this gift you got is going to be spent). “American Way” is a true heavy rockabilly or psychobilly (call it whatever you want) song which shouldn’t be out of place in The Quakes repertory. Nice! Changing the mood a bit, “Lord Send Me An Angel” is what you can expect with a title like that, a fine ballad with just the guitar and a very light snare, and once again traditional harmonies on the chorus. And right after this calm and peaceful moment they rush into the wild “Damage Control”. Another change of tempo comes with “The Dead Know Nothing” a western ballad with Mexican trumpets, gunshots and percussions ala Ennio Morricone. An Everly Brothers influence can be heard on “I Still Dream Of You”, and the album ends with “I’m Standin’ Here”, dedicated to Stiff Little Fingers’ Jake Burns, but the message is clear and can apply to Dave, Rick and Randy. It’s very good to see the band back in action, with a all-killer/no-filler album. With the new interest toward psychobilly in the USA, it would be more than justice to find them, who were among the first with The Quakes to play that music in America, achieving the same level of success The Reverend Horton Heat did.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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