Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Restless

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

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

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang

in Contemporary artists/Reviews
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.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read our in depth interview with Dave Phillips here.

Restless

in Albums/Contemporary artists/R/Reviews

Restless live in TokyoRestless – Live in Tokyo 1989


Foot Tapping Records

Intro-Ghost Town / People Love A Show / Radar Love / All By Myself / Roll Your Monkey Maker / Vanish Without A Trace / That’s Alright / Neutron Dance / Ice Cold / 16 Tons / Baby Please Don’t Go / Edge On You / Money Honey / Little Pig / Long Black Shiny Car / Mr. Blues

This album, with the Sharks‘ Live in Japan and Frenzy‘s Live in Japan tends to make me believe that the best live albums are recorded in Japan with Steve Whitehouse slapping the double bass. If the Meteors Hell in the Pacific could easily prove me wrong on the first point, the Blue Cats’ On A Live Mission certainly confirms the second.

In 1989 Jeff baily left Restless and the band considered calling it quit. But with a tour of Japan scheduled, Ben Cooper and Mark Harman decided to hire a temporary bassist, namely Steve Whitehouse, to honor the booking. As Mark said in an interview to Deathrow “If Steve had said no, then if would have almost certainly been the end of Restless. Thankfully he said yes and after five minutes of rehearsing we went to Japan.”

The result as I said is an excellent live album with a surprinsigly tight band – considering the condition this line-up embarked to the tour – that plays all the classics (you can check, they’re all here) with carefully choosen covers and more unusual stuff like People Love A Show, a song that previously appeared on the b-side of Ice Cold.

Recorded by Pete Gage and mastered with the help of Alan Wilson you can’t go wrong in term of sound. Most of all this recording perfectly completes the other live albums released by Restless.

The choice of Whitehouse proved to me a pretty good one since the band recorded three studio albums, including the excellent Movin’ On, with him.


Restless - Live at the Klub Foot
Restless – Live at the Klub Foot

Restless – Live at the Klub Foot

Trophy Records TR002
Roll Your Money Maker – Fools Gold – Last Chance Baby – Baby Please Don’t Go – Bottle On The Beach – Long Black Shiny Car – Girl On Death Row – Live A Lie – Ghost Town – Ice Cold – Edge On You – Love Me – Mr Blues

Recently Alan Wilson (of Western Star and the Sharks fame) found a box full of tapes recorded at the Klub Foot, the mecca of Psychobilly and Neo-rockabilly in the mid-80’s. These tapes needed to be restored and cleaned, a very costly process and two of these shows (Batmobile and Sting Rays) were released on Anagram/Cherry Red Records. Sadly the sales weren’t enough for the label and they called it quit. Knowing he had history in his hands, Wilson created a sub-label to his own Western Star to keep on releasing this stuff.
The second release in the serie concerns another well established name on the scene: Restless. I don’t think it’s possible to find someone who doesn’t like “Why Don’t You Just Rock?” or “Do You Feel Restless?” They made a name on both rockabilly and psychobilly scenes. When this gig was recorded in September 1984 they were at their finest, the line-up being original members Mark Harman on guitar and Ben Cooper on drums plus bassist Jeff Baily and, freshly recruited, Mick Malone on second guitar. The quartet plays killer tunes one after another (with the exception of the Phantom’s Love Me which doesn’t fit them well – sorry Mark you’re not a wildman). This set even features an original that never appeared on a studio album and written by Malone.
Buy it at Western Star


Restless - After Midnight
Restless – After Midnight

Restless – After Midnight

ABC [1986]
What Can You Say – Somebody Told Me – Do You Really Need To know? – Trouble rides A Fast Horse – Bye B B By By Bye – How Can I Find You? – You Lose – After Midnight – Dark Blue Sea – The Face – Just A Friend

Shortly after the release of Do You Feel Restless, the band’s second album, Paul Harman left Restless to be replaced by Jeff Bayly. Around the same time they added Mick Malone on second guitar.
In 1985 the ep Vanish Without A Trace announced a slight change in the band’s sound, slowly moving from neo-rockabilly to modern-rockabilly, sometimes bordering on psychobilly but their fans couldn’t imagine that their sound would change so drastically. “After Midnight” took everybody by surprise with its radio friendly production, synthethic drums sound, keyboards and horns. In trying to gain a wider audience, which they never really did, Restless had lost its personnality. The rockabillies ignored the album and so did Top Of The Pops, a typical case of a no winners situation. “After Midnight” was a total waste of talent comparable to Frenzy’s Sally’s Pink Bedroom.


Restless - Why Don't You… Just rock!
Restless – Why Don’t You… Just rock!

Restless – Why Don’t You Just Rock

Nervous records Ner004 [1982]
It’s A Scam – Ice Cold – Why Don’t You Just Rock! – High Time – Last Chance Baby – Tag Man Tag – Long Black Shiny Car – Face In My Gin – Yellow Cab To Midnight – Morning Comes Slowly – Black Cat – Travellin’ – High Time 2* – Later* – That’s Alright* (*cd only)

Restless have a problem: their first album was perfect. One could argue that this is not such a big problem and many bands would like to have such a problem. It became a problem for them when they never managed to recapture the magic of that first album (though Do You Feel… came close).
Why Don’t You Just Rock was like a lightning in a bottle. The band had it all: the songs (mostly penned by singer and guitar player Mark Harman), the talent (with Harman’s guitar everywhere but also a tight rhythm section made of his brother Paul and Ben Cooper on drums)  but also the freshness and some form of carefree attitude that you have when you’re a teenager and you play that kind of music. Thus, they brought something new to the genre, making a lively album that rocks, bops, swings and rolls. A 80’s equivalent to Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps (a huge influence on the band).
There’s no need to do a song by song review, each number here is almost a classic: the title track, Ice Cold, Yellow Cab to Midnight, High Time (with its crazy jazzy guitar), Long Black Shiny Car. Unlike many they’re not afraid to play a ballad (Morning Comes Slowly) seriously.
And if you still need to be convinced, just count the numerous band this particular album influenced. They are legions. Restless, with Why Don’t You Just Rock, almost define, with the Blue Cats and a couple more bands, what neo-rockabilly is.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Restless
Resless (Mark Harman, Paul Harman, Ben Cooper)

Resless (Mark Harman, Paul Harman, Ben Cooper)
Resless (Mark Harman, Paul Harman, Ben Cooper)

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