Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth
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 – Rockhouse Mini L.P. Collection
Rockhouse Records – MLP 8420 
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 
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.
Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Good Thing
Fury Records F3035 
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.
Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – I Lost My Beer
KEiL-Records – V.07-21-009 
I Lost My Beer! / I’m Gonna Toss My Cookies
After a break of a quarter of a century, Dave Phillips returns with a brand new single (but a little bird told me there’s more in the pipeline). Some bands grow older, and often not for the best, but Dave Phillips has matured. I try as much as possible to avoid the overused comparison with the wine, but if you allow me just one exception, let it be for this single.
Backed by the excellent Mark Twang on lead guitar and Pete Deville on drums and superbly recorded, Dave Phillips proposes two original songs, thematically centred around beer (before and after). This man knows about essential things in life. This kind of lyrics evokes the likes of Slim Gaillard or Louis Jordan. Actually, the music is also a variation around their music, a brand of swingin’ Rock’n’roll or a brand of Jump/Rhythm’n’Blues without horns. The trio is very impressive by its cohesion and how they complement each other. Philips and Deville infectious groove allows Twang to jump and gallop (and sometimes he “gallups” too) over the fretboard. The final result is delightful, though having only two songs create a lot of frustration. It’s a strictly limited release (only 444 copies), so grab a copy when you can.
Dave Phillips & the Hot Rod Gang – The Big Wheel Of Life
The Big Wheel Of Life – Raining In My Heart – Bad Boy – Shut The Truck Up – Rain – I’m Gonna Catch Me A Rat – My Oh My – I Lost My Beer – Cat Man – No Moon At All – I’m Gonna Toos My Cookies – All You Need Is Me – Man Of Constant Sorrow
The fact that a man like Dave Phillips, who plays this music for more than 40 years, still manages to surprise me gives me incommensurable joy. And boy, did he surprise me with his latest album (pleasantly, that goes without saying).
His latest collection of songs recorded with Mark Twang and Chris Bergström on guitars, Pete Deville and Patrik Staffansson on drums and a pianist (whose name escapes me right now, sorry) would show many newcomers how to play that music.
The album opens with Dave’s The Big Wheel Of Life: first track, first classic. The early 60s country feel fits the lyrics perfectly, and Dave’s voice which has gained in depth and maturity and, dare I say, now shows some vulnerability is perfect for this style. No wonder the song gave its title to the album. Phillips penned three other tracks for the album: Shut The Truck Up, a mid-tempo Rockabilly with piano and backing vocals, I Lost My Beer, and I’m Gonna Toss My Cookies. Both were released as a single on Keil Records. I Lost My Beer sounds as if Louis Jordan or Slim Gaillard had played Rockabilly, and by listening to Toss My Cookies, it seems that Phillips finally found his beer and had one too many, and the result gives a hilarious song.
There are also a few covers. It wouldn’t be a Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang album without a Gene Vincent song. Rejoice, my friends; this one contains two: I’m Gonna Catch Me Rat and Catman. There are just some subtle changes if you compare their version of Catch Me A Rat to the original: the piano part, some jazz chords here and there, and a little difference in the groove, but that’s enough to transform it into something really new. Regarding Catman, the result is equally impressive. The rhythm section and the guitar rock as hell, while the piano forays into jazz territories and brings a whole different colour to the song. Buddy Holly’s Raining In My Heart is superbly served by Phillips’ melancholic voice, whereas Larry Williams’ Bad Boy changes the mood. The song is turned into a desperate bluesy tune with a Diddley beat and two superb twangy/burlisonian guitar solos to boot.
There are also tunes that you wouldn’t usually find on a Rockabilly album. But that’s where Phillips is clever and is more attached to the quality of the song and the melody rather than sticking to a specific genre. My, Oh My comes from one of Leonard Cohen’s latest albums and, once again, fits Phillips’ voice perfectly. King Cole’s No Moon At All falls halfway between jazz (the piano) and Gene Vincent (the guitar). The same goes for Morrissey’s All You Need Is Me, one of the album’s highlights. Rain was initially done by Jose Feliciano. Phillips keeps the beautiful melody but muscles the song, and Twang adds an outstanding solo. Superb!
Contrary to some (don’t insist I won’t give names), ageing doesn’t seem to be a problem for Phillips. With a newfound voice, solid originals and still that open-minded approach, his latest album could possibly be his best. But please, Mr Phillips, don’t make us wait too long for the next one.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Read our in depth interview with Dave Phillips here.