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The Barnshakers

in Reviews

The Barnshakers ‎– Whiskey River / Hollow Grave 

Goofin’ Records ‎– GRSI 224 [2012]

Another excellent single released by the Barnshakers. The A-side is a cover of Johnny Bush’s Whiskey River, also a hit for Willie Nelson. They deliver a superb muscled-up version with powerful slap bass and intense vocal by Vesa.
The flip is an excellent Rockabilly with harmony vocals, typical of the style of the band.


the Barnshakers - Twenty one
the Barnshakers – Twenty one

The Barnshakers – Twenty One

Goofin Records GRCD6130
Twenty-One – Come On – Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop – Have A Ball – Knock Knock Rattle – Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby – Yah! I’m Movin’ – Wiggle Like A Worm.

Very good mini cd from the Barnshakers, one of the best, if not the best european band in activity made of one studio track and seven live recording. The studio track “Twenty One”, a Vesa Haaja’s own, is an immediate addictive song with its great vocal and lead guitar part and the piano support. This song proves how right they were to add a piano in their line-up. The live show, with the exception of “Wiggle Like A Worm” is made of covers and songs that were never recorded in the studio by the band. This gives another interest to this record to hear them playing classic songs by Wynn Stewart (Come On), Lew Williams (Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop) and Carl Perkins (Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby). The set ends with a frantic Vesa singing and screaming on “Yah! I’m Movin’” and “Wiggle Like A Worm” with Lester playing Burlisonnian licks. By far the best cut of this record. An advice, if you want it, you should hurry as the cover states it’s a limited release…


The Barnshakers - the single album
The Barnshakers – the single album

The Barnshakers – The Single album

Goofin Records GRCD6126 {2004}
She Done Quit Me – So Doggone Blue – Big Sandy – Ooh’ Baby -Complicated Fool – Who’s Gonna Be The Next One Honey – When I Take My Sugar To Tea – Take One – Wiggle Like A Worm – Choo Choo’s Coming Back – Desperate Santa – Santa’s Got A Brand New Steel Pedal – Hocus Pocus – Gone A-Rockin’ – You’re The Cause Of It All – Tell My Baby I Love Her – Move On – What’cha Gonna Do – Boppin’ In Roswell – Raining In My Heart – What’cha Doin’ To Me – Lotta Lotta Women

It’s a good idea to issue all the Barnshakers singles on one cd as some are not that easy to find. You can also see the evolution of the band through the years from the rockabilly of the beginning to the addition of a piano player and the touch of boogie of today. The first single shows what a good songwriter Jussi Huhtakangas (aka Lester Peabody) is, too bad he doesn’t write more songs. Vesa, the lead singer and main writer wrote my two favourite songs on the cd issued from the Xmas single «Desperate Santa» and the great «Santa’s got a brand new pedal steel». You got some covers too and a song penned by Shaun Young. So what could you ask for more ? Unissued material ? You’ve got it, two new songs recorded in 2004. So I guess you understood this record is a must have for all Barnshakers and rockabilly fans everywhere.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Barnshakers
The Barnshakers (left to right: Mike Salminen, Vesa Haaja, Mika Liikari, Lester Peabody).

Deke Dickerson

in Reviews

Deke and the Whippersnappers – Deke And The Whippersnappers

Pig Baby Records – PBR-018 [2020]
Here Kitty, Kitty – Besame Mucho – Wild Wild One – The Girls Gone Rockin’

With just two guitars and one double-bass, it’s back to basic for Deke Dickerson on this new EP.
The Whippersnappers are Bert Avalos (the Moontones) on rhythm guitar and Zander Griffith (Reckless Ones) on double-bass.
They take Jimmy Murphy’s Here Kitty Kitty at the same pace than the original, but they muscle it a bit, and the result is a superb Rockabilly with fine pickin’ and a slap bass solo in the middle.
Besame Mucho sounds halfway between El Cumbachero and Walk Don’t Run.
Wild Wild Thing, a cover of Billy Golden’s 1968 Starday single, is a solid country tune with twangy guitar, tailored-made for Dickerson’s voice.
Surprinsingly, the sole original comes from the pen of Avalos and Griffith. It’s a frantic Rockabilly, very classic in its form but the musicianship makes the difference.
Hopefully, this line-up will soon record an album very soon.

Deke Dickerson & The Sex-Phonics – Morocco Twist

Deke Dickerson Morocco twist

Sleazy Records – SR172 [2019]
Morocco Twist / Barefoot Blues

During one of his tours of Spain, Dickerson teamed up with a bunch of Spanish musicians to record this single.
Side A is an instrumental with twin guitars and Hammond organ. It’s a surf tune with an Oriental vibe and a touch of twist.
The B-side is a Rock’n’roll number in a Chuck Berry vein with vocals.


Big Sandy vs. Deke Dickerson – Jesus & Gravy

Big Sandy vs Deke Dickerson

Sleazy Records SR142 [2018]
Make A Little Time For Jesus / Get The Gravy Hot

This release is a split single between Big Sandy (side A) and Deke Dickerson (side B).
Fellow Fly Right Boys Ashley Kingman and Kevin Stewart back Big Sandy, helped by Chris Sprague on drums and Ernie Vargas on tambourine. Make A Little Time For Jesus finds him, with no surprise, in full-gospel mode. The man who penned songs like Between Darkness and Dawn, Thru Dreamin’, and many others, has been more inspired in the past.
You’ll find the same musicians backing Deke Dickerson, but Kingman switched to 6-string bass, and Stewart plays electric-bass. The song, a cover of Shotgun Red, is an excellent country rocker that suits Deke’s voice and style to a T.


deke dickerson echosonic eldorado
Deke Dickerson – Echosonic Eldorado

Deke Dickerson – Echosonic Eldorado

Major Label MLCD 006
Little Innocent – I’m Gettin’ Your Message, Baby – Sneakin’ All Around – Forbidden Love – My Baby Don’t Love Me Anymore – Bop Wax – Don’t That Prove I Love You – Big Guitar – My Eyes On You (with Duane Eddy) – Cut Loose – Echosonic Eldorado – Deke’s Boogie Blues – 40th & Plum – I’ve Lived A Lot In My Time

Whereas Deke’s latest studio album, King Of the Whole Wide World, blended together rockabilly, western swing, rock’n’roll, country soul, honky tonk and more, Deke Dickerson’s Echosonic Eldorado stays within the boundaries of rock’n’roll and rockabilly.
One can hear the influences of Johnny Burnette (Little Innocent), Gene Vincent (Bop Wax sounds like a mix between Bop Street and Crazy Legs) and a lot of Sun sound, helped on that by guest pianist Carl Sonny Leynand in full Jerry Lee Lewis mode. Another Sun connection is the presence of Scotty Moore who introduced via an answer machine the instrumental Echosonic Eldorado. The term Echosonic came from the amplifier used by Moore on the early Elvis recordings and that’s no surprise to find Moore inspired riffs in that instrumental but with the Dickerson’s touch. Another guest is none other than Duane Eddy who lays his instantly identifiable twangy guitar on “My Eyes On You“. With lyrics like “I got a shiny Cadillac car, I got Duane Eddy on guitar” I can easily imagine the smile upon Dickerson’s face during the session. Another highlight is Deke’s Boogie Blues, close to Frogman Henry’s Ain’t Got No Home. As usual with Dickerson, the vocal is, throughout the album, perfect and no need to say that the guitar is hot. Beside the already mentionned Carl Sonny Leyland and in addition to Dickerson on guitar, bass and some piano, Chrsi Sprague sings some backing and harmony vocals and Crazy Joe completes the line-up on drums.
Needless to say that you must have it.


Deke Dickerson w/ Nikki Hill - Soul Meets Country
Deke Dickerson w/ Nikki Hill – Soul Meets Country

Deke Dickerson – Soul Meets Country

Major Label Records MLCD-007 [2013]
Lovey Dovey – Feelins – Struttin’ – Lady Killa
Hot off the press here comes Deke Dickerson’s newest ep, available on both cd and vinyl format (downloads available too). If you liked his previous single cut in Memphis with the Bo-Keys, no doubt that you will LOVE this one. Not only Deke Dickerson reunited with the Bo-Keys for four sides of juicy Memphis soul but he also had the good idea to team with rock’n’roll and rhythm’n’ blues diva Nikki Hill. Side A features two Hill-Dickerson duets, Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ Lovey Dovey and Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn’s Feelins. Country meets Soul or what? Side B contains Struttin‘ sung by Nikki Hill alone and a new country funk version (with Wah-wah) of Deke’s Lady Killin’ Papa named here Lady Killa. Superb.
www.dekedickerson.com/shopping/merch3.php


dekedickersonandthebokeysDeke Dickerson and the Bo-Keys – Country Meets Soul

Love man / hello Darlin’
Major Label ML45-1

Country soul anyone? Deke recorded this new single with the mighty Bo-Keys and featuring the no less talented Joel Paterson on pedal steel guitar. The result is a killer double A sides (Otis Redding’s Love Man and Conway Twitty’s Hello Darlin’) sounding like a mix between a 60’s country band with a bit of Charlie Rich in it and backed by the Mar-Keys or Booker T. Beautiful 180gr sleeve too.


Deke Dickerson - Live at Duff's
Deke Dickerson – Live at Duff’s

Deke Dickerson – Live At Duff

Intro and Mexicali Rose – Snatch It and Grab It – Early American – Run Red Run – I’m a Lover Not a Fighter – Ain’t No Grave Deep Enough – Good Time Gal – Misshapen Hillbilly Gal – I’ll Go Down Swingin’ – Honky Tonk Nighttime Man- Make Way for a Better Man – End of the Road – Lover Come Back to Me – Hello Darlin’- I Never Cared for You – Muleskinner Blues – El Cumbanchero

Live albums are pretty rare on the “reviva” rockin’ scene. I don’t know why , maybe the reason is that it gets tough to release albums nowadays and artists want to concentrate on studio stuff, or because some of them, touring a lot, want to propose something different on wax.
Anyway, Deke’s latest output is a live album. And not only this stands as one of the best live album I’ve heard, it could possibly be Deke’s best album. Nothing less.

It was recorded when Dickerson was on tour with the excellent Chicago combo The Modern Sounds (they now have a couple of cd of their own and one backing Eddie Clendening – all excellent check them out!). The Modern Sounds are guitar wizard Joel Paterson who also plays steel and harp, slap bassist Beau Sample and drummer extraordinaire Alex Hall who doubles on piano too.
Dickerson and band play a storming set of rockabilly/rock’n’roll (Jerry Lee’s End of the Road features Hall on piano and Dickerson giving his best Jimmy Van Eaton impersonation). He also takes good advantage of Paterson’s skills on steel guitar to delve further into country and western sounds whether it’s classic honky tonk (Porter Wagoner’s I’ll Go Down Swingin’, Conway Twitty’s Hello Darlin), western swing (Misshapen Hillbilly Gal) or Willie Nelson (Nelson is a genre of its own).
There’s also two instrumentals, Deke’s El Cumbachero and Joe Maphis and Larry Collins’ Early American (with a second guitarist like Paterson it must be hard to resist I guess)
But this album has more to offer. Dickerson once joked – it was on West Coast Ramble I guess – that he was “the whitest man in show-business. Whenever I try to sound like Louis Jordan I end up sounding like Bill Haley”. Of couse it’s wrong but the Modern Sounds allow him to explore style he rarely ventured in. It was a total blast to hear him play Lazy Lester’s I’m A Lover Not A Fighter (with Paterson on harmonica) but most of all he felt confident enough to sing a classic jazz tune like « Lover Come Back to Me », seriously and not as a joke. And he’s right cause he never sounded that well as a singer.
It’s a joint release from Deke’s Major Label and Paterson’s Ventrella and like all Ventrella albums it’s superbly designed and comes in a beautiful digipack.


Deke Dickerson - King of the Whole Wide World
Deke Dickerson – King of the Whole Wide World

Deke Dickerson – King of the Whole Wide World

Major Label Records MLCD-003
King of the Whole Wide World (introduction) – Deep River – I Can’t Wait To See You (Go) – Misshapen Hillbilly Gal – Put Me Down – Boone County Blues – Make Way for a Better Man – Itchin’ for My Baby – Do You Think of Me – Fool’s Gold – Trumpet – Early for the Bell – Bomb Shelter (for My Heart) – Double-Clutchin’- King of the Whole Wide World (reprise)
When you think about it, there are only a couple of things that never deceive you . Deke Dickerson’s ability to craft some of the best roots inspired albums is one of these things. But that doesn’t mean he’s predictable, far from that.
Gathering an impressive cast of musicians (as he says himself it could have been called “with a little help from my friends”) like Crazy Joe, Jimmy Sutton, Pete Curry and his partner in crime Chris Sugarballs Sprague, Deke (who plays guitar, bass, drums, baritone sax in addition to his fine singing) adds to a discography that is already faultless one of the richest album of his career and probably my favorite (if you’re interested). He offers a musical journey into american music proving that the label “rockabilly” is by far too restrictive for such an amount of talent.
The title track features just Deke and his guitar in a Jimmie Rodger’s mood with 78’s crackle for good effect. It then kicks off with “Deep River” (an old bluegrass number turned into a straight ahead rock’n’roll) and Dickerson’s “I can’t wait to see you go” featuring the great Carl Sonny Leyland on piano in a Jerry Lee’s mood. Carl also plays on Lewis’ “Put Me Down”, “Bomb Shelter (For My Heart)” another fine country-rocker, “Trumpet” a Malcom Yelvington cover and “Early For The Bell” a song that’ll make every King Cole Trio or Slim Gaillard afficionados happy. Talking about swing, The Lucky Stars (with Crazy Joe) back up Deke on the hilarious western swing number “Misshapen Hillbilly Gal” which is a reason good enough to buy this album.
Mitch Polzak (from the Royal Deuces) guests on banjo for the bluegrass inspired “Boone County Blues”, with top class harmony vocals. Man, as I write this, I realize that I’ll soon run out of superlative anyway, let’s continue. “Make Way For A Better Man” is a Wille Nelson song, but Dickerson adds a heavy dose of soul in it and turns it into a Charlie Rich tune. The basic track of the Honky Tonk “Do You Think Of Me” was recorded in Austin with Dave Biller, Billy Horton and Lisa Pankratz. The always talented Crazy Joe plays a mean 6-string bass solo on this one and to complete this masterpiece Mary Huff from Southern Culture On The Skids adds “ethereal high vocals” (like she did on “Rumors Of Surf”). The album ends with “Double Clutchin'”, an instrumental co-written with Crazy Joe (think Les Paul meets Joe Maphis) and a reprise of “King Of the Whole Wide World”.
Now you’ve understood that this is an absolute “must have” and your next click will lead you to Deke’s website to order it.


Deke Dickerson - Deke Down Under !
Deke Dickerson – Deke Down Under !

Deke Dickerson – Deke Down Under !

My Baby Don’t Love Me Anymore – Cut Loose – Eefin’ Rock – Hey Worm
Deke is back with this EP with both the cd and the vinyl version. It has been recorded in Australia in 2004, while Deke was on tour there, at the legendary Preston Studios. Preston provided great rockabilly and blues on their label (remember the “Aussiebilly” comp on Nervous or more recently Benny & The Fly-By Niters). Back to the record now. The sound and the variety of songs (even if there are only 4) are not that far from “The Melody”. The opening is a Johnny Paycheck tune but is given a rock’n’roll treatment with a good piano drive played by Deke himself. You can easily imagine Jerry Lee playing it like this. “Cut Loose” is a good rockin’ song, with frantic piano and savage guitar and probably one of the wildest tune Dickerson recorded under his name. With a name like “Eefin’ Rock” you know what to expect from this song. Imagine some Link Wray instrumental with handclaps and right in the middle “eefin”. Little Jimmy Dickens’s Hey Worm closes the set. His version is more western swing and less rural than the original. Great guitar solos supported by a swingin’ rhythm section. This one should be in every collection, but hurry folks it’s a limited print of 1000. You’ll find it on Deke’s website (www.dekedickerson.com).


Deke Dickerson - The Melody
Deke Dickerson – The Melody

Deke Dickerson – The Melody

Major Label MLCD-002
Broken Heart – Good Time Gal – Right or Wrong – Looks Like I’m in Trouble Again – As Long as I Live – Safely In Love – Love Is Like a Song – Someone Used to Love Me – Mister Cheater – Waitin’ on My Baby – Give Me All Your Love – Tell Me How – Double Naught Spy – Lookin’ for Money – I Never Cared for You
Here’s the new record from this very prolific and multi talented guy. Deke has now a bunch of records behind his belt but this is really the first to give me that feeling : a real album (you see, in the 60’s meaning of the term) more than a collection of singles. It doesn’t mean all the songs sound the same. Deke is too talented to stick on one style. So you’ll find some rockabilly (The moonlighters’s Broken heart, Buddy Holly’s Tell me How), country music with Good Time Gal and Willie Nelson’s I never cared for you (I’ve always thought that Willie Nelson was like the Rolling Stones : far better when they were covered by other artists), a great instrumental that could be the original score for a B-movie. You also find a lot of Roy orbison inspiration behind songs like Mister Cheater and Safely in Love. And this shows what a good singer Deke is. We all know he’s a great guitar player, but now he seems to do what he wants with his voice. Musicians don’t have to be forgotten too : Chris Sprague on drums (The Sprague Brothers) and Jimmy Sutton (Four Charms) on bass (acoustic and electric) with appearances by Carl Leyland (who else?) and Dave Berzansky (Hacienda brothers). In the liner notes you can read «This album is a concept album». Sure, but Deke always makes concept album, and the concept is always the same: quality.


Deke Dickerson - Live on the Radio
Deke Dickerson – Live on the Radio

Deke Dickerson – Live on the Radio

Well, this one is a very limited edition as it seems that only 50 copies were made and you only found it on Deke’s website. Too bad that it hasn’t a bigger distrisbution cause it’s really a must have. First the band : the Ecco-fonics here are Chris «Sugarballs» Sprague (from The Sprague Brothers) on drums and some vocals and Wally Hersom (do I need to introduce him?) on bass. Then the songs. Apart those that are almost classics in Deke’s repertoire (Red Headed Woman, I might not come home at all, Mexicalli Rose) you find Dave and Deke Combo songs (Tally Ho, Chrome Dome) and what makes this record valuable : covers not on records (All I can do is cry, flight on the bumble bee twist, Stray Cats Strut played like Louis Armstrong) and songs that will be on Deke next album. And believe me, if the other songs are like the ones you find here, it’s gonna be a killer ! They play all those great tunes in a semi-unplugged sound (it’s live on the radio) and the whole show comes with ads between the songs and you have a great interview to end.Try Deke’s website at www.dekedickerson.com, maybe he still have a spare copy, cause if you haven’t heard Sugarball’s campaign song, you haven’t heard nothing.


Deke Dickerson - Live on the Radio
Deke Dickerson – Live on the Radio

Deke Dickerson – In 3 Dimensions

Major Label MLCD 001
I Might Not Come Home At All ~ Top Of The Line ~ Ain’t Got A Reason ~ I Get So Lonely ~ Sittin’ And Thinkin’ ~ Wear Out The Soles Of My Shoes ~ Take The Long Way Home ~ It Would Be A Doggone Lie ~ Let’s Go Wild Tonight ~ Bitter Tears ~ You’ve Been Honky Tonkin’ ~ Too Hot Too Handle ~ Knoxville Boogie ~ Gambler’s Guitar ~ Pinball Boogie ~ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes ~ I’m Gonna Live Some Before I Die.

This is Deke’s fourth album and the first on which he’s not backed by the Ecco-Fonics, whoever they can be. As the title says, Deke cut himself in three, playing three different styles with three different bands: Rock’n’roll, Rockabilly and Western Swing.
The Rock’n’roll part is the occasion to hear the swing of veteran Earl Palmer (Little Richard, Ritchie Valens, Eddie Cochran, Willie Nelson and so many others) on drums. He really adds something else to the tune. Bust most of all, what hits you is Deke’s voice. Album after album his voice has matured and he proves he’s a subtle and classy singer with Charlie Rich’s Sittin and Thinkin. The rockabilly segment follows with 5 songs. It’s the more predictable part but contains the excellent Wear Out the Sole Of My Shoes and Bitter Tears closes the set on a high note. For the last part, “Hillbilly Deke”, Dickerson gathered the super hillbilly band with no less than Dave Biller (guitar), Jeremy Wakefield (steel), Bobby Trimble (drums) and Billy Horton (double bass). It’s a festival of swing, guitar and steel (Pinball Boogie), always sung with taste (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Bob Wills’ Fat Boy Rag as hidden track.
Deke Dickeson in 3 Dimensions means three times more of pleasure.

Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys

in Reviews

Big Sandy & his Fly-Rite Boys – Sing and Play the Songs of Freddy Fender

Baldemar Records BR-201 & BR-202 [2020]
Before the Next Teardrop Falls – I Can’t Remember When I Didn’t Love You
Wasted Days and Wasted Nights – Holy One

Freddy Fender, born Baldemar Huerta hence the name of the label, was a versatile singer and songwriter. It’s no surprise to find Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys paying tribute to the man on this superb double 45 set. Like him, the band played Rock’n’roll, Rockabilly, Doo-Wop, and so on, and Fender’s influence can clearly be heard in some of Big Sandy’s intonations.
Each disc contains a hit and a lesser-known gem from the Fender’s early days.
Side A of disc one is Before the Next Teardrop Falls, Fender’s best-known song. It’s a tough job to sing it after Fender, not only because he sings it perfectly (an understatement if there is one) but also because this song is so much associated with him. Despite all that, the result is one of Big Sandy’s best vocal performance, perfectly supported by Ashley Kingman on Spanish guitar.
On side B, I Can’t Remember When I Didn’t Love You sees the band returning to its Rockabilly roots. It’s also the perfect vehicle to hear the skills of Kevin Stewart on bass and Kip Dabbs on drums.
The second 45 features the swamp pop Wasted Days and Wasted Nights. If the vocal is flawless, this is Kingman who steals the show on this one with a fantastic scorching guitar solo.
On the flip, the Doo-Wop Holy One, featuring Uncle Ernie Vargas, Alex Vargas, and Lil’ Ernie Vargas on backing vocals, evokes the best moments of Dedicated to You.
It’s a limited edition of 1000 copies, but it also exists on CD, and Sleazy records licensed it with a different cover.
Whatever the format, grab a copy here!

Big Sandy vs. Deke Dickerson – Jesus & Gravy

Sleazy Records SR142 [2018]
Make A Little Time For Jesus / Get The Gravy Hot

This release is a split single between Big Sandy (side A) and Deke Dickerson (side B).
Fellow Fly Right Boys Ashley Kingman and Kevin Stewart back Big Sandy, helped by Chris Sprague on drums and Ernie Vargas on tambourine. Make A Little Time For Jesus finds him, with no surprise, in full-gospel mode. The man who penned songs like Between Darkness and Dawn, Thru Dreamin’, and many others, has been more inspired in the past.
You’ll find the same musicians backing Deke Dickerson, but Kingman switched to 6-string bass, and Stewart plays electric-bass. The song, a cover of Shotgun Red, is an excellent country rocker that suits Deke’s voice and style to a T.

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - Fine, Fine, Superfine
Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Fine, Fine, Superfine

Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Fine, Fine, Superfine / Everytime

Ruby records {2016}
It’s the first release of a brand new label, Ruby records, launched by Ruby Ann and Tom Ingram and it comes in a beautifully designed sleeve. And what a better choice to lauch a label than Big Sandy? Even though it’s only a single and we desperately need a brand new album, it’s always good to have a new release by today’s finest purveyor of Rock’n’roll, the man with the velvet voice himself, Mister Big Sandy. Not to forget the Fly-Rite Boys who are Ashley Kingman on guitar (23 years or so of service), Kevin Stewart and newcomer Ricky McCann on drums.
It was a very good surprise to see that Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys had recorded this two sides at Wallyphonic studios with Wally Hersom at the console, like they did for their debut album.
The A side is “Fine, Fine, Superfine” a good rocking’ song with a solid beat. This is not Robert Williams’ most original song but it completely fulfills its goal: make you dance, shake your head and tape your feet. The flip is far more original and is pure Big Sandy. It’s got the same highly melodic hook than song like “How did you love someone like me”, it’s smooth but rocking in the same time. This is a kind of tune that shows why Robert Williams has no equivalent in term of songwriting today. And with a first rate band like the Fly-Rite Boys, it’s a killer.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – What A Dream it’s Been

big-sandy-what-a-dream-its-been
Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys -What A Dream It’s Been

Cow Island CIM022 [2013]
Baby Baby Me – This Ain’t a Good Time – Missouri Gal – Don’t Desert Me – Nothing To Lose – Glad When I’m Gone – Parts Unknown – You Mean Too Much To Me – I Know I’ve Loved You Before – Three Years Blind – If I Knew Now What I Knew Then – What a Dream It’s Been.

When an artist and a fine songwriter like Big Sandy breaks a silence of nearly seven years to release an album of “acoustic and newly arranged versions of old songs” one can reasonably have some fears. But fear not my friends; although it borrows a song from each of his records, -with the exception of the Jake’s Barbershop ep- “What a Dream It’s Been” is not just a quick re-recording of old favourites like it’s too often the case with that kind of project. The reason lies, in part, in the choice of the songs. Big Sandy has dug deep in his discography to select lesser known songs than the one available on the two best-of released by Hightone and Rockbeat for example. And musically it’s an adventurous thing which is more a prolongation of the recent albums than the summary of a career. Thus it sees the band expanding the range of its styles to bring early ska and rocksteady (Baby Baby Me, I know I loved you Before) to the mix as well as bluegrass (This Ain’t A Good Time, Will You Be Glad) with Ashley playing mandolin and Jeff West providing harmonies, Country Soul (Parts Unknown), Mexican tinged stuff ala Marty Robbins (Nothing To Loose) and a jazz duet with guest vocalist Grey Delisle (What A Dream It’s Been). Big Sandy’s voice has never sounded so good and deep, particularly when he’s only backed by a double bass (“Don’t Desert Me”) or a guitar (You Mean Too Much to Me) and the acoustic format reveals the beauty of his song writing. It also puts a new light on Kingman’s skills. His talent shines throughout the album and is in large part responsible of the success of that record.
In the end, what was supposed to be just a celebration of a 25 year career turns out to be a pivotal album in the band history as were “Jumpin’ from 6 to 6” in 1994 or “Night Tide” in 2000.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Turntable Matinee

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - Turntable Matinee
Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Turntable Matinee

Yep Roc – Yep 2121 [2006]
Power Of The 45 – Love That Man – The Great State Of Misery – Haunted Heels – Ruby Jane – Spanish Dagger – Mad – The Ones You Say You Love – You Don’t Know Me At All – Yes (I Feel Sorry For You) – Lonesome Dollar – Slippin’ Away – I Know I’ve Loved You Before – Power Of The 45 Pt. 2.

I became a Big Sandy fan from the moment the needle of my platter played Hot Water the opening song of Fly Rite With, their first album back in 1990.
In 2000, the dark mood of Nightide marked a turning point in Big Sandy’s recording journey and his songwriting. Having used the rockabilly and the western swing terminology and grammar for years, he freed his writing and went to a new level with no restrictions, creating more than re-creating.
After It’s Time in 2002, Turntable Matinee is a deeper step in that direction. Still built around western swing type of songs like Yes (I Feel Sorry For You) with Lee Jeffriess back behind the double neck steel guitar, it takes that genre further and brings on some of these songs a late 60’s feel (The Great State Of Misery). Straight rockin’ songs make a welcome return in Big Sandy’s set with Ruby Jane and the two parts of Power Of The 45 at the beginning and the end of the record, an ode to the band’s influences (Glen Glenn, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Janis Martin, Etta James…). Between those two solid anchors you’ll find some latin / bossa nova (Spanish Dagger), a bluegrass inspired tune (Lonesome Dollar) and probably the biggest surprise: a Stax / Memphis soul masterpiece called Slippin’ Away with Cad Kadison on sax. And just when I was thinking Hey this is the first Fly-Rite Boys’ album without an instrumental tune came the hidden track, an instro version of Spanish Dagger. Finally it’s more than logical that after being produced by Dave Alvin for their first two albums as Fly-Rite Boys they now fit perfectly with the Blasters’ definition of American Music.
Since the Fly-Rite Trio days the line-up has seen some changed but that didn’t weaken the band and brought new blood and forced it to be more creative every time. The best example is bassist Jeff West who is now a key member of the band : he wrote three songs (and one of the most beautiful song ever sung by Big Sandy You Don’t Know Me At All) and sings two. The musicianship is, as usual, faultless from Ashley Kingman’s inventive guitar licks and his questions/answers with Lee Jeffriess (especially on Yes(I Feel Sorry For You) to Bobby Trimble subtle drumming (listen to I Know I’ve Loved You Before and pay attention to his brushwork). This album is going to be hard to top but I’ve already said that about It’s Time so I don’t worry that much.


 Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys – It’s Time

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - It's Time
Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys – It’s Time

Yep Roc, [2003]

”It’s time” follows the beautiful but dark and sad “NighTide”. The line remains unchanged except for Jimmie Roy (Ray Condo’s Ricochets) who replaces Lee Jeffriess on steel.
Entirely recorded live in the studio to capture the freshness of their first recordings, it’s also a much more varied album. You can find classic Rock’n’roll ala Elvis (Chalk It up To the Blues), followed by the Cajun inspired “Bayou Blue” with Chris Gaffney on accordion and there’s even a surfin’ instrumental written by Ashley Kingman (Strollin’ With Mary-Jane). Of course their usual brand of hillbilly bop/rockabilly is still present with songs like I Hate Loving You on which Jeff West voice blends perfectly with Big Sandy’s. He also takes lead on the jazzy Money Tree which makes you regret he doesn’t sing more. But Big Sandy remains the “real” singer of the band and the excellent “Night Is For the Dreamers” with its doo-wop atmosphere concludes the album in beauty.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Night Tide

Hightone Records HCD 8123 [2000]
Night Tide – Between Darkness And Dawn – Tequila Calling – When Sleep Won’t Come (Blues For Spade) – If You Only Knew – Give Your Loving To Me – In The Steel Of The Night – A Man Like Me – Hey Lowdown! – My Time Will Come Someday – I Think Of You – Nothing To Lose – South Bay Stomp – Let Her Know

Released in 2000, Night Tide marked a turn in Big Sandy’s musical evolution.
Wally Hersom, former bass player of the band and the last remaining member of the Fly-Rite trio days, had left the group to be replaced by Jeff West (the Sun Demons.) West not only brought his bass, but he also came with his singing abilities, giving Big Sandy a second voice to play with, like a new instrument, hence the presence of harmony vocals on many of the songs.
It was also a change of mood. While previous albums featured dancing tunes and lighthearted lyrics (My Sinful days are over, The Loser’s Blues), Night Tide featured Robert Williams’ more introspective and dark songs. Songs like “When Sleep Won’t Come” written from the pint of view of Spade Cooley in jail, or “Nothing to Lose,” one of Williams’ saddest tune, are perfect examples of that direction. With these songs and others like the title track and Between Darkness And Dawn, Williams seems to throw off the limits of roots music and write songs without restraining himself.
And behind the Latin beat of” Tequila Calling,” one can hear the story of a man fighting with his demons. Even Lee Jeffriess, instrumental, which is usually danceable, is a slow and reflective number.
By comparison, ditties like “I Think of You” or “Give Your Loving” (penned by West) seem out of place and almost break the charm.
But the Fly-Rite Boys also stay true to their roots with rockin’ numbers like their cover of Cliff Bruner’s My Time Will Come Someday featuring Ashley Kingman in full Grady Martin mode as well as Hey Lowdown ( a stage favorite) and Let Her Know.


Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys – Down at Jake’s Barbershop

Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys - Down at Jake's Barbershop
Big Sandy and his Fly Rite Boys – Down at Jake’s Barbershop

No-Hit records ‎– EP5
Down at Jake’s Barbershop – You’re No Fun – Fallin’ for You – Snake Dance Boogie

In 1992, steel player Lee Jeffriess joined Big Sandy and the Fly Rite Trio (Big Sandy, TK Smith, Wally Hersom and Bobby Trimble) that became Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys. Shortly after that, Smith left the band. The toured Europe with Malcolm Chapman (Carlos and the Bandidos) on guitar before Ashley Kingman (Red Hot’n’Blue) officially joined the band in early 1993.
In July of that year the new line-up recorded these four tracks at Wally’s studio for No-Hit Records.
These four songs are the missing link between the “On the Go” and “Jumpin’ From 6 to 6“. They show the transformation of a tight rockabilly combo into a western swing machine that will culminate with “Swingin’ West” and “Feelin’ Kinda Lucky.” Here the mood of the day is more hillbilly bop with two originals on side A and two covers, Link Davis’ Fallin for You that features Carl Sonny Leyland on piano and Roy Hogsed’s Snake Dance Boogie.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

https://www.bigsandy.net/

The Rockits

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rockitsThe Rockits – The Rockits

Award Records ‎– SH-1001 [1988]
Cruisin’ All Night – TwoTimin’ Baby – Stood Up

Formed in the mid-80’s The Rockits, previously known as the Top Cats, were a neo-rockabilly band heavily influenced by the earlier cat bands such as Stray Cats and Polecats. They were Buddy Dughi(Vocals/Lead Guitarist), Pete Bonny (drums), and Steve Herney (double-bass). This is their sole release, a three-song ep in pink, and black vinyl.
It contains two Buddy Dughi originals, “Cruisin’ All Night” and “TwoTimin’ Baby”, along with their tribute to Ricky Nelson, “Stood Up.” Dughi and Bonny later founded the Hot Rod Trio and Suzy Q & Her Be-Bop Boys.

Teukka & the Rhythm Aces

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Teukka & the Rhythm Aces – Soitan Että Tuun

teukka and the rhythm aces

Goofin Records – GRS-608
Soitan, Että Tuun – We’re Gonna Move – Pocketful Of Rainbows

The first song, “Soitan, että tuun” is a Charlie Rich cover with a melody very close to “Mona Lisa” (sorry I wasn’t able to find out the English title for that one) with finnish lyrics. It could be surprising at first but it works rather well. The band does a nice job on this upbeat rocker with nice piano breaks and a short guitar chorus from Eino Rastas (from Hal Peters’band). Teukka’s fine voice suits Elvis material too as “We’re Gonna Move” shows with some hiccups (but not too much). This mini cd ends with a ballad, another demonstration of the good balance between the band and the singer.
.Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Ten Strike

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10_strike_cover
Ten Strike – Rawkabilly

Ten Strike – Rawkabilly

Trail To Hell – That’s Right – Under Vultures – Lonely Nights

Hailing from Germany, this trio played a mixture of wild rockabilly and what is now called old school psychobilly. They started in the 80’s, had an album on Tombstone Record in 1989 (Outlaw) and supported acts like The Guana Batz, Stray Cats, The Keytones and The Frantic Flintstones. On hiatus for a few years the band returned with this mini lp. The slap bass led mid-tempo “Trail To Hell” has a fine cowboy ballad feel. The singer’s voice on this one reminds a bit of the dutch bands The Tigermen and their song “Gone, Gone, Gone” for those who remember them. “That’s Right” is maybe more classical, a fast rocker with a psycho edge but nonetheless very pleasant. Under Vultures is a new version of a song from their Outlaw lp, and has that fine 80’s neo-rockabilly in the chorus I like so much with backing vocals and stop-starts with slap bass solos. This too short ep ends with “Loneley Nights” a slow tempo with a bluesy feel. The overall production work is very well done and the songs are all written by the band.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Ten Strike - Outlaw
Ten Strike – Outlaw

Ten Strike – Outlaw

Tombstone – Tomb-Disc 681  [1990]

No More Reason To Cry – Long Legs – Under Vultures – Wide Open Land – That’s Right – Country Playin’ – Outlaw Man – Bound To Die – She Ain’t No Good – Wheels Of Steel – Don’t Look Now – 51 Merc – So Many Times

First long play by this German band released in 1990. The line up on this record is Jürgen Fröhlich on Guitar, Vocals, Peter Urban on Double Bass and Jochen Vaupel (who previously played in the Swamp Dogs) on drums.
This is a classic neo-rockabilly album with twelve self-penned songs and one interesting cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Dont Look Now.

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