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Hopped Up!

in Reviews
hopped up!

Hopped Up! – Get Gone

Straight 8 Records – S8-101 [2004]
Get Gone – Rock & Roll Rocket
Hopped Up was a Rockabilly quintet with Scotty Shanks-Bruemmer on vocals, Shawn Burrell on slap bass, Justin Barr and Ralph Rodriguez on guitar and Gary Daly on drums.
A-side is a traditional jumping rockabilly number sung by Scotty who has a pretty good voice. The flip side is more on the frantic side and is sung by Ralph. Both songs are originals.
Good single.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Nervous Fellas (the)

in Reviews

Nervous Fellas - Born to be Wild - Nervous
Nervous Fellas – Born to be Wild – Nervous

The Nervous Fellas – Born to be Wild!

Nervous Records NERD056 [1990]
Real Gone Lover – Finally Met My Baby – Jealous Heart – I’ll Be Sorry – Get Outta this Town – Until You Came Home – Mon-Eyed – Born To Be Wild – Gimme Somethin’ Strong – Dateless Night – Evil Ways – Don’t Bug Me

This Vancouver quartet born out of the ashes of the Rockin’ Edsels and once featuring Ronnie Hayward on double bass released this album on Nervous records in 1990. The line-up at this time was Shaun Butch Murphy on Vocals, Mark Weldon on guitar, Pete Turland on doghouse bass and John Decan on drums. This is a very good and varied album, comparable in style to the Paladins, mixing powerful rockabilly (Real Gone Lover, Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild), Jumpin’ Rockabilly (Get Outta This Town, Jealous Heart, Until You Come Home, Dateless Night), heavy Blues (Finally Met My Baby, I’ll Be Sorry with tons of slide guitar), and some country tinged stuff (Evil Ways).
Though it’s never been reissued on cd, it’s possible to download it legally on musical platforms via Nervous.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Stray Cats

in Reviews

Stray Cats
Stray Cats – S/T

Stray Cats – Stray Cats

Arista [1981]
Runaway boys – Fishnet stockings – Ubangi stomp – Jeanie jeanie jeanie – Storm the embassy – Rock this town – Rumble in Brighton – Stray cat strut – Crawl up and die – Double talkin baby – My one desire – Wild saxaphone
In the late 70’s, a trio of three young Rockabilly cats dug in their parents records collection and without any complex and a good dose of naivety took a 25 year old music and made it sound fresh again (which led to a certain animosity from the purists.) Sure they liked Cochran, Vincent and Burnette but they also grew up in New York during the heydays of Punk music.
The construction and the progression of the album itself are faultless. A-side opens with the hypnotic beat of “Runaway Boys” and ends with the rockin’ hymn “Rock This Town”. In between, two covers get the Stray Cats treatment (Warren Smith’s “Ubangi Stomp” and Cochran’s “Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie”) and two original songs. Of course “Fishnet Stockings” is very similar to Lew Williams’ “Bop Bop Ba Doo Bop”. That’s obvious. “Storm The Embassy” is a solid rocker but have nothing to do with rockabilly (actually Setzer played it in his previous band “The Bloodless Pharaohs” under the name “Boys Having Babies” and with different lyrics). The song is kinda political and refers to the Iranian crisis and American hostages in the late 70’s. With a song so closely linked to the actuality, it didn’t allow them to perform it on stage long after 1981, which is bad because musically speaking it rocks (listen to the live bootlegs issued from this period).
The B-side is more or less built on the same structure. The wild (also with a hypnotic riff) “Rumble In Brighton” opens the show. Depending of the pressing one can hear Setzer yell “Ein, Swei, Drei, Vier” at the beginning but you have to listen closely.
The origins of “Stray Cat Strut”, their signature song were subject to questions. Of course it’s the same chord progression than“Hit The Road Jack” and some advanced “Icky Poo” an instrumental by the Nomads or “Lonely Travelin’” by Lonesome Lee as possible sources. But these are rather obscure songs, especially in the late 70’s and it neglects the fact that Setzer grew up in New York and as we said was a Punk fan in his youth. That’s the reason why I believe that the origin of Stray Cat Strut is to be found in Richard Hell’s Blank Generation (a band that often had as a support act the Bloodless Pharaohs). Listen to the guitar solo from Robert Quineand the “Woo-Woo” in the middle, it’s all here. Anyway the band put enough of them to make it a great number and one of the highlight of their shows.
Crawl Up And Die” is a variation on Bill Allen’s “Please Gimme Something” and shows another side of Setzer’s voice, the torrid one. The covers on this side are Ricky Nelson’s “My One Desire” (sounds like the band used to listen to a lot of Imperial Records), Vincent’s Double Talkin’ Baby and Roy Montrell’s “Mellow Saxophone” renamed here “Wild Saxophone” with Jim providing a solid beat and Gary Barnacle on sax. Brilliant.


gonna-ball
Stray Cats – Gonna Ball

Stray Cats – Gonna Ball

Arista [1981]
Baby Blue Eyes – Little Miss Prissy – Wasn’t That – Good Cryin’ Shame – (She’ll Stay) Just One More Day – You Don’t Believe Me – Gonna Ball – Wicked Whisky – Rev It Up and Go – Lonely Summer Nights – Crazy Mixed Up Kid

Following the huge success of their debut album, at least in Europe, the Stray Cats took a break in their heavy touring schedule and in August 81 they flew to Air Recording Studios in Montserrat in the East Indies to record their second album. This time the band took over the production duties with the help of sound engineer Heinz Hoven. The trio, augmented by the presence of prestigious guests including veteran Lee Allen (Little Richard, Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis and later The Blasters) on sax and Ian Stewart (Rolling Stones) on keyboard played a blusier form of rock’n’roll rather than the modern rockabilly they were known for.
Half of the album is made of blues or blues influenced songs: “Rev It Up and Go” and in a lesser extent “Little Miss Prissy” are obviously influenced by the great Chuck Berry. “You Don’t Believe Me” shows the influence of Elmore James with Setzer on slide and “Wasn’t That Good” proves that they are more than able to deliver a good jump blues (which they’ll later confirm with “Look At That Cadillac” and Lucky Charms”) and “Cryin’ Shame” features a fine harmonica part. Only “(She’ll Stay Just) One More Day” sung by Lee sounds weak and artificial. Though it features a nice organ part, the song is not great and Lee at that time wasn’t the singer he is nowadays.
Of course, Rockabilly is never very far with Johnny Burnette’s Baby Blue Eyes, the raw Gonna Ball (actually a remake of the Wheels’ Let’s Have A Ball) and the instrumental “Wicked Whisky” also cut as a vocal track under the name “Cross That Bridge” as a b-side and on Japan pressings. “Lonely Summer Night” proves that Setzer can top the greatest ballads of the 50’s and “Crazy Mixed up Kids” ends this album at a frantic pace.
This blues orientation confused the fans and the “Gonna Ball” was only a semi-success if you compare to “Stray Cats”.


straycats-built
Stray Cats – Built For Speed

Stray Cats – Built For Speed

EMI [1982]
Rock This Town –  Built For Speed –  Rev It Up & Go – Stray Cat Strut –  Little Miss Prissy – Rumble In Brighton –  Runaway Boys –  Lonely Summer Nights – Double Talkin’ Baby – You Don’t Believe Me – Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie – Baby Blue Eyes

By 1982, the Stray Cats finally achieved success in their own country which led EMI to release this compilation featuring 6 tracks from their debut album, five from Gonna Ball and one new song, the title track, a great country-rockabilly.


rant-n-rave-with-the-stray-cats
Stray Cats – Ran’t & Rave

Stray Cats – Ran’t & Rave

Arista / EMI [1983]
Rebels Rules – Too Hip Gotta Go – Look At That Cadillac – Something’s Wrong With My Radio – 18 Miles To Memphis – Sexy & 17 – Dig Dirty Doggie – I Won’t Stand In Your Way – Hot Rod Gang – How Long Do You Wanna Live Anyway

Following the success of Built For Speed, the Stray Cats reunited with Welshman Dave Edmunds in 1983 to record “Rant & Rave” in London. They opted to return to what made their success and went back to their rockabilly roots (with an exception or two) after the blues inspired “Gonna Ball”.
Rebels Rule” is a good choice to start the selection. With a strong Diddley Beat, Slim Jim playing like a madman on his toms, and Setzer yelling “Rock’n’Roll is never too loud!” the pace is quickly set. The Stray Cats are back!
The next one, “Too Hip Gotta Go” is a good rockabilly and shows Setzer ability on the strings. A fun one to play (see the time Setzer takes to explain it on his instructional video) it’ll remain in their live set list for a very long time. “Look At That Cadillac” is a fine jump blues with juicy saxes and piano. Though it’s more a “sax” tune, Setzer plays a very interesting rhythmic pattern in the background.
Something’s Wrong With My Radio” is a wild rockabilly and the first side (or the first half for you cd’s addicts) ends with “18 Miles To Memphis” a superb country tune with another brilliant guitar solo by Mr Setzer, followed by another brilliant solo this time on steel guitar (still by Mr Setzer) and a galloping rhythm provided by Jim & Lee.
Sexy & 17” opens the b-side. It’s a good song with a solid solo and it’ll make its niche in the charts. Inspired by Roy hall’s Diggin’ the Boogie, “Dig Dirty Doggie” is one of their most rockabilly effort with a huge slap bass.
The style changes with “I Won’t Stand In Your Way” a delicious ballad with a doo-woop arrangement. For this song the band is joined by the vocal group 14 Karat Soul. An accapela version exists too.
Hot Rod Gang” was undoubtedly written with Gene Vincent in mind feature a fine Cliff Gallup influenced solo. The album ends with “How Long You Wanna Live Anyway?” the closest thing to Psychobilly the Stray Cats ever played with heavy guitar and pounding drums.
With 10 songs and not a weak track, the Stray Cats star was rising high. Sadly one year after the release of Rant & Rave the band disbanded and though they made different come-back with some solid songs and albums this is the end of the golden age of the Stray Cats.


Stray Cats - Rock Therapy
Stray Cats – Rock Therapy

Stray Cats – Rock Therapy

EMI [1986]
Rock Therapy – Reckless – Race With The Devil – Looking For Someone To Love – I Wanna Cry – I’m A Rocker – Beautiful Delilah – One Hand Loose – Broken Man – Change Of Heart

By 1986 each member of The Stray Cats was deeply involved in his solo stuff. Setzer had released his first solo album “The Knife Feels Like Justice” in a John Cougar vein at the beginning of the year and Lee and Jim teamed with David Bowie’s guitarist Earl Slick in Phantom, Rocker and Slick for two albums if far to be exceptional contain some interesting things if you’re curious or nostalgic of the 80’s (and dig crazy hairdos). But the three of them were tied to EMI with, according to Setzer, a bad contract. The best way to solve it was to record this album.
So from the start it wasn’t really a “new” Stray Cats album. One can suppose that each of them logically wanted to keep their best material for their solo career. This also explains why half of the songs are covers. But this album has its good moment and even a half-successful Stray Cats album is better than 90% of the rest. The 5 covers are very well done the best being Gene Vincent’s Race With The Devil. But it’s true that, with the exception of Charlie Feathers’ One Hand Loose, the band is in well known territory with the likes Johnny Burnette, Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and Chuck Berry (“Beautiful Delilah” was often played on stage around 1982).
When it come to the band’s songs things are a bit different. Setzer’s own “Reckless” shows the influence of his solo stuff and announces with an advance of 5 years how the Stray Cats would sound on Let’s go Faster. “Broken Man” is far better with its banjo. Setzer had already toyed with the banjo on stage playing tunes like “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” which can be heard in the solo part. Phantom and Rocker provide “I Wanna Cry”, sung by Lee, that owes more to their solo stuff than the Stray Cats. And when I listen to the guitar solo (a crappy heavy metal mush) I wouldn’t swear that Setzer plays on it but blame Earl Slick for it. Finally the three of them join forces to write “I’m A Rocker”. Nothing original here just a solid rocker with a strong train rhythm and two wild guitar solos but that’s enough. “Change Of Heart” is something different from what the Stray Cats ever released, more pop, but eventually very pleasant. After this session they returned to their respective solo career but quickly reformed the Stray Cats, this time for good, in late 1988.


Stray Cats - Blast Off
Stray Cats – Blast Off

Stray Cats – Blast Off

EMI [1989]
Blast off – Gina – Everybody needs rock n roll – Gene and Eddie – Rockabilly rules – Bring it back again – Slip slip slippin in – Rockabilly world – Rockin’ all over the place – Nine lives
In 1988, after respective solo careers not entirely convincing – to say the least – Setzer, Phantom and Rocker reunited and went back to what they do the best : rockabilly. Even the fourth Stray Cat (like George Martin could be the fifth Beatle) Dave Edmunds was back in the producer’s seat. Slim Jim Phantom said “It’s probably our most rockabilly effort” and he’s right. Rockabilly with a modern edge and a 90’s sound but the backbone is here. They cover Eddie Bond’s “Slip, Slip Slippin’ In”, and half of the songs borrow to 50’s rockabilly tunes. “Gina” is a Buddy Holly influenced song with Phantom adding a floor tom to get the Jerry Allison pattern, “Blast Off” sounds like “Jungle Rock” on speed but has good enough lyrics to be original, “Everybody Needs Rock’n’ Roll” bears more than one common point with Glen Glenn’s Everybody’s Movin and of course “Gene And Eddie”, Setzer’s tribute to these two pioneers is very effective if not very original (the song is made of various verses from Vincent and Cochran songs). “Rockabilly Rules, Ok” – the title says it all – and “Rockabilly World” reinforce the rockabilly orientation and you also have a clear attempt to chart with the more commercial “Bring It Back Again” lifted as a potential single (sadly it’ll fail to climb very high). The best track is “Nine Lives” a jazzy variation around “Stray Cats Strut”, with clever lyrics, outstanding guitar solo and vocal from Setzer. Indeed this album marks a turning point in Setzer’s vocal. He seems more confident in his talent as singer and his voice has gone deeper and more mature. This album may suffer the lack of powerful hits (like Stray Cats Strut, Rock This Town or Runaway Boys) and originality (four songs out of ten with the word rock in the title might sound a bit cliché). Nevertheless it’s a solid rock album, very well produced and most of all, the listener can feel the fun and the joy to play together. The gigs to promote this one were good, energetic and fans had big hopes for the next album. Alas, a big disappointment was waiting for them.


Stray Cats - Let's Go Faster
Stray Cats – Let’s Go Faster

Stray cats – Let’s Go faster

Liberation records D30519 (AUS) [1990]
Toshiba-EMI TOCP 6520 (JAP)

Cross of love – Town without pity – Shotgun baby – Struck by lighting twice – Thing about you- Baby don’t drag me down – Tight black leather – Give it to me – Let’s go faster – Keep on running – Runaway train – Gonna be your rock (Japan only)
“We wanted to try something new”, is what Setzer said in 1991 about this album. Probably disillusioned by the lack of success of “Blast Off”, the Stray Cats hired producer Nile Rodgers (Chic, David Bowie, Madonna…). On the paper this association sounded quite weird, in reality it was even worse. At best the result sounds like Setzer solo stuff (and some songs come from his solo period: Cross Of Love, Thing About You) and at worse you have bad and already out of fashion 80’s new wave. Very little can be saved from this wreck : “Let’s Go Faster” (nothing original but a solid rock song with a riff ala Eddie Cochran), “Give It To Me” another one written with Buddy Holly in mind and on the contemporary side “Keep On Running”. The remaining songs are mostly weak and the production is weaker. Looking for a modern (and a chart appealing) sound the band has lost its identity and its specificity. The result is the absence of the slap bass (replaced by an electric bass) a key element of their sound the same way the Gretsch and the stand-up snare are. Probably disappointed by the result the band issued “Let’s go Faster” only in Japan and Australia. Later a bootleg album appeared with the demos. The lame songs stayed lame, but at least the good ones weren’t wasted by the production.
The Japanese edition has a bonus track called “Gonna Be Your Rock” which is, in my own opinion, in good place for the title of “Worst Stray Cats song ever”.


Stray Cats - Choo Choo Hot Fish
Stray Cats – Choo Choo Hot Fish

Stray Cats – Choo Choo Hot Fish

Pump Records – 50286 [1992]
Elvis On Velvet – Cry Baby – Please Don’t Touch – Sleepwalk – Lust’n’Love – Cross Of Love – Beautiful Blues – Can’t Go Back To Memphis – Jade Idol – My Heart Is A Liar – Let’s Go Faster – Mystery Train
“Choo Choo Hot Fish” can be seen as the successful version of “Let’s Go Faster”. It is innovative yet still with a feet in the tradition and is their most ambitious effort to date. It also sees the return of Dave Edmunds behind the glass.

The opening track is representative of that mood, pumping sound, modern drums mixed with rockabilly elements for a tribute to Elvis. Next is “Cry Baby”, a non retro melodic rockabilly tune. It is an instant Stray Cats classic and has that timeless sound that makes the trio so special. And with Edmunds on second guitar and on duet vocal it reminds the good old days of “The Race Is On”.

Johnny Kidd’s Please Don’t Touch rocks like hell in Setzer and Rocker setlist in their respective solo careers. Santo and Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” appears here for the first time, long before the orchestra and the Grammy Award. Though I grew rapidly tired of the heavy orchestra version, this one still sounds fresh today.

Both “Lust’n’Love” and “Can’t Go Back To Memphis” harden the sound with heavy guitar and Jim hittin’ the drums as hard as he can. “Lust’n’ Love” keeps the backbone of rockabilly while “Can’t Go Back…” is not that far from ZZ Top and it’s very interesting to listen to this album today and compare it with Setzer’s most recent albums (“Nitro Burnin’ Funny Daddy” and “13”). Many elements were already presents 15 years earlier. In the same vein is “Cross of Love”. I suppose that Setzer saw a lot of potential in this one as he recorded it twice before this album (once on “Let’s Go Faster” and once during his first solo stint between 86-88).

The best song to appear on “Choo Choo Hot Fish” is “Beautiful Blues” co-written with Larson Paine. It’s a splendid jazzy song with rich gipsy chords, astounding solo and superb brushwork from Slim Jim. Don’t be fooled by the apparent simplicity of his drumkit this guy can really play. “Jade Idol” proves it too. This is a stunning atmospheric instrumental that would fit a James Bond movie to perfection. My definition for this kind of tune is “Music to drink Martini with…”. “My Heart Is A Liar” is a fine acoustic ballad in the vein of Chris Isaak with once again a rich assortment of percussion. The last two numbers are solid rockers.

A new version of “Let’s Go Faster” far better and richer than the previous one (courtesy of Dave Edmunds and his good sound) and a “Hey we have 5 minutes left in the studio how about doing a Elvis song?” version of Mystery Train. They clearly recorded this one live and it perfectly captures the feel and the excitement of the band. It also features a yodel part from Mr Setzer. Funny to see an album opening on Elvis On Velvet and ending on Mystery Train.

Sadly, “Choo Choo Hot Fish didn’t touch a large audience.


Stray Cats - Original Cool
Stray Cats – Original Cool

Stray cats – Original Cool

Toshiba [1993]
Somethin’ Else – Oh Boy – 20 Flight Rock – I Fought The Law – Lonesome Tears – Your True Love – Be-Bop-A-Lula – Blue Jean Bop – Can’t Help Falling In Love – Flying Saucers Rock ‘n Roll – Train Kept A Rollin’ – Stood Up – Let It Rock – Trying To Get To You – Chet Ditty (Hidden Charms)

The Stray Cats last studio album was a bit of a disappointment. Of course Setzer gives some of his best vocal performance (listen to Ricky Nelson’s Stood Up) and the band is on top form (with Jeffrey Baxter guesting on steel guitar). Even the production, though a bit slick is not that bad. But why, at this point of their career release an all cover album, especially of songs that one has heard a zillion times. This great band really deserved a better career ending than this “not-good-nor-bad” album.


Stray Cats - Live in Europe
Stray Cats – Live in Europe

Stray Cats – Live in Europe

Surfdog Records 44045 to 44059 [2004]
Neo-rockabilly kings the Stray Cats produced some mighty fine records, but were mainly known for their wild and furious Rockabilly live shows. Strangely, they never issued an official live album, letting the door opened to a bunch of bootleggers. When they reformed in summer 2004 for an European tour the Stray Cats must have thought that this time they won’t let bootleggers make money on their back. The result is here, 17 gigs and 15 cd’s. Don’t look for booklets, photos of the show etc. The covers design is the same for all, except the colour. Musically, the sound is not top quality, they manufactured them very quickly and they didn’t take time to produce ‘em. I know many bootlegs that sound better than that. So depending on the records, you can’t hear the drums, have too much bass etc. Why they didn’t put the whole shows on the cd’s (only 17 songs, no more no less) is the first question one will ask? But the answer seems evident when you realize that the songs that are not on Paris are on Bruxelles and so on… It really looks like an economic choice as they know that many fans will buy a maximum records to have all the songs. In other hand it’s good to hear tunes the Stray Cats rarely performed live (18 Miles to Memphis, Rev it up and Go), a few covers never played on album (Unchained Melody, in french for Paris ; That’s All Right, Blue Moon Of Kentucky celebrating the 50 years of rock’n’roll; Red Hot). But I think this records concern mostly those who attended the shows. But if you weren’t there and want to buy one, I’d recommend the second part of the tour as the band is getting better and better (too bad that I went to Paris, the opening show of the tour).


Stray Cats - 20/20
Stray Cats – 20/20

Stray Cats – 20\20

Arista – 74321131172
Runaway Boys – Rock This Town – Can’t Hurry Love – Rumble In Brighton – Stray Cat Strut – Double Talkin’ Baby – Cross That Bridge – Baby Blue Eyes – Built For Speed – (She’s) Sexy + 17 – Lookin’ Better Every Beer – Cruisin’ – Lucky Charm (Ooh Wee Suzy) – I Won’t Stand In Your Way (a cappella) – Look At That Cadillac – Rebels Rule – Looking Out My Backdoor- Drink That Bottle Down -Sweet Love On My Mind -Something Else
20/20 is probably one of the best (if not the best) Stray Cats compilation or best-of ever released. Not only it contains the well-known and best songs from the first three albums (the Arista years) but what makes the difference with the other releases is that it also contains the b-sides and some rarities most of them being unavailable on cd before.
It includes covers of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Supremes, Gene Vincent but also originals like the excellent jump blues « Lucky Charm » (b-side of Look At That Cadilac), the a Cappella version of « I Won’t Stand In Your Way », the country tinged « Looking Better Every Beer », and « Built For Speed » the original that gave its name to the compilation album gathering Stray Cats and Gonna Ball for the American market.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Stray Cats - 40
Stray Cats – 40

Stray Cats – 40

Surfdog / Mascot M75895

Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me) – Rock It Off – I’ve Got Love If You Want It – Cry Danger – I Attract Trouble – Three Time’s A Charm – That’s Messed Up – When Nothing’s Going Right – Desperado – Mean Pickin’ Mama – I’ll Be Looking Out For You – Devil Train – Cry Baby (Live) (Bonus Track – Deluxe CD only) – Double Talkin’ Baby (Live) (Bonus Track – Deluxe CD only)

The first three Stray Cats albums blew me away. Maybe Gonna Ball had some fillers but these initial trilogy was perfect. After that, and the 1984 split, their album were either good (Blast Off, Choo Choo Hot Fish thanks to the Edmunds touch), forgettable (Original Cool, Rock Therapy) or simply plain bad (Let’s Go Faster.)

Beside that, on stage, they were still one of the best rockin’ band on the planet. So when the band announced that they would record a brand new album full of original material, though I tried not to be too excited, the teenager inside me was smiling from one ear to another.

The name of Peter Collins to produce the forthcoming album surprised me. Even if he produced Setzer’s Dirty Boogie and Rockabilly Riot, Peter Collins was notorious for his work with Bon Jovi, Rush and Nick Kershaw to name but three. Nothing to make me feel that he was the ideal guy to replace Dave Edmunds. Most of all he was the producer who sabotaged the Stargazers’ Ain’t Nobody But Here but us Chickens.
The cover design also came like a warning. Here came guys who didn’t release anything for 25 years and to celebrate that they used the laziest design and ugliest cover possible. Hum…

I carefully changed my mind little and came to the conclusion that I would be happy with a basic Rockabilly album.
Then Cat Fight the first song was released. Nothing too original. A rock’n’roll song like you’ve heard a thousand time before. At that moment I was kinda resigned, this is not gonna be great, maybe good, at least average. But both Rock It Off, a rip off of Eddie Cochran’s My Way and Cry Danger a recycling of the riff of Aztec on Setzer’s debut solo album almost sealed the fate of that album for me: don’t expect anything.

I finally received the album and my fears were soon confirmed. It’s a shame that a band that returns with a new record after such a long hiatus didn’t put more work in it. The compositions are at best average (Mean Pickin’ Mama which is at least a Rockabilly number) but most of the time the term ‘lazy’ pops to mind. From the boogie blues riff of (the aptly named That’s messed up) that you’ve heard a zillion times to Three Time’s A Charm which is nothing but a variation of Setzer’s Hot Rod Girl, or I’ve Got Love that borrows its intro to Ubangi Stomp and its melody to You’re Humbuggin’ Me (Lefty Frizzell, Fabulous Thunderbirds…) and Desperado an instrumental which is a carbon copy of the Shadows’ Apache, it’s hard to believe Setzer when he says in mumerous interviews that he started writing these songs one year ago. Actually many songs sound like an embarassing caricature of Setzer’s Live Nude Guitar or Let’s Go Faster when trio tries to venture into unfamiliar territories (I Attract Trouble with what a surprise a quote of Pipeline).

It’s kinda weird to have Lee Rocker say “We are the best band that has ever played this music.” and find so few Rockabilly (even with a wide definition of it) on ‘40’.

And the production doesn’t help either. The drums sound buried and muddy and the fans of Lee Rocker will be surprised to find barely no slap on that album.
A couple of years ago I regretted that the Stray Cats ended their recording career with the uninspired Original Cool, but listening to this poorly written and badly produced effort, it was not that bad, after all.

PS – Don’t expect the so called “deluxe” version (two live tracks, two stickers, two coasters and a postcard) to save things.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Doel Brothers

in Reviews

Doel BrothersThe Doel Brothers – There’s a bottle on the table

El Toro Records – ETCD7027 [2019]

Bottle On the Table – Beer Bucket Boogie – Thanks A Lot – Baby I’m Ready – Love Letter – Distance Between You And Me – Welcome To My Heart – Just Say You Don’t Know – Jealousy – New England In The Fall – Country Bum – Hole In My Shoe – Viva Las Vegas – How High The Moon

Our favourite hillbillies, the Doel Brothers (Gordon on vocals and rhythm guitar, David on vocals and lead guitar Tom or Curtis on drums with Steve Whitworth on double bass and Phil Morgan on steel guitar) are back and they did it again! Can you believe it, it’s already their fourth album and it seems that each of their album is better than the previous one. I don’t write that lightly, considering that I already placed their debut effort as one of the best contemporary hillbilly platter, able to stand proudly near another of my favourite combo, namely the Dave and Deke Combo.

With five covers and nine originals penned by David and Gordon Doel who also share vocal duties, “There’s a Bottle On the Table” is a hillbilly / rockabilly / western bop rollercoaster from start to finish with top musicianship, solid songwriting and perfect production. It also comes with a superb cover illustrated by Garry Boller which gives you another reason to jump on that little jewel!
The repertoire ranges from straight Rockabilly like Bottle on the Table and Love Letter (the latter having a strong Sun flair) to country boogie with Beer Bucket Boogie, an original that sounds like an unissued Tennessee Ernie Ford tune. Phil Morgan’s steel guitar part with ricochets à la Speedy West adds to this feeling.

Other than those song you’ll find a bit of bluegrass with their cover of Dwight Yoakam’s The Distance Between You and Me with harmony vocals and dobro as well as some western swing influenced stuff (New England In the Fall), shades of Johnny Horton (Welcome to My Heart) and Little Jimmy Dickens (Hole In My Shoe) and lot of plain old hillbilly and Honky Tonk.

The bonus track is a cover of How High the Moon, dedicated to the memory of their dad that would make both Les Paul and Rhubarb Red proud.

Grab your moonshine, take a sip, roll back the rug, put the record in the player and enjoy the sweet sound of the Doel Brothers.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


The Doel Brothers - Oh Brother... It's The Doel Brothers
The Doel Brothers – Oh Brother… It’s The Doel Brothers

The Doel Brothers – Oh Brother… It’s The Doel Brothers

El Toro {2013}
Educated Mind – Goin’ Away – Kissin’ Bug Boogie – I’ll Do It Everytime – Sure You Won’t – I Need Your Lovin’ – Pick You Up – Whiskey Lovin’ Fool – Nothin’ ’bout Love – Tell Me You’re Mine – Rockin’ Shoes – Hey Baby

The Doel Brothers come from England and are David, Gordon and Tom Doel plus Gary Boller. They previously played with the Western Aces, the Radio Ramblers, the Westernaires so these four guys are not exactly newcommers but this is their first one under this name. And what a record! I hadn’t heard such a good hillbilly tinged platter since the heyday of the Dave and Deke Combo (or at least the Horton Brothers) and that was not a surprise to see that Dave “Pappy” Stuckey wrote the laudatory liner notes.
This record is simply amazing with superb originals (and I mean REAL originals, not old melodies quickly rearranged with new lyrics as it’s too often the case), beautiful harmonies reminiscent of the Farmer Boys or Rusty and Doug and top notch musicianship. There’s also a bit of Tennessee Two in Sure You Won’t (the influence of Cash can also be heard on Rockin’ Shoes) and Rockabilly too (I Need Your Lovin’). The whole set is completed by three excellent cover of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Johnny Horton and Tom James.
Cuzzins, believe me, I strongly advice you to get this record, this is hillbilly bop as it should be played.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Roy Kay Trio / Roy Kay Combo

in Reviews

Roy Kay Trio – Travel Bound

Miz Liz 002 [2014]

Travel Bound – One year ago Tonight

Fantastic single from the Roy Kay Trio (but that’s not a surprise.)
A side is a superb piece of wild Rockabilly with a strong Johnny Burnette feel. The flip is mellower and is a beautiful country shuffle.
And to add more beauty to all that, it comes in colored vinyl.

Roy Kay Combo - I'm Hooked
Roy Kay Combo – I’m Hooked

Roy Kay Combo – I’m Hooked

Lur Liner Records LL004 (2009)
Boom – From Can To Can’t – Give Me Love – I’m Waitin’ – Askin’ But Not Gettin’ – Midnight Station – I’m Hooked – How It’s Done – Hey Honey – Dream On My Own – Love To Spare – Think Of Me
After releasing some of today’s finest rockabilly records, Roy Kay and his two partners in crime (Mike Geglia on guitar and Robin Cady on double bass) decided to try something new. They added drums (played by Aaron Mlasko) and a suberp rockin’ piano, giving them a fuller sound and a more rock’n’roll flair. The piano and Roy’s catchy melodies (he wrote 11 out of the 12 songs of this album) also evoke the recordings of Kenny Parchman and Carl Mann too. The whole thing is rounded by solid backup vocals, some in a doo-wop style that work very well. Tony Laborie (The Top Hands, Rattled Roosters, Ray Condo) plays steel on some tunes addind a Bill Haley’s Saddlemen feel to “How It’s Done” (that also features fine question/answer vocals) and a straight hillbilly style to “Think Of Me”.
Another great album from Roy and the boys (welcome to the new one) and I bet that the first time you hear it you’ll bet at your turn hooked by the Roy Kay Combo.
Nice digipack presentation too.


roykayharmonyRoy Kay Trio – The Rhythm and Harmony of…

Texas Jamboree TexJam 6903 (2008)
Why Even Try – Starlight Alone – Everyone’s In Love – She’s Trouble – Heart That Beats With Mine – Young And Foolish – Goodbye Romance -Endless Night – Hearts Unknown – New Girl – Feelin’ Down – So Tired – What She’d Love To Hear -Wonder
Released on the excellent Austin based label Texas Jamboree (Horton Brothers, Miss Lauren Marie, Nick Curran…) and coming in a beautiful digipack the fourth album from this drummerless trio shows a slight departure from their usual sound. Instead of the rockabilly boppers you’ve been used to you’ll find the band exploring late fifties/early sixties territories. The result is fourteen highly melodic (not that their rockabilly wasn’t melodic) and very well crafted pop songs written by Roy Kay that play in the same league as Buddy Holly (She’s Trouble, New Girl, I Wonder), The Everly Brothers (thanks to the fine harmonies of Robin Cady and Mike Geglia). The more you listen to this sweet tunes the more they grow in you and you find yourself playing the album over and over. These boys don’t have any equivalent on the scene, though you could rapproach them to The Horton Brothers or The Bellfuries as they really try to bring new structures and unusual chord progressions in their songs. Succumb to the charm of the rhythm and harmony of the Roy Kay Trio.


Roy Kay Trio - Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon
Roy Kay Trio – Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon

Roy Kay Trio – Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon

Lur-Liner LL003 (2005)
Their third album . The previous ones has been respectively produced by Deke Dickerson and Ashley Kingman. For this one they went to Germany and choose Axel Praefcke (Ike & The Capers) as co-producer. I believe you already know all the good things I think about them. And this album won’t change my mind!
All but three songs are originals mostly written by Roy. Robin (bass) and Mike (guitar) contribute one song each. About the music there’s no big departure from the previous albums, you’ll find the same blend of rockabilly (“My Rockin’ Heart”, “Move On”), hillbilly boogie (“She Tracked Me Down” has backing vocals very similar to Webb Pierce’s Teenage Boogie), beautiful ballads (“I’ve Lost”, “Untie This Strings”) but this time they added a touch of western swing with “Cadillac In Model A”. Axel did a very good job producing this record and gave it a sound of its own. I won’t go more into details, but if you want to hear a well produced album, good songwriting, beautiful harmonies this one is for you. Another (the third !!!!) future classic album from Roy and the boy. Wouldn’t be surprised to find them on “That’ll Flat Git It Vol. 217” in 2052. And as usual with this band, the cover and the booklet are very well designed.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Shaun Young

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Shaun Young – Movin’

Shaun Young Movin'

Rhythm Bomb Records RBR-5893 [2018]

Movin’ – Things Will Never Be The Same – I Plead The 5th – More Than Any Tongue Can Tell – Baby Stop Your Jivin’ Me – Drink Til I Can’t Feel The Pain – My Heartache’s Been Confirmed – Got It Made – Someday – Set Me Up – When You Do That – Knockout

At last, a brand new album from Shaun Young. Sure, he released some pretty good 7″ in the recent years but they were just appetizers for this main course.

But here it is. A full 12 songs albums featuring 11 originals and one cover (Someday by way of Bobby Vee and the Crickets.). But wait! There’s more! Young is not alone and he didn’t record this album with one but with two bands.

The Texas Blue Dots are Alberto Telo (Colton Turner) on drums, Paolo Bortoloiol on bass, Massimo Gerosa on piano (is there an Italian connection in Austin?) and none other than Young himself on guitar.

The songs on which they play have a strong blues influence (Someday or Got It Made with a nod to Gene Vincent’s Baby Blue in the intro) with a bit of jivin’ jazz (Baby Stop Your Jivin Me) and plain Rock’n’roll (When You Do That.) The later featuring a cracking guitar solo.

The Three Ringers are the other band to back the singer on this album. They are Bobby Trimble (of Fly Rite Trio/Boys fame) on drums, Tjarko (Ronnie Dawson, the Tinstars, Planet Rockers) on guitar and Todd Wulfmeyer (81/2 Souvenirs, Marti Brom) on double bass. The three of them also play in the Modern Don Juan. So, like with the Texas Blue Dots, expect solid musicianship.

The songs on which they play cover the whole spectrum of rockin’ music. Movin has the same tension and menace than the best of Johnny Kidd. Things Will Never Be the Same is pure Rockabilly straight from the fifties. I guess that Willie Lewis would have been proud to release this one on a beautiful 78rpm. I plead the 5th is more on the Honky Tonk side of things and so are Drink Til I Can Feel the Pain and Set Me Up.

On the Buddy Holly influenced “More than Any Tounge Can Tell” Young sings “I know that I’m not Shakespeare”, well if that title wasn’t already given to Hank Williams I would easily call him the Hillbilly Shakespeare. Since the High Noon days, Young has always proven to be a fine lyricist and this album makes no exception. Another fine exemple is the rockin’ My Heartaches Been Confirmed.

Knockout closes the album like every good rockin’ album should do: letting you beg for more.

Both bands give the best and i’d like to mention Mr Wulfmeyer harmonies that are a big part of the mix (I can’t tell you how many time I listened to More than any…) and Young’s production is nothing but perfect.

Go to Rhythm Bomb or your favorite online dealer to grab a copy of this masterpiece right now!

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Shaun Young - Wiggle Walk
Shaun Young – Wiggle Walk

Shaun Young – Wiggle Walk

Goofin’ Records [2005]
Get It Got It Good – One-Two-Three Carburetors – The Fire Of Love – My Advice – Wiggle Walk – Havin’ More Fun Than The Law Should Allow – I’ve Found What I Was Looking For – When You’re In Love – She’s Got What I Want – Move Around – Nobody But You Babe – Don’t Ask Me Why – The List – Mean Mean Mean – Rocket In My Pocket

Wiggle Walk was recorded at the now legendary Fort Horton studios in Austin, with the Horton Brothers (Billy on the bass, Bobby on the guitar and lap steel), Dave Biller (guitar) and Buck Johnson (drums). Together or separately they played on some of the best records made this last 10 years and this one makes no exceptions to the rule. It’s a KILLLER ! 
I love High Noon (and it’s an understatement, believe me) but the best thing I can say about this record is that it’s not an High Noon album with other musicians and drums. Well you still have that Buddy Holly feel (Notably on Billy Fury’s My Advice and Bobby Vee and the Cricket’s When you’re in love), but also some Elvis with the brilliant I’ve found what I’ve looking for you could easily find on an Elvis RCA album (The Lowells playing the part of the Jordanaires) and Mean Mean Mean more reminiscent of the Sun days (with a feel similar to I forgot to remember to forget).
Among the covers figures Little Walter’s Nobody but you Baby. Man, this boy can sing the blues too (did you ever doubt ?) and with the help of guest Nick Curran on drums and guitar you’ve got one of the many highlights of the album. Just after this scorchy blues follows the great Don’t ask me why with backup vocal provided (I guess) by the Horton Brothers. And then another change of style with The List, a great rockin’ and boppin’ song. This 37 minute album (at last something I can reproach) ends with  Rocket in My Pocket where the talent of guest piano player T Bonta shines throughout.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Shaun Young – Red Hot Daddy

Shaun Young - Red Hot Daddy
Shaun Young – Red Hot Daddy

Goofin GRCG 6062 [1997]
Red Hot Daddy ~ She Still Loves Me ~ If I Can’t Be Your Lover ~ What’s The Deal Jack? ~ High Voltage ~ Phantom Rock ‘n’ Roll ~ Hey Flat Get It ~ I’m Slippin’ In ~ The End Is Near ~ How Can I Turn Her Away ~ Beg Steal & Borrow ~ Foolish Pride ~ Right Here, Right Now and Forever ~ Rickety Shack

Between two High Noon albums, and after his debut 10”, Shaun Young, lead singer of High Noon, took some time to record his first full length featuring 12 originals and two covers (High Voltage and I’m Slippin’ In).
It was recorded in two sessions with two different bands. One took place in Helsinki in Finland with the Barnshakers for backing band, during which they cut Red Hot Daddy, High Voltage and Ricketty Shack. On this three tracks the sound is more Rock’n’roll than Rockabilly with the addition of a saxophone and a piano on Jano’s High Voltage.
The remaining songs were recorded in Shaun’s studio in Austin with Kevin Smith (string bass), Chris Miller (steel), Dereck Peterson (lead guitar), Tjarko Jeen (lead guitar) and Lisa Pankratz sharing the drums duties with Young. The core of this recording is made of Texas rockabilly quite similar to High Noon in style and quality but there are some subtle differences. For exemple She Still Loves Me evokes Gene Vincent’s Catman, If I Can’t Be Your Lover (I Don’t Want to be your Friend) is a superb honky tonk in the style of Hank Williams. Another honky tonk, but with an early Buddy Holly feel in it is How Can I Turn Her Away. Young also makes good use Miller’s steel guitar to achieve spooky effects on Phantom of Rock’nRoll. But the best song, by far, is Beg Steal and Borrow featuring Dave Bedrich on trumpet (from the Big Town Swingtet) who gives to the song a full Texas swing sound.
Superb album from start to finish.

Shaun Young – Our Last Night / Heartache Heartbreak

Shaun Young - Our Last Night
Shaun Young – Our Last Night

Goofin Records GOOFY 543 [1993]

Debut solo single from High Noon frontman. Excellent Texas rockabilly with that Buddy Holly feel.

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