Rockabilly, Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Blue Cats (the) / G-Men / Beltane Fire

in Reviews

The Blue Cats - The Blue CatsThe Blue Cats – The Blue Cats

 

Rockhouse LPL 8011 [1980]
Just Go Wild Over Rock ‘N’ Roll – I’m Gonna Die – Pretty Pretty Baby – I Dreamed You Left Me – Southbound Blues – Boogie Up Roar – Five Days Five Days – I’m Driving Home – Sweet Love On My Mind –
Caldonia – I Sure Miss You – Jumpin’ Little Mama – Juke Joint Jem – Sure-Fire Way – Goofin’ Around
Debut album featuring the Carlo Edwards (guitar), his brother Stef (drums), Clive Osborne (sax, rhythm guitar) and Dave Phillips (vocals and double bass). Excellent from start to finish. A true classic!

 


The Blue Cats - Fight BackThe Blue Cats – Fight Back

Rockhouse ROCKCD 8111 [1981]
Fight back – Hot & cold – Tired & sleepy – Love me – Jump cat jump – Up a lazy river – Who stole my blue suede shoes – Who slapped John – Wild night – Thunder & lightning – Life fast die young – Made for rockin’ – Slippin’ in – Idle on parade – Birth of the boogie – Everybody’s rockin’
By the end of 1980 the Blue Cats found themselves in need of a bassist and a singer after the departure of Dave Phillips. They quickly recruited Mitch Caws and Clint Bradley both from The Tennessee Rebels and started to work right away. From that moment they started to experiment and write new material with a more modern edge. Released in 1981 Fight Back is representative of that era.
Half of the album reminds the “old” Blue Cats with covers of the Cochran Brothers, Gene Vincent, Eddie Bond, The Phantom, Marvin Rainwater, that are probably here to satisfy the label who didn’t want to make a big departure from their successful debut album. The other half is by far the most interesting with six neo-rockabilly jewels, sometimes close to early psychobilly, written by Bradley.
One can only regret the light production on some of this tracks and wonder how it would have sounded with more studio time.
Almost three decades later, “Fight Back” remains a key album of the early 80’s and a huge influence on numerous bands.


The Blue Cats - The TunnelThe Blue Cats – The Tunnel

Nervous records Nercd069 [1992]
Man With A Mission – Galluping Man – Casting My Spell – The Tunnel – Heavens Gate – Cry On The Wind – Car 76 – Take And Give – Bad Mans Money – Wild Dogs Of Kentucky – Rivers Bend
All I Can Do Is Cry

Winning return for the Blue Cats with this 1992 album with Paul Diffin (Sugar Ray Ford) on bass. Every track here is a killer from the manic neo-rockabilly of Man With A Mission and the Tunnel to the tributes to Cliff Gallup (Gallupin’ Man) and Gene Vincent (Cry On the Wind) and what could possibly be the definitive version of All I Can Do Is Cry. 
Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Blue Cats (the) – 1978 The Re-discovered Masters 1984

Count Orlock – COCK XXIII
I Don’t Care If The Sun Don’t Shine* – Jumps Giggles and Shouts* – Mystery Train** – I’ll Never Let You Go** – The Saints Rock ‘n’ Roll** – Gotta Git A-Goin’ ** – Baby’s Number One** – I’ve Got No Time For You** – Gotta Go*** – Left Out*** – Eldorado**** – The Master’s Call****
*Blue Cat Trio – **The Blue Cats – ***The G-Men – ****Beltane Fire
The title says it all. It’s a compilation of rare and mostly unissued material by the Blue Cats in all their incarnations. It features songs from their beginning with Dave Phillips as a Rockabilly trio. The songs with Clind Bradley easily shows they could have topped any weekender as a traditionnal Rockabilly band. Instead as we know it they continue to explore and pushed the boundaries to create their unique neo-rockabilly sound. It culminates with the G-Men, a band that created something new that had a lasting impact on the Psychobilly scene with Gotta Go being covered by Frenzy and Long Tall Texans.
Two songs by Beltane Fire find Bradley in his natural element singing Marty Robbins tunes.


Blue Cats (the) – Best Dawn Yet

Blue Cats - Best Dawn Yet

Blue Light Records BLR 33165 2
Billy Ruffians – The Norton Spirit – Turn My Back On You – Blue Prairie – My Dark Dark Mind – Badon Hill – Long Road Home – Captain Blood – Burnette – Following Ahab – Secret Agent Man – Lonesome Desperado

Twenty years after the release of the Tunnel, a landmark in the history of modern Rockabilly, the Blue Cats returned with a new double bass player (Steve Whitehouse of Frenzy and the Sharks) and a new album.
Since Clint Bradley joined the band, the Blue Cats always tried to push the boundaries of the genre while keeping the spirit and the essence of true Rock’n’Roll. And this platter doesn’t disappoint. Modern yet classic.
Billy Ruffian is a fantastic piece of modern Rockabilly with exciting changes in the melody, with what I call “typical Carlo Edwards riffs.” The rhythm section is powerful and demonstrates that Steve Whitehouse was the right choice to succeed to Mitch Caws and Paul Diffin. It could be hard to follow such an opener, but not for Bradley and his gang. The Norton Spirit is a powerful rocker. And even with a straight-ahead rocker like this that lets very little margin to the singer, Bradley proves he’s one of the best singers on the rockin’ scene today.
Billy Fury’s Turn My Back On You is pure Rockabilly gold straight from the ’50s with echo and hiccups.
The Sons of the Pioneers’ Blue Prairie seems tailored-made for Bradley’s voice, and it’s the occasion to hear Carlo Edwards play some steel-guitar.
My Dark Dark Mind is another slice of modern Rockabilly. This one features Paul Diffin on bass, so it’s probably an old recording.
The Blue Cats always took care to write different lyrics than your usual “love my Cadillac” thing. Billy Ruffians evoked Trafalgar and Nelson, and Badon Hill is about King Arthur.
Long Road Home is not the most original track of the album, but once again, the playing and the production are flawless. Captain Blood takes the listener back to the Beltane Fire days with Mitch Caws on bass. A good one, though the production is a bit too much for me. Burnette is a tribute to Johnny Burnette and Grady Martin. No big surprise but very well done and pleasant. Though, maybe, I find Gallupin’ Man their tribute to Gene Vincent and Cliff Gallup on the Tunnel more interesting.
After a rocking Secret Agent Man, the album ends with Lonesome Desperado; a superb Marty Robbins influenced tune on which Bradley’s voice is more eloquent than ever.

blue cats
The Blue Cats (Clint Bradley, Stef Edwards, Carlo Edwards and Paul Diffin)

WIld Ones (the)

in Reviews

Wild OnesWild Ones (the) – Feelin’ Good

Migraine Bop 32 [2018]
Feelin’ Good – I’m Coming Home

One of Europe’s best rockin’ band returns thirty years after its latest release. I really liked the Wild Ones back in the days and to be honest I didn’t know what to expect with this new release. Would it be as good as their old recording, Wouldn’t it tarnish the legacy of the band? What if Dee had lost his voice? My fear quicky vanished as soon as I played the record. The Wild Ones still have it and with the help of Tony LaMonica their newly recruited guitar player they rock like hell.
These two sides are full of rockin’ blues with mean guitar and equally mean blues harp (and yes, Wild One Dee still has his voice). Now, let’s just hope this is a warming up before a full LP.
Limited edition.


Wild Ones - Sounds like Gene Vincent
Wild Ones – Sounds like Gene Vincent

Wild Ones (the) – Sounds like Gene Vincent

Rockouse – MLP 8804   [1988]
Wildcat Boogie – Two Eyes – Ain’t She Sweet – It Won’t Work – My Baby She’s Gone – In My Dreams – Cruisin’

With such a title and musicians dressed like the Blue Caps circa 1956 you won’t be surprised to find more than a strong Gene Vincent influence on this mini-lp.
In My Dreams, Cruisin and Ain’t She Sweet are lifted from the Sreaming Kid repertoire and a fourth cover, Two Eyes, is a Tommy Steele song. They are played with the right energy and intensity in the vocals and the guitarist is good enough to play some Cliff Gallup inspired parts and despite being very close to the originals, they are not just note for note versions.
The remaining three songs are penned by the band’s singer Didier Borra.
Both It Won’t Work and Wildcat Boogie previously appeared on a single and sound as good as anything the early Blue Cat Trio released. Though there’s no indications of recording date or place, one can assume that all the songs come from the same sessions, or at least the same period, that is to say 1983.
The remaining song, My Baby She’s Gone, is by far the best of the album, opening with a strong slapping bass for two and a half minutes of Rockabilly. It would later be reworked under a new title and with a new sound for the band’s debut album « Crossroads ».


Wild Ones (the) – Wildcat Boogie

Blackjack – NR 4035 [1983]
Wildcat Boogie – It Wont Work

With this second single, the Wild Ones are more confident, and the musicianship is better. The influence of Gene Vincent and bands like the Blue Cats can be heard all over those two original songs from the Cliff Gallup inspired guitar solo to the production.
Note: the bass player on this single and the following mini-album “Sounds Like Gene Vincent” is Dirk Schoufs who later formed Vaya Con Dios with whom he found success. Sadly he died in 1991.


Wild Ones (the) – I’m A Wild One Baby!!!

Little Big One ‎– L.B.O. 116 [1981]
I’m A Wild One baby!!! – Crying All Alone
Released in 1981, this is the debut single from this famous Belgium band. As one can guess, it’s a bit young and needs some cohesion in places, but the result is quite pleasant.
“I’m a Wild One Baby!!!” lives to its title with call and response from the band, screams, and whistles, the whole thing played at a frantic pace.
The flip side is a mid-tempo with some Cavan vibe and an exciting guitar solo.

wild ones
The Wild Ones [Sounds Like Gene Vincent line-up]

Bugaloos (the)

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

The Bugaloos – In the Mood

bugaloos

Rockhouse Records – ROCKCD9318 [1993]

Rockabye Boogie – Most Of All – Be Bop Baby – Baby I Love You So – At The Old Town Hal – Love Me – Rocky Road Blues – In The Mood – Crazy Real Gone Blues – Bye Bye Blues – Frankie’s Out On Patrol – You Can Do No Wrong

The Bugaloos were a three piece female harmony band from the Netherland, featuring Lil’ Esther.
Their sound was a mix of “sisters” bands (Fontane, Davis, Dinning, Miller) as well as Nita, Rita and Ruby with a dash of Rockabilly à la Collins Kids thrown in for good measure.

In the Mood is their second album and benefits of the presence of Jelle aka Joe Sixpack (who later joined the Ranch Girls and the Ragtime Wranglers) on guitar. This guy is one the great masters of the Rockabilly guitar on the modern scene next to pickers like Deke Dickerson, TK Smith. He brings rockabilly to their swing and swing to their rockabilly.

All songs are covers but the band is good enough to always turn them into something new and interesting. Even an ear worm like In the Mood that makes me cringe even when played by Bob Wills is pleasant here. But how could you resist to the charm produced by the sweet voices of those three girls.
From Hillbilly bop with a hint of western swing to a sweet ballad with Rockabilly in between and a bit of jazz, you’ll sure enjoy this moment with the Bugaloos.

After the Bugaloos disbanded Esther and Marga formed Jess’n’Jill & the Sinners before singing as a solo act. Read more about all that here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Bugaloos with Lil Esther
The Bugaloos
Bugaloos

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang

in Contemporary artists/Reviews
Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang - Wild Youth
Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth

Dave Phillips and the Hot Rod Gang – Wild Youth

Rockhouse [1982]
Wild Youth – She Will Come Back – 56 Boys –  Tainted Love – Love Me – My Turn – On The Move – One And Only – Flea Brain – Should I Ever Love Again – Summertime – Baby Blue – Just Can’t Believe – Wow

Having left the Blue Cats in 1980, Dave Phillips took some time off before forming his own band. Still with Gene Vincent in mind he named his new band the Hot Rod Gang after the 1958 movie featuring the screaming kid. The first line-up consisted of John Day and Ray Thompson on guitars, Rob Tyler on drums and of course Dave Phillips on double bass and lead vocals. But it’s the second line-up with Mark Harman from Restless on guitar replacing both Day and Thompson that entered the history of modern rockabilly. Harman was the perfect choice, his fast Gallup influenced licks being the perfect complement to Phillips. The trio recorded Wild Youth in late 1981 and contrary to what the cover reads it’s Tyler on drums and not Andrew Wrightson who was the band’s driver (even on the cd reissue features the mistake).
One can suppose that the label (Rockhouse for both) acted with Phillips the same way he did with the Blue Cats’ second album (with Clint Bradley) hence the presence of many familiar cover in a more traditional style (Flea Brain, Summertime, Baby Blue and the Phantom’s Love Me sung by Harman). But there’s enough modern stuff to make of Wild Youth a benchmark in Neo-Rockabilly history, the best known being their cover of Tainted Love. It’s an instant classic that will have a lasting influence on many young bands.
Essential to any decent collection.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Dave Phillips

Dave Phillips – Rockhouse Mini L.P. Collection

Rockhouse Records – MLP 8420 [1985]

Brand New Beat – The Fun Of It – In My Dreams – So Now You’ve Lost her – You Don’t Want to Know – The Trip

I said it before and I’ll say it again, mini lp are often the best support for Rockabilly. It’s short, every number counts and there’s no place for fillers.

Dave Phillips’ mini lp for Rockhouse is the perfect exemple of that statement.It’s almost perfect and dare I say, even better than his debut solo album.

Once again one can hear the influence of Gene Vincent, with the covers of Brand New beat (imagine Vincent revisited by Restless of vanish Without A Trace period) and In My Dreams which is probably the weakest song of the album (but to his discharge it’s hard to compete with Vincent on that type of song.)

The four remaining tracks are originals. You Don’t Want to Know features Mark Harman of Restless (and former hot Rod Gang member) on guitar and is a rockin’ ballad with once again the shadow of Gene Vincent over it.

So You’ve Lost Her is a medium rocker while the Fun of it is a fast neo-rockabilly with breaks later covered by French band the Happy Drivers on their debut album and the Trip is Worth th eprice of the album alone. This fast modern rockabilly number (with a dash of psychobilly) is a modern masterpiece.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read our in depth interview with Dave Phillips here.

Tiger Men (the)

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Profiles/Reviews

Tiger Men 1

The Tiger Men formed in the second half of the 80’s in Belgium with well known name on the local scene coming from the Red Monkeys and the Swampy’s. They were Michel Texier aka Texas : vocals / guitar, Thierry Dupuis : doublebass, Saki : guitar and Gilbert : drums.

They recorded one album (“Tiger Men”) for Kix4u. 
In the early 90’s Texas moved to Bruxelles and left the Tiger Men. They carried on with a new singer, Fabrisio, and a new drummer Jean but split around 1992.  They evolved into The Raggin’ Stuff to play White Rock.

tigermenThe Tiger Men – s/t

Kix4U – KIX3364
Chuck Style ~ Uranium Rock ~ Johnny Was A Bad Boy ~ Tiger Stomp ~ Crawdad Hole ~ Shake Your Hips ~ Gone Gone Gone ~ I Will Miss You ~ I’ll Go On My Way ~ Chris Baboon ~ Love In A Coffin ~ Hit The Road Jack ~ Wild Child ~ Shake Your Money Maker ~ Tiger Man ~ My Babe
The Tigermen were an Belgian quartet from the early 90’s. They played a majority of up-tempo neo rockabillies with clean electric guitar, slap bass to the fore and light drums. If not very always original (half of the songs are covers and many of the 16 titles have similar tempo which is a bit monotonous) and despite a limited voice the result is rather pleasant. Highlights are “Johnny Was A Bad Boy“, a slow bluesy-jazz number with harp that sounds like a cross between Restless, the Wild Ones and Vaya Con Dios, “Tiger Stomp” an instrumental in the vein of Crazy Cavan’s “Crazy Rhythm“,the melancholic “Gone Gone Gone” and the almost psychobilly “Love In A Coffin” that reminds of the Long Tall Texans.
Too bad some covers are just fillers (My Babe, Shake Your Money Maker, Tiger Man…) and reduce the quality of the final result.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Tiger Men
Tiger Men

Scam

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/S

Scam - Gamblin fever
Scam – Gamblin fever

Scam – Gamblin’ Fever

Count Orlock
Pirates And Thieves – Captain Caveman – Magic Bus – Searching -. Hangover – Nutcrackers – Island Of Rock -. Somebody Tell Me – Losing Touch – Gamblin’ Fever – Dr. No – Ready, Willing And Able
Scam released their debut album on Count Orlock in 1988, this first album is very representative of the sound of the day. Light drums, slap bass and a clean electric guitar, influenced by Restless and fellow Dutchmen Batmobile. The sound is good (Johnny Z. produces. Any link to Johnny Zuidhof from Batmobile?) but could be a bit “fuller”. They have good original songs (Hangover, Captain Caveman, Ready Willing & Able) but the long distance (12 songs) tends to disadvantage the band and the album sounds a bit repetitive, they could have reduced it to eight solid songs. They also cover the Who’s Magic Bus,a band previously covered on the Juvenile Delinquents album (My Generation). I’m not sure sure it’s been reissued on cd, so try to grab a vinyl copy on ebay.


Scam - Infant Years
Scam – Infant Years

Scam – Infant Years

Tombstone
Haunted House – Death Train – Can I Get A Witness – Cry Out – I Can’t See – The Eyes – Boogie Disease
Despite an ugly cover, this mini lp, recorded in 1989, shows an improvement from the first album. If there’s not a big departure in term of sound but the band is tighter and the songs less repetitive.

 


Scam - A million dollar scam
Scam – A million dollar scam

Scam – A Million Dollar Scam

Rockhouse
The getaway – Dead and gone – Cold as ice – Where did I go wrong – Stop bugging me – I’m going crazy – Hang ’em high – Stop that gorilla – You can’t trick me – Goodbye so long – Which way now – Devil’s music – It ain’t right – Bloodbrothers – Trouble tonight – Loved that woman – Drink that bottle down – Candy man
Released in 1991, this album (their third after Gamblin Fever and Infant Years) marks a new step for the band. To their usual brand of light psychobilly/neo-rockabilly, they add a good dose of rockin’ blues with blues harp, saxophone and slide guitar. The set is varied and the song inspired. A guest singer is present on a couple of songs and brings a bit of diversity. A good album that shows the evolution and the maturity of the band. Reissued on cd with four bonus tracks.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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