Rockabilly, Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Steve Whitehouse

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)

Frenzy (psychobilly)

in Reviews

Frenzy - Hall of mirrors
Frenzy – Hall of mirrors

Frenzy – Hall of Mirrors

Nervous NER016 [1985]
One last chance – Schitzophrenic emotions – Choice – Hall of mirrors(1) – Frenzy – Asylum moves – Skeleton rock – Sweet money – Ghost train – Long gone – Surfin’ bird – Was it me? – Wound up – Frustration – Hall of mirrors(2) – Robot riot – Cry or die – All alone – Torment

If a label “classic psychobilly album” would exist, Hall Of Mirror would be among the first to deserve it.
In 1983, the split of the Sharks allowed Steve Whitehouse to fully concentrate on his new project: Frenzy. By many aspects Frenzy were more adventurous than the Sharks. It marked a new step for the psychobilly scene that was in full bloom and the band went into musical territories rarely explored by slap bass led combos. The recording of Hall Of Mirrors began with Simon Brand on guitar and Merv Pepler on drums, this trio having already released one ep for a Dutch label (included on thecd reissues of this album). But Brand quickly left the band (he later formed Torment) with only three songs ready for the forthcoming album (Frustration, Frenzy, Sweet Money).
Whitehouse eventually hired Kev Saunders to complete the album. Both Saunders and Pepler came from different musical horizons and combined with the double bassist’s rockabilly background the result was an unusual, unique and explosive combination.
Musically speaking, Whitehouse fast slapping and technique proved to be a lasting influence for the many psychobilly bassmen that followed.
Hall Of Mirrors offered originals (including a reworking of the Sharks’ Skeleton Rock) and one cover (Surfin’ Bird) probably the only weak track of the album (but who could come after the Trashmen and the Cramps?).
The lyrics also set up new standard. I addition to the usual crew of ghosts, skeleton etc. you can also find songs about madness, frustration and teenage angst.
Brilliant!


Frenzy - Clockwork Toy
Frenzy – Clockwork Toy

Frenzy – Clockwork Toy

I.D. Records ‎– NOSE 8 [1986]
Clockwork Toy – I See Red – Misdemeanour – Nightmares – Love Is the Drug – Mexican Radio – Howard Hughes – In My Prison – Aftermath – Nobody’s Business

With Clockwork Toy, Frenzy confirmed their status of “Psychobilly band with more than two ideas in their songs”. The accent is put on arrangements and variations, giving more elaborated melodies (and sometimes more pop sounding) than your usual fast paced rockabilly (Misdemeanour, Clockwork Toy, Howard Hughes…). And if Whithehouse’s heavy slap bass links the whole thing to the rockabilly idiom (listen to “I See Red” – which spent some decent time in the indie charts – or “Nightmares“), the sound of the guitar doesnt owe anything to the genre. There’s a lot of production work. A powerfull live band, they also want to prove they can deliver a “real” album and not only a hastily live in the studio recording of stage favorites. These’ll remain a constant (with varied degrees of success) in Frenzy’s carreer. Retrospectivly, it sometimes turns to the disadvantage of the band and this will to explore technology shows its limits. The synthetizer’s sound on “Love Is A Drug” (yes Roxy Music’s one) or the drums on “Howard Hughes” sound terribly dated now, and let’s say it, very cheap.
But this minor flaws left aside, Clockwork Toys is as important, for different reasons, as their debut album and still stands today as a classic of the genre.
It’s later been reissued on cd with two b-sides from the same period and 3 songs from Sally’s Pink Bedroom


Frenzy - Live at the 100 Club
Frenzy – Live at the 100 Club

Frenzy – Live at the 100 Club

Nervous Records NER 033 – Raucous Records [1988]
I see red – Misdemeanour – Love is the drug 4.House on fire – Howard Hughes – The hunt – Clockwork toy – Migraine – Gotta go! – It’s All Over Now – Robot riot
In the quantity of live albums released by psychobilly bands, many were disappointing, whether they were poorly recorded (remember the Live & Loud serie on Link) or the band wasn’t able to recreate the studio recordings on stage. Among the best you find The Long Tall texans’ Five Beans In The Wheel, The Sharks’ Live In Japan, a couple of Meteors and… Frenzy’s Live At The 100 Club. Recorded in 1986, it’s a magic combination of a perfect recording and a tight band of true professionnals, playing at that time 150 dates per year. The set draws heavily into “Clockwork Toy” recorded that same year.They kick off with a roaring version of their indie charts hit “I See Red”. “Misdemeanor” quickly follows, featuring a pumping slap bass, showing how good Steve Whitehouse is.Roxy Music’s “Love Is A Drug” is far better than the album version. The keyboards parts being replaced by a guest saxophonist giving a bit of a ska touch. They alternate “straight in your face” wild numbers (House On Fire) with their more complex and melodic songs (Clockwork Toy, Howard Hughes) with equal degrees of success. Next are a couple of covers, The Ricochets'”Migraine”, The G-Men’s “Gotta Go” and a epic 8 minute “It’s All Over Now” a song previously performed by Withehouse in The Sharks’ set. This perfect disc ends with a 100 mp/h rendition of their “early” classic “Robot Riot” that almost manages to make you forget the studio version. Issued on vinyl by Nervous in 1988, it’s been reissued by Raucous in 2001.


Frenzy - best-of
Frenzy – best-of

Frenzy – The Very Best-Of

Rage CD 107 [1990]

A very good overview of the band’s seven first years including songs from Hall Of Mirrors, Clockwork Toy and This Is the Fire as well as unreleased stuff like Long Gone recorded live at Hemsby and some b-sides too.


Frenzy – Live in Japan

Frenzy Live in JapanRaucous Records RAUCD046

Nervous Breakdown- Clockwork Toy – Misdemeanour – Hall of Mirrors – I See Red – This is the Fire – CC Rider – Love is a Drug – Mad Mad World – Brand New Gun – Long Gone – Tush – Robot Riot – It’s All Over Now – Cry or Die

Another very good live album recorded in Japan (see Restless and the Sharks for others great live albums recorded in jpan with Steve Whitehouse) in 1993.

It’s a very powerful set with all the classics and a couple of covers like Brand New Gun (Tall Boys), Tush (ZZ Top), Nervous Breakdown (Cochran), CC Rider (Elvis) and Royx Music’s Love is a Drug.

It’s very different – and yet very complementary – to Live at the 100 Clubsince Carl Parry has a very Metal sound compared to Kev Saunders who was more ‘new wave meets rockabilly’. It sometimes a bit too much, but more often than not it works very well, even with the songs from Hall of Mirror and Clockwork Toy.

Frenzy

Frenzy

Sharks (the)

in Contemporary artists/Reviews/S

 The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers
The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers

 The Sharks ‎– Phantom Rockers

Nervous records ‎– NERD 008 [1983]

Moonstomp – Skeleton Rock – It’s All Over Now – Crazy Maybe – Take A Razor To Your Head – Death Row -Love Bites – Short Shark Shock – Ruff Stuff – Phantom Rockers – Charlie! – Slipped Disc – I Can’t Stop – Electrifyin’ – Ghost Train* – We Say Yeah* (* cd only)

“Phantom Rockers” the Sharks’ debut album falls exactly somewhere between those two categories.
Their sound is closer to Restless than the wildness of the Meteors or the garage sound of the Ricochets. But the comparison ends here. While Rockabilly bands are happy to sing about girls and boppin’ all night, the Sharks embrace the Psychobilly idiom with a delectable pleasure. Their songs are about vampires, skeletons, ghosts (trains and rockers), and Charlie, a schoolboy who cuts the head of his classmates and family with a chainsaw.
The music is punchy and aggressive yet melodic and clean. Both Wilson and Whitehouse, who share the vocal duties, show a solid mastering of their instruments and a knack for writing songs that stay in your head.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you call it Psychobilly or Rockabilly or whatever, you must own this album, that’s all you need to know.


The Sharks - First and Last Live
The Sharks – First and Last Live

The Sharks – First and Last Live

Nervous /Crazy Love [1988 – reissue 2002]
Rock The Joint ~ Pink & Black ~ Tired ‘n’ Sleepy ~ Teenage Boogie ~ Tear It Up ~ Wildcat Rock ~ Sugar Doll ~ We Say Yeah ~ Deathrow ~ Moonstomp ~ Ghost Train ~ Crazy Maybe ~ Buddy Can You Spare A Dime ~ It’s All Over Now ~ Phantom Rockers ~ Chainsaw Charlie ~ I Can’t Stop.

This album captures two shows. The first one has been recorded by the trio at the beginning of their career and the second is the last they played just before they split in 1983, hence the title. It’s mostly made for fans and it’s surely not the best album to discover this great and highly influential band. But it remains very interesting. You can hear a band of teenagers evolving from a good rockabilly cover band (the first show: well played but nothing too exceptional) into a tight psychobilly unit, this time with self penned material and a sound truly of their own.


The Sharks - Live In Japan
The Sharks – Live In Japan

The Sharks – Live In Japan

Crazy Love CLCD 64143
Deathrow – Bye Bye Girl – Cold Heart – Crazy Maybe – Dealer – Schitzoid Man – Love Bites – Morphine Daze – Side Show Freak – Between Two Worlds – Moonstomp – Surf Caster – Phantom Rockers – Charlie – Time Bomb – Ghost Train – Skeleton Rock.
The psychobilly scene counts very few solid live recordings. The reason can be found in the fact that the majority has been released in the mediocre Live’n’Rockin’ serie on Link records. But one can find some exception like The Meteors Live I, The Quakes’ Live In Tokyo, Long Tall Texans’ Five beans In The Wheel (though it’s half fake), Live’n’Undead by the Nekromantix and on top of the list : “Live In Japan” by the Sharks.
 This live recording has been captured on tape in September 1998 in Nagoya and Tokyo, during a successful tour of Japan with the pair Wilson and Whitehouse (both on top form) and Carl Parry (guitar player for Frenzy at the time) on drums who replaces Hodge the original drummer. 
The set spans the entire career of the band with “Phantom Rockers” taking the lion’s share. The trio gives a breath of fresh air – and even surpasses the studio recordings – to their classics like Love Bites, Charlie, Moonstomp and breathtaking versions of Skeleton Rock and Ghost Train. The songs from “Colour My Flesh” and “Recreationnal Killer” are well represented too here and the live gives a grittier sound than the well produced studio versions.
There’s a spirit of sheer joy (even with songs about vampires, psycho killer, electric chairs…) all along this hour plus of tight musicianship (remember we’re talking about Alan Wilson and Steve Whitehouse) that is highly communicative. In the end it’s more than a great psychobilly album, it’s a great rock’n’roll album (that deals with kids with chainsaw, girls from Transylvannia and so on, okay I know).


The Sharks - Songs from the Sarcophagus
The Sharks – Songs from the Sarcophagus

The Sharks – Songs from the Sarcophagus

Western Star [2011]
She’s Fallen In Love With A Monster Man – Draculas Daughter – Jack The Ripper – Monster In Black Tights

We’ve waited for years for it. Here it is, at last, a brand new release from those neo-rockabilly/psychobilly masters.
This 4 songs vinyl ep is a tribute to the late Screaming Lord Sutch and who was more designed to do it than the Sharks and Joe Meek specialist Alan Wilson? They manage to give their own rendition of these classics while staying true to Meek and Sutch versions.
A total, definite and absolute must have.


The Sharks - Infamy
The Sharks – Infamy

The Sharks – Infamy

Western Star WSRC 057 {2012}
House of Wax – A Tornado Called Smith – Holloway Road – The King Of London – First Men On the Moon – Control – Ship To Shore – Hell Riders – I Can’t Believe You’re Back – Breakin’ Bones – Luck O’ The Irish – Desert Diamond – She’s Fallen In Love With The Monster Man

The Sharks are back! After a 15 year hiatus Alan Wilson (guitar, vocals), Steve Whitehouse (super sonic slap bass, vocals) and Hodge finally got together again to record a new album. I must say that I was a little apprehensive when I put the cd in the player. Could the band match my high expectations, after all they had released some of the best neo/psychobilly album made in the 80’s (Phantom Rockers) and the 90’s (Recreationnal Killer and Color My Flesh). Recently released material on compilation albums and an ep showed they were still in good shape, but could they make it on long distance? It took just one song to see all my doubts vanish. Not only the Sharks were good but they sounded better than ever, benefiting of 30 years of experience in term of producing, playing and writing songs. Most of all they managed to keep what make their identity and reinvent themselves in the same time. You don’t have a band of fifty year old men (or so) who run after their youth, trying to sound like they did in thirty years ago. They don’t come back by pure nostalgia but because they have solid songs to defend (mostly penned by Wilson with the exception of the First Men On the Moon co-written with Whitehouse and Lord Sutch’s She’s Fallen In Love With the Monster Man). Of course there are hot psychobilly numbers like House Of Wax (perfect opener with superb vocals from Whitehouse), A Tornado Called Smith (listen to this guitar solo, it kills!), Men On the Moon and Breakin Bones (already a classic alternating slow and fast parts). Next to this psychobilly gems you’ll find an instrumental mixing Surf guitar with Mariachi music (Hell Riders),  60’s country music with a Bakersfield feel (Desert Diamond), and a great tribute to Joe Meek in the form of a pop song (Holloway Road) featuring female backing vocals and Merv Pepler (Frenzy) playing some strange noises that would have pleased the producer of Telstar. Other real life character also have their own song like the notorious bare knuckle boxer Pretty Boy Shaw (The King Of london with plunking piano) and Ronald Biggs. That’s what I call a casting!  More surprising is Luck’o the Irish sung by Doyley (Klingonz) with accordion and penny whistle for a full Pogues ambiance.
It was worth a wait of 15 years..
Comes in a nice digipack with lyrics included.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Sharks
The Sharks

Restless

in Albums/Contemporary artists/R/Reviews

Restless live in TokyoRestless – Live in Tokyo 1989


Foot Tapping Records

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Restless – Live at the Klub Foot

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

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


Restless - After Midnight
Restless – After Midnight

Restless – After Midnight

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

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


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

Restless – Why Don’t You Just Rock

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

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

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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

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

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