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Jackals (the)

Jackals (the) – Prowlin’

Nervous Records NERD038 [1988]
Ice Cold Blues – Makes You Scream – Too Crucial – She’s The One – Some Body’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight – I’ll Go Crazy – No Brain – Party Train – My Baby Loves Rock ‘N’ Roll – The Fly – Ghetto Ride – What’s Wrong

Jackals Prowlin'

The Jackals were an American band from Portland, Oregon active between 1983 and 1992. The quartet was formed by David Corboy (guitar), Louis Samora (guitar), Rob Parker (drums), and Steve Casmano (bass). The band first released an album on Anubis records in 1984 before recording this one at Falcon Studios in 1988 for Nervous Records.
The strength and particularity of the Jackals is that three of the members (all except Parker) sing. This gives a rich and varied repertoire. Ice Cold Blues is heavy blues-rock quite similar to what George Thorogood does with tracks like If You Don’t Start Drinkin’. The tension does not fall, far from it, with Makes You Scream, a hard-hittin’ Rock’n’Roll which rushes at full speed and does not seem to want to stop.
Lighter, More Crucial is an excellent boppin’ Neo-Rockabilly. The following track is in the same spirit and evokes the style of the Rockats.
The group changes register with their cover of Somedy’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked Tonight by Earl Vince and the Valiants (aka Fleetwood Mac). The sound is raw and wild, almost Punk. The next track is also a cover, an excellent version of James Brown’s I’ll Go Crazy.
No Train is solid Modern Rock. Still on the “train” theme, Party Train has the power of a Blasters track. My Baby Loves Rock’n’Roll is a boppin’ Rock’n’roll, and even if it is not very original, the tune is devilishly effective, especially with two fantastic guitar solos.
The Fly is a Chubby Checker cover, resulting in a high-octane and energic version of Twist. The group continues with a powerful instrumental close to Webb Wilder’s style (Cactus Planet, Rough Rider). The album ends with What’s Wrong. It’s not the most original track on the album, but it’s still very effective.
Released between the first album of the Quakes and the second album of Skitzo, Prowlin contrasts a little with the label’s production, which at the time was very Psychobilly-oriented. However, it deserves to be rediscovered, and the classic Rock’nRoll lover will find plenty to enjoy with this album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Shakin’ Snakes (the)

Shakin’ Snakes (the) – Showdown

Mystic Records – M745135 [1984]
Showdown / Billy Club

Shakin’ Snakes (the) - Showdown

The Shakin’ Snakes were Scott Sheperd on Drums, John Jorgensen on vocals and bass, and Jeff Ross on vocals and guitars.
Ross is known for his stint with Rank & File and Candye Kayne, and he also appears on Levi Dexter’s Pomp. This single was the debut of Jorgensen on record, but his credits now include, on guitar, Levi Dexter, The Hellecasters, The Desert Rose Band, Marty Stuart, and many more.
In 1983, the band appeared on the (Art Fein Presents) The Best Of LA Rockabilly with the track Surrender. Then they recorded this single.
Side one is credited to Ross, and side two to Jorgensen. I guess each sings the song he wrote.
Showdown is rockin’, yet with a very strong pop edge and a modern production, more along the lines of the Rockats’ Make That Move. The flip is a no-nonsense rocker.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Rockats / Secret Hearts

Rockats (the) – Start Over Again

Cleopatra Records CLO3052CD [2022]
Nervous Breakdown – This Is The Night – You\’re My Baby – 50 Miles From Nowhere – Rock Baby Rock (All Night Long) – Rockabilly Swamp – Start Over Again – Lucky Old Rockabilly (Walking Down The Pike) – Rock Around With Ollie Vee – Working Man – Rockabilly Doll – Tanya Jean

Start over again

Good things come to those who wait, they say. The latest Rockats album (Rockin’ Together) was released in 2013. Since then, there have been rumours of new recordings, but nothing has materialized. Finally, when fans were losing hope, the Rockats got together, or so to say, and recorded this fantastic new album. The recordings took place between August and November 2021. Due to the pandemic and the fact that each member lived in a different state or country, the musicians recorded their parts separately.
Start Over Again contains ten new tracks and a remastered version of their single from 1980. Each member of every classic Rockats line-up is present—Dibbs, Barry, Smutty and Danny, of course, but also Mike Osborn and Lewis King. Tim Scott and Tony Darnell can be heard with the reissue of the single, and Jerry Nolan’s spirit floats on the album with the new version of Start Over Again, a song he co-wrote. A picture shot by Mike Rock, who took some of the band’s best photos and sadly passed away in 2021, is used for the cover. Clem Burke, of Blondie’s fame, completes the line-up.
It’s an excellent album containing new songs, covers (Cochran’s Nervous Breakdown, Buddy Holly’s Rock Around With Ollie Vee, Bob Luman’s This Is The Night and Roy Orbison’s You’re My Baby) and re-recordings of songs that first appeared on the Live At the Ritz album. The sound and the production are perfect, and special credit must be given to Danny Harvey for this. It’s a powerful Rock’n’Roll album with a singer on top and two guitars that trade hot and inventive solos one after another.
Most of all, they managed to give a breath of fresh air to these well-known covers. Once given the Rockats treatment and become Rockats songs.
With Brian Setzer’s recent stuff (Gotta Have the Rumble), Start Over Again is the best thing modern Rockabilly can provide. Maybe we had to wait for nearly a decade, but it was worth every minute.
Available on vinyl and digipack.


The Rockats – Rockin’ Together

Lanark [2013]
Why The Doubt – Rockin’ Together – Bad Love – Road To Hell – Kitten With a Whip – Old Hickory Road – Pink and Black Cadillac – Reckless – Red Headed Rockin’ Gal – Sweet Sweet Charlotte – Tear The Roof Off – Why Do You Love Me

Rockin' together
The Rockats – Rockin’ Together

For many young Rockabilly fans who, like me, discovered this music in the 80’s, Levi & the RockatsLive At the Louisiana Hayride and the RockatsLive at the Ritz were almost as important the Stray Cats debut album for their rockin’ education. They influenced countless bands (including a certain trio from Masapequa) and still continue today. So what was my surprise when I heard that after a 10 year hiatus the Rockats were back with a brand new studio album. Not a best-of, not a live, but 12 brand new sparkling songs written by the band (and their producer Quentin Jones who made a terrific job). And believe me cats, you should hide your kittens for this boys are still full of energy and they claws are sharper than ever.

Rockin’ Together kicks off with The Doubt a superb modern rockabilly that sets the pace of the album: Dibbs’ vocal on top, solid guitars and rhythm section and top notch production. The title tracks lives to its name. Why Do You Love Me (If I Don’t Treat You Right) is a superb modern number that a strong commercial appeal without selling itself. Next is The Road to Hell a pure Rockabilly with an Elvis feel and featuring what Brian Setzer calls in his liner notes “the twin rockabilly guitar attack” of Barry Ryan and Danny Harvey.

Another highlight for the guitars is the surf tinged instrumental Kitten with a Whip penned by drummer Mike Osborn. With the next tune, they prove to be more than able on the honky tonk side with Olde Hickory Road featuring harmony vocal, piano and pedal steel effect on the guitar. They definitely should do more like this (actually you should try Dibbs’ solo album for more in that style). By comparison, Red Headed Rockin’ Gal is more on the blues side completed by finger snaps for that late 50’s rock’n’roll feel. You can find the same feel in Sweet Sweet Charlotte a rockaballad with echo not far from Gene Vincent.

Then the album ends with a string of three rockers. Starting with Tear the Roof Off (very appropriate name), going harder with Bad Love (not that far from a rockin’ Morrissey) and climaxing with the hot rocker Reckless Rebel again featuring strong guitar parts.

As a result, this is a great album and one thing is certain: the Rockats will continue to inspire many more bands!

More infos at www.lanarkrecords.net


The Rockats – Plays Elvis

Heartbreak Hotel – Baby Let’s Play House – Blue Moon – Good Rockin’ Tonight

 plays Elvis

This four-track mini cd was a Japan bonus sold with Downtown Saturday Night. I don’t think it was available separately.
The title says it all, what you’ll find are four Elvis Presley covers. Being the excellent singer he is, Dibbs has no problem to revisit the King’s repertoire.
Barry Ryan plays two hot and bluesy solos on Heartbreak Hotel (which also, like the original, features a piano.) Back to straight Rockabilly with Baby Let’s Play House. Though they remain respectful to the originals, the band bends the songs to make them fit in their style. This is by no mean a sterile act of recreation.
The highlight of this EP is the cover of Blue Moon. The band had an excellent idea to blend the melody with Sleepwalk. The result gives a very atmospheric mood, almost like a dream while Preston flies over this version with class and elegance only attained by Chris Isaak (and Elvis) before him.
The closing number is a smoking rendition of Good Rockin’ Tonight.
Though it’s not easy to find, it definitely worths the hunt.


Rockats (the) – Make That Move

RCA [1983]
Burning – One More Heartache – That’s the Way – Go Cat Wild – Never So Clever – Make That Move – Be Bop A Lula – Woman’s Wise

Rockats make that move

With Make that move the Rockats slowly departed from their neo-rockabilly sound to explore new territories. It was recorded in two sessions; the first one with Lewis King on drums for the title track and Marvin Gaye’s One More Heartache and the second with new drummer Mike Osborne. Both were produced by Mike Thorne of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love fame.

The result is a mix of all the things that influenced the band at the time. Never so Clever and their cover of Buzz and the Flyers Go Cat Wild are straight rockin’ tunes though with a modern sound. On the other hand That’s the Way (with keyboards) and One More Heartache have a strong new wave influence. And right between those two extremities you have Make That Move, a modern rocker with a catchy melody and the excellent Burnin’ that wouldn’t be out of place on Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell.
The cd reissue contains two bonus tracks recorded for the movie Where the Boys are.


Rockats (the) – Live at the Ritz

Island – ILPS 9626 [1981]
Rockin’ Baby – Rite Time – My Way – Go Kat Wild – (Don’t Treat Me Like A Dog) Love This Kat – Start Over Again – Krazy Baby – 50 Miles From Nowhere (A 1000 Miles From Home) – (Knockin’) At My Front Door – Wrong Rite Reason – Room To Rock – All Thru The Nite – I Wanna Bop

the Rockats - Live at the Ritz
the Rockats – Live at the Ritz

Signed to Island records, the next and natural move for the Rockats was to release a lp. After a failed attempt to capture their energy in studio, the label decided to record them in their natural environment: the stage. The result was Live at the Ritz, recorded, mixed and pressed in 48 hours. After an enthusiastic and drunken introduction by Billy Idol, the gang kicks off with Rockin’ Baby, a boppin’ rockabilly with fine Gallupin’ guitar. With the second song, Rite Time, the doubt is no longer possible: we are in 1981 not 1956. The Rockats don’t re-create, they totally make the genre their own by including elements of their era like Punk, as proved by their rendition of Cochran’s My Way, covering contemporary bands like Buzz and the Flyers (Go Kat Wild) and writing their own originals (All Thru The Nite; 50 Miles From Nowhere…).
Sure, their youthful exhuberance can sometimes lead to confusion but much to the chagrin of some purists, this bravado is closer to what Gene Vincent or Billy Lee Riley should sound on stage and despite some minor flaws the full platter is a neo-rockabilly rollercoaster. Culminating with the wild Krazy Baby, it contains just a few slower numbers to let you take your breath like the torrid Love this Kat (written by Bobby and Larson Paine who later wrote stuff for Brian Setzer and Stray Cats) and the bluesy Start All Over Again, quite close to the early Rolling Stones.
Listening to this album more than 30 years later, it is impossible not to aknowledge the huge influence the Rockats had on the whole rockin’ scene.
As the time of writing this it hadn’t, to my knowledge, been properly reissued on cd, except maybe in Japan.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Read the whole Rockats story here.

Biller & Horton

Biller & Horton – Texotica

Biller & Horton

Vinylux V0007 [2005]
The Sneak-A-Roo – Deep Eddy – Tiki, Tiki – Blackberry Bounce – The Devil’s Birthday Party – Whispering Palms – Grease Fire – Slippin the Mickey – The New Thang – Dutch Treat – Mood Music for a Tropical Depression – Adam the Inkman – Texas Twilight

Texas guitar slingers Dave Biller and Bobby Horton teamed up to record this all-instrumental album titled Texotica (for Texas and Exotica) for Vinylux records in 2005. Biller plays the guitar, and Horton takes the steel on most of the track except for a couple of tunes where Horton plays the lead guitar and Biller switches to electric bass. Bobby’s brother, Billy, plays the bass (and records the whole thing), Biller’s wife Karen plays the vibes, T. Jarrod Bonta plays some piano, and Buck Johnson is on drums.
It’s a varied mix of styles. Hence you’ll find Hillbilly swing (The Devil’s Birthday Party with Erik Hokkanen on fiddle, blackberry Bounce), some influences from Speedy West and Jimmy Bryant (The Sneak-A-Roo), jazz (Dutch Treat) and some blues oriented stuff (Slippin’ the Mickey, which I suspect is a reference to Mickey Baker, Texas Twilight). Also, plenty of songs justify the title and songs like Tiki Tiki, Mood Music For A Tropical Depression, and Whispering Palms sound like Hawai/Exotica/Martin Denny all rolled into one with a dash of Les Paul for the former.
This album will ideally find its place next to Biller and Wakefield’s or John Munnerlyn and Lee Jeffriess’ one.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Dead Beat Jacks

The Dead Beat Jacks – Graveyard Chicks Are Easy

dead beat jacks

Jax Wax Records [2021]
Psychobilliac – Before I Lose My Mind -Graveyard Chicks Are Easy – Scary Truck – Baddest Cat In Town – Demon O – Drink IPA – Satan’s Niece – How I Go – An Undying Quest – Bone Stimulator – It Just Gets Worse – Zombie Bloodbath

Coming from Chicago, The Dead Beat Jacks are a trio (guitar, double bass and drums) and sing songs about graveyards, zombies and demonic things. That would be enough for a lazy reviewer to qualify them as a Psychobilly band. But things are a little bit more complicated than that.
Of course, it contains plenty of songs that belong to the Psychobilly idiom — like Scary Truck or the ‘Demented Are Go’ influenced Psychobilliac — but they also have more neo-Rockabilly sounding tunes like Drink IPA. Their album also contains, and that’s where they develop their true identity, a solid dose of musical oddities like Before I Lose My Mind, which in its structure evokes a 50’s ballad in the style of Buddy Holly. Still, once the Dead Beat Jacks treatment is applied, it becomes a weird and totally insane thing. The same goes for Satan’s Niece. This one is very close to Heavy Metal in its form but escapes the genre’s grandiloquence by a very down to earth treatment.
This is one of the main strengths of these guys. By avoiding all the clichés and the facilities, their songs are often groovy with unusual structures and changes of pace. Hell, they even play a love song!
By not following the rules, the Dead Beat Jacks have developed an infectious and very original brand of music.

More infos here.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8

Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8 – Ridin’ In A Rocket

Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8 - Ridin’ In A Rocket

Nervous Records NERD 024 [1985]
Bluest Of Blue – County Jail – Money Talks – Blame It On The Moon – Hey, Baby – Gal O’ Mine – Rock Candy – So What – Oh, My Little Claudie – Ridin’ In A Rocket – Baby, I Know – I’m A Rebel – Big Ol’ Sun – You Can’t Come Out Tonight – I Don’t Know – Teacher, Teacher – Get Off My Train – Movin’ To Memphis – Bop, Man, Bop – Gonna Rock

Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8 were a traditional Rockabilly trio consisting of Kevin Fayte on vocals and guitar, Buster Fayte on vocals and bass, and Joe Snare on drums. They seem to be forgotten today, which is rather unfair. Maybe they came too early. When most of the bands were trying to follow the Stray Cats paths, Kevin Fayte and Rocket 8 choose to remain faithful to the Rockabilly of the origins.
The band formed in 1983 and disbanded around 1986. In between, the trio managed to release this album consisting of twenty original songs, penned by the band members, but their producer, Gary Rebholz, also contributed to the songwriting. One could fear that twenty tracks are a tad too much for a rockabilly album, but the songs are short, and since both Kevin and Buster share the lead vocals, they manage to keep variety all along the lp. Most of all, they really knew how to write songs, focusing on the melodic aspect.
This excellent album deserves to be rediscovered today.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis