Rockabilly , Psychobilly and everything in between.

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Western Star

Delta 88

in Contemporary artists/Reviews

Delta 88 – Firefly

Delta 88

Western Star [2019]

Cherry Pie Until I Die – I Fell In Love On The Wall Of Death – Damsel In Distress – She Does Me Good – High Heeled Boots – She’s Hot To Handle – Massachusetts Firefly – Rockin’ On A Sunny Afternoon – Patient Man – Panther In The Night – Return Of The Girl With A Ray Gun – Gonna Get Me A Motorcycle – Satisfaction Guaranteed – Please Don’t Send Me Home

Delta 88 are a British Rockabilly trio consisting of Simon Clews on guitar and vocals, Nikki Clews on stand-up drums and vocals and Julian Wood on upright bass. Both Simon and Nikki sing with Simon taking the lion’s share.

Like their previous albul, Firefly is produced by the expert hands and ears of Alan Wilson (the Sharks.) And let me tell you that if you dig your Rockabilly with a good dose of neo in it, this is definitely a “look-no-further” album for you.

Their sound is anchored by a solid rhythm section with Wood providing a strong backbone on doublebass (and thanks to the production you can hear both the notes and the slap) and miss Clews’ simple yet effective drumming. When I say “simple” please don’t read “poor”. Rockabilly drumming doesn’t have to be played on a gigantic drumkit drowned behind drum rolls and a dozen of cymbals. On the front you find and hear the crisp sound of the guitar with solos that are both traditionnal and original (the song She’s Hot to Handle illustrates this perfectly.)

The songs (all penned by the Delta 88 by the way) are varied and the two singers ad even more diversity.
Panther in the Night is almost psychobilly (well 80’s psychobilly that is…), Return of the Girl with a Ray Gun is pure 80’s neo bliss while Massachusetts Firefly ads a welcome touch of hillbilly. The core of the albul is good old Rockabilly played with a very fresh and natural approach. I mean they play the music they like the way they like without thinking “Can we do that? Did they play it like this in the 50’s.” Instead they take that music and its code to play them their way.

Available at Western Star and on the Delta 88’s website.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Sue Moreno

in Albums/Contemporary artists/MN/Reviews

Sue Moreno - One Track Mind
Sue Moreno – One Track Mind

Sue Moreno – One Track Mind

Western Star Records – WSRC 037
One Track Mind / The Fire Is Burnin’ / Too Late / Time is Wastin’ / Gone Gone Gone / Don’t Hurt Me Baby / Gonna Get Back Home Some How / What About Tomorrow? / Record Hop / Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad / Cinderella Story / Walkin’ With Angels / Time is A-Wastin.

When rockabilly girl Sue Moreno meets the boys of Jack Rabbit Slim, the result is sure to be hot. Contrary to many of her counterparts, Sue doesn’t try to sound mean and plays more on the seductive side of things which is a good and refreshing thing (when you can afford to do it, and she can). She never screams or else, but instead use her warm voice to whisper in your ears.
She penned the Fire is Burnin’ a fine rockaballad with a slight country tinge. Still on the country side are “What About Twomorrow” with a melody that reminds a bit of Buck Owens’ Street Of Backersfield. She also gives a great rendition of Tammy Wynette’s Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad.
Jack Rabbit Slim’s frontman Bob Butfoy provided eight songs tailor made for the singer, going from rockabilly to latin-with-a-Johnny-Burnette-feeling (Don’t Hurt Me) and even a country gospel (Walkin’ With Angels). In addition to Jack Rabbit Slim, you’ll find the talent of Jim Knowler (Keytones) on backing vocals as well as producer Alan Wilson playing guitar on Elvis‘Gonna Get Back Home Somehow.
In my opinion the sole low point is their cover of Gone Gone Gone that borrows more to Robert Plant/Allison Kraus version than the Everly Brothers original. But it’s not enough to waste the overall feeling of this excellent album.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

sue moreno

Cheaterslicks (the)

in Albums/CD/Contemporary artists/Reviews

The Cheaterslicks - Rev Up, Burn Out
The Cheaterslicks – Rev Up, Burn Out

The Cheaterslicks – Rev Up, Burn Out

Western Star WSRC 046 [2010]
Hotrod King – 20 Days a Drunk – I Just Can’t Win – Rumble Of Thunder – You’re Untrue – Cry & Moan – Gimme Just a Little Bit – You’re Still Torturing Me – Hard Working Man – Can’t Hardly Stand It – Well Of Tears – Nobody’s Guy – Mother Truckers – Big Love Guarantee

This platter is one of the most exciting thing I’ve heard in 2010. You seldom find a debut album as good as this one (but the members of the band are all experienced musicians having played with The Prowlers, Kill Van Helsing and Empress of Fur).
Listening to “Rev Up, Burn Out” the names of Brian Setzer’s 68 Comeback Special, Mike Ness, The Blasters, the Reverend Horton Heat, Ronnie Dawson, The Paladins and the Nervous Fellas came to mind. Yes, it’s that good! The core of their music is made of high octane gritty rockabilly always delivered with the good drive, powered by a fantastic slap bass and appropriately recorded by Alan Wilson.
But they’re not happy to stick to just one style. You’ll also find more traditionnal rockabilly, country oriented songs (“You’re still torturing me” that could easily be on the latest Jack Rabbit Slim) and a couple of rockin’ blues numbers too, like “I Just Can’t Win” that features an harmonica or “Hard Workin’ Man” with its Howlin’ Wolf / Captain Beefheart flair (not only for the title but also for the overall feel). One will also find songs that border on psychobilly.
Another great release from Western Star and a band to follow closely.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Rusti Steel

in Contemporary artists/Reviews/S

Rusti Steel & the Startones - Gone With The Wind
Rusti Steel & the Startones – Gone With The Wind

Rusti Steel & the Startones – Gone With The Wind

Western Star Records WSRC 041 [2010]
Gone With The Wind – Gone With The Wind – Missing You Blues – Can’t Go Out – Hopin’ For The Best – Baby You Doin’ Me Wrong – A Lovers Question – Lucky Guy – Speed Crazy Baby – Slow Down Suzie – I’ll Do Anything For You – Please Baby Please Be Mine – Whirl – Share Your Life With Me – Wedding Bells Ring – I Can’t Hide

Rusti Steel & the Startone are a rockabilly country boogie band featuring guitar, bass, drums, pumpin’ piano and occasionnal steel guitar. Rusti is not really a newcomer having released rockin’ albums since the mid 80’s. And though it sounds a bit cliche, I have to say that Gone With The Wind is by far his best. With 15 songs and only one cover it’s a killer.

It opens with the Bill Haley & the Saddlemen sound of the title track: propulsive beat on the bass and drums, powerful piano and agressive steel guitar. Next is Missin’ You Blues that owes more to Elvis circa 1956, with Alan Wilson providing back up vocals for a full Jordanaires effect. Double bass player Stewart Dale wrote the Burnette inspired Can’t Go Out, a perfect number though I waited until the end, hoping to hear at least of them scream. The country boogie of Hopin’ For The Best is the good occasion to put the piano to the front. But no time to loose and back to good ol’ rockabilly ala Baby Let’s Play House with Baby You Doin’ Me Wrong followed by the sole cover of the album: Clyde McPhatter’s Lover’s Question.Lucky Guy is a piano led rockabilly with a Danny Cedrone solo in the middle. Speed Crazy Baby is halway between Just Because and Maybellene. Stewart Dale sings Slow Down suzie his second contribution to the album and a good rocker. After a couple more rockabilly numbers the album closes on a high note with I Can’t Hide, a mean rockin’ numbers ala Gene Maltais’Raging Sea.It’s a western Star release so expect top notch production and recording work and special mention to Chris Wilkinson (Bonneville Barons) for the superbly designed cover and booklet.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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)

 

 


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

 

 

Various Artists – Western Star Rockabillies 4

in Albums/Contemporary artists/Reviews/VARIOUS

various_western_star_rockabillies_vol4Western Star Records – WSRC 035
Sanity – Rockin’ Rocket 88 / Rain – Bill Fadden and The Silvertone Flyers / Forget Me – Bonneville Barons / Shake Rag – Jack Rabbit Slim / Three Months To Kill – Graham Fenton / Rocket Ship Mama – Warren Scott and The Memphis Playboys / Got A Lot Of Rhythm In My Soul – Miss Jean Vincent / Bluer Than Blue – Rudy La Crioux and The All-Stars / Record Hop – Sue Moreno and Jack Rabbit Slim / Thinkin’ ‘Bout You – Rockin’ Rocket 88 / Lone She Wolf – Lil’ Red and The Doghouse Trio / Rockin’ Rollin’ Stone – Bill Fadden and The Silvertone Flyers / Teenage Bug – Rudy La Crioux and The All-Stars / The Fire Is A-Burnin’ – Sue Moreno and Jack Rabbit Slim / Roly Poly – Graham Fenton / Back No More – TJ and The Bellevue Bombers / Fool For You – Bonneville Barons / The Storm – Rockin’ Rocket 88 / Dirty Billy – Kansas City Cryers / Rock It – Warren Scott and The Memphis Playboys

Volume Four of the Western Star Rockabillies serie is another good occasion to see the good health of this music in UK and the impeccable taste of label owner/producer Alan Wilson.
It also show that the term rockabilly encompass a wide range of music and as they say there’s a little bit for everyone here (and a lot for everybody if you ask me).
Matchbox’s Graham Fenton backed by the Western All Stars (the house band) offers a solid rendition of Roly Poly (with steel guitar) and Huelyn Duval’s Three Months to Kill. If Fenton’s album on Western Star is entirely like this I’m gonna get me a copy for… tomorrow!
Label’s biggest seller, Jack Rabbit Slim are present here under many forms. “Shake Rag” is taken from their latest excellent album. A part of the band is also featured on the Warren Scott tunes, in a 50’s sounding style (I try to avoid as possible the term authentic). Also playing in this style are Bill Fadden (who’d make Charlie Feathers proud with his rendition of rain) and Rudy La Crioux.
Women are not forgotten with Miss Jean Vincent, Sue Moreno (backed by Jack Rabbit Slim) with a mean rocker and a self penned country rocker and Lil’ red and the Doghouse Trio (featuring Rusti Steel).
One highlight of the album is Rockin’ Rocket 88’s the Storm that sounds like an unissued Blue Cats track from the Fight Back period with a fiddle. I know it sounds weird, but you have to listen to it! There’s plenty of good stuff in that excellent album (including my favorite artist of Western Star the Bonneville Barons) and it’s the perfect occasion to discover the label and that sure will lead you to buy the albums.

Available at Western Star.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

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