Lee Rocker
Gather Round
Upright Records

It’s Only Rock & Roll …. But I Love It!

For the three people reading this that don’t know; Mr Lee Rocker is the (Upright) Bass Player in the legendary Rocking and Rolling, Rockabilly Superstars, The Stray Cats !
With that in mind, coupled to the cute cartoony Hep Cat album cover; there ain’t a lot more to tell you …… there ain’t a lot of surprises here; as Mr. Rocker treads a very safe; if still quite spectacular musical path on his first solo album since 2007.
Why shouldn’t he?
If it’s not broke; why fix it?
The title track Gather Round is quite the kickstart to a mighty party; although more in the style of Eddie Cochran than his buddies in the Stray Cats, with Lee showing quite the singing talent; which appears to have lain dormant in Brian Setzer’s shadows for four decades.
With gigs cancelled left right and centre, Mr and Mrs Rocker took the opportunity to criss-cross the US in an Airsteam; and that’s where most of these songs were written.
One of the covers here is a suitably cool rendition of Everybody Wants To Be a Cat; from Disney’s The Aristocats; and do you know what? Lee Rocker makes it his very own in a swinging Dean Martin in a leather biker jacket kinda way.
The slinky instrumental, Dirty Martini sounds like it would have been the perfect introduction to Dino coming on stage; or perhaps on the soundtrack to a Rat Pack movie.
Lee Rocker’s party gets cranked up to the max more than once; with When Nothing’s Going Right and the salacious nod to the Rock n Roller’s of old; Dog House Shuffle being guaranteed floor-fillers at every gig it’s played at.
But; the bass player also offers a bit of a sensitive side too, on The Last Online Lovers and, of course the rinky-dinky piano led Ophelia too.
Choosing a Favourite Song here was a little bit easier than I’d expected; which isn’t meant to decry any of the other songs; especially the delightful love song Every Time I See You; but the prescient Graceland Auction takes a left field look at the way Elvis Presley’s memory has been desecrated by not just those around him who sold off everything from his alarm clock to his Cadillacs, but to some degree those who bought these things; as
“Everybody wants a piece of The King.”
All sung with a curled lip and edgy sneer ……… and it’s an absolute stonker!
I’m only a casual lover of Rock and Roll in all of its guises; so don’t get angry with me for only just discovering Lee Rocker’s singing and songwriting talents so late in the day.

Released 22nd January 2021


Bruce Springsteen LETTER TO YOU

Bruce Springsteen
Letter to You

Rage Against the Dying of The Light.

Having had the good fortune to see Springsteen’s Broadway show back in 2018, the Boss seemed to be – a bit like Bowie – making sure that his career was placed in a context that he himself had control over – and making sure that there was no unfinished business and no regrets.
There’s a similar feeling on “Letter to You.”
Whereas “Springsteen on Broadway” was one man’s perspective, this time, it’s the gang – The Boss, the E-Street Band and their relationship with their “Springnut” fans – making sure that what they leave behind and are remembered by, is something that they’re proud of.
In that sense this is a celebratory release, but there are intimations of mortality throughout.
Opener “One Minute You’re Here” is a quiet, almost transitional piece, following on from “Western Stars;” with its orchestral, intimate production – the opening line:
Big black train coming down the track” shortly followed by ”one minute you’re here / Next minute you’re gone
is a recognition of the short time we have on this planet – and is the manifesto for what follows as well as what came before.
The title track “Letter to You” which follows, is a confessional expression of Springsteen’s cathartic, poetic need to follow his own path – and it’s all framed in a triumphant E-Street Band production too.
No wonder this was released as the first album teaser – it’s quintessential Springsteen and contains the grandly staged emotions of his best ever work. “Burning Train” extends the journey metaphor, but this time, it’s the tale of being caught up in the fire of a relationship; and not surprisingly it’s a pounding rocker.
“Janey Needs a Shooter” has been known to Springsteen fans for a while, coming from the time around the “Born to Run” sessions – it’s another relationship song about finding the right type of person – here the heroine is looking for a man “who knows her style”, couched in a typical Springsteen character narrative, with Roy Bittan’s piano and Charlie Giordano’s organ playing featuring prominently.
“Last Man Standing” is another mid-tempo narrative that uses Spectoresque dynamics to recount Springsteen’s early days in the Castilles – and contrasted against the fact that he’s “The last man standing now” – it’s a touchingly wistful defiant celebration of youth in the face of the impending future.
This celebration is moved into the area of personal relationships in “The Power of Prayer,” where there’s thankfulness for the small magical personal loving moments that make a life, bookmarked by exquisite Roy Bittan piano and joyous sax from Jake Clemons.
Personal celebration is followed by a musical group hug in the form of “House of a Thousand Guitars” where not even “The criminal clown (who) has stolen the throne” can “Steal what he can never own” – and that’s the soul of people united by the transformational experience of music.
The political barb at Trump in this song is drawn out and developed in “Rainmaker” which offers explanation for those who vote for “Rainmakers” – charlatans – because they’re troubled people who “need to believe in something so bad / They’ll hire a rainmaker”.
It’s a balanced non-judgmental observation which avoids being didactic and is a clever musically hooky way of getting under the skin of those who don’t want to admit they were conned…..“If I Was the Priest” claims though “there’s just too many bad boys trying to work the same line” – it’s early Springsteen in style, filled with oddball characters and biblical imagery and it’s a scary world where you can’t please all the people all the time -but that’s life.
“Ghosts”, another pre-release track, sits well with the sentiments of “Last Man Standing” and “House of a Thousand Guitars” in that Bruce draws inspiration and communion with those in his musical tradition – and it’s what makes him exclaim that “I’m Alive” when he hears those that came before – and he hopes to offer the same to those that follow.
“Song for Orphans” first performed live back in 2005, is Dylan-like in style and in delivery too and the fact that it’s Springsteen reaching out to the outsiders in society, it fits in with the personal and communal addressing of his – (our?) – people.
Album closer “I’ll See You in My Dreams” completes the bitter-sweet tone of the whole album – of celebrating the life we have, but preparing for the inevitable. That gets more into our thoughts, the more times around the sun we manage to hang on – but reassuringly “death is not the end.”
Recorded over only four or five days, this is a fresh sounding yet realistic view from Bruce’s point on his journey.
The ‘elephant in the room’ is whether this is the last ever album with the E Street band – who knows?
But if that were the case, this is a mature and fitting summation of what it’s meant to be part of that ride.

Review by Nick Barber
Released October 23rd 2020


Little Richard
The Rill Thing & King of Rock & Roll

The King Who Never Really Abdicated.

This must be the first time I have reviewed any album(s) by an artist who I actually saw about 60 years ago, and who made the first 78 that I can recall purchasing and who was genuinely one of the music ‘all time greats’.
That single was ‘Tutti Frutti’ and that man was ……… Little Richard.
If I am asked which artist had the immediate impact on me he is one of the first to come to mind – everything about him was dynamic and different from his stage outfits to his actual performances on the piano.
Absolutely Electrifying.
Omnivore Recordings have re-issued (with bonus tracks) 2 of his comeback albums from 1970 and 71 THE RILL THING and KING OF ROCK & ROLL; in very commendably packaged CD sets and for readers of certain age these will be ‘must haves’; and for the younger readers these are a chance to hear someone who was a legend.
King of Rock and Roll saw Little Richard allowing H B Barnum to handle production and the result is a heady mix of Motown, Rolling Stones and CCR covers plus a couple of Little Richard originals, but from the very first minute you hear those first words you just know that this can only be Little Richard and his take on the likes of ‘Dancing In The Street’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ bear comparison to the original artists.
However, do not fall into the trap of assuming this is just another outright R&R album, as he demonstrates on ‘Midnight Special’ where his voice moves from that of a gospel singer to hammering out a superb track in a way that is totally unique.
In the same manner, he attacks ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’ as well as any other offering I’ve ever heard of this tremendous song.
To me, the outstanding track is The Three Dog Night ‘Joy To The World’ as he details
all of the folk here tonight to hear the man who started it all
and he never spoke a truer word – the Georgia Peach was the star and he just kills this song.
I can honestly say Little Richard sounds every bit as good and dynamic as he did in the mid 50’s when he was hardly ‘allowed’ on TV because of his unpredictability.
The original album was 11 tracks but the new version has the addition of 6 further tracks which include two instrumentals.

Moving onto ‘The Rill Thing,’ originally released in 1970, we see a different side to the man – the voice is still great but the emphasis is more towards a Blues sound, backed by a rhythm section set out together by Rick Hall at his Muscle Shoals studios and with Bumps Blackwell, now Richard’s manager, he gives a tremendous performance.
The opener ‘Freedom Blues’ is a song of hope, that freedom should replace oppression with a killer groove from Travis Wammack we are up and running.
‘Greenwood Mississippi’ was apparently intended for John Fogerty but LR took it into the Top 100 Singles Chart, but the reverse side of that single was one known to everyone as a Beatles standard, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and he gives this a completely new treatment, one that was really special to him.
Little Richard’s vocal range gets the full treatment on ‘Somebody Saw You,’ moving from falsetto to a low whisper and back again; but it’s the backing that makes this a highlight track – nobody played sax like they did back then or so it seems to me!
New listeners to LR would probably not have previously appreciated his depth of music leanings and ‘Spreading Natta What’s The Matter,’ has a hint of Good Golly Miss Molly and Lucille,  but LR keeps it moving along 20 years after those unforgettable tracks.
There was a feeling that once his highly succesful ’50s era had come and gone that LR would kind of fade away, but we are dealing here with an artist who once shone brilliantly and then adapted himself to set up a second career in the seventies; and a successful one at that.
He was now welcomed onto TV shows and the world saw this top class Soul and Blues artist – a type of Joseph but of many genres rather than many colours.
The 9 original tracks here have a further 4 bonus tracks added, and backed up with another smashing presentation set, this is a view to another side of Little Richard.
Two excellent albums for fans and (hopefully) newcomers alike, but to me I will still remember him as the small guy who walked onto a stage with only a piano on it, and who then launched himself into a set completely unlike anything I or anyone present that night had seen the likes of before or even; possibly since.
If only I still had that 78 it would be worth a blooming fortune.
Loved him then and I still do today.
I hope many more will want to join the Little Richard Club on the back of these two releases.

Review courtesy Bill Redhead (The Original Rocking Magpie!)
Released 18th September 2020


Stacie Collins DAMN GIRL!

Stacie Collins
Damn Girl!

She’s Done It Again; Harmonica and Twang Infested Country Rock Deluxe.

Where do I start with my love and adoration of Stacie Collins?
Probably the year of our Lord 2000, when I bought my first ever copy of No Depression; from the late lamented Goldrush Records shop in Perth Scotland. As I sat poring over this amazing publication I spotted an advert for her debut album ……. I can picture it now, one leg bent and her foot planted firmly against a tree she was standing against; and the fresh faced lovely smiling from beneath a big ole Cowboy Hat; and a strap-line that read something like ‘the best Country Harp player in Tennessee.’
These were the days before the internet; so I had to send a letter enquiring about purchasing this CD; weeks later I got a handwritten reply with the price inc. postage.
As I couldn’t get the actual price in dollars (and Paypal was 10 years away from being invented) I then had to buy 3 x $10 bills from work and duly posted them off.
Again; some weeks later a parcel arrived from the Colonies, baring a CD and a T-Shirt to make up for the difference in price!
There are more stories to tell; but I’ll leave them for my Autobiography 😉

Which now brings me to Stacie’s fifth album; DAMN GIRL!
Originally a self-financed and subsequently crowd funded release that was held back because of this pesky Coronavirus malarkey; but is now finally being released out into the wild.

You can only imagine the excitement in the air when I pressed ‘play’ for the first time and the noise that crackled out of the office speakers sounded like a Perfect Storm as the Al-Mighty 3 build up the tension until Stacie blasts out; all guns blazing ……. no prisoners taken; on the feisty as Hell, You Don’t Know Me.
Certainly erring on the Rockier end of Country; this is one belter of a song; and when Jonathan Sudbury delivers the first of his guitar solos my heart skipped a beat and the butterflies in my stomach flew around like starlings at roost.
That one song throws down the marker for what is to follow; as Stacie and Band are totally synched as one; which is what happens after years on the road.
While DAMN GIRL! certainly fits into Stacie’s cannon of work perfectly well; it’s as different as chalk and cheese from anything (apart from possibly the Live album) that has come before it.
For a studio album; songs like Down For The Count, Got Me Going and the 90 mph Darlin’ Why all have that glorious ‘one take’ feel about them; perhaps they took months to overdub (I doubt it, knowing how Al Collins works) but when a band is as tight as this they genuinely spark off each other like a forest fire.
While I’ve always loved Stacie Collins’ rockier numbers; and the powerful Hey Now, which opens with a steam train of a harp solo; is right up there with her best and is a certain to be a Live Favourite; but I’ve always been drawn to her slower, sultry ballads which invariably are Heartbreakers Deluxe.
If Things I Meant To Say doesn’t squeeze the life out of your heartstrings you are reading the wrong website …….. this is written by and for sloppy Old Romantics like me; and works perfectly in every word, syllable and note.
It’s an odd thing to think and even say; but I think Stacie has finally ‘grown into’ her voice; which has always been a power-tool; but on the heads down, no nonsense You’ve Been Gone and Down For The Count; her vocals are actually quite subtle; whereas the younger Stacie would have tried to blow every word off the Richter Scale …… here, she actually leaves that for the delightful harmonica/guitar interplay.
This is far too early for me to make a considered judgement as to selecting a Favourite Song; Hell’s Bell’s ……. I haven’t even played this in the car yet!
But; so far the intense and intricate Straight To Hell doesn’t sound anything like anything I’ve heard on Stacie’s previous releases; which has to be a good thing.
The cheeky giggle that starts Stuck In a Ditch gives an already doozy of a Twang infested Country Rocker one extra point; but I keep being dragged back to the Harmonica laden I Can’t Take It, as it is as good a song as Stacie and Al have ever recorded …….. man; there’s plenty of young Lady Rockers out there who could learn a lot about a singer and songwriter’s craft from this one song alone; and the band behind her ain’t too shabby either.
We all have acts like Stacie Collins in our collections; personal Favourites who we firmly believe should be Superstars; yet are still trawling the Clubs around the world barely scratching a living.
It’s not too late, that’s for sure ……. as Stacie Collins may have just released her most balanced album to date; and with the Western World all in ‘Lockdown’ of one sort or another; this might actually be the best time to release DAMN GIRL! as fans can actually kick back and let Stacie Collins take you to a secret place where only you and her songs matter.

Released September 20th 2020


Bruce Springsteen LETTER TO YOU (Single)

Bruce Springsteen
Columbia Records

Any Bruce Springsteen release has to be celebrated; doesn’t it?
Add to that release the fact that he’s getting the gang together again i.e The E Street Band!
Well; what’s not to like? …….. break out the imported beer kids!

Bruce Springsteen’s new studio album with the E Street Band, ‘Letter To You’, will be released by Columbia Records on 23rd October.
A rock album fuelled by the band’s heart-stopping, house-rocking signature sound, the 12-track ‘Letter To You’ is Springsteen’s 20th studio album and was recorded at his home studio in New Jersey.
“I love the emotional nature of ‘Letter To You,’” says Springsteen.
“And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.”

‘Letter to You’ includes nine recently written Springsteen songs as well as new recordings of three of his legendary, but previously unreleased 1970’s compositions, ‘Janey Needs a Shooter,’ ‘If I Was the Priest’ and ‘Song for Orphans.’ Springsteen is joined on ‘Letter To You’ by Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano and Jake Clemons. The album was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig. ‘Letter To You’ is Springsteen’s first performance with the E Street Band since ‘The River’ 2016 tour, which was named the year’s top global tour by both Billboard and Pollstar.


1. One Minute You’re Here
2. Letter To You
3. Burnin’ Train
4. Janey Needs A Shooter
5. Last Man Standing
6. The Power Of Prayer
7. House Of A Thousand Guitars
8. Rainmaker
9. If I Was The Priest
10. Ghosts
11. Song For Orphans
12. I’ll See You In My Dreams 

Album released October 23rd
Pre-Order here https://brucespringsteenstoreuk.com/

Stray Cats ROCKED THIS TOWN: From LA to London.

The Stray Cats
Rocked this town: From LA to London
Surfdog Records

A Loud, Frenetic Look, Both Backwards and Forward.

I sometimes ask myself – what is the point of a live album?
To answer that, I usually consider the following:

  1. Is it a good souvenir of a show and a band?
    “Rocked this Town: From LA to London” is most certainly that – recorded across their 40th anniversary tour across a number of dates, it still manages to sound like one show with a well-paced track listing spanning the band’s career from the eponymous opener to the latest “40”.
  2. Does it have the hits?
    Yep – “Rock This Town,” “Runaway Boys,” “Stray Cat Strut” and more are played with gusto and energy and in the case of the latter, considerable swing too.
    Standout album tracks that I wasn’t previously aware of are in there too, such as “Double Talkin’ Baby” which sounds as fresh and sharp as ever. But ………. “(She’s) Sexy and Seventeen” feels a bit problematic to me (and me too Ed!) though; given the fact that the band aren’t anywhere near 17 any more; and this is 2020 after all. ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’? I hope not; it just sounds ‘wrong’ on a number of levels; and as there really is so many other great tracks here; the world wouldn’t have missed it if it had been left in the dim and distant past. .
  3. Does it sound the same as the records?
    It’s recognisably the Stray Cats; but Brian Setzer’s guitar and vocal attack are a double-edged weapon – both sounding sharp AND gritty.
    The Rocker-Phantom rhythm section are as dependable energetic and driving as ever, with the added adrenaline that a live recording and years of playing gives.
    The mix is loud and lively and the production is tight yet expansive.
  4. Does it have atmosphere?
    In spades – not so much in terms of hearing the audience who are mixed a bit distantly, but in the frenetic rumble-tumble of rhythm and interplay, the shouts of delight and auditory nods and winks between the band and the clear respect between the players.
    They may have gone off and played the field, but together is where the Stray Cats magic happens.
  5. Does it have any extra or unusual tracks?
    The solo “Cannonball Rag” and the fiery “Miserlou” (of which the late Dick Dale would be proud) add variety, as does the “Hot Rod Lincoln”-esque “Gene and Eddie”, a musical and lyrical tribute to Messrs Vincent & Cochran.
    “My One Desire” is also available on the digital and vinyl versions of the release (but not on my review copy!)
  6. Highlights?
    “Blast off” is a raucous delight which sounds better than the studio version; and the scat vocals of “Fishnet Stockings” and syncopated interplay take it into different areas.
    The newer tracks like “Rock It Off” and “Too Hip, Gotta Go” venture at times into an exciting rockabilly Chocolate Watch Band garage-punk hybrid.
  7. Verdict?
    As well as looking back into the past, this live recording looks forward into the future – which suggest there’s still a lot of life in the old Cats yet!

Review by Nick Barber
Released 11th September 2020
Buy Don’t Spotify http://straycats.com/pre-order-stray-cats-new-live-album-rocked-this-town-from-la-to-london/


Willie Nile
New York at Night

Enough Coiled Energy to Actually Light Up NYC.

A wop-bopaloo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom! New York is rockin’!
That’s the opening track from the new Willie Nile album and it gets you out of your seat from the off – it name-checks the Ramones and Carnegie hall and several dozen other NYC glitterati with a bouncy singalong clap your hands boogie.
There’s barely time for breath and we’re into the bluesier “The Backstreet Slide” to a fast-medium train beat.
Track three and it’s time for a breather with the funkier groove of “Doors of paradise” which simultaneously evokes the Clash and Hall & Oates in delivery and melody.
“Lost and Lonely World” is straight out of the Levellers’ playbook with the anthemic double tracked opening vocals and hey-oh refrain, but takes its lyrical inspiration from Manhattan’s lonely suburbia rather than the Peace camps at Greenham Common.
Willie Nile treats his subject(s) in cinematic widescreen, always with one eye on the bigger picture, but enough focus on the details to conjure up the street detail.
That’s clear on “The Fool Who Drank the Ocean”, a mid-paced narrative stomper telling tales of mistakes made and its emotional reverse “A Little Bit of Love” which offers up hope for the future in a romantic partnership. Title track “New York at Night” returns to the sentiments and musical style of the opener, celebrating the metropolis at its most magical, and inspirational – and it’s a communal singalong celebration that offers fine air guitar (and drum) possibilities too.
“The Last Time We Made Love” takes the listener down into fragile, broken emotional piano-ballad territory; there’s a mixture of loss and joy in the lyrics, as befits the album as a whole.
“Surrender the Moon” lists nocturnal behaviour and dress – with the listener having to join the dots between the soundbites to make sense of the anecdotes set to a rushing rhythm.
“Under This Roof” starts as a solo acoustic strum and builds a tale of modest beginnings and emotional growth, whereas “Downtown Girl” is a celebration of people watching with a girl who’s quite a fully-drawn strong character herself.
The album ends with “Run Free” which is reminiscent in feel and rhythm to The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” with its running bass and piano underscoring a paean to a dream that is simultaneously universal and uniquely American in scope.
Willie Nile may have been devilled with music biz troubles earlier in his career, but he’s obviously bottled that coiled energy as it’s still pouring out of him in 2020 – “New York at Night” is an album that will leave you joyously breathless.

Review by Nick Barber aka EFSB Photographer to the Stars.
Released 15th May 2020
Buy here – https://willie-nile.myshopify.com/collections/2020-pledge-campain

The 81s 2 THINGS and 118 OTHERS

The 81s
Independent Self-Released

Middle-Aged Kicks, So Hard To Beat!

Now that the World is really going to Hell in a handcart, RMHQ has cranked the office stereo up to 11 and decided that only nasty Rock & Roll will do for our daily soundtrack ……. and it’s fair to say The 81’s fit the bill perfectly well.
Basically a collaboration between songwriter and producer Thomas Sterling and Nashville stalwart Mr Timothy Carroll esq. plus a couple of mates. Somehow I missed their first two albums; but have made up for lost time playing the Bejasus out of this one over the last three days!
Opening track Michael (End of the Line) builds and builds like a sea fog, with Tim Carroll (metaphorically) cupping the microphone so you don’t miss a word as the searing guitars and pneumatic rhythm section try to blow the speakers behind him.
YAY! This is already my kinda Rock & Roll.
Bizarrely for Rock of this ilk, the actual songs are to the fore, courtesy of Sterling’s neat production and Carroll’s powerful drawl ……. listen or be damned!
She Don’t Want Me and Mind Bender remind me of 1980’s American Post-Punk; just before Grunge kicked in. There’s even a melody fighting through the somewhat dazed and confused haze; as Cameron Carrus uses his bass like it’s a blunt weapon.
I don’t think anyone here is fantasising about playing The Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury or even Madison Square Garden; this is the type of sneering and sweaty music that is best heard in a dingy club with a light show bought off E-Bay and warm beer sold by the bottle.
Every song goes straight for your throat in a way I haven’t heard for years; although The Yayhoos and perhaps The Vandoliers probably come real close recently.
I can just about remember what it would feel like for a teenager to hear Four Way Stop or Nuke Laloosh for the very first time ……. you know? Eyes bulging and jaw hanging loose; then pressing ‘repeat’ 17 times in a row, until your Dad shouts “Turn that racket down!”
But; that’s not to say Dad’s won’t get this too; especially ones who still wear original Tom Petty or Neil Young t-shirts; especially Is This All You Got and Curb.
What to choose as a Favourite Song? Album closer Need To Believe is an obvious contender, and the hairy guitar solo will make your head swivel if you ever hear it on Planet Rock one afternoon; yet I also keep coming back to the brooding Camino de Santiago which coolly sits in the middle of the album and allows you to get your breath back; but with my fingers crossed I’m picking Hostage, for no other reason than it’s a great song wrapped in an even greater melody and backbeat ……. it ROCKS!
Back to the t-shirt ‘thing’; I despair when I see geezers my age wearing them featuring the bands they grew up listening to; as in general these people pay whole fortunes to see their heroes (accompanied by sidemen who weren’t even born when the hits were coming) at huge arenas; when bands like The 81’s are playing a bar or club across town for 10% of those crazy ticket prices; and are a damn sight more relevent in every which way.
Check out The 81’s ……. they will Rock your socks off.

Released March 27th 2020.

Chickenbone Slim SLEEPER

Chickenbone Slim
Lo Fi Mob Records

If The Fonz Had a Son, And That Son Had a Band ……

Chickenbone Slim is/was the nom de plume for Larry Tevez who’s 2017 album The Big Beat made it into the RMHQ Albums of 2017; but now appears to be the actual Band Name; which is no hardship at all.
As I’ve listened to that previous album over the last couple of years and again with SLEEPER, I’ve decided that Chickenbone Slim is the actual definitive Americana ‘sound’ we all stretch to describe.
How’s that? You may ask.
Well; Tevez and his bandmates sound like the type of crew who play most nights of the week in everything from Dive bars through Honky Tonks and County Fairs; whenever anyone will book them; meaning they can play the Blues one night, Country the next and full on Western Swing on Saturday; all with pretty much the same set-list; and make it all sound seamlessly authentic.
You just have to be a fan of great music to love opening track Vampire Baby, which sounds like a cross between Elvis at his sleaziest and Stray Cats ballad; with the outcome being a humdinger!
The tempo gets cranked up on the next song Tougher Than That; but the mood stays sleazy and ‘ornery; with plenty of sizzling geetar and howlin’ harmonica too.
As I alluded to earlier this sounds much more like a road-hardened band effort than the last album; with Andrew Crane on bass and Marty Dodson’s drumming often reminding me of the military precision of the Tennessee Two; especially on Ride and The Ballad of Dick; but it’s fair to say they are the spine of this fabulous disc from start to finish.
I’m out of touch with what my Rockabilly friends are into these days; but because they like Wayne the Train Hancock and JD McPherson I’m pretty sure they will love Chickenbone Slim too when he unleashes the sultry My Bad Luck and These Things Happen as well as the eminently danceable Dignity too; plus all three and a few more are well worth listening too on headphones too as Teves is quite the articulate and thoughtful songwriter too.
It’s not often I consider an instrumental as my Favourite Track, but if it wasn’t for the amazing Little Victory and ‘that’ thumping Bass line; Strolling With Chickenbone could easily have been the winner; but I can’t stop myself putting Little Victory and it’s deep lyrics actually being the Official RMHQ Favourite Song on a nigh perfect album.
There’s a little bit of something here for everyone and if you have en the tiniest ‘open mind’ ……. this album will knock your socks off.

Released March 2nd 2020

Tami Neilson CHICKABOOM!

Tami Nielsen
Outside Music

Dynamic Next Step in an Exciting and Colourful Career.

A colourful and dynamic live performer, the challenge for Tami Neilson is to encapsulate that vivacity in the recorded medium.
Opener “Call your mama” is a song that wouldn’t sound amiss performed by the Cramps, although here the production is much more mainstream and shows off Tami’s Wanda Jackson-esque pipes nicely.
“Hey Bus Driver!” and “Ten Truck” are united in their transport fetishism – again the production focuses on highlighting the vocals, which leaves the backing lacking in a scuzzy or extravagant edge that the songs might have benefited from.
“You were mine” delights in a twangy and spacey sound and this is complemented by a howling vocal that really lifts it. This convergence of instrumental and vocal aggression in the production shines again in “16 Miles of Chain” and “Tell me that you love me”.
“Any fool with a heart” is a lovely tune, but the production doesn’t seem to know whether to focus on the harmonies or the rhythm guitar. (personally, I’d have gone for the harmonies.)
“Sister Mavis” is a name-check song that has the kind of call and response suited for the live arena, but sounds a bit repetitive in recorded form.
The album closes with “Sleep”, where the vocal/instrumental balance really works to best effect.
Overall, an album best played loud to get the best of it.

Guest Review by Nick Barber
Released 14th February 2020