Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hot Rod Hucksters "Party at Sam's Place"

( (GUEST REVIEW BY JOHN BATTLES) The first rule , it seems, to being a modern Rockabilly band, is you've got to sound like PUSSIES. I was around when The Stray Cats ruled the roost for about a year, and Rockabilly bands were springing up like so many pigeon turds at the Uptown Chicago train stations. The hell of it is, a lot of them could have taken the current crop down to the mat, contrived as they may have been. The Hot Rod Hucksters prove to be an exception on their new CD, which was recorded at Sun Studio (that may sound a wee bit precious to some but, they played the room, the room did'nt play them). The result is an uncharacteristically stripped-down latter-day billy bash. Some strong originals here, but it's mostly covers associated with Sun Records or the era in which it peaked. Standouts include "Love Me" by The Phantom, wilder than you think , and Charlie Feathers' later recording, "Rain".  "Boozer" is a standout original by guest vocalist and  pianist Tim's the only time you'll hear the "F" word on this CD, and he takes his sweet time getting there. Another special guest at this session is Lisa Manson from The Dyes, Chicago's most promising young Rockabilly/Garage/ Children of Lux and Ivy band out there today. Lisa lends her most howlin' and wailin'est Wandafied vocals to Elvis' badass blues "Trouble" (based, of course, on Jackie DeShannon's "Bad Girl" version), Johnny Powers' "New Spark," and even "That's All Right," the one that started it all (Dan Kroha told me Muddy Waters' "I Can't Be Satisfied" was actually the first Rockabilly song, but I'll make bet it was Leadbelly's "Defense Blues"). The Hot Rod Hucksters play with genuine fervor and, there's that word again, rawness, but not at the cost of their own professionality. I want to tell America, these are good boys, and they play the HELL out of that Rockabilly music. (Apologies to Mike Stax)

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