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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Vince and the Sun Boppers
By Request 
(Rhythm Bomb Records)

Sicilian rockers so enamored of the sounds and manners that arose in that Americana moment when country kicked into high and merged with the rhythms of bluesmen that they let it fly all over the place.

Recommended: "Ransom of Love," "Bye To the City," "Rock Along With Me," "Wait A Minute Baby," "The One To Blame," "Long Time Gone"

Video: Promo samples

Rodney Gene Junior
California Gypsy

Assemble a roomful of tip-top talent and this will result: A sprawling panorama as comfortable waxing ruminative as leaping to its feet. All thanks to the man on the marquee.

Recommended: "Spanish Rum Barrel" (feat. Paul Pigat and Dave Leroy Biller), "The Speeder" (feat. Redd Volkaert), "Nash Chic" (feat. Chris Casello), "Summertone Boogie" (feat. Pat Capocci), "California Gypsy" (feat. Tommy Harkenrider and Dave Leroy Biller), "Sundown In Bordertown," "Surf Shack Blues" (feat. R.J. Ronquillo), "Roses In a Boxcar," "Sophie's Dream" (feat. TK Smith, Redd Volkaert, and Dave Leroy Biller), "My Sunny Gal" (feat. Dave Leroy Biller)

Assorted video samples:

The Red Beans and Rice Combo
Let the Joy Begin! (Bonedog)

Way down deep in the Land of Blues and Queens, whose select oxygen they nightly inhale. Electric sharpness unfeigned demands tipped brims, shining eyes, bent knees.

Recommended: "Blue Drag," "Mardi Gras In New Orleans," "A Chicken Ain't Nothin' Nut a Bird," "I An't Drunk," "Such a Night"

Video: 5-song performance promo

Nick's Airlines
Sky Pirates (self)

It's surely so that how to most effectively pack this much vim into sleek rocket-firings is a secret known only to ardent blitz perpetrators. Those without clique IDs can only gape, dig, and stomp.

Recommended: "Sky Pirates," "Everybody's Singin' the Blues," "Surfin' the West" (feat. Diego Naretto), "Get Away," "It's Okay, It's Alright"

Video: "Everybody's Singin' the Blues"

Monday, June 11, 2018

Secret Hearts [Rockats]
s/t (Headcat)

This 1984 effort to repackage the Rockats as pop modernists of haute Duran/Flock calibre fell flat, though only commercially. The playing was stimulative and tight, knowing in its taut dispatch, and Pete Solley's production was suitably glossy without overbearance. (Two tracks were mixed by Jellybean Benitez.)

Far and away, the top selling point was golden-throated Dibbs Preston's masterful songcraft. His appreciation of popular music's history, fresh inclinations, and melody-faithful potential for engaging all within dancing distance shined spectacularly. 

Guitarist Danny B. Harvey advised via Facebook this disc will also be available in digital form at Amazon and itunes.

See below for a 1984 John Seminerio piece, reprinted from NYC fanzine Rebel Rouser; it quotes guitarist Barry Ryan in this moment.

All tracks recommended: "Make That Move," "Living In the Shadows," "Get You Alone," "Illusions of Grandeur," "Moment of Madness," "One More Heartache," Won't Be Lonely," "Heart Full of Soul," "Kool and Krazy," "Show No Fear" (Bonus track), "Slow Down" (Bonus track)


"Make That Move"

"Won't Be Lonely"

"Living In the Shadows"

"Get You Alone"

"Illusions of Grandeur"

"Kool and Krazy"

John Seminerio / Rebel Rouser, July 1984:

I talked to Barry Ryan of the Rockats on 7/11 (it was a busy day) to see what was up with the band. I asked about the rumoured change over. Barry told me "The Rockats are a dead issue. The name of the new band is Secret Hearts."

Are there going to be any personnel changes?

"As far as I know, it's the same guys. We have a record coming out on July 17th. It's on MCA. The sound is very contemporary rock'n'roll."

I asked if it was like Make That Move.

"We were on our way, with songs like 'Burning.' Now, we're there. We'll be playing as the Rockats this Saturday (7/24) and at the Pep, on the 28th."

I asked if we'd be hearing any Secret Hearts stuff at the upcoming gigs.

"No, that wouldn't be right. People are there to see the Rockats. We won't be playing as Secret Hearts until September."

I asked if the band had any definite plans.

"It's too early to tell. If nobody likes it, there's no point playing it."

"I'm busy playing with Lucky Seven [Barry's side band]. I'm playing with Vinny and Kevin from the BMTs, and Kenny from Mink DeVille. We're playing Trax on July 27th."

You hate to see bands you love change or close shop. Since nobody grows by staying the same, Rebel Rouser wishes nothing but the best to Secret Hearts. Here's to bigger and better success to Barry and the rest of the band.


 (From Tiger Beat, not long before name switch.)

Eric Heatherly
Eric Heatherly's Matchbook rendezvous (self)

Eric made worthwhile music even back when timorous label stiffs insisted on packaging him as a formulaic construct. But it was after breaking creatively restricting corporate chains that he really hit stride. 

Going through that period at that time [of early 2000s major label worriments] was very disheartening, he told Country State Line, in 2010. It was an awakening to me, realizing that music was a business, and not just music. And so, I got caught up in some bad contracts and some record labels that folded and merged with other labels. And my records and my heart just got locked up in vaults...

The way I look at it now is, it's not what happened to me, it's what happened for me. Because I learned from it, I got some good songs from it, and I'm a better person.

Eric funded this recording through a successful Indiegogo campaign. The Crossville-Chronicle noted last month that "Heatherly recorded and produced his latest release on vintage, analog equipment inside a rundown, historic 1930s pharmacy building in Nashville."

Robust songs like these -- rooted in Americana past, but of contemporary attitude and broad ambitiousness -- might never have passed corner-window suits' scrutiny -- which only recommends them more.

Recommended: "The Road Song (Route 66 Revisited)," "Soul Bossa Nova," "Rumba," "Don't Quit Your Day Job (Convo With Dino," "Quando Quando Quando," "Christmas To Me (Birds and Bees)"

No videos were available at this writing. This is a previous song live clip:

The Hard Rollin' Daddies
Just What You Need
(Hard Rollin' Daddies / Bfs Records)

Capable of slappin' exclamations rivaling any bop cats extant, but conversant, too, in surrounding idioms. Nothin' special done well is a form of specialness, and merits searching out.

Recommended: "When You Were Fine." "I've Changed My Ways," "Honey, I'm Home," "I Couldn't Leave You If I Tried," "Rebel Without a Tattoo"

Video: "When You Were Fine"