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Friday, August 28, 2015

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages
"Under the Savage Sky" (Bloodshot)
In each ringing note, chunkablock riff, and snapped-tight downbeat of this open-faced party-on-disc thrives the undeniable truth that the men on deck are so intimately proficient in and just plain in love with rock'n'roll's capacity for uplift that it would be an injustice of brobdingnagian breadth for them to be doing anything other than this right here.

The jumped-up happy sprawl, the loose-limbed, knockout jukin'-under-carbonated-stars natural kicks -- every reeling stutter-step is a bonded blowout. 

There is knuckle-poppin' R&B, and there is soul afoot; there is the full-on, non-stop scintillation of a planet electrified; and there is stripped down, hot rod rock'n'roll so compelling as to immediately entrance whole jitter-bop legions of midnight thrill grabbers. 

The gate is flung back, the band charges forth at loud gallop, and everyone in the house is a stone celebrant.

Recommended "Willow," "The Claw," "Rock and Roll Baby," "Angry Hands," "The Wolf Pack," 

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Side 1 - Reach Around Rodeo Clowns "Boomerang"
Side 2 - Danny B. Harvey and Annie Marie Harvey "Memphis Stroll"

With this maiden release in its "52 singles in 52 Weeks" effort, Lanark Records has set an enviable standard. 

The singles concept establishes an old-school vibe confluent with the classical rock'n'roll, blues musics so deftly essayed. Just as the fact that these singles are to be available only in digital format, and the modern sensibility which which traditional idioms are interpreted, reflect identical contemporary acknowledgement. 

Led by animated guitarist and Lanark Records head Quentin Jones, the Reach Around Rodeo Clowns open. Their hard-charging cover of "Boomerang," from '80s NYC neo-rockabillies Buzz and the Flyers, honors that cool original while replacing its loose, good-natured country-bop with carbonated combustibility and big, blazing guitar. Strategic handclaps, Wendell Jones' rowdy, confident vocals, and Quentin's frenetic fretboard demolitions would rock any Seeburg jukebox to smithereens. Sitting in and firing up are ace drummer Liberty Devitto (Meatloaf, Billy Joel, Carly Simon) and Dave Roe, bassist-extraordinaire for Johnny Cash, Robert Gordon, Dwight Yoakam, and John Mellencamp.

The side two cut, "Memphis Stroll," was produced by internationally acclaimed guitar master Danny B. Harvey. Harvey (who has for decades toiled with Headcat, the Rockats, Wanda Jackson, Nancy Sinatra, and too many other significant outfits to count) is joined here by new wife Annie Marie Harvey nee Lewis, niece of Mr. Jerry Lee. The two married earlier this year, joining the historic American rock'n'roll dynasties.

"Memphis Stroll" is a leisurely, swiped blues that derives enrichment from Annie Marie's breathy narration and Danny's immediately recognizable, first- chair guitar. Soon into the low-key nightfall passage enters smokily ambient, minimalist piano. Shut your eyes, and you can feel the music-throbbed, cracked sidewalk beneath your scuffed boots.

Reach Around Rodeo Clowns   

Danny B. Harvey/Annie Marie Harvey

Lanark Records

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Dave Edmunds
"On Guitar...Dave Edmunds: Rags and Classics" (RPM)

The story of legendary guitar-slinger Dave Edmund's artistic arc is one of exaltation, enrichment, and grand evolution. It isn't every musician's journey. But it is Dave's, and a superb and admirable one it is.

In the 1970s and 1980s, he went through brash rocker, power pop, and new wave periods as refreshing as they were influential. With one boot in the pub rock scene and the other in a burgeoning rockabilly revival, the irrepressible Welshman with the leather-tooled drawl blazed his lightning-bolted way from Love Sculptre to solo acclaim, from Rockpile renown to still further solo scintillation and, most recently, revered pantheon status.

Classics from that period are now recommended study in rock'n'roll classrooms the world over: "Sabre Dance," his 1970 cover of Smiley Lewis's "I Hear You Knocking,"  "Queen of Hearts," "Girls Talk," "Bad Is Bad," "I Knew the Bride," "Knife and Fork," "Slippin' Away."

And over the decades, Dave Edmunds's instinctive bent for rock'n'roll perfect pitch earned him abundant production demand. In fact, many and sundry are the major names who benefitted from his production ear: Shakin' Stevens and the Sunsets, Brinsley Schwarz, Ducks Deluxe, the Flamin' Groovies, Paul McCartney. King Kurt, the Stray Cats, Fabulous Thunderbirds, and others. 

Those decades saw Edmunds winning in various stylistic modes, though his fine efforts all shared righteous rock'n'roll grounding. The all-instrumental "On Guitar...Dave Edmunds: Rags and Classics" is the culmination of a career quite well spent. The star not only engineered and produced, but played every instrument, as well.

Having long since proved himself as a stormy rocker, Edmunds today has let up on the accelerator to explore an impressive range of musical area populated by Merle Travis, the Beach Boys, Elton John, Booker T and the MGs, Kate Bush, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

And while I've long had a profound appreciation for Edmunds's trademark swaggering rock'n'roll output, and never for a single moment doubted his amazing fretwork abilities, I was stunned by the majesty and fulfilled ambitiousness, here. 

At each passage unfolding - some tenderly articulate, others imposingly declarative - the listener is reminded that true musical power lies not only in bombast or volume, but even more spectacularly and compellingly in wisely-measured, educated application.

Dave plays all instruments with appropriate regard for their places in the whole. And it is greatly to his credit that, as producer, he ensures a harmoniousness in which each part advances the triumph of the whole.

Gentle, melodic narrative and lush, placid backdrop can provoke emotions and imaginings not likely to bloom from ear-shattering gallop. Maturity lends a richness, a seriousness to endeavors. One knows when a master speaks.

And Dave Edmunds, once a careening rocker who knew exactly how to knock a house down, today can contrive palaces.

Recommended "I Believe I Can Fly,"Black Mountain Rag," "Classical Gas," "Symphony No. 40 In G Minor, Molto Allegro (Mozart)," "God Only Knows," "A Whiter Shade of Pale"