|Boppin' Sparky & The Sparkle-Billies, Kevin Fennell
Windsor Music BMI, 2009
Ohwwww yeah.. My favorite guitar slinger is back with an all rockabilly album! After releasing a great blues album "It's All Blues Baby" in 2008, Kevin Fennell is back on the rockabilly track! And yes, all his rocking friends are there too... Ray Campi on Slapping Bass, Joel Gossman on Bluesharp, Luther Jackson on Fender Bass, and DJ Bonebrake on Drums. For the occasion, the band's name is changed to Boppin' Sparky & The Sparkle Billies. And you can believe me, when Kevin is picking the strings, there's Sparks flying everywhere!
The opener is a fast paced rockabilly track, with Ray plucking the Bull Fiddle, titled "Mama Guitar". A song we know from the 1957 movie called "A Face In The Crowd", performed by Andy Griffith. What a way to start an album, lightning fast guitar picking by the master.
"Rock-A-Billy Rock-A-Holic" is a typical Fennell song, very fast, and I hope nobody ever asks me for the lyrics (well I can always ask Kevin of course). Great rockabilly, but not for the fainthearted. On "Goddamn Whiskey" the pace is slowed down a bit, very catchy rhythm on this song Kevin wrote with his wife Georgia. "Riverboat Gambler" is a bit of a story telling blue grass tune, although still uptempo.
Ray Charles' 1960 classic "Georgia On My Mind", written by Hoagy Carmichael in 1930, got the Kevin Fennell make-over. It is the official state song of the U.S. state of Georgia, but you'll have a hard time recognising it LOL. "Pain In The Saddle Again" is an instrumental (mainly) with lots of wizardry by this grey haired guitar demon.
You're Fired!! "Boom Bang What A Hang" is changing rhythms again, very twangy, with great harp sounds by Joel 'Powerharp' Gossman. "Guitar Nuts", only 1:44 mins, is Kevin showing off his tricks and not really a rockabilly song, but hey... you gotta respect the man's skills. It's followed by a bluesy song titled "Empty Bottle Blues", which of course is the worst kind of blues you can get! Painfully demonstrated by the howling sounds of Kevin's guitar. But rest assured, the bar's open again at 6!
"Tennessee" is an uptempo country-billy song, that switches to rockabilly along the way. And we go on with the rockabilly rave up on "Don't Chump Me Off", a song that reminds a bit of Joe Clay's "Ducktail" (if you mess with my ducktail, I'll get so mad at you).
"How The West Was Won" from the 1962 movie with the same name is my favorite song from this album, this instrumental (written by Alfred Newman and Ken Darby) has that dark and weary spaghetti western sound that'll get the hairs in your neck straight up. Great tune to close another memorable album in the long list of Kevin's releases.
Kev says about this new album: "This is the longest amount of time I have ever taken on a CD. Most of the stuff was recorded in december 2008, but after some major setbacks (technical and otherwise) through no fault of my own, IT'S DONE!"
Personally I really do like Kevin's style, be it Rockabilly, Jazz or Blues, although it's quite often a long way "off the beaten path"... love him or hate him, you can bet Kevin puts in a lot of Soul and hard work to make each and every album another "Fennell Special".
Boppin' Sparky & The Sparkle Billies are:
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Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2009