|The New York Tapes, Chris Helbling
Chris Helbling was born in Zurich, Switzerland. Since his childhood he loves, plays and lives rock 'n' roll. He is the lead singer of the Zurich Rockabilly Band "The T-Bones" and this is his first solo album. He recorded his self-penned songs during his 15-months stay in New York. Chris is multi-talented, he not only composed, wrote and arranged his songs, he also played all the instruments by himself.
The CD cover of Chris' solo album is really something else! A beautiful cardboard three-fold with a lot of pictures. The photos are mostly of Christof and his guitar and can easily be looked upon as "Ten Great Ways To Hold Your Acoustic Guitar". Just kidding of course, I hope the music is as good as the cover promises, but I must say that the pink label which says "Acoustic Rockabilly" makes me frown a bit. Wasn't it Charlie Feathers who once said "Rockabilly is a lead guitar, a rhythm guitar and a upright bass. Real true rockabilly... well you get too carried away till a drummer can't keep up with it!" And believe me, with "a lead guitar" he difinitly meant an electric lead guitar.
So let's hear what Christof has to offer. The opener "Cruisin' Down To Louisiana" sounds promising, a bit like the early Elvis Sun Recordings, but without Scotty's electrifying guitar. "Wild, Wild Guy" is not nearly as wild as the title implies. For real wild rockabilly I guess you need a scorching Fender and a hard hitting drummer. Both are missing. The next song is a tribute to Eddie Cochran titled "Eddie Left Albert Lee", and it's a ballad. I don't think Chris' voice is quite cut out for ballads though.
"King of the Road" is a bit speedier, but I still only hear a rhythm guitar. Where are the bass and drums that Chris claims he played himself as well? "El Paso" is standard country and a long way from rockabilly. Next is "Old Shep", the song we know best by Elvis Presley, and honestly, I never liked it, and it's certainly not rockabilly. On "Hot Rod Gal With A Flag" we finally get some bass, but unfortunatly it sounds as if it was digitally generated on a computer or synthesizer. Next, two more ballads and a very slow version of "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone", followed by a faster version of the same song, a little bit faster, but not nearly rockabilly enough. And then two more ballads, again...
Can you make rockabilly with only an acoustic guitar? Maybe, but this is not it. Too much of the same, to slow and too many ballads. Chris wrote to me "It would be great if you could write (a hopefully positive) review about my CD". I'm sorry I can not comply, because the thing I liked best about this album is the cover.
Vocals & all instruments (Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Bass, Drums, Percussion) by Chris Helbling.
Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2005