Cruisin To The 50's, Steve Byers
Rockin Country Publishing

Steve Byers is an artist. Steve has a BA in Fine Art from San Jose State University, painting and drawing concentration. He is also a musician, singer, songwriter and publisher. Steve has performed in California for many years and he is currently living in the San Diego area. As an artist he writes, produces and performs the vocals as well as playing all instruments. Lead guitar, bass, drums and Hawaiian Lap Guitar. Born into a family of musicians his grandfather, who was from Hawaii, was also a musician playing Lap Guitar. Steve is influenced mainly, as he states himself, by Merle Haggard, Marty Stuart, Dwight Yoakam, Elvis Presley and Rick Nelson. His mission is to bring to the public quality music and art work.

And here we have Steve's latest project, the CD "Cruisin To The 50's", a ten track rock 'n' roll platter, produced by himself for his own company "Rockin Country Publishing". For me it was the first I heard from Steve, but then again, I live in Holland, not California, USA. So maybe some or many of you have heard or seen artwork by Steve before. For starters, I think Steve is a hell of an artist. Writing, producing, singing and playing all instruments himself. Hats off! One thing though, from an artist with a 'degree' in painting and drawing you would expect a more artistic CD inlay. Although there is a very nice hod rod car on the front cover, it's not very artistic at all. But hey, I'm no art critic in any way, I'm just a rockbilly nut and from that perspective, I will try to review Steve's music.

The CD starts off with the title song "Cruisin To The 50's", a country styled rock 'n' roll song about all the things that really matter to the dedicated 50s fan; cars, girls, beaches and hot summer nights. A pretty nice song, played in a tempo to which you could do the walk, with a Chuck Berry influenced lead guitar. Next is "Saturday Night" is a true rocker, uptempo and a bit heavier on the guitar. "Hillbilly Bird" is, as the title would suggest, a country song about a girl and it is followed by "She Wears High Heel Shoes And A Low Neck Sweater," about a girl who wants to be a movie star. Although this song has all the ingredients of a rock 'n' roll song, it's rather slow. "American Boy" picks up the pace again, a good rockabilly song, too bad Steve uses an electric bass guitar, because this song would sound a lot better with a greasy doghouse bass.

"Rockin Down The Block" is a rock 'n' roll ballad about the history of rock. It mentions our long lost heroes, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, then moves over to the sixties with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Vietnam war. From the 70s to the 90s there's talk about disco, punk and rap. And at the end the singer finds that in the new millenium a new beat generation is singing brand new rockin' songs. Although I bet you will agree with me that many of the afore mentioned music styles are not compatible for the hardcore rockabilly fan, it's a very nice song indeed.

"Them Ole Blue Suede Shoes" is another rockabilly track and I must mention again that the tempo is a bit too slow for my taste, it rocks, but it won't wear you out boppin' to it. "The Next Thousand Years" is a follow up to "Rockin' Down The Block", this time looking into the future. "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll" and "Don't Come Knockin" are two more uptempo rock 'n' roll songs, the latter, together with "Saturday Night", being my favourites from this album.

In general, I must say I respect the way Steve handles just about everything from writing to performing to producing, but there's something essential missing from his music: heartbreak, anxiety, aggression. What I'm trying to say is, that the songs are too clean and too perfect. Rock 'n' roll should come straight from the heart, without thinking about what you are doing and watching every note, and I must conclude that Steve is a great musician, but not really a rocker in heart and soul.

OUT NOW: New CD-single "Freight Train" / "When Cool Was Born"

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Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2000
Additional information by Steve Byers