|In the Garden of Love, Lil' Esther and her Tinstars
Rarity Records C192706
Fourteen years later, and still Esther has the appearance of a rockabilly vamp. Just looking at the cover of this CD will make the blood of many rockabilly fan run hot. And it's not just her appearance, if her looks didn't kill you, her voice will surely knock you off your feet. I saw Lil' Esther live on stage for the first time in 1988 on the annual D-Day at the Cruise-Inn in Amsterdam. She was one of the three singers of The Bugaloos, I still have the pictures in my scapbook and next to them I wrote "Wow!". That said it all, I've been a fan ever since. Their first album, just titled "The Bugaloos", was released in 1990 on the Rockhouse label, followed by "In The Mood" in 1991 on the Spanish Welcome label (licensed to Rockhouse in 1993).
It wasn't till June of this year that I saw Ester on stage again at the Rocking Ballhouse Reunion in Utrecht (Holland). She and her band the Tinstars were the support act for the ever great Freddie 'Fingers' Lee. I was as much impressed as I was back then. With her great looks and a voice like Patsy Cline, this girl puts on quite a show.
And now our vamp from The Hague (Holland) has released her full length solo debut on Rarity Records, backed by The Tinstars, with 18 well picked hot rockin' and jivin' cover songs, plus two original tracks written by the inimitable Don Cavalli. Starting off with a marvelous rendition of Mimi Roman's classic rockabilly song "Little Lovin'" the mood is set for the evening. The title track "Garden of Love", written by Don Cavalli, is a gracious crooner, just right for Esther's voice. More excellent songs pass the revue, among which Skeets McDonald's "You're There", Dorsey Burnette's "Let's Fall In Love", Edwin Bruce's "Rock Boppin' Baby" (in the Collins Kids' arrangement), the Collins Kids own "Mercy", but the one I love best of all is Hadda Brooks' ever beautiful "Jump Back, Honey Jump Back". A song us rockabilly fans know best, of course, through Gene Vincent's timeless cover version of 1956.
The Tinstars are pretty well known on the rockabilly scene, having backed many rockabilly originators over the past years, rocking all over the world. And again they do a superb job on this album. I must send out a compliment to Hans van Haarlem of Rarity Records too, this being another fantastic release, Rarity is absolutely the best label nowadays for rock 'n' roll and rockabilly fans in Holland, and probably far beyound our borders too. Thanks Hans, keep up the good work!
Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2002