Hopeless Love Affair, Gas Money
Independent, GM4945

A word from frontman Fred Stucky: Gas Money from Philadelphia, Pa. - Gas Money formed in early 1994 with our debut show at J.C. Dobbs opening up for Dave Alvin. Fred Stucky, guitar player and singer, also writes most of the songs. Tony Bello is the drummer, Pony Boy is our bassist, and Dave Doggett plays pedal steel. We've opened up for just about every great roots rock act to come through town, from the Derailers and Big Sandy to most recently John Sebastian. We put a CD out last year, "Hopeless Love Affair", on our own and it did pretty well. We even got it reviewed by Nick Cristiano in the Sunday Inquirer. We were pretty excited about that as we're not on a record label and Nick liked it enough to get it in the paper. We play in Philly about every six weeks at various Juke joints in town. We have a swell website where our songs can be downloaded and all our rock 'n' roll news, pictures, and merchandise is available.

Gas Money is not an authentic fifties rockabilly kind of band, they mix their own rockabilly sound with garage, country surf, folk, and then some. This is nothing new, many recent bands play this kind of Americana roots music and I don't always review them, because quite often they wander too far off the rockabilly path. However, this CD caught my attention, because it starts off with one of my all time favorite songs, Charlie Feathers' "Tongue Tied Jill", and I wanted to hear how Gas Money handled it. Well, let me tell ya, I'm glad I took the time. Although the song is a bit countrified, it surely is a superb rendition and the guitar sound is just awesome. Charlie's voice cannot ever be topped, but Fred doesn't do bad at all and he puts a lot of energy in the song.

Having heard that, I wanted to hear more of course. Skipping a few years from 1956 to 1959, Ronnie Allen's "Juvenile Delinquent" is a treat for any rock 'n' roll fan, although I don't think Ronnie would have used the words 'fucking jerk' back in '59 :-)). Back to 1956 with David Houston's "Sugar Sweet" (written by Mel London), it turns out that Gas Money is more rockabilly than they are willing to admit. And the fast scorching garage-style guitar licks only add the best to the sound.

Whiskeytown's Ryan Adams wrote the next song "Too Drunk To Dream", one of those songs that are indeed well off the rockabilly track. First released in 1995 I think, it rocks, but it won't appeal to the true rockabilly fan. Gas Money's own "El Camino Blues" sounds to me like a worn out Bob Dylan song, and Bob never was one of my favorite rockabillies. Just kidding :-)

Luckily for me, and all you rockabilly cats out there, the next track is Carl Perkins' "That's Right", also given the Gas Money treatment, which is okay by me. It's amazing how Gas Money jumps from one decade to another, it's quite a leap from 1995 to Fats Waller's 1937 song "Hopeless Love Affair". Bluesy and crying and utterly beautiful. Not rockabilly, but pretty darn good music anyway. And it swings over to a real fast "Juke Box", which is actually a remake of Tommy Blake's Sun single "Lordy Hoody" (SUN 278, 1957). Excellent, although I have no idea why the title has been changed, while the back cover states that this song is 'unknown/trad/arr gas money'. The arrangement is not that far off Tommy Blake's original, no more than the other rockabilly covers anyway.

Ray Price's traditional country song "I've A New Heartache" slows down the pace a bit, time to relax and enjoy the mandolin and steel guitar. Fred's voice can't quite cope, or maybe he let's his voice linger intentionally, because it does sound great nevertheless. Red Simpson road song "Happy Go Lucky Truck Driver" adds to the variety of the album, followed by a greasy cover of Jimmy Reeds "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby" (1956). The closing track is a Gas Money original surfrock song with a very familiar theme (can't quite place it though). Excellent lead guitar, again. And even though this album is not your average rockabilly album, it's well worth listening too, and I'm pretty sure most rockabillies will appreciate the Gas Money sound.

Gas Money are:
Fred Stucky - Vocals, Mandolin, Guitars
Dave Doggett - Pedal Steel
Adam 'Ponyboy' Driscoll - Bass
Tony Bello - Drums

Guest musicians:
Vince Ratti - Fender Rhodes
Michelle Guidry - Backing Vocals

Information & bookings:
Gas Money
P.O. Box 4572
Trenton NJ
08611 U.S.A.
Phone: +1 215 968 3137


Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2004