|A Home In Montana (Yodeler 101)
Washboard Wilma & The Unkool Hillbillies
You gotta like piano if you want to enjoy this album (and I happen to love the piano myself) because Anders Umegård is hitting the keys like a wildman. Washboard Wilma is something else too, although her voice takes some getting used to. She's got that kind of yodel in her voice that was quite popular in the 30s and 40s, and combining it with rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and boogie woogie, surely gives this band a sound and character like you've never heard before. I bet you will raise your eyebrows first time you hear this CD, but I promise you, it gets better every time you listen to it. At least, that's what I think after playing it a couple of times.
When I asked Anders about this release, he wrote me the following:
I guess the two audiences are the hillbilly folks and the rockabilly crowd. Of course you all know that I'm one of those die-hard rockabillies, and as usual, I'm writing this review from that perspective. So here it is...
The opener "Bad Boy Beau", written by Wilma, is surely one for the die-hard rockers. Very fast, with a pounding rhythm as if Jerry Lee himself is hitting the keys. The piano is relieved by a sneering guitar break, awesome track. "Texas Plains" is a yodeling song to a rock 'n' roll rhythm, very nice combination, and perfectly suitable for Wilma's voice.
Next is a tribute to Sam Phillips and it's gotta be my favourite song on this platter. Fast, pounding, impeccable piano and pretty damn good lead guitar. "The Walkin' Bop" starts off in a slower pace, quite necessary if you were trying to bop to the previous track, but after some 30 seconds it changes the pace to a cool bopper. Wilma skips her yodeling on this track, and I think I like it better that way.
"A Rocker's Gotta Roll" is a steady rock 'n' roll song with a male singer. Since the liner notes say that just about all band members do vocals, I've got no idea who's singing. The rhythm section sounds a bit deformed, possibly on purpose, but I like the clear sound of the other tracks better. "Ain't Done Yet" is a bopper the way I like 'em best, raving rhythm, great lead guitar and Wilma at her best (without the yodeling), she sounds a bit like Kim Lenz on this track, and that's surely a compliment.
"My Rainbow Trail" was done for "the other audience" I guess. A ballad with Wilma's voice yodeling from hi to low and a piano interlude that sounds like a christmas song. All die-hard rockers should skip this one. Luckely for us, the track is followed by a hard rocking cover of "Deep River Blues" (Gene Maltais I think, correct me if I'm wrong).
"A Home In Montana" brings back memories. Yes, I was one of those kids sitting in front of the TV set every week when Hoss and Little Joe were on. You guessed it, the intro is from the TV series Bonanza. Actually it's a pumped up hillbilly song with a twangy guitar. Different, but nice. The last track is a piano instrumental "Ice Cream Boogie", very fast and with hard hitting drums, yes Jasenko can really hit the skins like Jimmy Van Eaton did (and still does) at Sun.
The songs on the CD are all recorded live at Tail Recording Studio and Froster Recording Studio, with all instruments and lead vocals recorded simultaneously. The band's intention with these recordings was not only to make authentic recordings, but also to capture some of the joy and feel of a genuine live performance.
In general, this album is top piano rockabilly with many hillbilly influences, fast rocking from start to end, as long as you don't forget to skip Wilma's yodeling on track seven. I must add that 23 minutes is not quite "full length" in this day and age, why stop when you're having a ball? I ain't done yet!
CD available from:
The BlackCat, 2000