|Last Fool Here, J.P. McDermott & Western Bop
Showertone Records STR 1003
I've just finished listening several times to this new J.P. McDermott CD and let me say right away, it rocks. The first song, "My Damn Baby",is damn fine song to start off with, an itsy bitsy raunchy, foottapping rocker you expect to hear in a truckstop roadhouse. My kinda song so to speak.
next track "Do I love You" continues this mood. Greasy, bluesy and a steady beat. Than J.P..'s interpretation of Johnny Cash's "Cry, Cry, Cry" pleases me very much, and I think it would please mr. Cash as well. "Coulda Shoulda Woulda" takes me back to the beerjoint. Great rocker tune, with a cool mix of trashy distortion guitar and a twangy Dixie guitar.
"Not Enough For You" brings up the first real chance for J.P. McDermott to demonstrate that he also is an old fashioned crooner in the great tradition of the Big "O", and like him, J.P. is capable to put all his pain and broken heart into his voice. Than a rendition of Buddy Holly's "Blue Days Black Nights" with razor sharp vocal harmonies, completed with a groovin' slapbass. To be honest, not entirely my taste, but I 'd give it an A+ for musicality. Another real treat is "Lucky Stars", a catchy Tex-mex tune in a greasy Buddy Holly sauce, pay attention to that guitarsolo and enjoy!
"Sixteen Chicks" is a rockabilly bopper of the purest kind. Dancefloor alert! The rest of this CD is equally strong, but you should listen and decide that for yourself. For me this CD is worth 5 stars, no doubt about that! J.P. McDermott delivers a mighty fine addition for the entire roots genre.
Perhaps it was foolish to wait and worry as the studio tracked down some of the last reel-to-reel tape ever manufactured in order to finish the mixing of their debut release, Last Fool Here but what J.P. McDermott and Western Bop have found in their fool's paradise is real rockabilly: the straight-up genuine article, and their CD delivers it with authenticity and authority.
Any doubts are cast aside by the very first track - My Damn baby is a raucous, rocking original number - this is going to be a ball! McDermott teams up with veteran Washington DC rockabilly guitarist Bob Newscaster (Tex Rubinowitz, Billy Hancock) on several originals including the high energy rocker Go Cat Go! and tbe Tex-Mex flavored Lucky Stars. One of McDermott's own Not Enough of You takes a straight-forward ballad, and builds it up to an exhilarating finish thanks to J.P.'s soaring vocals. Another of McDermott's songs, Last Fool Here closes the record. A Iast call waltz, it summons up the lonely feeling that hits "when they turn off the jukebox and they put up all the chairs". Despite the passion and enthusiasm J.P. McDermott brings to these memorable songs, he could be considered the "last fool here" in that title song because nobody records this way anymore; most music today is direct to the hard drive with digital mixing and editing. But Last Fool Here was made the old-fashioned way - on magnetic tape using aging analog equipment - more dependent on vacuum tubes than computer chips. Many of the tracks were recorded with the entire band playing live, alI in the one room - it's a pain to mix, but there is no better way to capture the exhilarating raw feeling of live music. But this isn't mimicking the old process for some sort of history project - what comes across is not an academic exercise, but a celebration of heartfelt honky tonk tunes and the thrill of rip-roaring rockabilly.
In addition to originals, the collection has plenty of well-chosen covers. A particularly fine rendition of Johnny Cash's Cry Cry features an authoritative guitar solo from J.P. along with his solid vocals. It's not surprising that McDermott was named Country Vocalist of the Year by the Washington Area Music Association. After listening to him on the Harlan Howard classic, Heartaches for the Dime, it's clear that this band is fronted by an impassioned and powerful singer who does more than just energize the rockers J.P. possesses the tone and control to deliver what the Washington Post has called "honky tonk the way it should be".
It might seem foolish for J.P. to sweat it out to capture the vibrancy and purity of a good strong rockabilly song like That Ain't Nothin' but Right, but he beams with pride when local critics call him "the keeper of the rockabilly flame" The Washington area has always been a welcome home for roots music, and J.P. likes to tell the story of the Buddy Holly song, Blue Days, Black Nights. Buddy used to fib that the song was a big hit in Washington DC (it was so far from Lubbock TX/ how would anyone be the wiser?) but the record never actually got much play. Here, J.P. McDermot gives the song new life, turning out the classic rockabilly sound with sparkling simplicity. Buddy Holly got the western and bop rocking and now it is J.P. McDermott's turn to keep it rolling.
J.P. McDermott and Western Bop are:
Reviewed by Uncle_B, 2005