|The Mike Fleming Special, Selftitled
Jo Joe Records, 2000
Hailing from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, The Mike Fleming Special has made a name for themselves on the road, recruiting legions of fans in places like Chicago, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Not simply a neo-rockabllly outfit, the band combines impressive songwriting, silly stories, and diverse styles of American music into an exciting and distinctly rockiní sound.
While the songs are hot and the band is tight, fans are also impressed by C.J. Kringleís washtub bass. One of the few true masters of the instrument, Kringle often spends his post-show time giving performance and construction tips to fascinated crowd members. Once, in Huntington Beach, CA, an entire hot-rod club demanded a lesson in bass-building.
The backbone of the bandís performances is Istvan Balazs and his multi-instrumental wizardry. Although he always wants to bring more drums on tour than the band will allow, Balazs constantly drops jaws with his skills on the washboard, maraca, kazoo, and antique car horn, as well as the good old gold-sparkle drum kit.
Mike Fleming, of course, still lives on top of a mountain in Arkansas. In between tours, he whiles away the sultry evenings practicing his guitar and impressing the local wildlife with new licks.
"So Long Whiskey, I'm Going Back To Gin", luckily, is rockabilly again, with some folk influences, or is it just the acoustic guitar in the back that makes me think so. Anyway, the song rocks. Track 5 is an odd number again, "From Russia With Love" is an acoustic song, this time with vocals and not even close to rockabilly. On track 6 the band proves they can really rock again, "On Your Mind" is another fast paced rockabilly song, with both electric and acoustic guitars and a fat greasy slapping bass. The last track, "Heading For Trouble", is also a rockabilly track, one with a change of pace and some jazzy influences. Surprise, suprise, there is another song hidden behind the 7th track, one which is not listed on the cover. The title might be something like "When The Rain Comes" and it's an acoustic ensemble, to keep the wildlife happy I guess.
All in all, it's a strange compilation. I really like the rockabilly tracks and I'll let you decide on the acoustic stuff. One thing's for sure, I don't think anyone else has tried a combination like this before, so it's a bit experimental to say the least. You can listen to some real-audio samples on Mike's website. Just give it a try..
The Mike Fleming Special is: