Mixed Up, RJ
Tombstone records TOMB-CD 2091

RJ in his own words:
For years I played bass in Holland with a rockabilly band. I started in 1988 as a rhythm guitar player/singer but switched at the end of 1999 to bass. From that moment on my career as a rockabilly musician sky rocketed. I played with bands such as Red Shots, King Size Trio, Miss Mary Ann, Reno Brothers and Lill' Esther and The Tinstars. With them I played on the High Rockabilly festival in 2006. In that same year I Played on The Hollywood Showdown in L.A, USA. During that tour we played in six different states.

I want to play classic rockabilly. So it has to be a little wild and agressive. But never too fast or too loud and it should be danceable. That's why my credo is: Dance, Dance People.

In 2004 I met a Russian band called the Phantoms. With them I recorded my first album "What's The Rumor". I discovered that Russian bands like Phantoms, Neva River Rockets and later the Tri-Tones from Estonia are easy to work with. They will do evrything to make you look good. The nice thing is that I often had the chance to work in Estonia and Russia with these great bands. Unfortunately we don't have many chances to work together, because of the distance between our countries.

RJ's album starts with "Move Around", a song I know best by Groovey Joe Poovey, not sure if that was the original though. Great song with not too many re-do's over the years. Fabulous music, especially the guitar, by The Neva River Rockets. Next is a classic from the singing DJ "Big Bopper" (Jape Richardson). Very well done!

On with a Hayden Thompson song "Whatcha Gonna Do". RJ is a pretty good singer, although I feel he has a few difficulties holding the long notes in this song. That's okay, this is not Popstars or X-Factor. Passion for our music is so much more important, and it's quite obvious that RJ puts his heart and soul in his music.

Dennis Herrold's "Make With A Loving" is the next rockabilly classic on this excellent menu, and the taste is fabulous. The duet with Karling Abbeygate "Unbreakable Heart" is a bit too much country for me, partly because of Karling's old time country voice, and partly because of the wailing steel guitar sounds. Not my cup of tea, but otherwise a good song.

Now Larry Donn's "Honey Bun" is a whole other ball game. I've always liked this song, and RJ & The Tri-Tones do a pretty damn good rendition. Superb guitar slinging on this fast and wild rockabilly tune. Ah, "Jezebel"... a song that has always touch my heart, especially the Gene Vincent version, but Frankie Laine's is okay as well. RJ hangs more towards the latter, but does a good job, because it's not the easiest song to sing.

Peggy Lee's hit from the late 50's "All Right, Okay, You Win" is turned into a rockabilly song, with great slapping bass lines. All Right, Okay guys, I like it! Let's get on with some Ronnie Hawkins. The fabulous "Oh Sugar" is done by RJ & The Neva River Rockets in a totally different way than Crazy Cavan did it a couple of years ago. At the end of the album there's another version with The Tri-Tones, that one is a bit faster. You decide which one you like better, I'm not gonna burn myself, 'cause I like 'em both.

Autry Inman's "Let's Take The Long Way Home" is not a song I liked very much, because it's plain old country, BUT luckily RJ & The Neva River Rockets play it in much the same way Johnny Horton did, and that makes it another great song on this fabulous album. All aboard.. here's "Flipsville", once a magnificent song by Stormy Gayle, now revived in a superb way.

On the next song Karling is back, this time with a rockabilly rendition of the Johnny Cash & June Carter original "Jackson". Forget what I said about Karling earlier, I love her! She does a fantastic job here! Reminds me of Reese Witherspoon in the movie "Walk The Line". It raises the hairs in my neck.

At the end of the CD there are three bonus tracks, the afore mentioned "Oh Sugar" with The Tri-Tones is last, and the two songs before that are mixed up on the cover. Track 13 is a fantastic instrumental in Joe Maphis style, but selfpennend by Tri-Tones guitarist Artur Skropnik. Great bonus! And track 14 is a rendition of Louis Jordan's "Caledonia" with great guitar by 'Mr. Key Pee', but the vocals are not by RJ and unfortunately not quite as good.

Despite the fact that this albums contains only cover songs (with the exception of The Tri-Tones' "Watergate Boogie"), it's a very pleasant album to listen to, and not just a collection of famous songs done all over again. Musically and technically, it's a great record, and I'm pretty sure that many, if not most of you, will enjoy it a lot! I know I do!

Move Around / Crazy Blues / Watcha Gonna Do / Make With A Loving / Unbreakable Heart / Honey Bunn / Jezebel / All Right, Okay, You Win / Oh, Sugar / Let's Take The Long Way Home / Flipsville / Jackson / Caledonia / Watergate Boogie / Oh, Sugar

The Neva River Rockets are:
Kirill 'Mr. Key Pee' Prasalov - Lead Guitar
Peter 'Sneaky Pete' Mironov - Double Bass
Paul 'Fidel' Vozlinsky - Drums

The Tri-Tones are:
Artur Skropnik - Lead Guitar
Garry Golovenka - Double Bass
Peter Karo - Drums

Karling Abbeygate:

RJ & The Phantoms:

Tombstone records:

Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2009
Additional information by Hans Nelemans