|Rock-A-Billy Boom Bam, Kevin Fennell
Windsor Music BMI, 2005
After two rhythm & blues CDs, Steamroller Blues and Mo' Blues! Mo' Blues! Mo' Blues!, guitar slinger Kevin Fennell is back with with a vengeance on a brand new rockabilly album with his friend and fellow musician Ray Campi. Fennell is best known on the rockabilly scene as Ray Campi's long time lead guitar player. Kevin opens the album with a twangy surf riff followed by the fast paced rockabilly title track "Rock-A-Billy Boom Bam!" with Ray on the doghouse bass and we can immediatly recognize Campi's influence on Fennell, because this song has the authentic Ray Campi Rollin' Rock sound. Very fast guitar breaks too, give this guy a guitar and he will tear the house down. He's also a pretty good singer, real cewl track.
The second song is a tribute to Ronny Weiser's Rollin' Rock record label "Rollin' The Rock Boogie", an almost all instrumental song on which Kevin plays all instruments himself. Apart from that, he also wrote and produced all eleven songs on the album, and did a pretty fine job at that. "Shotgun Shack" keeps the rockabilly stompin' a-goin' and the fingers flying. Of course Kevin has got a long time experience picking the strings and he's absolutely amazing. "Jalapeno Boogie" is also definitly influenced by Ray Campi, who was at his turn influenced by Jimmy Skinner, and the dobro sounds on this track will sound familiar if you know Ray's Rollin' Rock albums.
"Hot Rod Run" is another new instrumental on which Kevin is showing off his light-fingered guitar artwork, a strong bass line gives the song a lot of body, and I'm still trying to find out what the strange (but fitting) sounds in the background are. Next is a country song titled "In 1882" in the story telling tradition of Johnny Cash and Marty Robbins, followed by an odd song called "Funky Rockabilly", on which Kevin indeed mixes funk & rockabilly, and let me remark that I think these two styles are not quite compatible.
On "Rockabilly Blues" Kevin mixes his stomping rockabilly rhythm with some rhythm & blues, with Joel Gossman signing for the harmonica breaks. Interchanging styles is something that seems to come natural with Kevin, well he did venture in a lot of different kinds of music of course, and on "Black Widow Stomp" you can hear a mix of country, rockabilly, blues and surf, with changing rhythms and again with great guitar licks.
Straight forward hard knocking rock 'n' roll is next on the menu. "Little Kitty baby" is what I think rock 'n' roll is all about, what a terrifying good song, one that gave me the goosebumps first time I heard it. With some real fast blues harp mixed in, it reminds a bit of the sound of Buck Jones ("I'm Gonna Rock Your Brains Out"). Possibly not a coincidence, because Kevin recorded an album at Rollin' Rock with Buck Jones and Teddy Guitar in the early eighties ("California '81").
Last track on the platter is another Ray Campi style song, with the man himself on the upright bass again, "Chester And Lester" is also mainly an instrumental (with a bit of talking). Although I also loved Kevin's blues records, I'm glad he's back on the rockabilly track. If you dig those 70s Rollin' Rock recordings, you will certainly love this album. As for me, I'm gonna play "Little Kitty Baby" a couple more times with amp turned all the way up. Love it!
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Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2005