|Rockabilly Daze, Dragstrip 77
Rollin' Rock CD-107, 2000
Listening to the new Dragstrip 77 CD "Rockabilly Daze" is not the beginning or the end of this story, but just where it's at today. I like what I hear, and that encouraged me to write this acticle, but the story begins a few years earlier in 1997 when Rockin' Ronny Weiser was at a gig at Crown Billiards which featured a lot of bands with a lot of different styles. Ronny had met Jorge Harada first on an internet mailinglist, and he went to that gig to see Jorge's band perform. Ronnie first had to listen to some hardrock and metal bands, "styles anathema to my taste", as he stated later. When Dragstrip 77 got on stage, the whole mood of the room changed, no more bored spaced-out faces, but happy smiles of people ready to start rockin' and rollin'. Dragstrip stole the show, leaving the punk and metal bands in a state of shock.
And that was the beginning of a new era my friends. Ronnie Weiser's Rollin' Rock label was back from the grave. I don't know if this band made Ronnie decide to come back or if he had been planning it a long time, fact is that "Sin City Hotrods" was the first Rollin' Rock recording in 13 years. It was also the first Rollin' Rock production in Las Vegas (until then, Ronnie was based in Van Nuys, California). And now, another 2 years later, I have in my CD-player the second Dragstrip 77 album, "Rockabilly Daze". Also a Rollin' Rock production, the eighth in a row of awesome rockabilly productions which includes rockabilly greats as the likes of Mack Stevens, Rip Carson, The Comets and Johnny & The Blades.
Dragstrip 77 is identified as "Las Vegas Premiere Rockabilly Band", and their music as "Savage Las Vegas Rockabilly". Savage for sure, although their first release was more savage than the second, they sound a bit more mature now and I'll let you decide whether you like the first one better, or the second. This is not rockabilly for faint hearted, but still an authentic beat influenced by Gene Vincent, The Johnny Burnette Trio and Dave Alvin (Blasters) with Western and Mexican motives. A note on the sleeve says it all: "Play this record loud".
Ten of the fouteen tracks are Dragstrip 77 originals, composed by the band, while most of the lyrics were written by Andy Lopez. Numero uno, "Rockabilly Daze" hits off with a greasy slap bass rhythm, great vocals with just the right amount of echo, and awesome guitar breaks. Great dance track, bop it cats! "Lady Luck" does it slightly faster, keep boppin' cats, if you can keep up the pace. Need a rest? "No Harsh Feelings" gives you a bit of time to cuddle up to your loved one, still a great slapping rhythm. "Mototramic Panic" is something totally different with some neo influences, which show that Dragstrip can switch styles easily. Dragging guitar break, pretty cool. "Trying To Get To You" is of course a very well known song that all the great ones did once or twice; Elvis Presley, Roy orbison, Johnny Carroll. Just try this fast version on for size. "Purty Kitten" probably refers to the pin-up on the back cover, both the song and the chick are very likeable. Soft and easy at first, building up speed as we roll along, with nice rough edges. Don't you just love your women and music like this..
"El Vampiro" is another fast paced neo type song, which remotely reminds of Clint Bradley's Blue Cats, fast driving with Jorge Harada at his best. The James Intveld song "Crying Over You" is a most welcome ballad with Western influences, followed by yet one more fast paced rockabilly track, it's the all time Blasters classic "One Bad Stud". "Lonely Teardrops" is also a western ballad, with a High Noon atmosphere, which displays Andy's vocal capabilities perfectly.
A somewhat more gruesome atmosphere is created in "Twilite Zone Rock", with a wink to the popular TV series. "Switchblade Pompadour" is a bit overdone for my taste and comes pretty close to psychobilly. No, I like "I Don't Have A Problem" a lot better, with its fast flipping slapping bass and Jorge playing the strings like the devil. The last track, "Only The Good Die Young" also has some Western influences, the kind you would expect from Mike Ness, strong driving rhythm and Andy going berserk again. As said before, not rockabilly for the faint hearted, but nevertheless rocking from start to end!
Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2000
Dragstrip 77 is:
Always Rollin' The Rock, Rockin' Ronny Weiser