|Hod Rod Machine, Skinny Jim & The Wildcats
Tail Records T-10-29
Skinny Jim & The Wildcats are a four piece authentic rockabilly band hailing from the deep south... of Sweden that is. A few years ago, not much seemed to exist in the south, at least as much as we heard. A band called "The Tomcats" released a 7", split up, and that was it. Then around 1996 I heard about two acts, a piano player called Jerry Carlsson and then this band called "Doggone Crazy". They later changed their name to "Skinny Jim & The Wildcats" and it's them we're talking about now.
Magnus Olsson, a welder from Brakne-Hoby (vocals and acoustic guitar) was inspired to start his own band after catching some shows of Wildfire Willie & The Ramblers and The Go Getters. He (Magnus), Thomas Andreassen (double bass) and Stefan Jonasson (drums) began jamming and rehearsing in 1995 and they were soon joined by guitarist Andreas Johansson some time in 1996 and the quartet, originally known as Doggone Crazy, was formed. To this date there has only been one change in the line-up, a new guitarist named Henrik Andersson.
When asked about the scene in the south of Sweden, Magnus replied: "The rockabilly scene hasn't always existed here, it started to grow along with our band doing gigs here. There are two more bands at this time, The Rolliecats, who play Stray Cats covers mixed with some of their own stuff, and The Saltflat Stompers, doing a mix of covers and some of their own stuff too." There are only a few places places to play around Ronneby and Malmo and Magnus (Skinny Jim) is a member of a car club called "The Roadhawks" and they often book bands from abroad to start off their tour of Scandinavia.
The band first made some cover recordings with Frenchman Orville Nash at Joe Allen's studio. In 1997 the band self-released a 7" EP with four covers, but Skinny Jim & The Wildcats are more than just a cover band. Their live set nowadays contains a fair amount of self penned songs. They also did some recordings for Lars Strandheim at Tail Records and three of their own songs appeared on the compilation 10" LP "Rough Tough Rockabilly Volume 3" (Tail T-10-13) in 1998. A fourth song by the band on this album was written by Jan Svensson a.k.a. Wildfire Willie.
Skinny Jim & The Wildcats have been playing all around Sweden, the only gigs abroad so far have been in Denmark. In their live performance there are undoubtedly some Johnny Burnette influences, topped off with a fair portion of their own songs. Meanwhile, things really have stepped up for one of Sweden's brightest rockabilly prospects of recent time and in view of their development it's quite obvious that their name will be known abroad very shortly. From what we've heard so far, they deserve it!
By Marc Fennech, Southern and Rockin' Music
"Hot Rod Machine" is Skinny Jim & The Wildcats' first album, released on Tail who have released memorable rockabilly items before (Jack Baymoore, Hot Stuff, Spo-Dee-O-Dee, Starliters). This one here is another hot Tail-item, containing twelve tracks, nine of which are self-penned originals. The first gem on this album is the title song "Hot Rod Machine", written by Magnus Olsson, who does most of the writing for the band. The song has a real authentic fifties sound and it really is a "grand opening" with great hot rod lyrics that will surely rock your socks off. "Don't Lie To Me Baby" is more of that boppin' rockabilly with great slapping bass followed by "Space Rocket", a universal rockabilly track that'll take you right into outer space. "I'm In Love" is best described as uptempo country with a rockabilly beat, while "She Rocks Me" (written by Stefan Jonasson) is rocking fast and dangerously with great guitar solos by Henrik Anderson. Last track of side A is a cover of the Johnny Cash song "Home Of The Blues", a well know country song, now with a driving slapping bass in the back.
Let's flip over the record to hear what the B-side has to offer. It starts off with a very well done cover of "Get Along", written by Jonathan "Rocky" Burnette and Roland Janes, which was originally recorded at the the famous Sun studios in 1982 and issued on Rocky Burnette's album "Get Hot Or Go Home" in 1983. Track 2 is a cover of Bob Millsap's "Race For Time" and I must confess that I do not know the original by heart, but this cover sure got me boppin' accross the floor. "One Word And I'm Gone" confirms my thought that Skinny Jim must have been influenced (at least a little bit) by Jack Baymoore, because this track, although written by Magnus, could well have been on one of Jack's albums. "What's Life About" lifts up the pace into some real gone fast rockabilly, listen to that lead guitar, combined with a scary scream at just the right moment. Shivers down my spine, this is what life (and rock 'n' roll for that matter) is all about! Surely my favourite on this album. Now let's cruise on down to "Lover's Lane", genuine fifties words & music, real gone. Last track coming up, "No More Mister Nice Guy" (not the Alice Cooper hit mind you!), the intro and guitar licks are definitly Chuck Berry style, great rock 'n' roll song, again with a steady rockabilly beat. Skinny Jim & The Wildcats and Tail Records have done a very nice job here and I'm sure you won't be disappointed when your got your wildcat claws on this 10" gem.
The BlackCat, 2000
Tail Records (Lars Strandheim)