ROCK N' ROLL 2003! CD ROCK Reviews!
This is one of the BEST CDS of 2003, and among only a handful of the first REAL Rock n' Roll cds of the new century!
BARBARA BURNETTE literally leaps out of your speakers and dares you not to be moved by her songs, her attitude, and her let's-have-a-rockin'-good-time sense of humour. But, despite the good-natured humour, this is serious dead-on Rock n' Roll, and if you don't understand this is the real deal, then you've been listening to way too much of that pre-programmed crap, or worse yet, "new" country.
This cd will explains WHY Rock n' Roll was the best thing ever created, and WHY it's supposed to be FUN. Barbara Burnette is an electric charge in a world full of 9 volt batteries. This compact disc will jolt you like a hot cup of java, or a double cappucino.
What lies beneath the surface, and really gets to you is the fact that this set of recordings are not supported by "gimmicks", "drum machines", or other high-tech, but ultimately "low-music" mechanics. Burnette manages to get into your head the olde-fashioned way....SHE EARNS IT...by being HONEST and straight-to-the-point, which in Rock n' Roll, can be defined as straight-to-your-heart.
The music is straight-ahead Rock n' Roll in the form some people like to call "rockabilly". (This entire genre' of music was created in a brief 15 minute stroke of pure Genius-Americana, by Elvis Presley in 1954. Elvis also defined in his first recordings, the entire sound, and the subject matter, which was cars, girls, cars, attitude, and girls. No matter how many artists performed in this field, they never brought it a step further than the creator, Elvis Presley). While odd "rockabilly" records are a thing of great interest to music lovers, it must be noted that there isn't a "rockabilly" record, whether known or obscure, that doesn't sound like a "demo record" for Elvis. This includes virtually EVERY record made by Sun Records from 1954 on. (Some artists, including Buddy Holly, added their own unique sounds and words, but to quote Buddy himself: "We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Elvis..").However, Barbara Burnette circumvents this major pitfall, by creating her own approach via her own compositions, that actually do NOT sound like "demo songs for Elvis". This is NOT the re-treads of old guys, or stupid young punks who just copy the records like third-rate bar bands. This is FRESH and ALIVE, and so damn high-spirited that it makes you FEEL GOOD! (Remember, that was how Rock n' Roll got going in the first place).
Barbara Burnette, with a pure love for the music, doesn't try to "top" anyone, and in doing so, she rocks the sox right off all those "screamers", both male and female, who try to find some new way to re-invent the wheel. (Barbara not only belts, but she does that squeaking-hic-cough sound that Buddy Holly took from Elvis, and which was Holly's own personal tribute to the combination of Elvis and Tony Williams of The Platters, via Clovis, New Mexico. It was Elvis' hic-coughing and Tony Williams' "uh-ohs" and stuttering "I-I-I" that defined a new way to handle lyrics, and this style was used by most "rockabilly" acts.). Barbara has finally stepped up to the mike as a solo artist, after years of countless gigs, mainly on guitar, including shows with no less than Willie Nelson.
There are a few minor, old "classic songs" on this cd, but the real "magic" not only lies in her delivery, but in the amazingly well crafted eight original songs that she wrote herself, perhaps most notably in "My Tatoo".
"My Tatoo" is a funny, touching song about a guy who stupidly, (to hear her tell it), tatooed her name on his arm, forever left with the traces of Barbara to haunt any new "flames", and himself for all eternity. Barbara respects the guy, but mocks him with the line..."....what in the world were you thinking of..". "What you gonna do with MY tatoo?" is the catch-phrase of the song, and it sticks with you! This is in-your-face rocking done to a fever pitched delivery that slams you around a few times. (It's obvious that the guy really didn't leave her, but rather that she never intended staying around in the first place). And that's just the start of a roller-coaster ride into the rocking world fashioned by Barbara Burnette, her red hot lead and rhythm guitar playing, and her backup bass and drum explosion.
On Barbara's self-penned "I Want You", she catalogues some of the guys shes' known, in an almost lazy tempo, but suddenly exploding into an express train of a chorus that would leave you.....breathless...To try imitate it. She's demading, urgent, irritated, and through it all, the good feelings still come out! "I Want You" is a rocking surprise every time you hear it kick into second gear. This recording will wear you out, lift you up, and make you smile!(Have you heard the news? There's good rockin' on this cd).
"Hot Rod Grace" is another Barbara written ode to the "open road" of cruising the main drag endlessly, and of the fascination of this for the main character, Grace. Another truly "fun rocker" with Grace putting them in their place, and keeping her chrome polished at the same time. The females in Barbara's songs are strong, hip women, who are easily wooed at times, and at other times they're tuff as nails. Sometimes you can't write about what something "sounds" like, so you've gotta hear Barbara singing, "...ha-ha-, ha-ha-ha-ha, ha-ha, ha-ha-ha-ha, hot rod Grace", to get the full blast. It's life, in the key of Barbara, and it all makes good sense.
On "Half A Chance", Barbara has written one of her coyest, and most devilish melodies, with a background that is a surprising overt salute to Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue", with both guitars and booming drums being caught accurately. Still, Barbara manages to come up with an original song in melody and lyrics, over the bombastic backing of this anthem-like instrumentation. (It's a wonderful sound, and I wonder if "Half A Chance" would shine even brighter without the shadow of Holly more than lurking over the track, altho' it's dynamite as it is). The quirky quality of lines like, "....Oh no, you hurt me so...", will just stay with you, because Barbara has the sassy ability to sound "hurt" and yet defiant and strong, and you know that she's the winner in the struggles of life, even though she doesn't say that at all. Great lines seem to pour from her prolific pen, including this beauty, "........Just because you look a little like James Dean, doesn't give you a licence to treat people mean........".
To sum it up, there's 12 tracks, and not one clinker in the lot! The original songs by Barbara are the foundation, and are the equal, and sometimes superior to the four lesser "classics" included. The lead and rhythm guitars played by Barbara are tough and rough, and she's well supported by Dave Roe on a booming Bass, and Jimmy Lester on crashing and resounding Drums. (Eddie Angel adds second guitar solos on 2 of the tracks). George Bradfute did a hell of hot mixing job, and the sessions were produced by Eddie Angel and Barbara herself.
(This cd rocks like crazy, and makes no bones about the fact that the "rockabilly" licks are from all over the place, as are the solos, but unlike wimpy limp-wristed stuff like Brian Setzer and other pretenders turn out, this ends up being REAL, and ORIGINAL, despite the heavy leanings on Elvis, and those, both weak and strong, who sought to copy, emulate, and steal from him.) ("Rockabilly" is traditionally a "mens club", or a "good ole boys" domain, but that's just the way it is. That's life). You can't compare this to any other cd, because this one lives in it's own universe, and you'll like visiting the place that it manages to take you to.
You REALLY should hear this cd, because it'll restore your faith in the concept of Rock n' Roll still being made today! The only guy I feel sorry for is the sap who has her tatoo on his arm, because he loved her for herself and nothing more, and he was too foolish to see that you don't always get what you want in life. (He believed the lyrics from the ballads of the fifties. What in the world was he thinking of?).
Hey, after you hear this cd, YOU just might go out and tatoo Barbara on YOUR arm. It's THAT good!
Elvis Monthly (The Original One; 60's/70's)
New Musical Express (70's)
Elvis Presley liner notes (9 albums)
Film Productions w/Roy Orbison/Chet Atkins/Johnny Cash/
Little Richard/Everly Brothers/Fats Domino/Jerry Lee Lewis/
Tony Williams & The Platters/& others