Doffing a Blue Cap to the Guvnor by Be Bop A Lula
Released June 2023 Reviewed: 02/09/2023 by Hayley
Doffing a Blue Cap to the Guvnor by Be Bop a Lula tribute band is a full 12 track album of honouring and reverencing the music of the legendary Gene Vincent. A complete album of iconic rockabilly songs, this UK based band demonstrates the global fandom of this rock and roll cornerstone. The band is made up of Little Dave on vocals, Steve Napper on Drums, Connie Kym Everard on upright bass and wild screams, and finally Jono on lead guitar. This collective of musicians can be seen in many guises, not just in the Be Bop a Lula Band, but also in Little Dave and the Sun Sessions. This album comes as a result of multiple requests from fans of Gene Vincent, and the band chose to compile this homage to the ‘Guvnor with a selection of tracks that they routinely gig, but tell me they plan to produce another, as the repertoire of Gene Vincent is so deep with fantastic songs. Recorded at Helios Studio, produced and mastered by the band themselves, this album has been endorsed by the daughters of Gene Vincent; Melody Craddock and Sherri Vincent. Track by Track Review: Race With the Devil This rendition of ‘Race with the Devil’ seems to be played at about a semitone lower than the original. This cover has a much crisper, deeper intro, and overall the production has a fuller sound than the original, which gives it a basement tape, live session sound. Dave absolutely nails Gene Vincent’s breathy, reverb-y vocal style.
Be Bop a Lula Opening with the synonymous Gene Vincent ‘welllllll’, one of the stand out differences with this cover is while the original kicks in with soft acoustic guitar riffs and bass from the first utterance of ‘Be Bop a Lula’, this cover lets the first line of the song shine unaccompanied, and revs up with sultry electric guitar, bass and drums. This really demonstrates the great respect and admiration this band has for such famed lyrics in rock n roll history. The stand outs of this song, aside from Little Dave’s vocal performance, are the way that Connie absolutely captures the screams that are present on the original record, and Jono’s electric guitar adds extra attack. There is still the eponymous shuffle you’d expect from this song, but it has a punchier delivery, which I’d come to expect from this collective, as I personally witnessed at their performance at the Boat Shack, Bromsgrove.
Crazy Legs ‘Crazy Legs’ was originally released in 1957 and written by Jerry Reed. This is yet another fantastic cover, with the extra injected energy that I’ve mentioned in the previous two tracks. You can really tell why Melody Craddock said ‘this is a great tribute to my Dad’, as you progress though this masterclass in Gene Vincent.
Blue Jean Bop Originally released in 1956, and over 27 renditions of this song found online, I did wonder what more I could say about a cover of ‘Blue Jean Bop’?! However, Dave grasps the opportunity on this song to deliver a bassy, vibrato rich powerhouse vocal intro, hearing passion reverberate through his vocal delivery. Musically, the bass cuts beautifully through the overall track, as well as the snare from Steve’s drums snaps with a beautiful drive through the song.
Well I Knocked, Bim Bam Originally written by Bobbie Carrol in 1956, ‘Well I Knocked, Bim Bam’ is probably my personal favourite on the album! 5 tracks into this album, I would strongly agree with Ronny Weiser when he said ‘Gene would be proud’. The bass on this track is louder than the original and the guitar crisper, but this gives a brightness to the track and brings this classic rock n roll sound a more modern sound.
Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me ‘Hold Me, Hug Me, Rock Me 'brings a reprise of the famous ‘Weeellll’ intro you come to expect from Gene Vincent. Connie whoops and hollers taking us on a rockabilly roller coaster through this song. I love the contrast in the vocal on this track, with a bassy tone in the verses and a much harsher rasp to the chorus. Having seen these guys perform live, as I listen, I imagine Dave on his knees recoiling, fully immersed in his performance, and Connie screaming into the air with a wild grin. This song meshes perfectly with their high energy performance style.
Baby Blue ‘Baby Blue’, originally co written by Bill Jones, and performed with The Shouts, represents a welcome change of pace to the album, especially after ‘Hold Me, Hug Me’. ‘Baby Blue’ is a sexy stroller, reminiscent of Heartbreak Hotel. The guitar has an almost classic rock sound, but it really brings a different vibe to the song. The cymbal work on this track also stands out massively, as creates a wonderful shoulder-shimmying feeling which I love.
Pretty Pearly The Be Bop a Lula bands rendition of ‘Pretty Pearly’ is the first track on this album where I’ve noticed a real stark difference, but to absolutely no detriment whatsoever to this cover. While the original is driven by jingle jangle piano, Jono takes the reins here, and delivers the same melody by guitar, which is really effective. I can’t say I’d beat Little Dave in a Gene Vincent round in a pub quiz, but this song sounds to me like a transitional sound for Gene Vincent, almost like it's on the way to an early 60s sound. This version captures the bop of the original, which is interrupted by almost barbershop backing vocals. While not directly copying this like a carbon copy, it certainly encapsulates the swinging mood of the song.
Summertime I love this cover of ‘Summertime’, originally written by George Gershwin in the 1930s. it's got a sensual Hawaiian tiki atmosphere. The bass takes a step back on this song, and lets the tom heavy drums and zesty, brightly trilling guitar take front stage, all dressed in slightly spooky toned vocals from Dave.
Who’s Pushin’ Your Swing and Wild Cat ‘Who’s Pushin’ Your Swing’ represents a return to a classic foot stompin’ rockabilly sound, with the bass coming back centre from, reminding us that Little Dave and his band of merry pals are at heart a party band. I particularly like the delivery of the almost spoken words section as the song comes to an end, it’s 1 minute 47 of pure unadulterated rockabilly, and I loved it. With both ‘Who's Pushin’ Your Swing’ and ‘Wild Cat’ the Be Bop a Lula band play to their strengths as skilled musicians, and take the originals which are driven by keys and brass, and make it their own, while still paying homage to the Guvnor.
You Are the One for Me ‘You are the One for Me’ is a really nice choice of song to close this album which is a love letter to Gene Vincent. This slower ballad number is a fantastic way showcase the entire band, with the bouncing bass runs, punctuating cymbal work, a masterful demonstration of Dave’s full vocal range and clear near sing-song, romantic guitar lines.
In summary, I have finished listening to this album with a sense of how much respect, reverence and admiration Gene Vincent has gone into this album. You can really tell the passion that went into the project. If you are a fan of Gene Vincent, you wouldn’t get far wrong by getting a copy of this album; enjoy the homages, the creative spins and fantastic renditions of some Gene Vincent favourites, as well as some less known tracks. To get your hands on a copy, message the band page ‘Be Bop A Lula’ on Facebook, or Trudie Park on Facebook, or alternatively catch them at a show near you!