"Keep on Rockin'!" by DALE ROCKA & THE VOLCANOES.
Released on 20th June 2023 by El Toro Records Reviewed on 8th July 2023
Buy the album here: https://www.eltororecords.com/.../DALE-ROCKA-AND-THE...
"Keep on Rockin'!" by Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes. Original 50's Rockabilly band from Sicily, Italy.
Band members are: Massimo Rocca (Dale Rocka) lead singer and rhythm guitar Vince Mannino , lead guitar and backing vocals Andrea Amico , double bass Giovanni Ziino , drums
This is the first 12" lp from the band since the previous ones were all in 10" format. The release date coincides with the band's 25th Anniversary and this makes them one of the oldest Rockabilly bands still active in Italy.
The song that gives the album its name is a tribute to Giuseppe Bartoli, a DJ who's been a pioneer of Sicily's rockabilly scene since the 70's.
The singer Debby Lou duetted with Dale Rocka on the song "Rusty Moon" and in "Black Stone" the banjo was played by Pino Ninni, one of the best bluegrass musicians around.
Review Track by track 1- Goodbye that's all: this track opens up the album with a traditional rockabilly blues influenced 50's guitar groove which characterises the whole song. Vince Mannino's mastering of the purest 50's sound comes up clearly within the first notes: his authentic rhythm and tone screams "sun records" throughout the song with a perfect mixture of slapback tape echo and room reverb. His lovely guitar playing is clean and precise yet very, very authentic sounding with a good dose of taste and musicianship. Massimo "Dale Rocka"’s voice is his perfect partner right in the middle of the mix: a great pure 50's sounding tone with a lot of personality and the perfect amount of reverb makes it completely believable and can be easily taken for a true late 50's recording. Drums and double bass are consistent and keep up the catchy groovy rhythm perfectly, without ever stealing the show they offer a perfectly coherent backbone for the song to develop making it impossible for your feet to stop from tapping.
2- "My momma don't like her" starts right up with another great bopper. It's a catchy, rhythm traditional boppin' rockabilly sound which has just the perfect tempo and groove to keep a venue dancing all night long. The simple, bluesy lyrics match the stomping general rhythm and the maracas from the brilliant Giovanni on drums make it irresistible. A real dancefloor filler!
3- "Debby Lou" is some of the purest 50's rockabilly you can possibly get to hear these days. A lovely mixture of Buddy Holly's rockabilly songs with a state-of-the-art guitar work from Vince that has hints of Johnny Horton and Scotty Moore's. Drums and bass get slightly heavier, with a classic 50's rockabilly groove that's spot on. The little acoustic rhythm guitar in the mix completes the song and will surely give the die-hard original rockabilly lovers a big smile on their faces. A real trip in time!
4- "Keep On Rockin'" is the song that gives the album its name and its a wild uptempo pure 50's rockabilly with outstanding dynamic through the whole song: while keeping the lyrics in a straight traditional style the song is taken to another level thanks to the band's magic touch. It sounds so real and authentic thanks to the fantastic musicianship involved: guitars, drums and bass all blend in a cohesive, analog, vacuum tube sounding mix that is bound to become any hepcat's favourite!
5- "Stop Shake your hips'' takes us right in a recording studio in the mid-to-late 50's with its top level sound ambience and real analog flavour: Vince's guitar opens up in a wild yet refined guitar intro and his tasteful guitar playing goes through the whole song without ever playing a note of bad taste. Once again the amazing skills of the guys give a real taste of the 50's - a classic country pattern for the lovely vocals is decorated by state-of-the-art musicianship. There's a lot of great technique on display here but it's never there just to impress: every instrument plays with authentic taste and love to recreate those sounds in the highest fidelity way possible. I can almost see Buddy Holly taking a peep from the next door in the studio...!
6- "No Letter from you" comes in at a little slower tempo, a nice bluesy stroller that's going to flood the dancefloor. Whether you need to order another pint at the bar or you fancy dancing a stroll, this is the right song. A lovely 50's story tellin' reminds us of those italo-american doo wop artists we're fond of... perfect drumming, perfect heart felt vocals, clean and full rhythm sounding guitar, very solid and thumping double bass... what's not to like?
7- "Rip it Up, Rip it Down" - the purest, finest, most authentic mid-to-late 50's Rockabilly is freshly served here. A mid-tempo rockabilly beat track where you can smell hints of Buddy Holly and the love for this music genre. Great backin' vocals and lovely double bass recording with a powerful lead guitar solo. Makes a great track if you need to explain a stranger what 50's rockabilly sound like. A consistent bopper that's going to please any cool cat around!
8- "Rusty Moon" is a completely sweet 50's western swingin' track. This duet with the lovely Debby Lou gives Dale Rocka a more romantic and velvety style. He's not a crooner yet a good, well mannered wild rockabilly man knows how to behave with a lady: they duet in perfect harmony with great intonation through this mid tempo cheerful song. Drums, lead guitar and bass play with great finesse and perfect time, never stealing the show from the enchanting duetting vocals but that doesn't mean the song is played lifelessly nor boringly, on the contrary we are delighted with subtle dynamic shifts from the rhythmic section (read drums and bass) and, once again, we can't help but admire Vince's mastery on the lead guitar: clean, full bodied, precise yet warm, authentic, 50's infused sound at their finest.
9- "Raw Bad Whiskey" is a dark obscure sounding rockabilly bopper of the finest kind. It's mean, menacing and raw thanks to its minor tonality and its strongly addictive: you'll find your toes tappin' without control and your neck muscles will start getting into the rhythm as soon as the needle drops on this wonderful vinyl. Dale Rocka's very original voice and style never pretend to sound like someone else just like the fabulous Vince Mannino whose guitar sounds amazingly once again. You can clearly perceive their love for the big protagonists of the 50's country and rockabilly music but the Sicilian guys always manage to keep it authentic and original. Chapeau.
10- "Don't be Long" delights us with more of the traditional 50's rockabilly sounds we've learned to love the boys for. A real music lesson is taught with this impeccable song: a very groovy rhythm guitar intro lays down the pattern for the other instruments to unfold. The amazing wild lead guitar catches our ear with tasty riffs and a powerful yet very refined solo. Nothing sounds out of place nor not looked after in this wonderful rockabilly track that sounds so authentic it's hard to believe it comes from Sicily instead of Tennessee!
11- "Black Stone '' changes the album’s register towards a traditional country/bluegrass sound thanks to the astounding Banjo playing by Pino Ninni. A taste of the best banjo bluegrass picking is well accompanied by the band's solid rhythmic pace from the first notes throughout the song. Classic dixie's flavour of the finest choice is served in a real authentic sturdy frame: nothing ever appears to be overtaking in the mix where the plucking of the metallic banjo strings resonates with chime and harmonic richness while the boys lay down a super solid rhythmic ground for the lyrics and the solos to unfold. A proof of musical mastery, passion, creativity and technical skill dressed in denim and cowboy boots.
12- "Motorcycle Woman" - kickstarts right in with Vince's roaring guitar for this great instrumental track. A real wild rockin' tune with hard hitting drums and bass. The slightly forward presentation of the rhythmic instruments lets us appreciate the great double bass work by Andrea and the impeccable timing by Giovanni. Vince's lead sound is a tad dirtier here and it's really pushing those tubes hard: you can hear that classic 6L6 tubes distortion coming in several times adding a little bluesy compression to a wonderful guitar sound. A very well made recording and mix are just the cherry on top of a fast and wild 50's rocker.
13- "Come On" - what a wonderful jiver this is! A great singing from Dale Rocka with lots of style and personality perfectly matched by the band's astounding dynamics and ability to convey the energy of the song in each and every of its phases from the soft intro to the wilder rockin' solo. Grab your partner, lace up your shoes and get on the dancefloor!
14- "Shoot my Blues Away" - the best way to finish off a state-of-the-art rockabilly album. A consistently solid beating bopper combines all the ingredients of a perfect album: the hard hitting snare of Giovanni's drums is quickly recognizable as well as Vince's tasteful and refined guitar playing. Dale Rocka sings confidently in front of a cohesive and rock-solid rhythmic mix. His voice pierces through the mix while the lead guitar sounds just like it's answering right back at him in a wonderful voice-guitar sort of game. The playing technique and the sound of every instrument is well thought and cared to perfection, once more. The lead guitar here has a sharper tone, sounding fresher and brighter but you can spot Vince's raw, razor sharp but very controlled playing easily. An amazing display of great musicianship and technical mastery always at the service of the finest musicality and never to merely show off or worse, brag.
The band has been active since 1998 touring Italy and Europe. In 2014 their USA tour culminated with a gig at the world famous Viva Las Vegas festival, making Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes one of the oldest and most successful Italian rockabilly bands still active today.
After several releases for the spanish Sleazy Records and the english Rhythm Bomb, in 2018 the french label Doghouse and Bone Records printed an album with the first, unissued recording session of the band's first year of life.
A big, chunky slice of the purest 50's Rockabilly sound is served here and all the mastery, experience and background of this 25 years old band are on show. I consider it a masterpiece of today's Rockabilly music for different reasons and most importantly because creating something that sounds so authentic and original even though it belongs to a 70 years old musical genre is not a common thing at all, for any band, at any price, anywhere in the world.
Don't miss it for any reason, get on the Dale Rocka and the Volcanoes Facebook page and get your copy spinning on the turntable as soon as you can. You won't regret it!
Reviewed and enjoyed by Matteo "Hellvis" Callegari on 8th july 2023