MILLION DOLLAR TONES - COME ON!
Come On! by The Million Dollar Tones
Released April 2022 on Bluelight Records
Reviewed by Andy Presland August 14th 2022
The Million Dollar Tones are a Finnish octet from the Riihimäki area. The band formed around 2010 and play a fusion of Rock ‘n’ Roll, jive and rhythm & blues with some good old boogie woogie piano to keep your toes tapping.
Come On! Is the third album for the band following their 2016 debut release Crazy! Released on Jungle Records and 2019’s That’s Right their debut release for Bluelight Records.
The band consist of:
Antti Pajula: vocals
Albert Hallikainen: guitar
Ari Toivonen: tenor sax & harmonica
Petri Rinta-opas: baritone sax
Markus Packalén: bass
Marko “Lankku” Lamminmäki: drums & percussion
Timo Uusiheimo: piano
Ide Miettinen: trumpet & trombone
Come On! was my introduction to the music of The Million Dollar Tones and if I am being honest to Finnish rock ‘n ‘roll. The album certainly got me curious for more and I would like to think they may visit the UK to showcase their talents on the live music scene.
The album features 5 cover versions and 7 original songs composed by Antti Pajula and Albert Hallikainen and features with guest piano by Hara Saanio and guest backing vocals provided by the Finnish Doo Wop band the Relics.
Track by track
1: Teen-Age Love – Opening with a modern-day version of the Miss La-Vell 1958 tune Teen-Age Love it maybe lacks the earthiness of the original however features strong vocal from Antti with some great doo-wop harmonies by the Relics and a mean sax solo halfway through the track which is testament to the 58 original.
2: Someday Somewhere – Teen Age-Love has barely finished, and you are hit by the opening drum salvo of another cover, this time of Tommy Brown’s Someday Somewhere. The drum gives way to rockin’ guitar and earthy vocals in what is a true rock n roll cover given additional gravitas by a wicked guitar solo and a rockier version than Brown’s original.
3: What about Me – The first of the original tracks and a high energy piano driven number that has a rockabilly and swing vibe and moves at a pace that will encourage all you jivers to get up on your feet.
4. A Lovers Prayer - Another cover version this time taking on the Vernon Green and the Medallion’s tune which keeps true to the original vibe. It has a very laid-back bluesy feel, some great guitar, brass, subtle piano and some wonderful guitar picking. One or two key changes throughout and the Relics laying down the doo-wop backing vocals – I cold almost be in a smoky, New Orleans House of Blues.
5. Send Me some Lovin’ – Cover number 4 and this time a softer feel with a Llyod Price and John S. Marascals composition that featured as the B side to Little Richard’s 1958 single Lucille. A ballad rather than a rocker but is shows the great vocal range of Antti who would not sound out of place in one of the many vocal groups of the 50’s.
6. Loud Mouth Suzy - An original jumping tune fuelled with energetic piano from Timo and guest keyboardist Hara, rhythmic drumming, guitar licks, brass and 100mph vocals.
7. Howlin’ the Moon - The energy in this album is non-stop and Howlin’ the Moon continues at a pace that will leave you gasping for breath. Once again Antti’s vocal range comes to the fore as the music swings with subtle piano, sax a wicked back beat and a harmonica cameo.
8. My Gal from Lafayette – A laid back R&B number with a hint of Latina that pulls in many influences and will no doubt bring to mind many rock ‘n’ roll gems form years long gone by.
9. Million $ Baby – A great piano and bass back beat on another R&B fuelled original track, a 3 minute carnival of sound.
10. Like A Diamond – A laid back doo wop number taking me back to the vocal groups of the 50’s and a song that would not be out of place in any of the movies of the time.
11. Sittin’ On A Boat Dock – The last of the cover’s this time a take on Freddy King’s 1962 release. A soulful rhythm & blues number which remains true to the original. A chilled rendition with a prominent bass undercurrent, bluesy guitar and subtle brass and woodwind all glued together by soulful vocals.
12. (We’re Gonna) Raise Some Sand – Opening with drums and boogie-woogie piano and referencing rockin’ saxophone the final track features several excellent instrumental breaks as Annti tells the story of a real cool band that plays the beat all night long.
Well, what can I say about my first foray into Finnish rock ‘n’ roll! The Million Dollar Tones certainly can rock pulling on many influences from jump jive, rhythm & blues, doo wop and western swing. Some great versions of tunes that are not that well known or generally covered and some excellent original tunes of which for me What About Me and Like a Diamond are two gems.
If, like me, you are unaware of the Million Dollar Tones, I recommend you give them a try, you may just find your toe start tapping.
1. Teen Age Love
2. Someday Somewhere
3. What About Me
4. A Lover’s Prayer
5. Send Me Some Lovin’
6. Loud Mouth Suzy
7. Million $ Baby
8. My Gal from Lafayette
9. Howlin’ the Moon
10. Like a Diamond
11. Sittin’ on a Boat Dock
12. (We’re Gonna) Raise Some Sand