ROCKABILLY WITHOUT BORDERS - VARIOUS ARTISTS
Released by Sharawaji Records , 26th January 2023 Reviewed by Kate 6th February 2023 Buy it here: https://sharawaji.bandcamp.com/.../rockabilly-without...
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love travelling. In fact, I wrote the first lines of this review in my friend’s house in Abu Dhabi and the rest of it in Sydney, Australia.. But what if you could get the same thrill of exploring new places without leaving the comfort of your own home? The incredibly ambition Rockabilly Without Borders compilation draws twenty three tracks from some countries where, quite frankly, I had no idea that they even had a rockabilly scene as well as some big global names we associate with the finest of Rockin’ music. It’s astounding how far rockabilly has spread across the globe and how innovative musicians can be within the genre, and this is a compilation that you will revisit, an absolute hidden gem that would deserve a spot in Atlas Obscura If it was a statue. Without further ado, let’s take a trip around the world….
Boogie Company - Aarlinna Kass (Estonia) Somehow both peppy with a stunning crooning vocal, there’s a sense of fun about this whole song. The sudden jump in on the backing vocals and the seductive guitar are both brilliant.
Red Clyde and the Bonnies - Chica Gangster (Valencia, Spain) We’ve got sax, we’ve got relish on the vocals, we’ve got slow and chill mixed with a light jumping rhythm guitar… this is ticking so many boxes for me and I wish it lasted for longer.
Eddie y Los Grasosos- Descontrolado (Mexico) We all know the Mexican psychobilly scene is vibrant, but what about the rockabilly scene? Short answer: yes, absolutely, if this song is anything to go by. Brilliant slap bass and a slight eighties energy on the guitar bring this fifties style rocker straight up to date, and the screaming breakdown is an unexpected delight. Playful, passionate and fun.
Southern Boys - Love or Not (Rock n Roll) (Thailand) Hey, every country has a southern side, so why not southern Thailand? A smooth, lo-fi delight with enough doo-wop touches to make it cute without fully losing that rocking edge. The vocal flourishes and building on the backing are wonderful and so is that chiming guitar. You’ll be humming ‘shooby-dooby-dup’ for days.
Radio Nyanya - The Best City in The World (Russia) Friends of Slap That Bass and released on a Turkish label, these guys are the definition of rockabilly without borders on their own. I really love that they’ve dipped their vocals in honey and kept their sound romantic while still dropping in that punkish guitar.
Johnny and the Dodgers - Viitostie (Finland) This is such a sunny song that I found myself smiling while writing this. A bouncing melody with a chorus to get your shoulders moving are the highlights along with the toe-tapping guitar.
Billy Briliantine - Ma Baby Est Folle (Du Rock n Roll) (France) A little too jazz for my taste, but dang, that slap bass can pop! I’m in love with the ‘go go go!’ intro and claps fizzing in the background in this number about realising your lady is a rockabilly.
The Harpagans - Mr Hyde (Poland) A bit darker, this is the perfect soundtrack to blast on your black Cadillac as you roll through the streets of Krakow. I was not expecting brass to jump in halfway through, but it works with the tapping slap bass.
Positiva - La Ragazza (Italy) I have a bit of a soft spot for Italian rockabilly as it all sounds like it’s the soundtrack to a vintage spy movie, and this song is no exception. Subtle brass, passionate vocals and a singalong chorus over a tiptoeing sixties guitar makes this a top track.
Black Frogs - Ha Szol a RnR (Hungary) Peppy piano on this bonus track. Easy-going without being lazy and using some classic rhythms, this is an absolute winner.
Igor and the Red Elvises - I Want My Honda Back (USA) Yes, they’re one of the bigger names on this comp and the Red Elvises do not disappoint. Irreverent lyrics and Eugene Hutz-styled vocals bring this laugh-out-loud track to life, and the organ in the background makes this tragic tale of a man’s lost Honda Civic a brilliant tune.
Johnny Pandora - Yokohama Cruisin’ (Japan) Boy wonder Johnny Pandora models, acts, performs over two hundred solo shows a year and somehow still has time to go cruising around Yokohama, as we learn in this little number with hot piano and fiery classic tones on his guitar. Definitely one of my favourite songs on this record from the poster boy for the Japanese rockin’ scene.
The Hydrant - Penyani Bali (Indonesia) I never would have thought that a flute would be a rockabilly instrument, but then again, I also never would have thought Indonesia would have produced smooth, exciting, summertime rockin tunes. Plug in your headphones and drift back in time and across oceans with this danceable number.
Cactus Cowboys - Cactus Cowboys (Netherlands) Home to the mighty Batmobile, the Netherlands has also produced this raucous country group who would play so well at the European festivals, bringing their bouncy hoedown energy to the crowds. The kind of song you could easily sink a couple of beverages while listening to.
Murry Robe - Miss Anne (Canada) Lo-fi gold from the self proclaimed ‘Rock n Roll Laureate’, this is the kind of song which deserves a narrative music video in black and white. The subtle piano touches and uncomplicated guitar line pay off big time.
Tom Toxic - Rockabilly, Beer und Frauen (Germany) Performing away from his usual band, the Holstein Rockets, Tom Toxic knows what he likes and it’s Rockabilly, beer and girls. A great party song with a cowboy beat that only the German scene can produce with a straight face.
Old Chevy & Biquini Cavadão - Janaina (Brazil) A great sound clash with the last song, it’s the song you’ll find a holiday romance while listening to at a beach bar. The tempo is gorgeous and so are the layers of vocals.
PSI - Ostani Jos Dan (Serbia) Darker, faster and this lonely western guitar clash make this a great little song and I’m loving what these guys are doing. It’s atmospheric without getting too far into brooding psycho and keeps us on our toes in every sense of the phrase.
Mississippi Queen - Tanja (Croatia) Relaxed and almost acoustic, this song is the flip side of the PSI track. It’s astounding the breadth of music which has been combined on this compilation and they’ve absolutely achieved their aim to showcase the full world of rockabilly. This tune could definitely be on a Wes Anderson movie during a scene where a couple fall in love.
Jim Jeffries - Headin’ West (UK) Representing the UK and doing us very proud indeed is Mr Jim Jeffries, brining in a fast-paced country number about movin’ on and headin’ out. John Lindberg Trio vibes about and the harshness of his voice bring a reality and immediacy to proceedings. It’s a brilliant, angry song that’s a highlight on this comp.
Ezra Lee - Hey Mr Piano Man (Australia) Melbourne hero and another Slap That Bass alumni, the piano legend has recorded with Linda Gail Lewis on previous releases and including this spooky piano dance party number on the compilation is a stroke of genius. I always imagine skeletons would dance to this and Lee’s voice is always a delight.
Director of the Azov Sea - Na Krilah Kohannya (Ukraine) The Ukrainian scene has understandably got a lot of attention recently, and I wish it was under better circumstances because it’s always been a fertile ground for rockin’ music to grow. Another smoother number with abrasive trumpet cutting through the restrained slap bass. There’s a longing in the lead vocals which is so easy to fall for, and this is a song which will catch you unawares.
Crazy Cubes - Frollein Jennefer (Austria) …and to finish off our journey, we’ve got a very on brand pure rockabilly track from the always-exciting Austrian four-piece, taking us back to our roots while still reminding us of the excitement present in every corner of the scene. The slap bass is working overtime and the vocalist is taking no breaks to describe his ‘beautiful girl Jennefer’.
This album is as much a celebration and an education as it is a compilation. There’s big names, small names, familiar names and bands you will want to google as soon as you realise that what they’re doing is super cool and so far away from some of the more familiar rockin’ scenes. It’s an absolute box of treats and worth every penny, whichever currency you pay in.