RUSTIO STEEL & THE STAR TONES - HEY D.J.!
Released 10th February 2023 via @Western Star records Reviewed by Nick 'Rockin Doc' Kemp 23rd Feb Buy the album here: https://www.western-star.co.uk/.../hey-dj-its-rusti.../
Rusti Steel and The Star Tones are:
Rusti Steel - Vocals /Guitar / piano Stewart Dale - Bass / backing vocals / harmonica Lloyd Mills - rhythm guitar Andy Meadows - Drums Ben Turner - Drums on I Lost My Cool
Rusti Steel is the real deal, He is a one -man embodiment of roots music: country, blues, rockabilly, hillbilly, western-swing, and rock and roll, Rusti has not only mastered all of these disparate arts, but he moves between them, sometimes within the same song, with consummate ease. Just when you were building up all the ammunition to hate him on grounds of his sublime abilities, I must inform you that a more humble and gentle man you really could not hope to meet. So, what of his new offering Hey D.J. s his first release since 2017’s Don’t Take the Rhythm from the Blues? The good news is that it passes muster – and then some!
‘You move me’ is a terrific opening track. It is a stroller, but it has Little Richard written all over it and that is in before the piano comes in. This is despite the fact that Rusti‘s voice is nothing like Little Richard, rather it is like a combination of the country twang of Hank Williams, but with considerably more power and sustain making his voice not only a pleasure to listen to but also very adaptable and versatile. It is such versatility that enables Rusti to produce polished examples of country, blues, rock and roll and western swing.’ Like an eight ball in the pocket, like the blast from a rocket, you do something to me, send shivers right though me, you move me, oooooooo you move me’, its fantastic as are the backing vocals towards the end of the track.
Track two is entirely different and is deeply rooted in the blues ‘You Can’t Stop Rhythm’, replete with foot stomps is another splendid track showing the dark side of Rusti.
‘I Ain’t Looking For a Fight’ has a much breezier, jazzy outlook with Rusti alternating between conventional guitar and the lap steel, both of which Rusti has every right to call himself a master.
Hey D.J. makes good use of dynamics with lots of stops and the band collectively shouting ‘Rock’ followed by ‘roll’, it is in the western swing vein once more.
‘Somebody Told You’ is impeccable rockabllly that is not that different in structure from ‘Crazy, Crazy Loving’, but the way in which Rusti delvers the word ‘Somebody’ is priceless. In addition to all of his other skills he is evidently a master of phraseology.
‘Sweet Ruby’ sees, faultless double bassist, Stewart Dale take lead vocal duties on a song that he also wrote. Stew has a fine voice that is rendered even better when Rusti sings harmonies. The two voices on this number are quite delightful and the whole thing is under-pinned by judicious use of harmonica that is never obtrusive, there is also an absolutely super guitar solo which conjures up images of Mickey Gee from Shaky’s band in the early to mid-eighties with that glorious sound perhaps best epitomised by his solo in Green Door.
‘I’m a Rocker’ is perhaps the most overt statement that we have heard from Rusti that he is indeed a rocker with ‘rock and roll pumping through his veins’. Though anyone who has seen Rusti perform ‘Big Sandy’ live would be in no doubt about his rocking credentials. I implore Rusti to play ‘I‘m a Rocker’ live, it is a gem.
‘Lost My Cool’ is a lament about losing a love and losing one’s cool in response. It is at heart a bluesy number and the song is cemented by some superb rhythm guitar playing on an acoustic.
‘To Say the Least, Baby You’re the Most’ sounds very much like an ode to Rusti’s beloved and it is absolutely charming.
‘Dance Baby Dance’ is in essence another stroller, but with numerous stops. It has tremendous groove to it and is an absolute winner of track.
‘Let’s Rock (C’Mon and Roll)’ begins with the dirtiest guitar tone that I have yet to hear emanate from Rusti’s speaker cabinet, but this is skilfully paired up with the ultra-clean sound of the steel guitar. The song is also memorable for Rusti’s superb vocals especially when he exclaims ‘Cos tonight we’re gonna shake this shack’. There is also an absolutely beautiful steel guitar solo in here.
here is as, I have already illustrated, plenty to wax lyrical about here, but it is far better to let the music do the talking and I hope that four or five of the songs on this fantastic album might find their way into an already heavily congested set list. This man is a marvel, buy his disc.