The Barnestormers - Self titled.
Released 2022 on the Bloodlines Label through Warner Music UK Reviewed Thursday 28th June 2023 by Warren The Barnestormers’ first album is Rockabilly at it’s ROCKIN’ BEST !
Who’s in the band? The band is a collaborative effort featuring the talents of Australia’s Rock ‘n’ Soul icon Jimmy Barnes on vocals paying tribute to his teenage Rockabilly heroes ably assisted by fellow Ocker and Living End Psychobilly front man Chris Cheney on Guitar, Stray Cats Drummer the legendary Slim Jim Phantom, the UK group Squeeze Pianist and music variety host Jools Holland rounds the sound off. All produced by multi band legend South African, Kevin Shirley.
The brain child of legendary Cold Chisel front man Jimmy Barnes, is a labour of love tribute to his formative early musical influences and features mainly covers of classic Rockabilly tracks as well as three originals, one each by Jimmy Barnes, Chris Cheney and another fellow Aussie song writer Don Walker who wrote Johnny’s Gone, the feature single from the album.
Review: SWEET LOVE ON MY MIND – The great cover of the Johnny Burnette & The Rock’n’Roll Trio 1956 classic, kicks the album off in style and raises expectations for what other Rockabilly delights may follow.
WORKING FOR THE MAN– Roy Orbison composed and released this double A Side classic B/W Leah, in 1962. Jimmy Barnes and the boys give it a whole new life and it really rocks with style. Roy would have been pleased with this version.
JOHNNY’S GONE – The Don Walker original is a revival Rockabilly track that shows the skills of this great combo off perfectly including Jimmy’s great vocals. The accompanying cartoon video* has all the teen danger and car fuelled excitement of the Rockabilly genre.
LONESOME TRAIN– Hey, how great can an album get when you just get your breath from the opening tracks and BOOM, another great Johnny Burnette cover hits you and it’s even more feral than the first.
THIRTEEN WOMEN (AND ONLY ONE MAN)– Rock Around The Clock was the monster A Side in 1954 for Bill Haley & His Comets, the B Side was a nifty little rocker too, but The Barnestormers make it really swing. Probably my favourite track on the album and it rounds off Side 1. Perfectly.
DEAR DAD - A lesser known Chuck Berry track from 1965 get’s the Barnestormer treatment along with great ivories by Jools, Jimmy’s vocals are perfect and session side man Ron Dziubla plays some great Sax into the mix.
CRAZY, CRAZY LOVIN’ – A rare Rockabilly classic originally recorded by Jonny Carroll & The Hot Rocks in 1956 is another winner.
SWEET NOTHIN’S – This cover song with menace by Jimmy, gives a whole new feel to the 1959 Brenda Lee iconic hit written by cult Rockabilly artist Ronnie Self.
LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY – The collaborative composition by Don Walker and Jimmy Barnes, is more to the feel of a classic Barnes track, very R’n’B and VERY down’n’dirty in the lyrics, which make the listener sit up and go Hmm Okay!.
REAL WILD CHILD - Jimmy pay’s tribute to the legendary Aussie 1950’s King of Rock’n’Roll , Johnny O’Keefe, with his sizzling cover of the 1958 classic. Iggy Pop’s version couldn’t hold a candle to this penultimate track on the Barnestormers album.
25 TO LIFE– The Living End’s Chris Cheney did the Barnestormers proud with this sizzling original for the album closer, which (like the rest of the album) shows off the stellar talents of all involved.
Summary: The Barnestormers album was cobbled together with the collective efforts of the legendary musicians who recorded their contributions separately in three continents, all enabled by the technical wizardry of producer Kevin Shirley. Another member who binds the Rockabilly parts together is the quintessential Psychobilly Slap Bass man Thomas Lorioux. This album was a complete surprise and not really what we might have expected from Jimmy Barnes. The tracks individually, seem a mixed bag that on the face of it, shouldn’t work as cohesive album, the idea of which had been brewing between Jimmy Barnes and drummer Slim Jim Phantom for 20 years. It’s a rare thing when notable or iconic musicians make an album as parts of a band they were not noted for, but like the Travelling Wilbury’s, it definitely works, it swings and really rocks like a true classic Rockabilly album should. I’m sure that all those involved are thrilled with the result and my prediction is it probably won’t sell a million copies, but will become a cult classic album and I won’t be surprised if there’s more to come.
Recommendation GET IT ON VINYL ! YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtUNr7BCPMU
Reviewed by Warren Voight From Dunedin, New Zealand, a music historian, collector, songwriter and presenter of 360 DEGREES ‘ROUND WAZROCK on Otago Access Radio 105.4 FM or www.oar.org.nz