The Hicks Men - 12 Gut Scratching Scorchers
Released: April 2023, available by email firstname.lastname@example.org Recorded live at the Chicken Pen Studio 20/21st December 2022. Special thanks to Alain Neau/Lilian “Pultec” Quintanilla/Billy Folchi. Reviewed by Terry Mead 12/05/2023.
12 Gut Scratching Scorchers by The Hicks Men from Toulouse, France is a Rockabilly trio without drums formed at the dawn of 2022 by three well-known musicians from the Rock n Roll world.
So, who’s in the band? Sylvain-Vocals & Rhythm, formerly at the head of Jack Face & The Volcanoes. Alain Neau-Lead Guitar, a multi-instrumentalist who has been raging for many years behind many artists of 50s style, played guitar with Ervin Travis Band. Dominique Melet-Double Bass, formally part of the brilliant trio Shorty Tom & The Longshots.
This album is the first The Hicks Men have recorded; it contains 12 rare Rockabilly cover songs from the 1950s & 60s.
Let’s review track by track : Back Forty- We hit the needle with this Jim Oertling track and I’m sure he would have been proud of The Hicks Men’s rendition of his tune, plenty of echo and gutsy guitar playing.
Darlene-Moving on with this cover of Jack Southern’s 1964 song, again The Hicks Men have captured that authentic sound that the original held, just the female singer missing in the background, but this doesn’t detract their composition by any means.
Skid Row- Close your eyes and listen this is so close to Merle Haggard's rendition: its uncanny awesome cover of the great man’s track. The old twang of the guitar really produces that Western country sound of bygone days.
Wooper Snooper- Superb guitar playing instrumental: if that’s your thing then this one's for you.
My Chicken Pen- Warren Robbe’s 1958 rare Hillbilly/Rockabilly crossover tune again the Hicks Men have captured the moment with the sound especially the guitar picking riff.
Don’t You Love Me – This one certainly a tribute to the late great Glen Glenn in style and original sound with a bouncy Rockabilly beat throughout.
The End Of The Hunt- A Bozo Darnell composition, none other and I’m so glad it’s not the end of the CD. Boy, do they get better. The echo and picking on this track really authenticate that Bozo sound.
Louisiana Gambler- Another Jim Oertling cover with the pace picked up slightly but keeping that old deep south sound. The guitars shine out on this track with picking and pace along with Sylvain’s country vocals.
Silence Baby-A Groovy Joe Poovey number straight from the vaults with a punchy beat and no drums but the guitars certainly improvise for that. Another well replicated track by The Hicks Men.
Rolling On – Hundred miles per hour guitar picking with some twanging breaks and the bass playing along whilst the echoing voice of Sylvain tells us the storyline of how he keeps the cattle ‘Rolling On’.
The World’s Greatest Blackout- Originally a Rockabilly/Gospel mix done by The Candy Singers, a family Gospel group, this version I would say leans more towards the Rockabilly side. A great upbeat number which will have you handclapping and foot stomping all the way.
Cotton Pickin’- 1959 MIckey Hawks & The Night Raiders resounding instrumental better known for Bip Bop Boom, complete with all the raunchy guitar playing and background noises.
To summarise: Well twelve little gems very rarely heard have found their way onto The Hicks Men’s first recorded album, they have certainly done their homework in producing such an original sound on all of them. Covers are two a penny on the commercial stuff but to go with twelve virtually unheard tracks on a first album and make them sound so original is a clever feat, highly recommend you get your copy soon!
The Hicks Men is a kind of super roots primitive rockabilly proto very influenced by the gradeless American rockabilly of the 50s/60s.