The Rockets- Take Me Back
Vinyl or cd release? Cd
Release Date: 16th May 2023 Reviewed 18th April 2023 by Dave Diamond
The Band: Vocals Hayden Reagen Drums Brian Martin Guitar/Sax John O’Malley Backing vox John Brian and Kurt Piano Krzysztof Strzelczyk
Slap Bass Kurt Simms Produced and Mixed by John O’Malley Mastered by John O’Malley Front cover artwork by: John O’Malley
Let’s have a listen to the tracks: I Still Love You All – Kenny ball and his jazzmen April 1961 and then by Vince Riccio in September of the same year with a more up-tempo version… The Rockets have hit the bullseye with their version… the musicianship is top notch, backing vocals spot on from John, Kurt, Brian Kurt , Kurt on the bass, guitar via John, Krzysztofs piano and Brians drums are all exceptional and Hayden’s lead vocal has so much range… this really is a fantastic opening track…I’ve seen the band do it live too and it’s one not to miss…! I Could Have Danced All Night – cover of the Chubby Checker version from 1961.. this is a great dance track and the backing bass vocal and the all-round backing doo-wop style really makes this tune… the first guitar instrumental break from John is fabulous and the second with that lovely piano section by Krzysztof is a great addition, this tune is going to be a massive HIT on the jive circuit! Seventeen – recorded by Boyd Bennett and His Rockets in 1955..here the quintet have injected a real bounce to this number and again the musicianship is tremendous with the instrumental break once again fabulous and lead vocal on the money… the mix is just right and all levels are first class. Take your jacket off and hit that dance floor daddio’s! Take Me Back – original track written by John O’Malley.. this one is a stroller, and has a great beat to it, with the guitar licks that sit higher in the mix and with the pluckin’ bass, sax and drums just sitting behind it’s perfect and once again the piano adds that extra spice to the boiling pot!… this is a real catchy number both musically and lyrically and I really love it…so much so that at 3 minutes 14 I’m just gonna have to play it again! Check it out folks! Don’t Stop Loving Me – this fab jiver written and performed by Eugene Church 66 years ago… a higher lead vocal than the original that once again has great backing vocals, and I’ve got to say the musical accompaniment catapults this tune right up to date and it’s another track that’s in the bands live set and guaranteed to fill the dancefloor… this really is such an outstanding cover. Milkshake Mademoiselle – the guys take on the Jerry Lee Lewis classic that’s 13 seconds longer than the 1950’s version…really liking the drum patterns, the piano is pumpin’ and the guitar roaring with the fab slapping bass completing the rhythm section… this is slightly slower than the original and has a terrific snappy feel to it… another great lead vocal. Goody Goody – Frankie Lymon did this number live back in 1957 on the Ed Sullivan Show, this is an outstanding version…really showcasing The Rockets as an exceptional band… fabulous vocal harmonies, musicianship and lots of range on the lead vocal… once again the piano takes first instrumental section and the fab geetar takes on the second, joined with a steady drum beat and bass rhythm section… wowsville… what a great choice of track to include on this release…dig man dig! Percolator – nice jive tempo on this Boots Randolph tune, that was originally released on RCA back in 1958…Another great number from the band that’s gonna be a sure-fire hit on the club scene…John also plays the sax on this track! At just over 2 minutes both the original and this excellent version I would have loved another verse. Love Train – love this version of the Jackie Wilson hit.. the band have really nailed it on this mid-temp paced tune and it’s great to hear a present-day group cover this top track…lovely harmony vocals once again, great drumming on this track really keeps it moving along and awesome guitar work, bass is slappingly brill with fantastic dulcet tones on the lead vocal.. this one’s sure to be a floor filler! Sapphire – Big Danny Oliver number and The Rockets take it on and send it into orbit… this is a great version of the classic and another that’s gonna get lots of airplay for sure…awesome stroller just like the poriginal… the whole band excel on this rendition of the 1958 tune that’s written by Jack Hammer… Over & Over – is a song written by Robert James Byrd and recorded by him using the stage name Bobby Day… the singer describes going to a party with misgivings of having a good time, until he sees a pretty girl. The singer attempts to ask her out, but she is waiting for her date to arrive. He vows to try "over and over". The Rockets take it on and do a fabulous interpretation… everything is just perfect on this version… it’s so fantastic to hear them do this number… it sure does glide and flow along from start to finish. Put Your Head On My Shoulder – Paul Anka classic and self-penned.. here’s slow number and a welcome addition to this 13 track C.D.. the penultimate track that has great vocal harmonies and lots of range on the lead vocal… it seriously could be right outta the late 50’s as a long lost cover track! Cold Cold Heart – Hank Williams in 1950 and then Dinah Washington in 1951..here the band bring it into 2023… here the rockets change this slow tune into a mid-paced jiver..wow.. what an exceptional interpretation and delivery from the four guys on this final number…it personifies everything that a dance tune should be… what a belter… knockout indeed! In their own words – The band was formed in 2018 originally called Rich and the Rockets, Rich left just before lockdown, pagan Gould joined for a while but also departed due to other commitments, which then led to Hayden joining in 2021. John joined the band somewhere in the middle of all this after helping out on occasions. The main influences are varied, mainly focusing on popular jive tracks that other bands don’t do, we try to dress differently from the other bands which then gives us our individuality.
Anything special about the recordings for the readers? The recording was done at MalleyCat studio, in a kind of jigsaw fashion, all parts were put on separately, no one actually recorded together, it was then a case of gluing it all together. The gigs are becoming more frequent with our popularity , it’s all looking good for the future . Distribution: Facebook and gigs: https://www.facebook.com/TheRocketsRocknRollBand YOU TUBE CLIPS: https://youtu.be/vrxJO4QBreM https://youtu.be/Ke9ebQKL2rg CLOSING COMMENTS ABOUT THE ALBUM: What a pleasure to review this 13 track C.D. It’s their first as The Rockets and what a stupendous release it is. You really have gotta go and buy this album and get to see this band live and seriously give your ears are blasting to the dynamic sound of The Rockets… this is a terrific release so do not delay folks!
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Reviewed by Dave Diamond