Sunday, December 05, 2010

Fatboy are back with another instalment of premier twang that would immediately be right at home on the True Blood soundtrack. They’re capable of doing bad things to you but with the best of intentions. Entitled “Overdrive”, there is no Bachman or Turner but plenty rockabilly thrills.

It’s not easy to evoke a tangible mix of The Mavericks and The Cramps with shades of Isaak and Orbison. The songs are great and their sense of dynamic sets them apart from most every team of roots rock weirdoes. On the surface it all seems very traditional but there’s a three dimensionalness that breathes fresh life into their swingin’ rattle and roll.

The title cut builds on the notion of Deep Purple’s "Highway Star" as cut at Sun. The opener “Bad News From Pretty Red Lips” is something that Lux could have sung and would be easy to compare to Jace Everett’s TV theme. What I like about Fatboy is that they don’t operate in a claustrophobic pigeonhole. They’re kind of combo that should be on (inter)national TV, cutting a swathe outside of the Jools Holland clique. “What Would Elvis Do?” they ask, well it occurs to me that he might want to jump on stage and join in. A concise 10 songs , in – out and a fair amount of shakin’ it all about with a side of panache.

That brings me to a guy who might just be Scotland’s best kept secret, Mr John Miller. There are a number of individuals from up this way that seem to have a higher profile but in my opinion aren’t fit to be mentioned in the same sentence. So I won’t. “Still Carrying A Flame” is the latest by this onetime Radio Sweetheart, abetted by his Country Casuals and the first release by Charles Staines’ Folk’n’Western Recording Co. imprint.

It seems like a lifetime ago that Sid Griffin and I were standing watching The Sweethearts in Glasgow’s King Tuts. They were playing “Living Without You” and this was a song so potent that it had to have been a cover. But it wasn’t. Incidentally, this set features a revisited version of “Take Me Back To San Francisco” another song by John’s old combo. He is also accompanied here by his old amigo, the ubiquitous Sir Francis of Macdonald.

Contagious country that takes the odd foray into the outskirts of western swing then, in addition to tidy songs, John’s voice is a vital component. He’s a veritable Don Gibson and I think that “Take It From Someone Who Knows” could sit nicely on roots radio alongside “Sea Of Heartbreak”. These tunes tug on the old ticker pretty darn good. One thing’s for sure, this guy deserves to a be a lot more famous than he is. When those galoots that think they can write come to their senses then they might yet beat a path to John’s door. I sure hope so. And I really wish he’d cut a definitive version of “Living Without You” because the Swing Set version is good but this is still an anthem in waiting in the opinion of these ears.

1 comment:

Nick West said...

John Miller's is certainly the best classic country record I've heard this year. If it's still Sunday and you're in London he's playing tonight at The Golden Lion in Royal College St, Camden at 6.30, supported by Ben Folke Thomas (5.30) - also excellent.