|Blues Bop Boogie, Kevin Fennell
Windsor Music BMI, 2006
Let me just start this review of Kevin's latest album with a quote from Kevin himself, which he wrote in the letter that accompanied the CD:
"For my last CD my wife wanted me to do a Rockabilly album. I thought that was a great idea so we made "Rock-A-Billy Boom Bam!". Before that I wanted to do a Blues album so we made "Mo' Blues!, Mo' Blues!, Mo' Blues!". But I'll tell you what, this time I decided to make a Kevin Fennell album. Maybe that means it can't be called a "Rockabilly" album or a "Blues" album. But then again, I think it can, depending on who is listening. There is too much music out there and too much inside me to put into one bag. I think it fits into several different bags and relates to them all. I'll play what I feel and hope some others will like it too. So here is something for your listening enjoyment and my latest contribution to the cause."
End of quote. Well, what shall I make of it? Rockabilly or Blues? I think the album title "Boogie Bop Blues" sums it all up. I've known Kevin for quite some time, and I already knew he can't be held captive in blues-box, a rockabilly-box, or any kind of box. He's got so much energy and creativity, he just has to let it all out. And he did some great stuff in his long carreer, ranging from jazz to funk, from blues to rock 'n' roll, from hillbilly to rockabilly. And all the way back again. And although Kevin states that this time he's making a "Kevin Fennell" album, I just know that he enjoyed doing all the rest too, and he always did it "Fennell Style".
So, after having been warned that it's not all rock 'n' roll on this silver platter, we'll just let the music speak for itself. Hitting off with a blues strut titled "Foxy Mama Strut", a fabulous brand new stomper with lots of Kevin's guitar wizzardry. No matter what you call it, it rocks! Great to hear Kev's voice again, 'cause that's really something else too. One of those voices that you recognize immediately, raw, rocking, bluesy, and ultimately suitable for a smoky greasers bar.
On "Nothin' But Jump" Kevin plays some cool Les Paul style riffs, and I know he's a big Les Paul fan. Cewl blues harp by Joel Gossman. On track 3, Ray Campi hops in, plucking his upright bass with a vengeance on the rockabilly song "Bakerfield Baby", a memorial tribute to Buck Owens who sadly passed away very recently. "Lonely Red Blues" is a another blues stomper, also with Ray on bass, Joel on harmonica, and Kevin picking some mean blues licks.
"Wicked Wipeout" is just what the title implies. Mainly based on the old Ventures classic, played rough and tough like a modern day Dick Dale, here's a surf instrumental not to be missed. And after that, Kevin swings over the rudder completely and goes on with a catchy skiffle-like tune named "Hilo Moon" with Marc Bristol scratching the washboard. We ain't done yet! More skiffle-bop with some rockabilly on "Big Train Beat", also with Ray & Marc.
Next is "Highway 55", something totally different again. I guess you could call it a bluesy funk song, on which Kevin takes on the electric bass, and he can handle it as well as his electric guitar. Back to the basics of the blues with "If The Blues Don't Quit Me". Playing the blues just comes natural to Kevin. Great lyrics too, did I mention that Kevin wrote all the tracks on this album himself? Good job!
On track 10 "Mad Dog Mama" Kev opens up all registers and throws in blues, funk and rock 'n' roll, all at the same time. A fast rocker with lotsa varieties in the rhythm, and drummer James Wilinski showing off his skills on the skins. The title song "Blues Bop Boogie" is an authentic rockabilly track with Ray back on the doghouse bass. The closer is titled "Stratocaster Blaster", a fast instrumental with some strange sounds that can only be called "Fennell-effects". If you dig the famous Strat players like Chris Black, Hank Marvin, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton, you kan now add Kevin Fennell to your list. Great album!
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Reviewed by The BlackCat, 2006