|I Itch, Johnny Legend
BlueLight Records BLR33173-2
This disc starts out like a sucker punch to the face. It just demands your attention and holds on to it for the duration of the whole CD. That's saying something!
Sure, times are tough and money is tight. We're all going through it... so I'll make it easy for you. BUY THIS ONLY IF YOU LIKE LOUD, LIVELY, ROCKIN', CRAZY MUSIC! If you're easily offended, or only like music that fits neatly into a pretty little package, or only listen to authentic blah blah blah... move on. But for the rest of us, this album is 31 flavors of awesome!
I get a fair bit of music sent to me to review, or just to ask my opinion. Along with those come press clippings and press releases. I usually just skim those, or refer to them for additional info. The press release for this disc is so good that I might have it framed!
If you're not already hip to Johnny Legend, where the hell have you been? He entered my personal library in the 1980s with the 'Teenage Cruisers' soundtrack. For those unfamiliar, it was the ultimate introduction to the LA/west coast rockabilly scene of the day. A few years later, after I joined The Rowdy Bovines, we were regularly covering his classic "Soakin' The Bone". Johnny Legend has never been a household name, but to those of us into the seedy underbelly of rock & roll, movies, wrestling, etc... he truly lives up to his name. When I heard he was working on a new record for Blue Light, to say that I was excited would be an understatement. If you’re not familiar with him…Google him. His biography alone should pique your interest enough to check out this release.
Let's get down to the meat and potatoes. What can you, the listening public, expect from this release? "I Itch" is a combination of original and cover material... but I won't bother with the usual Who Wrote What, because when Johnny Legend takes on a song, he takes it over completely!
Starting out with "I Itch (Like A Sonuvabitch!", you know you're in for a wild ride! The song practically explodes out of your speakers, or headphones, or ear buds, or whatever you're listening on. This song is classic Johnny Legend. High energy, witty, and a tad creepy. And it's just the first song! You'll probably find yourself hitting the repeat button a few times. I know I did!
From there it's on to a true Legend classic, "Mexican Love". If you're unfamiliar with Legend's song about the joys of his sexual preference for Mexican girls, this is a great version! THIS is rock and roll folks. "5th & Main" slows things down just a tad, with a dark, minor key, rockin' honky tonk number. Again, Legend's lyrics are one-of-a-kind... and that's why we love him. He's a good singer... but he'll never be confused with Elvis. In fact, he probably would have scared the hell out of Mr. Presley!
"I'm Loaded" should get all the modern rockabillies boppin'! Horton Heat wishes he could rock like this! Special mention has to be made of the Fightin' Finnabillies. These guys are spectacular musicians from Finland, and there's a strong chance that you've heard them back other artists, as well as performing and recording on their own. These are serious musicians. They'll outplay most bands but they manage to keep up the fun and energy of the music.
"Wild Love" is a dark, almost Latin number... and I'm sure that you can guess the lyrical content. Remember, this is Johnny Legend, not some lame wannabe crooner. Miki Lamarr's backing vocals really add a special something extra to this outstanding track.
Before you get the chance to think that the record is going to slow down, Legend & Co. tear into a down & dirty blues dirge on "My Baby Ditched Me". Just when you think you've got Johnny Legend's latest album figured out, he throws you a curve ball! "One Way Or Another" is... yep, you guessed it... a cover of a Blondie song! That said, he rocks it hard! He also adds a truly creepy, almost stalker-ish quality to the lyrics. While Debbie Harry's version might have seemed sexy, this comes across more like a peeping Tom describing his M.O.!
There are just no duds in this bunch of songs! This is the kind of record you play LOUDLY at a party. Folks will either be dancing or too busy listening and grooving. The disc ends with a real treat to fans of the great old spooky movies. If you remember Dr. Syn/The Scarecrow/Dr. Clegg/The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, then you'll be familiar with the closing track, which Johnny Legend & His Fighting Finnabillies do great justice to!
Like I said, this release is loud, crazy, creepy fun. If you don't dig that... your loss. There are plenty of us out here who love it! Thank you Johnny Legend and Blue Light Records for this great, great record! This is just what I needed to hear! - MM
Available on CD and Limited Edition 12" Vinyl LP.
Rockabilly Hall of Fame:
Reviewed by Memphis Mike, 2014