JOHN LEWIS TRIO
THE BILLY BANKS SESSIONS
PRESS TONE (PT002CD)
Making Believe, Lay Back And Be Cool, Belgium Bars, Not Quite The Not, Drunk, Rollin', The Honky Tonk Song, Got No Time, Opinions, He'll Have To Go, Black Cat, The One I Love, Looking For Money, Mmm Ba Ba, Hard Travelling.
Every now and then a band turns up with a blaster and this year it's the John Lewis Trio with their fabulous album of rock'n'roll and rockabilly ravers. Surprisingly, most of this CD was recorded live on a defunct housing estate in Penarth, South Wales called The Billy Banks. In the process the band captured a glorious sound, obviously enjoying every second. There's nothing refined or sophisticated about this music and that's what makes it good - the fifteen tracks seem to have been dipped in the special dust that blew over early Sun recordings and it's given them a great authentic sound.
Lewis plays some jumping guitar that reminds me of Carl Perkins because of his sharp picking style and clanging energy and he's helped out by second guitarist and dedicated believer Joe Guillian along with various drummers and bassists who never put a foot wrong. He's also got a voice that is perfectly suited to his material sounding confident and authoritative on every song from the country feel of Not Quite The Not and the hard driving anthem Rollin' to Jimmy Liggins's bawled out Drunk and Mel Tillis's barroom bopper Honky Tonk Song and the Jim Reeves classic He'll Have To Go which gets a rollicking Crickets treatment.
The John Lewis Trio has the knack of taking a song and wrapping it up in a treatment that the original writer wouldn't believe in a most enjoyable way. Listen to them unravel Woody Guthrie's Hard Travelling and rebuild it as a rock'n'roll smorgasbord that has Billy Lee Riley written all over it. And could The One I Love really be that dreary R.E.M tune beefed up into this piece of country rock that wouldn't be out of place on a Dave Alvin CD?
Excellent stuff - as good as anything America has to offer. Da Iawn! As we say in Wales...
Review Date: August 2011