Archive for the ‘Rockbrat Introduces You To:’ Category

Kanako rock 'n' roll - 7th Ave. Yokohama. Photo (c) C. GRAY

Kanako rock ‘n’ roll – 7th Ave. Yokohama. Photo (c) C. GRAY

I have long been a fan of Kanako Nakayama – who is every bit as rock ‘n’ roll as Joan Jett. She is the real deal, and for the better part of almost twenty years has fronted her own band, the amazing VooDoo Hawaiians, a band whom I big fan of. In the 1980s, Kanako Nakayama was guitar player with all girl band Princess Princess, one of the biggest bands in Japan of that decade.

 

Before I rabbit on about VooDoo Hawaiians, let me provide some background /context. Princess Princess formed in 1983, and in the late 1980s / early 90s were one of, if not the biggest, pop rock band in Japan. Their seventh single, ‘Diamonds’, went to No. 1 in 1989 and was the first CD single to become a million seller in Japan. With the single, Princess Princess joined the ranks of Japan’s top musical artists. More number one singles and albums followed – with all their albums released from 89 to 93 rising to Number one on the Japanese (Orion) charts. The band split by 96, yet reformed in late 2012 to perform several fundraising concerts for the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. This included concerts at the Sendai Sun Plaza Hall, Budokan in Tokyo and Tokyo Dome. Big venues – which gives you an idea of the stature of Princess Princess and the high regard in which they are held.

2020After the breakup of Princess Princess, Kanako Nakayama released two great solo albums ‘Howling’ and ‘Nakayama no Ippatsu’. Both albums are worthy of your attention and tracking down. She also broadened her appeal to a wider audience when she collaborated with Redd Kross on a cover of KISS’ ‘Hard Luck Woman’, a tune recorded for the 1998 Japanese Tribute album ‘Kiss Tribute in Japan.’ In 1999, Kanako formed the hard rock group VooDoo Hawaiians, a band who first came onto my radar in 2001. Kevin K played a show at Club 251 in Shimokitizaza in 2001 – and VooDoo Hawaiians were also on the bill, along with Blacklist (Gaku Tori), and Sheena Ayukawa (RIP) of Sheena & the Roketts.

Over the years, Voodoo Hawaiians have contributed songs to a range of compilation/ tribute albums (including one for Hanoi Rocks) and released half a dozen albums all worthy of your attention. “Pretty And Brutal” in 2000, “Rock ‘n Roll Animal” in 2001, “Drive, She Said” in 2002, “4our” in 2006, “Love And Roll” in 2014 and 2015’s “Are You Comin To the Parade ”? She has also performed with the group Tokyo Rocks and on a number of tribute albums in the late 1990s into the 2000s. She did a pretty cool version of ‘Hoochy Coochy Brown Eye Rose’ some years back’ and this, like a lot of their other material is available on You Tube for you to dig into and explore.

I saw Voodoo Hawaiians at 7th Avenue in Yokohama just before Christmas last year, and it was a kick arse gig. 7th Avenue is a small, but authentic rock club and has been one of the best rock venues in Yokohama for many many years.  Mr Rockbrat and I first saw Kevin K here in December 1998 – so it was a little strange to be back at the same venue 18 years after I first set foot in there.   Voodoo Hawaiians are incessantly on the road throughout Japan,  and have played some shows in the US some years back.

I encourage you to check out their web site at Voodoo Hawaiians and to pick up some of their excellent albums. Kanako Nakayama also has a web site you can explore. All cool. Recommended by Cowboy Col.

 

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13882569_10205063030815125_8856265621919806028_nWhen it comes to new rock n roll, separating the cream from the crap is often the hardest part.  There are so many artists out there, all using the same media platforms to try to reach an audience. So many artists have great websites and are versed at self-promotion. Which is all well and good, yet the problem remains that the market gets absolutely flooded with mediocrity. The irony that many of these bands are also regurgitating an old sound doesn’t hold much appeal for older fans such as myself who has seen and heard it all before. Yes I know, young bands aren’t pitching at cynical, mocking old rock dogs like myself, they are aiming at their peers who may not have heard the whole D-A-G guitar chord progression shtick. Which brings me to the subject matter of this post – a gal from Nashville (via NYC) named Carly Jamison. Unlike many other young up and coming artists, Jamison has the talent and ability to craft melodic pop songs draped in originality. It’s almost an embarrassment of riches – she’s that good. There’s some trippy hippy elements to her persona and with her deep, breathy vocal delivery, she reminds me a little of Brett Smiley and Nick Gilder to a lesser extent.  Yet that comparison fails to do her music justice. Her songs are upbeat, catchy, with big chorus’ and even bigger melodies.

0003918265_10It’s hard to make musical comparisons, and I really don’t like doing it. But I also know that readers like some kind of reference point. I’ve read reviews that compared Jamison’s sounds to The Pretenders, The Stones, Elvis Presley, Joplin, Bonnie Raitt, Humble Pie, Drive By Truckers, John Fogerty, Roy Orbison, Status Quo, Slade etc. The fact that her sound can’t be pinned down only goes to show how richly diverse her songs are. All I look for are melody, hook and a catchy memorable chorus. She has all that – and an originality that is refreshingly welcome.

She first came to my attention via Dan Baird, who played guitar on Jamison’s 2010 album, ‘Everything Happens For A Reason’. Being a huge Dan Baird fan, anything that Dan lends his name to (including the great Stacie Collins) has to be good. Tracks such as ‘Look Where Its Coming From’ have elements of pure pop, classic early 70’s UK glam, handclaps and melody galore. A second album followed in 2013, called ‘Ungrounded’ and it also gets the Rockbrat thumbs up.  Since October last year, there have been three new singles releases by Jamison and all are killer slices of pure hard edged pop. ‘100 Goals’ is a classic slice of hard rockin’ pop and is beyond radio friendly. Killer tune. It features the cream of Nashville’s finest including the way underrated Chris Tench and Mike Webb (whom I saw in Sydney a couple of years back as part of Bobby Keyes’ band). In April this year she dropped another superbly crafted pop tuned called ‘Dynamo’. Pure, unadulterated pop that has me struggling to find superlatives to do it justice. Why aint they paying this on the radio everywhere? The press blurb accurately describes a combination of 80’s inspired guitar riffs, pop melodies, punk rock energy, and poetic lyrics. And then late last month, Carly released another new single called ‘Sneaking Around This Small Town’. Its again heavy on the melody, a little more reflective, but in no uncertain terms showcases the depth of quality song writing that Jamison has in spades. This cat is a way underrated song writer who knows how important melody, chorus and hook are to a song. I’ve been listening to rock n roll for a hell of a long time, since the late 70s in fact, and I’m here to tell you, Carly Jamison has the goods to take her to the top of the heap. She just needs a couple of breaks to go her way. If she keeps putting out quality new singles that surpass each other, it’s only a matter of time before one of the major labels take the bait and give her a shot to see how far she can go. I’m already hip to Carly Jamison, the best kept secret in rock n roll. Get on board! http://www.carlyjamison.com/

CLAUDINE-LOVE IS BLUE frontThere are certain female singers from the 1960s whom I dig. I have always been a Nancy Sinatra fan, and even though I have sold off 90% of my once 2000+ record collection, I still have every one of her LPs. Ann Margaret is another, as is  Australia’s own Judy Stone. Yet of late, I’ve been reacquainting myself with the often maligned, French singer Claudine Longet. Now I say maligned because there were clearly two parts to her life; Claudine the singer – and then also Claudine, Mrs Andy Williams and the Claudine accused of murdering her then lover, Olympic skier Spider Sabich in 1976. Yet 40 years after she disappeared into self-imposed obscurity, it’s the songs that still sound great. I once read somewhere that she was considered to be a poor man’s Francois Hardy, yet I think that’s somewhat harsh.  Her appeal was fairly obvious. She was an attractive brunette who sung in a cute French accent (which no doubt appealed to male record buyers). Yes, she was sexy, much like other singers/actresses s from the 60s (Ann Margaret, Marlo Thomas, Tina Louise, Angie Dickinson etc), but not in the ridiculously overt way that today’s crop of so called ‘singers’ vaunt themselves. True, she does sing in a breathy style, its accent heavy, and she has an occasional lisp that is evident when she sings R’s and they become W’s (ie: ‘regret’ becomes wegwet, and ‘try’ becomes twy) but let’s not overstate it, it’s not Porky Pig like.  Her most famous tune is ‘Love Is Blue’ (“L’amour Est Blue)and this tear jerker still sounds great. In fact, if you want a good reference point, you could do worse than starting with her ‘Love Is Blue’ album from 1968. Like her other earlier albums, it was released on Henry Mancini’s A&M Records, Mancini himself being a fan. As a whole, ‘Love Is Blue’ still sounds great today, and top to bottom appeals in an easy listening kind of way. A hark back to a simpler, less complicated, less aggressive world. Without getting political, listening to Longet sing sends me back to a France of the mid to late 60s that was free of the Islamic scourge that choke it today. What happened to the France that was once the pulse of Europe and a  leader in popular culture ? From films and music to fashion and food. What happened to the France of  ‘Un Homme Et Une Femme’, Emmanuelle Riva, the aforementioned Francois Hardy, Bardot, Sylvie Vartan, Francoise Dorleac or her sister Catherine Deneuve? De Gaulle would turn in his grave to see what has happened to the France he and his generation rid the Nazi occupation of. If you are in Australia, go watch ‘They’re A Weird Mob’ to see a glimpse of how Australia looked in the early 60s. Go watch ‘Paris Blues’ with Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Sidney Poitier and Diahann Carroll to get a brief insight of France in the same period (or even ‘Breathless’ from 1960 with Jean Seberg). Anyway, I digress, and I think I made my point.  So back to the album. The title track “L’amour Est Blue is resplendent in strings, and is sung in French. I love her accent.  Although a little syrupy, the whispering , ‘When I Look In Your Eyes’ is another good un. Again, it’s the vocal that gets it through. At times haunting, girlish. The dreamy ‘Snow’, (a Randy Newman tune), with its plaintive piano accompaniment is appealing, as is ‘Holiday’, (penned by Robin and Barry Gibb),  and the bossanova groove of ‘Who Needs You’.  The music is performed by legendary André Popp (and his orchestra), not dissimilar to Paul Mauriat.  ‘Walk In The Park’ is another upbeat, cheery song with an uncomplicated lure. ‘Happy Talk’ is all upbeat, with squeezebox’s and children’s vocals. A simple charm.  On other albums she covers tunes by the Beatles and Stones and these often come under unwarranted criticism. They are still appealing, and again, to call them easy listening is way off the mark. As is commonly known, the Stones recorded a song about her  ‘Claudine’, that was pulled from ‘Some Girls’ prior to its release, for fear of litigation. Claudine released several albums in the 1960s, and their success was no doubt due to the profile she developed as being Mrs Andy Williams, whom she was married to for 10 years. She would often appear on his TV show, and as far as movies go, I guess she is best known for her role playing Michele Monet  in ‘The Party’, opposite Peter Sellers. This post serves to introduce you to Claudine the chanteuse, and the enriching listening experience I feel when I listen to her records. Details of her personal life, friendship with Bobby Kennedy, murder trial  etc., are all available on the net for you to read if you so desire. Instead, I encourage you to disassociate yourself from that side of her story, buy ‘Love Is Blue’ and enjoy the beautiful music of Claudine.

phil

The Wiz – Phil Emmanuel, Harmonie German Club, Canberra  22/4/16. Photo (c) C. Gray

Have you ever stopped and wondered just how many great guitarists Australia has produced over the years ? I’m not talking good – I’m talking great.  Great as in world class, as in the top 20 of the world. Players who possess a feel and original style all their own. A uniqueness that makes them just that – unique. This post is not intended to stoke debate about the names of who should make that list and who shouldn’t, that’s for another time. It does goes without saying though that you can’t mention ‘world class guitar player’ without adding the word Emmanuel. They are synonymous. When someone like Clapton sates that Tommy Emmanuel is the best guitarist he’s ever seen – it’s quite an endorsement.  I have seen both Tommy and Phil Emmanuel a bunch of times over the years, and whilst Tommy has gone on to have way more international success, there’s no denying that Phil Emmanuel is as good as, if not better, than Tommy, certainly as an electric guitar player.  The think about Phil Emmanuel is that he is so indifferent to ‘success’. Tommy chased it – Phil different. He is so unassuming, both in personality and guitar style, and they are both part of his makeup. He plays what he wants to play, on his own musical terms, and he always has.  He cracks jokes, has a great sense of humor – and yet, can shred better than most. Phil Emmanuel is known as Australia’s Greatest Electric Guitar Player and has a resume of amazing performances with musical legends that any musical enthusiast would envy. “Phil’s musical prowess is so astonishing that there are times when the man becomes the guitar and the guitar becomes the man. His passion is illuminating; his ability is breathtaking “While his brother Tommy plays it sweet; Phil plays it from the street” so says Glenn A Baker.  And that’s something obvious when you see him live. He plays with so much echo – it’s very much part of his sound. Phil himself has said, ” if it wasn’t for “Hank B. Marvin and The Shadows” I wouldn’t be the electric guitar player I am today. “When I first heard Hank play in 1959 I was fascinated and hooked by his sound and use of echo. To this day he is still my favourite guitarist”. Artists he has graced the stage alongside reads like a who’s who of the music biz. Artists such as John Jorgensen (Elton John, The Hellecasters), Will Ray, Bonnie Raitt, Duanne Eddy, James Burton, (Elvis Presley), Carlos Santana, the band “America”, The Ventures, Eric Clapton, and indeed, Hank B Marvin. Yet also throw in James Morrison, Don Burrows, Slim Dusty, Reg Lindsay, Lee Kernaghan, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Dire Straits, The Shadows, Midnight Oil, Jimmy Barnes, Roy Buchanan, Don Walker, John Farnham and Ian Moss. From Goldrush to Terrafirma and Kakadu – his musical prowess and output run deep – so when the opportunity presents to see him live, for FREE, on a Friday night – you take it. The German Club in Canberra’s Narrabundah is steeped in Oz rock history – and its still a great venue to see a band. Tonight, the baby boomers are out in force, and there’s no sign of a vacant table or chair.  If they were expecting fast fingered acoustic  style – they picked the wrong Emmanuel. Tonight, the Wiz plugged in and, even though he was solo and playing to a backing track, he was LOUD and electric. So much so that many of the older set walked out with fingers firmly planted in ears.  As I said – Phil does what Phil wants. Here is a recording of Phil playing ‘Terrafirma’ on the night. Check out the video for Terrafirma on Youtube if you get a chance.  Take a listen for yourself to another, Australian guitar great.

 

89028OK, maybe not introducing you to, but rather reintroducing you to – the amazing Claudia Lennear.  The Oscar winning documentary  ’20 Feet from Stardom’ certainly introduced Lennear to a public who largely were unaware of her, or who may have had a memory of her association (relationship with) Jagger and also Bowie in the early 70s. What makes her story so interesting though, is that unlike other renowned back-up singers who continually tried to make it (like Darlene Love, Merry Claytown and Táta Vega), Lennear essentially dropped out of the music scene completely in the mid 70s, and followed a different path in life, and ’20 Feet’ has basically brought out back from obscurity.

As some will know, she was the inspiration behind the Stones’ Brown Sugar’.  As others may know, she was part of George Harrison’s band for the Concert For Bangladesh.  She was also the inspiration Bowie’s ‘Lady Grinning Soul’. In the film, Jagger still calls her “very hot” and a “beautiful girl”. And she was, no doubt, smoking hot. Speaking of which, after watching ’20 Feet’ it reminds you of just how cool Ike Turner really was. Who is it that kids think is cool nowadays, Kanye West ? is that his name ? The guy who is famous for marrying a celebrity famous for being a celebrity ? How banal. These talentless turds are a good example of what’s wrong with the entertainment industry today. He couldn’t hold a candle to Ike Turner who really was, Mr Cool. And the Ikettes simply oozed sex appeal. Anyway, I have digressed.

untitledSo yes, Lennear. I first saw her several years ago whilst watching Eastwood’s 1974 film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot in which she has a brief role, yet in the late 60s/early 70s, she worked with many acts including Ike and Tina Turner, Humble Pie and Joe Cocker.  She was part of a trio of backup singers for Delaney and Bonnie, that also included Rita Coolidge. She was also one of Leon Russell’s Shelter People. She sang back-up vocals on Joe Cocker’s 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour and live album, on Leon Russell and the Shelter People, released in 1971 and on George Harrison’s The Concert for Bangladesh. As I mentioned, she had a part in the 1974 film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, playing a secretary, and she smouldered in the August 1974 issue of Playboy magazine in a pictorial entitled “Brown Sugar”. She cut one solitary album, 1973’s “Phew” and it is well worth tracking down. It’s an album that was  lost to obscurity – yet thanks to ’20 Feet’  interest was sufficient enough to see ‘Phew’ reissued on CD for the first time. So many great tunes on this album, including ‘It Ain’t Easy’, ’Sing With The Children’, and ‘Casey Jones’. Side one features her with members of Jim Dickinson’s Dixie Flyers and Ry Cooder, side two finds her singing songs written and arranged by the great Allen Toussaint, with such legends as Jim Keltner and Spooner Oldham along for the ride. The CD reissue features a non-LP bonus track, notes by Pat Thomas featuring quotes from Claudia herself and photos from her private archive. Yet the album was not a success. After struggling financially to make ends meets, pay her band etc. she left the music industry in the mid 70s to become a teacher of French and Spanish. How cool is that. What does your teacher do? She used to sing with Jagger and George Harrison. She’s the one Jagger wrote ‘Brown Sugar’ about.  Man, which Dad’s wouldn’t have looked forward to parent teacher day! Lennear appeared at the Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, VA. on September 11, 2015, and performed with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Rita Coolidge, Leon Russell and other alumni from the 1970 Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour in a memorial concert for Joe Cocker. She also came out in the press last year stating that David Bowie promised to write some new original songs for her. She stated that she got a call from Bowie, and that he wanted to write on her next project. With Bowie now gone, I hope that we still get to see new material from her regardless.

$_57Here’s an old handbill from LA circa 1973. What an amazing time period. Claudia Lennear on a double bill with Iggy Stooge. And check out the other nights. Joe Walsh, Elvin Bishop, JoJo Gunne (‘Run Run Run’ still sounds great to my ears in 2016), Hot Tuna (check out their 2011 album ‘Steady As She Goes’ and the tune ‘Angel of Darkness’. Great tunes). Not to mention ELO and also Wishbone Ash. Marty, set the DeLorean to 1973! It goes without saying, that if you haven’t seen ’20 Feet From Stardom’ you need to.  And head to Itunes sand pick up Claudia Lennear’s 1973 album ‘Phew’.

GeekShowIf you are like me, you no doubt spend far too many hours sitting in front of a screen. For many, this is a choice. For others of us who are deskbound by necessity, tuning into podcasts and online radio is a godsend, and a fantastic way to make the indolent day just that little more interesting. So it’s Monday, and I’m chained to the desk – again. The work ain’t any more interesting, I’m nursing a bad cold, and I’m suffering from a dose of the old Mondayitis. Thank God for internet radio – so let me share with you a few of my favourite podcasts and internet radio station that can help you put the rock in your day. Up first is the Rock ‘n’ Roll Geek Show. With over 600 shows,  this is one of the longest running rock podcast out there. The host, Michael Butler, is genuinely funny. He has an engaging personality, and has the ability to make you feel like a long lost friend. Both Mr Rockbrat and I have had some contact with Butler over the years., including setting him up with interviews with Cherie Currie and Ellen Foley. For life long rock fans like us, he is kindred. We speak the same language. He deserves every success and is deserving of your support. Tune in, you won’t be disappointed. He drinks beer on each show (he started this), digs Australian rock n roll like the Tatts and Angels, and has rock history. I still tune in each week. Last week he did a review of the new Whitford St. Homes album ‘Reunion’, which is a dynamite record and worthwhile checking out. Another couple of podcasts I check out are Dee Snider’s podcast called ‘Snider Comments’ on the Podcast One website. Snider is, as you’d expect, opinionated, but also engaging to listen to. He talks about things other than rock, such as fitness, health, imageslifestyle stuff – and doesn’t like to be pigeonholed into talking just about rock and Twisted Sister, yet the reality is, that’s what people want to listen to. I love when he tells old stories about the road, his times spent with Lemmy, or when he interviews people like Frankie Banali. Another good one. Still on Podcast One, I also tune into Eddie Trunk. Trunk has kind of niched himself as the voice or authority on heavy metal, and as he’ll tell you (time and time again) – he used to work in a record store, had a metal radio show on a Noo Joysey radio station, and also worked for Megaforce (a spinoff of Atlantic) in the late 80s. From there, he managed to eke out a living as the ‘go to’ metal guy. Bigger radio shows,  That Metal Show on TV. His voice is so influential now, that artists careers can get a big boost by being on his show. He does have some good guests on his podcasts, but far too often it sounds like a mutual appreciation society with Trunk often overstating his significance. I.e. HE broke the news about Lemmy’s death, HE was influential in certain bands getting signed or airplay etc, HE has Slash’s phone number. Whatever. His shows often sound a like a commercial, with him pissing in the artist’s pocket about some past connection he has with them, or how he helped them in some way. He is somewhat ingratiating, in a Glenn A Baker know it all kind of way, but still worth tuning into. He is lucky enough to make a career out of his knowledge of metal – but in the 1980s, he was a fat fan boy who now has a good head for radio. He lacks the humility that Butler has, although he does agree with me and Rockbrat that KI$$ should call it a day so kudos to him for that. The White Line Fever podcast is an Australian podcast worthy of your attention. This is the ultra cool podcast by Steve Mascord, combing his two loves of rock n roll and rugby league. It is a way cool podcast and thoroughly recommended. Steve is a rock and rugby league journalist – and I love his take on rock n roll. Hot Metal indeed.

There are an absolute plethora of internet streaming radio shows available – yet one I listen to on an almost daily basis of late is Hard Rock Heaven. No need to subscribe, although they will push you to do so. They play a lot of deep cuts too, and not just the well-known tunes podcast-artworkyou’d expect from these bands. Recently I’ve heard less common tunes from bands such as House Of Lords, Killer Dwarfs, John Norum (love his version of Back On The Streets), Vixen, Hardline and Icon to name but a few. I’ve also rediscovered what a great band Talisman were, well, their first album anyway. Talisman were a Swedish band whose first album from 1990 unluckily got lost amidst the masses of non-descript cowboy booted, pouting prancers who were around at that time. The band featured a couple of guys who had done time with Yngwie’s Rising Force in the mid 80s and their was also a connection with the aforementioned John Norum that escapes me. I do know that Jeff Scott Soto was involved and it was his voice that can be heard on the band’s debut self-titled album from 1990. The band continued well into the 90s. Anyway, search out their debut, it’s a good one, or checkout their video for ‘Women, Whiskey and Song’. It’s a ripper. Is it unethical of me to say that I also listen to the radio show that Rockbrat and I do, called The Australian Rock Show? Who cares. Mr Rockbrat has been the one pushing this for all of last year and I’m championing his efforts, cos he really does make a big effort with this show with research, time, preparation and production – to make it the best it can be. With 53 shows done and available for free download, it is as good as any other rock podcast out there. No one else is doing an all Oz rock content so hats off to Mr Rockbrat for his efforts. You could also do worse than to pick up a cool t shirt from the web site to show your support as well. It’s now 5.30 pm. The shackles that bind me to the desk are broken (for the day). Time to unplug and takes Biff Hannen’s advice – make like a tree, and get out of here.

stacie_400x1400srI’ve been listening exclusively to Stacie Collins of late, and her new album ‘Roll The Dice’. Man, is she good, and to coin an often overused term, is the ‘real deal’. Anyone who has the great Dan Baird and Warner Hodges in her corner has to be top shelf, as they don’t pin their hard earned reputations onto just anyone. If Stacie Collins has their seal of approval – you know she’s gotta be good. Good enough in fact for Dan Baird to have produced her past three albums. Always difficult to define an artist’s sound, yet some of the descriptors used to outline the Stacie Collins sound are pretty spot in. “Little Walter meets Joan Jett and Tammy Wynette”. This harmonica blowin’ hell-cat is blazing a trail travelled by few women.” She mixes Stones-fried rock-n-roll, raunchy blues & vintage honky-tonk. Although she is based in Nashville, she has an established market in Scandinavia and Europe and in Japan, there is even a “Stacie Collins” tribute band. Leather clad, eyeliner, and wailing away on harmonica – she’s a long way removed from the Grand Ole Opry of the 50’s – although country purists might enjoy her self-titled album from 16 years ago which is more trad. country than her recent recordings.

Some history. When she was a little girl, Stacie Collins lived above the bar where her mother worked as a waitress. While other kids were playing with dolls and trains, her main source of entertainment was the magical, glowing jukebox that reeled and rocked downstairs until way past her bedtime. In one of Collins’ earliest memories, she’s dancing on the bar’s pool table, collecting quarters from bleary-eyed customers and then stuffing them, spellbound, into the neon-encased Rock-ola. It’s no surprise then that, years later, Stacie would end up onstage, performing original songs that draw their life-blood from those honky-tonk jukebox classics. Born in Muskogee, OK and raised in Bakersfield, CA, her childhood and teenage years reverberated with the honky-tonk sounds of Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. A move to nearby Hollywood in her late teens put Stacie in touch with LA’s burgeoning rock scene. Obsessed with both the twang of West Coast country and the balls-out energy of rock-n-roll, she picked up a blues harp and right away started attracting attention. Being a female harp player still makes her something of a rarity, especially in her adopted hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. “My Dad played harmonica”, Stacie recalls, “and even though I didn’t know him very well because my parents divorced when I was 5, I felt like that gave me license. I had inherited a gift. After learning to play, I fell in love with the Chicago Blues sound and players like Little Walter and James Cotton. I had found my muse.” Upon arriving in Nashville in 2001, Stacie quickly proved that she wasn’t your typical Music Row twangstress the moment she stepped back from the mic and unleashed her high-spirited energy on a mean little blues harp. Full of attitude and flair, blowing harmonica is her calling card but it’s Collins’ soulful voice and gritty songwriting that creates such a broad ranging appeal.

2007’s ‘The Lucky Spot’ is the first of her albums which shows a real muscled up rock/country sound, with Baird’s influence clearly evident throughout. Man I love Dan Baird. What a shame he doesn’t tour Australia as often as he does Europe, where let’s face it, the market is established and the balance sheet offers greater profits. I get that. Check out the ballsy opener ‘Its Aint’ Love’ for a song straight outta the Dan Baird book of hits, a guy who certainly made the runka-runka sound his own (although he will tell you the sound goes back to NRBQ). Collin’s 2010 effort ‘Sometimes Ya Gotta’ is better again, and top to bottom is chock full of memorable, hook laden roots country rockers. If it’d been released twenty years ago it would sound as natural on 70s FM radio alongside ZZ-Top & The Rolling Stones as it would next to retro-rockers the Black Crowes or Jason & the Scorchers. Great tunes. Again produced by Dan Baird. Classic Rock said it best with “Guaranteed to get any party started… Imagine a late-night lock-in jam with Aerosmith, The Stones and ZZ Top, fronted by the equivalent of Ronnie Van Zant, or maybe even Shania Twain with balls…. It’s sassy, sexy & rocks like a bitch”. The album opener ‘Hey Mister’ is rip snorter, and ‘I Won’t Do Ya Like That’ sounds like it should have been on the Satellites’ Open All Night’ album’. ‘The tender ‘It Hurts To Breathe’ is a good example of the strength and quality of song writing diversity on display. A song for the broken hearted, yet as good as anything you’ll hear on FM country tear jerker radio anywhere. Did I mention that this girl is good? Which brings me to her latest (and fifth) album, ‘ Roll The Dice; released late last year. This has been getting rave reviews and justly so, although Classic Rock got it wrong big time with their review of 6 out of 10, and comments such as “the lack of distinctive traits in her music lets it down.” Which means that the limey reviewer knows bugger all, and if he did, he would know that she categorically has a blues/rock/country sound all her own, distinct due to her own vocal sound (no one sounds like her), harmonica laced blues/country played by HER (a woman, that’s not distinct?), and all songs are catchy, infectious and memorable. There’s harmonica drenched rockers (‘Lost and Found’, and the brooding ‘King Of Rock’), to  the super melodic and radio friendly ‘Gonna Fly’. How about ‘Jani’, the catchy sing-along tribute ballad to the deceased Warrant front man which is, incidentally, my favourite song on the new album. ‘It’s Over’ has a huge chorus which you will be singing over and over. This song is a monster. Talking about sing-along chorus’ , how about ‘Heart On My Sleeve’. Another example of the quality of the song writing. 6 out of 10 Classic Rock ? Please. This album is solid from top to bottom and gets 10 out of 10 from Cowboy Col. She is an original. As I said, forget his lame review and go onto YouTube and check out some of her videos yourself. Be your own reviewer. I think this is her best and most consistent album so far, its heavier than the others and is well worth your hard earned.  Am I biased? I mean Dan Baird is, along with Neil Young, one of my all-time faves, but after 5 albums and 15 odd years, this girl stands well and truly on her own two feet with a distinctive sound (up yours Classic Rock) that is well and truly all her own. Go to staciecollins.com and dig in. You won’t be disappointed. Get your ass down to Australia Stacie!