Written by Reza Mills
I was doing a shift at Lancaster Library one afternoon when I got talking to Rockitt 88 bass player Andrew ‘Ash’ Montgomery. He reminded me that we had chatted previously at Morecambe Library about music and his band. He then returned some 10 minutes later to bring me a copy of this CD which I’m now reviewing, as an ‘early Christmas present’.
The Real Deal is a 9-track CD of covers and as far as I can tell their only release to date. The band consists of Andrew Montgomery on Drums/Backing Vocals, Chris Barlow on Acoustic Guitar/Lead Vocals, Paul Graves on Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals and of course last but not least the aforementioned Andrew ‘Ash’ Ashworth on Electric Bass, Slap Bass and Backing Vocals. The CD was recorded and mixed by Ash who has done a very credible job. The music is audible at the very least! The album features covers of better known artists such as Johnny Cash, Dick Dale and The Cramps and lesser known names like Tarheel Slim, The Johnny Burnett Trio and The Meteors.
The band plays for the most part Rockabilly with some splashes of surf, country and blues thrown into the mix. Not really being a huge follower of any of those genres, it was hard for me to gage how faithful they had been to the originals, however from what I heard on the disc the boys did a great job of injecting a sense of fun and personality into each and every track. In fact they describe themselves on their MySpace page as playing ‘Red hot rockabilly and surf – serious shakin’, rattlin’ and good old rockin’ and a rollin’. Having witnessed them live last year at Morecambe’s Kite Festival I can say that the guys were hugely enjoyable and did indeed give us some good old rockin’ and a rollin’ and plenty of shakin’ and rattlin’. They played a tight set and had some shall we say ‘colourful outfits’. They certainly got the audience moving and were a perfect counterpart to the glorious July sunshine.
What’s clear from listening to the disc is that the guys seem exceedingly down-to-earth and the kind of people you could quite easily imagine sharing a pint or 3 with. In fact this unpretentious, almost grassroots spirit is not only reflected in the music they elect to cover but also in the production. It’s laid down on disc as its’ played and hasn’t been tampered with by layers of overdubs and other fancy studio gimmickry. They are essentially playing music that isn’t particularly fashionable and maybe even a little dated or retro, but this only adds to their charm and appeal. Clearly they aren’t concerned with trends or fitting into the status quo and are content with playing the music they love and grew up listening to. The album whilst not necessarily the most earth-shatteringly original piece of work (it is a covers album after all) is well-worth listening to both for the sheer exuberance and passion of the performances and its’ entertainment value. For further information you can contact the band at www.myspace.com/rockitt88.