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Album Review

Telecaster-wielding John Paul Keith has been rattling around the fringes of the roots rock arena since around 1994. He has racked up hundreds of smoking shows with a variety of outfits including the V-Roys, one of his earliest, with little to show for it. The Knoxville, TN based guitarist/vocalist moved operations to Memphis in 2005, took a few years to put together a solid band of like-minded musicians who understood his gutsy take on rock, soul, and country, and finally released this debut disc in 2009. It's a rollicking set of garagy rock & roll, rockabilly, country, swamp, and surf with just enough of that indescribably Memphis mojo to bring soul into the equation too. Retro enthusiasts will recognize strains of Creedence, the early Beatles, and any number of rockers with dashes of Farfisa and a loose-limbed twang to their sound. Just when it seems everything that can be accomplished with three chords has already been done, Keith comes along and tears into a dozen originals that, while not exactly reinventing the wheel, will fill the '50s linoleum dancefloor for a half-hour. He sports an unassuming voice, somewhat like Jerry Lee Lewis, and his band, especially keyboardist Al Gamble, finds that elusive Sun records energy so difficult to capture in other cities. There can't help but be a retro quality to this music, but Keith and band never simply mimic their musical influences. The songs rumble and rock led by Keith's choppy Telecaster, and even when he obviously rips off a few licks on the peppy "She'll Dance to Anything" (from the Champs' "Tequila"), his contagious vibe is so swinging that you won't care. The album's one instrumental, "Cookie Bones," sounds like a mash-up of every cool Booker T. & the MG's tune, and the rollicking "Pure Cane Sugar" does a terrific job echoing the Beatles trying to be Larry Williams. When the closing rocker "Doin' the Devils Work" rolls around only 36 minutes after the disc began, you'll wish there was more. That's the sign of a keeper, and even though it took too long to get here, hopefully there is more where this came from.

Customer Reviews

'Bout Time

I'm so glad this is finally released digitally. JPK's put together a record and sounds like an East Tennessean in Memphis- equal parts rock-n-roll, boogie, country and some Stax sound sneaked into the mix as well. "Otherwise" is a sharp country number as are "Secondhand Heart" and "Lookin' For a Thrill" You don't always have to dust off your old Sun records. You can buy this one and be just as pleased.


This is honestly one of the best albums that I have purchased in a long time! Very rarely do you come across an album that you can listen to cover to cover anymore. This is one of those albums. There is not even a mediocre song on this album.

Must buy...

Beast of an album! If Buddy Holly's plane had never crashed, this is the kind of album he would make. What more is there to say?

Spills & Thrills, John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives
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Customer Ratings