Sing Along With Los Straitjackets
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A huge departure for this masked, previously all-instrumental surf quartet, their fifth album is, as indicated by its title, augmented by vocals. But not just any vocals. Eleven out of the 13 tracks boast a different singer (Big Sandy, who also toured with the band in 2001, appears twice) adding just the right touch to the disc's eclectic covers of rockin' soul (los Bravos' "Black Is Black" with the Mavericks' Raul Malo), British Invasion-styled pop ("Bumble Bee" with a rare vocal from Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell), good-time roots (Nick Lowe is guest lead bassist on his own "Shake That Rat," one of the disc's two instrumentals), weepy string-laden '60s ballads (Sixpence None the Richer's Leigh Nash gives a perfectly frail reading of Skeeter Davis' "End of the World"), Cramps-style high octane swamp (Reverend Horton Heat toughens up Roy Orbison's "Down the Line"), their usual twisted, twangy, hang-ten surfin' sufari (a husky voiced Dave Alvin sounds perfect on "California Sun"), and Link Wray-styled, reverb-laden scrappy punk (the Trashmen swing through a tight "A Huevo"). At only 34 minutes, it's a little on the short side, but there is a crisp conciseness to the tracks — the majority of which run less than three minutes — that harks back to the days when the perfect 45 rpm single packed in everything it needed. It also sounds like the singers were actually in the studio with the band, rather than overdubbed later, as they seem to feed off los Straitjackets' manic energy. A terrific concept that broadens the group's horizons while staying true to their American garage, rockabilly, and wave-riding roots, this is a most welcome addition to los Straitjackets' existing instrumental catalog, and a floorboard-shaking party disc as well.
Sing Along is no String Along ...
I got hooked on these guys a long time ago. I had a lot of their albums (remember them?) ... They fell by the wayside and it wasn't until recently that I hooked back up with their music. There is nothing fancy about them. Just good ol' 60's Rock and Roll. I like them all, but I have already worn out California Sun. The End of the World is also good. There really isn't a throw away in this whole album.
Great Change Up
My Bother-In-Law turned me on to the Los Straight Jackets and I became an instant fan when I heard their CD “The Velvet Touch of Los Straightjackets.” I was browsing the iTunes music store when I found this CD. This is a tremendous album from beginning to end, although I would highly recommend the track “California Sun” with Dave Alvin from the Blasters.
Formed: 1988 in Nashville, TN
Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s
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