Many great albums drift away to never be heard or forgotten by the vast majority of people, while a handful of us cherish those albums and hold them close, lamenting the fact that those bands are gone and will not be gracing us with more magic. Back in the 90’s, the Dogtown Balladeers released an album and a couple of incredible CD singles (remember those?) that have constantly remained in my rotation throughout the years. I have made it a point to continue to tell people about the band and how great their music was. Now, everyone gets a second chance to latch onto some pure rock n roll that brings to mind the sounds of the Rolling Stones, the Dogs D’amour, the New York Dolls, and others through this new EP by Spencer and the Elegant Blackouts. Spencer Willhouse was one of the original guitar players in the Dogtown Balladeers, and this EP finds him exploring the same vintage sounds that the Balladeers did all those years ago. Simply put, this is essential for those of us who love classic rock n roll.
These songs were made for the live setting where the music fuses with the soul and works its magic on each person. Time stops moving as these songs take us to another place where we sing at the top of our lungs, the dream of being in a band, and remember when rock n roll was king. A ‘1, 2, 3, 4’ gets ‘Childs Eyes’ started with some rollicking piano and a Stones riff leads us into a verse where Willhouse’s voice greets us like an old friend in a rough and ready fashion. Up next is a cover of ‘The Worst’ by the Rolling Stones which was originally on their ‘Voodoo Lounge’ record so not one of the standard covers that many bands do. Here, the Elegant Blackouts give it much more of a rock spin where I remember the original was more of a ballad. Ironically, this is the song I like the least here, but I do love the piano work by Eric Mauro and think the song works very well within the context of the EP. I should emphasize that I still really enjoy the song, but the others I enjoy that much more.
‘The Next Time’ begins with some acoustic picking before becoming an up-tempo rocker with a great hook. This is currently my favourite on the record with the lead into the chorus being done perfectly. Mark Melchiorre (Silvertide) provides some excellent guitar work here and on the following song ‘Plastic Roses,’ which closes the EP in fine style. This is a classic rock n roll song that gets the body moving and finds Kevin Frank (Silvertide) laying down the perfect beat on the drums. The spoken word vocal before the final run of the chorus is perfectly placed and simply divine.
I hope it goes without saying that if you like any of the bands I have referenced that you owe it to your soul to check this EP out and spin it about 10 straight times. This is timeless vintage rock n roll distilled from the finest spirits; let’s not let it disappear into obscurity. Hopefully, this is just a sample of more to come from the band.
‘Hangovers and Hangers On’ is available now on digital outlets and available on hard copy from the band via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Gerald Stansbury