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Johnny and the Blades

Let's Make Vegas Tonight – 2000 (Rollin' Rock)

Reviewed by Tamara Bunnell

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CDs by Johnny and the Blades

Johnny and the Blades hail from the open deserts of the American Southwest, and appropriately so. Their latest honors the open road, fast cars, gambling and women. It is clean, rhythmic, and hot, like a long drive on an endless blacktop road, with the stereo blaring and the windows wide open. This is old-school rockabilly, and marks a fuller, more mature sound for this band which has been touring steadily the last few years.

Each member holds up his end. Johnny Kellen's vocals are strong; tough and resonating with a little Elvis-style warble here and there. Lead guitarist Noah Gietka's riffs come searing out of the speakers from track one and remain red hot to the end. Jimmy Kolodziej plays a fine dog house, and Eli Rinek's drumming is right on. Each instrument is allowed to shine without dominating the others, and the blend creates a sound that is wonderfully dancable and a good soundtrack for your next summer barbecue. Also of note is that all but four of the songs were written by members of the band, who seem to share songwriting skills as easily as they share the stage.

The album was produced by Ronny Weiser, whose name is synonymous with rockabilly. Weiser stood alone promoting rockabilly throughout the '70's, and he knows what works. The production is as classic as you can get without thick vinyl and crackling. Though there's not much new going on here in terms of sound and style, for the singular and focused rockabilly fan this release will definitely make it into heavy rotation.