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The Rockats

Wild Love – 2004 (Blues Leaf)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by The Rockats

By-the-numbers rockabilly here from The Rockats, a NYC-based Anglo-American band, who have a long and convoluted history dating back to a late '70s/early '80s stint when they were backing British rockabilly singer Levi Dexter.

It's hard to fault any rockabilly band for not bringing much freshness to the table. But rockabilly was, for want of a less hackneyed comparison, the punk rock of its day. In its heyday (1954-'58) rockabilly made a pretty good case for rock 'n' roll being every bit as dangerous as parents and church leaders leaders claimed it was. The Rockats' big problem is that they don't sound remotely dangerous. They're certainly competent enough. Vocalist/guitarist Dibbs Preston is a fine singer, and one who hiccups in all the right places. Lead guitarist Barry Ryan has his Scotty Moore and Cliff Gallup licks down just fine. The production by Boz Boorer (Morrissey/Polecats) is fine, if a little too modern-sounding. And there's plenty of slappin' bass and songs about whiskey and women who are nothing but trouble. The problem is that the results are just too perfect sounding.

On top of everything else, does the world really need more covers of "Only You," "I Just Found Out" and "Be-Bop-a-Lula?" Particularly when they're nearly indistinguishable from the originals?