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Belmont Playboys

One Night of Sin...Live!! – 1999 (Deep South)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Belmont Playboys

The Raleigh, N.C.-based Belmont Playboys are one of those bands who have never quite managed to capture the power of their live performances in a studio. So after eight years and four albums, the Playboys attempt to rectify that situation with "One Night of Sin...Live," recorded in December 1998 at the Point in Atlanta.

Drawing from their entire career (including numbers from two early now-out-of-print albums), the Playboys rip through 70-plus minutes of material in short order; a mixture of old favorites, a few covers (including Jimmie Rodgers' "Muleskinner Blues") and a few new unrecorded songs.

The evolution of the band's sound over the past eight years is apparent, particularly in context. Their early sound, which owed far more to traditional fifties rockabilly, has been replaced by a tougher, greasier rock 'n' roll sound, including some great sax work from guitarist Chipps Baker, and several instrumentals in the Link Wray tradition, including "Stringbuster," "Aardvark," and "Straight to Hell" (hilariously incorporating riffs from AC/DC and Metallica), as well as Wray's own "Ace of Spades" and "Rawhide."

Mike Hendrix' lead vocals are still a dead ringer for those of Brian Setzer at times, but it matters less in a live context - where the band sounds nothing like Setzer's old band, the Stray Cats - than on the group's studio records. This is a nice package for fans, particularly those disappointed in the group's studio sound.