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Ray Campi Quartet

Train Rhythm Blue – 1998 (Mouthpiece/Sci-Fi Western)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Ray Campi Quartet

Talk about good timing! The profile of '50's rockabilly artist Ray Campi hasn't been this high in years, thanks to HighTone's ongoing (and extensive) reissues of '70's and '80's material first heard on California-based Rollin' Rock. Striking while the iron is hot, Campi recorded a new album, but it doesn't quite recapture the fire of his best Rollin' Rock sides. It does make for fine listening nonetheless.Aided by guitarist Skip Heller, pianist Rip Masters, and former X drummer D.J. Bonebrake (Campi himself sings and plays stand-up bass), the quartet is a versatile, nimble unit; as capable of putting across a delicate Marty Robbins-esque number like "Lorena" as it is able to rock out in patented Campi fashion on tracks like Dave Alvin's "Burning In Water, Drowning In Flame," "Tear It Down," and "Hot Water." Guest appearances by Alvin, former X guitarist Tony Gilkyson and former Wall of Voodoo leader Stan Ridgway are unobtrusive, by and large.

As a vocalist Campi has never had the power of an Elvis or the leering genius of a Jerry Lee Lewis, but his pleasant voice has aged well over the years; sounding much the same now as it did in the '70's.While no substitute for Ray's classic Rollin' Rock sides, this is solid enough.