Black Music Matters Festival

Three Bad Jacks

Boston Krown – 2000 (MISSING)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

CDs by Three Bad Jacks

The Los Angeles-based trio of Elvis Suissa, Brett "The Kid" Williams, and John Palmer pack their brand of rockabilly with punkish Hot Rod rhythm and noir imagery. The story here is singer/guitarist Suissa, who wrote of the 11 tunes, and shreds guitar chords with ferocious club-jam energy.

Elvis is actually Suissa' birth name, and though he doesn't ape much of the rock king's sound, his music does draw heavily upon the classic '50's greaser mythos. "Downtown Gonna Rumble," "I'm Made Of Stone," "Black Cadillac," and "I Have My Reasons" are swaggering odes to street-smart hard-tails whose cars and switchblades mean as much to them as their women.

The Latin-pop of "Pretty Senorita," and countrified love paeans "It's-4-Ever" and "I Believe" provide reflective contrast, but this group's chief strength resides in stompers ala "Oooh Love Hurts" and "Women Think I'm Happy."

Suissa needs to cobble down his lyrics a mite, and the production mix occasionally buries his voice. That said, Three Bad Jacks are a promising outfit sporting a distinctive sound.