|Alley Palais, The Alley Cats
Alley Palais Music, APCD012
The Alleycats have been around the English rock 'n' roll scene for over four years now, but a series of line-up changes has meant that only one of the original members is still playing on a regular basis. The Alleycats were formed when both Richard Keeble, the guitarist, and Alan Stallworthy, the drummer, decided to leave Yakety Yak to play a harder rocking version of rock 'n' roll. They called on Drew Spikes, who a long time previously had been an original member of Yakety Yak, to join them on bass. Rehearsals started in the Summer of 1998.
Word of mouth round the Chatham scene led to Steve Webster trying out for the band on tenor sax. They were immediately impressed with both his hard bootin' playing and with his powerful vocal range. At the end of September 2000 the band welcomed new member, Marco, on the 88 keys. No sooner had Marco learnt most of the numbers than Alan announced that he would have to be vacating the drum seat, there being just not enough hours in his day. He gave the band plenty of time to find a replacement and eventually, after one false start, they took on Mark Metcalf. This cheerful cockney made his debut with them at Strood on 10th Feb 2001.
As the band's reputation has slowly spread further afield, they have been receiving a lot more offers of work. The amount of travelling due to be involved finally led to Richard deciding to call it a day on his musical career. The guys had already used Mick Pound, an ex-colleague of Drew, to dep for Richard on one occasion. He was pleased to step in to take over the role full-time as from the beginning of September 2001.
Just as Mick had been rehearsed in, Mark had to take off unexpectedly for personal reasons. Luckily another replacement drummer was quickly found. Pete Van Der Byl was playing with South West London band, the Foottappers, and juggled his time between the two bands for a while. The end of 2001 saw the Alleycats call on both Alan and Mark to step back in for a night. The new year, however, sees another Alan take on the drum stool. Alan Jordan is yet another ex-Yakety Yak alumni, having played in that band for some time in the early '80s.
Summer 2002 has seen yet another big shake-up. Vocalist Sonny King was persuaded to come in on an ad hoc basis to help out with the singing, only for Steve Webster to decide it was time to leave. Rock 'n' roll veteran, Jacko Buddin, was drafted in to dep on tenor sax on a couple of occasions. Recently another ex-Yak, Butch Evarts, has taken the saxaphone role. It has meant that the line-up has fluctuated occasionally between a 5-piece and 6-piece. Steve Webster is playinf sax on the band's debut CD "Alley Palais".
During 2001 and right through 2002, the Alleycats were busy at the Midnight Rock Studio, getting the tracks down for their first proper CD. A relocation and major upgrade of the studio, plus various personnel changes within the band slowed progress enormously, but it was finally released in May 2003. There are seventeen tracks, mainly self-written, which is one reason why it took so long.
The Alley Cats music is a mixture of 50s rock 'n' roll, and tradtional rockabilly is one element of that. The sound reminds of the mid 70s UK rock 'n' roll revival with bands like Darts and Shakin' Stevens. Listening to the album it becomes quite obvious that the Alley Cats are superb musicians will a long time experience in rock 'n' roll. The music and production are perfect, maybe a little too clean cut. It definitly needs more "spark". The untamed enthousiasme of 50s juvenile delinquents like Elvis, Little Richard, Gene and Eddie is sadly missing...
The Alley Cats are:
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