|Seconds Out... Restless
Blue Light Records
Neobilly seems to be making a resurgence. Kinda funny when you think about it. Neobilly came about as a resurgence of old rockabilly, morphed into it's own thing, and now, 30+ years appears to be en vogue again! And ya know... I'm A-OK with that! Historically, Restless was at the forefront. If not the first, they were, at least, part of the first wave of neobillies, along with The Stray Cats, The Blue Cats, and The Pole Cats (lots and lots of cats... These Cats, Those Cats, but I digress... ).
Their 1st release, "Why Don't You Just Rock!" (1982, Nervous Records) has held up as a classic example of the genre. From what I've read over the years, these guys have had quite a successful, if not varied, career. Originally comprised of brothers Mark and Paul Harman (we can already see where this is going) and drummer Ben Cooper, they hit the road and tore crowds a new one from day one. It seems that any time brothers are in a band together, there's going to be trouble. Yep. Happened with the Harman boys, and Paul left, being replaced by Jeff Bayly. This led to an even higher profile for the band and they just kept on rockin'!
32 years and countless dates, line up changes, and at least a dozen or more releases later, the Harman boys are back together, this time with drummer Rob Tyler. The official press release states that the boys holed up at home in the UK, writing and rehearsing for a brand new record, and then headed to the Finnish countryside to record. Be glad they did. This is a killer disc!
If you want to put Restless' impact in some perspective; American rockabilly bands rarely cover foreign material. It's not that we don't dig it... we just have so much homegrown to pick and choose from! That said, one of the bands I'm in (The Bessemers) cover not one, but two, Restless songs. Yeah... these cats rock!
OK, the new disc. What can you expect for your hard earned cash? You can expect a damned fine RESTLESS record! That's what you can expect! 12 new tracks and Man O Man, they're kicking it!
The disc starts off with "Black Kane" and it starts off running! This is the neobilly sound we're all used to... and love! It sounds, simultaneously, new and familiar. It took me 3 or 4 listens to get past the first song... and let me tell you, that's always a sign of a good disc!
From there they take on some vintage Jerry Lee Lewis. If you're thinking his SUN Records output... guess again. They're doing "She Was My Baby (He Was My Friend)" and they're rocking it every bit as hard as the Killer! They've changed the eat a bit, but it works and keeps things moving along nicely.
Front man and guitarist extraordinaire Mark Harman wrote all of the original songs on this disc, and "There I Was Gone" is one you're likely to find yourself stomping to, and if you're like me, you'll be singing this one in the shower, behind the wheel of the car, etc. It just gets stuck in your head! It's a mover and groover, that's for sure!
The boys reach deep into their musical bag of tricks and pull out "Abracadabra", the Lew Williams classic. This is where I'll tip my hat to my foreign brothers and sisters - some of you know American music better than my fellow countrymen, and you do the music proud! This cut is no exception! Well done lads!
OK... looking at the track list, I saw the next title, and honestly, I was worried. Those of us of a certain age might remember a short-lived band called Timbuk 3. It was a guy, his wife, and a drum machine. I always thought they were annoying as Hell. But... I clicked onto the track, expecting the worst, and to my surprise, fell in love with the song! Yep... they're covering "The Future's So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)". I hated this song when it came out back in the 80s... but Restless makes it their own, and makes it not only a listenable song, but a damned enjoyable song! I'll be playing this one for friends and saying, "Hey! Take a listen to this!"
This disc is daring and full of surprises, and none of them bad! After the Timbuk 3 song, I stopped the disc, and read all of the press material, as well as the liner notes, in full detail. If I thought Restless were impressive before, my respect for them grew by leaps and bounds in one sitting! I've never had the chance to see them live, but I've checked out a lot of videos online, and I know how talented this bunch are. This disc proves it.
"She Used To Love Me" sounds like a lost 50s gem. "Bam Bam" is classic Restless, 21st century style! This disc just gets better, track by track! I would love to see these cats LIVE and LOUD! You know a record is good when it makes you want to spend MORE money to go see them live! Oh yeah! It's that good!
Of course, there are more tracks (12 in all... plus a surprise) and even more tricks up their collective sleeve, but I'll let you hear those for yourself. If you like rockin' music, this disc is a must. If you're a Restless fan, you were planning on getting it anyway... but trust me, buy two copies... share one with a friend. If you're new to the whole Restless / neobilly / what-the-heck-IS-this? scene... BUY THIS DISC! My one suggestion... .PLAY IT LOUD! Now get moving! Go get your copy now!
Available from Blue Light Records on Compact Disc or Limited Edition 12" Vinyl.
Reviewed by Memphis Mike, 2014