Every once in a while a CD comes my way that is a breath of fresh air and the latest by The StarDevils is most definitely one of those! If you're a fan of the stripped-down, drum-free honky tonk-a-billy sound of bands like High Noon then you're gonna love these guys! Imagine the aforementioned High Noon with a singer like Dwight Yokum or Wayne Hancock and you get the picture.
Front man/singer/acoustic rhythm guitarist Lance Kaufman can belt with the best of them! He's got a REAL twang in his voice and it flows naturally. His voice has a rich timbre, better than most of the cats in Trashville these days but don't think for a minute that it's anything but the real deal. I've heard plenty of singers over the years try to get this sound but most fall short or flat out fail. Lance Kaufman does not!
Being a guitarist and bassist myself, I can be a harsh critic but with the talents of Jim Olschmidt (lead guitar) and Frank Turner (upright bass), there's nothing to criticize! These cats pour gas on the fire without having to overplay. Olschmidt's fingerpicked riffs and runs are on the mark - and he makes it sound easy! (He's even better live!) Absent are the typical run-of-the-mill rockabilly and country licks. Instead, Oslchmidt breathes his own fire into his playing. Guitarists: you will most definitely want to check this cat out! Frank Turner is, for my money, one of if not the best doghouse slapper around - watch out Kevin Smith! No need for drums when he's slapping his bass like a cheating spouse. There's none of that weak tik-tak that you get with so many of today's players; his sound is pure bass…full on thud, smack & thump. This is not generic rockabilly.
(Can you tell I really like this CD? -MM)
But what about the songs? I popped this gem into the player and right off the bat I'm knocked on my backside by Roy Gentry's "Rosalita". That flows beautifully right into "Bee Bawlin' "... I heard it and knew this CD was a keeper. 12 songs in all and each would be right at home in any honky tonk in the world... most especially in the southern United States.
I won't give away every bit about every song on the CD (I have to leave something for you readers to discover on your own!) but I was very surprised to hear the song "(All Messed Up w/a) Raw Deal", the old Johnny Seaton tune that my late, great amigo Danny Gatton burned some strings on. I personally always thought this was one of the best things those two ever did together and boy, The StarDevils do it justice but without mimicking the original. If I didn't know differently, I'd think that this was another of Lance Kaufman's brilliant originals (of which there are 6 on this disc).
If you're a fan of rockabilly, honky tonk, country, or you just really like good music in general, I would highly suggest picking this up. Attention musicians: you REALLY need to get this CD for a lesson in how it's done. Top-notch songs, excellent production and superior playing make this a must have! The only bad thing that I can say about this CD is that it ends... and all too soon! Next time guys, PLEASE, more songs!!!!!
Rosalita/ Bee Bawlin' / You Ain't Nothin' But The Blues / Money Bag Woman / Kitty Kat Bop / Cynthiana / Raw Deal / Biscuit Eatin' Baby / Thought I Knew Blue / Hungry For Your Lovin' / I Miss Marie / Run My Baby
The StarDevils are:
Lance Kaufman - Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Jim Olschmidt - Lead Guitar
Frank Turner - Upright Bass
More StarDevils on this website:
The Devil's Music, The StarDevils
Reviewed by Memphis Mike Metzger, 2008
Used with permission