Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Morlocks - Play Chess (Popantipop, 2010)

Longstanding west coast garage rockers who are named after the underground race in H.G. Wells' classic novel The Time Machine go into a time machine of their own, harking back to the roots of rock 'n' roll which were sown in the blues and R&B classics of the Chess Records catalog. Mining these great tunes and updating them for the modern rock scene, the group makes a very exciting record that starts fast and hits hard and is over before you know it. They seem particularly inspired by Chuck Berry with three of his legendary hits covered: "Promised Land," "You Never Can Tell" and "Back in the U.S.A." Much like the originals, they feature tight instrumental arrangements and very exciting and propulsive drums and vocals. Bo Diddley is represented well too, with the band well suited for the braggadocio implied by his songs "I'm a Man" and "Who Do You Love." They deeply mine Diddley's signature guitar style and unique beat to excellent effect. Going deep down in the alley to the Chess blues sides, the group covers Sonny Boy Williamson's "Help Me" which is a perennial among garage rockers covering the blues, along with Howlin' Wolf's epic "Smokestack Lightnin'." Overall, this album was a tremendous amount of fun, showcasing the band's power and the everlasting impact of electric blues and R&B. Play Chess -

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