Tommy Conwell & the Little Kings,
Sho' Gone Crazy
(Llist Records, 1997)

Rockabilly fans can celebrate a practically perfect album in Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings' Sho' Gone Crazy. The music starts fast and furious, and it never really slows down. To top it off, the quality of the music, lyrics and performances is as fine as anyone could ask for. The liner notes claim this is Tommy Conwell doing music on his own terms; in that case, he should always be allowed to do music on his own terms if it is going to be as fine as this.

From the first number, "Pony Time," the pattern of lively, hopping fun reminiscent of the '50s is set. "All God's Children Wanna Rock" bops along and proves that if they don't beforehand, they certainly will when they hear this song. "Moaning," despite its sad-sounding title, is a moving musical number that will tear up the dance floor, starring the sassy sax of Darryl Ray Jenkins. The funny, snappy lyrics of "Bad Haircut" keep the pace and add even more light and levity to the proceedings, as does "Going on Down Here." "Want You to Feel Good" mixes Conwell's fine vocals with that snappy sax for an unforgettable swing. "Mashed Potatoes" brings in a slight change of style without slowing the pace, but does not fail to show off its rockabilly roots. Heart and soul is poured into the performance of "Let Go," and I defy anyone to keep their feet still while this one rocks along. "Get Down" is a fine, frisky, frenzied tune that sweeps all in its path along with it.

Continuing the crazy, swinging pace is the solid song "Betty Jean." "That's All" is another fine number with just the right feel to it. You have to love the sax in "Bottle Woman," a smooth, sweet swing. I knew they would eventually have to slow down, but not by very much -- or not so that you notice a great deal with "It's Raining." It's a sad ballad of lost love and rain, nostalgic in feel, but fresh and lively. "Boogie Picking" is the ultimate in truth in advertising, and these boys do not give their instruments any rest in the final song on the CD.

The group consists of Conwell on guitar and vocals, Jenkins on tenor saxophone, Pat Coppa on bass and Paul Ramagano on drums. They should all take several moments to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. It is not often that a CD comes along with every song a winner and played with such skill and obvious love of the genre.

[ by Debbie Gayle Rose ]



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