This album introduces the modern teen idol duet of Johnny Ramos and Jaalene DeLeon on a program of mostly remakes of teen rock and roll recordings from the late fifties and sixties. The 19-year-old Ramos is a guitar-playing son of blues guitarist Kid Ramos and is a guitarist as well as a singer who is tearing things up in a blues, roots and rockabilly band. Jaalene is a 16-year-old theater girl, and choirs student turned rockabilly diva who has been called "The Queen of the Teens." The dup handle all the vocals, including some duets, while the younger Ramos plays acoustic guitar. Backing musicians include Kid Ramos and Tommy Harkenrider on guitar, Brent Harding on bass and Kid Dabbs on drums with Jesus Cuevas adding Norteña accordion on 4 tracks and Rob Dziubla adding saxophone to three.
The appeal of the two (think Sha Na Na performance of oldies without the camp aspects of their stage act), is immediately evident on the pair's marvelous rendition of The Ronettes hit, "Baby I Love You." Jaalene's pure teen voice and Ramos' slight vibrato is so charming and puts to lie that those hits were simply the result of Phil Spector's production and not the singing of Ronnie Spector. Kid Ramos has a brief, taut solo here. I suspect Carla Thomas might approve Jaalene's wonderful singing of her hit "Gee Whiz." After Johnny's hiccup-ping take of Eddie Cochran, "Teenage Cutie," the two enchant us their sublime channeling of the Everly Brothers' hit, "Let It Be Me." With booting saxophone and some slashing guitar, Jaalene delivers a spirited vocal on Etta James' rock and roller, "Good Looking."
"Los Chuco Suaves" is one of the songs from the Mexican American tradition with Johnny rhythmic acoustic guitar while singing in what might find a melodramatic manner, with a choice button accordion solo. It is followed by another lilting teen ballad, "Angel Baby," as Jaalene sings about being in heaven with Johnny. Johnny sings Doug Sahm's Tex-Mex lament, "Why Why Why," with booting sax and accordion in the backing. While perhaps not yet possessing the weight of Wanda Jackson as a vocalist, Jaalene does a credible vocal on "Let's Have a Party," with some crisp guitar playing from both Ramos and Harkenrider. There is a lively rendition by Johnny of an obscure Bill Allen rockabilly recording, "Please Give Me Something," that is more focused and hotter than the original.
After Jaalene's delightful bilingual singing (with Johnny providing a genial harmony) on a Chicano rock ballad "Cuando Caliente," the two perform a Norteña styled rocking rendition of The Danleers' only doo-wop hit with surging grooves, hot accordion, and strong singing. It closes an album that may bring back memories to the older roots music audience, on an enchanting recording that brings some fresh sheen to classic rock and roll music.
I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the November- December 2018 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 381). Here is the official video for the recorded performance of "Baby I Love You."