Sunday, March 14, 2010

Nick Curran's Lowlifes Are Musical Hi-Lights

Nick Curran may be best known as a guitarist with The Fabulous Thunderbirds between 2004-2007. Prior to that the Maine native left his hone state to tour with rockabilly musician Ronnie Dawson who taught him not to get pigeonholed. Eventually moving to Austin and then recorded “Dr. Velvet” which won a W.C. Handy Award for Best New Albert debut. After leaving the Thunderbirds, he formed his new band, The Lowlifes, a roots rock’n’roll band. And now Delta Groove’s Electro Groove subsidiary has issued there explosive album “Reform School Girl.”

The is a hard rock’n’roll album, not a hard rock album. It will evoke classic wild rock and roll records from the fifties by the likes of Little Richard, Larry Williams, Screaming Jay Hawkins, and Esquerita, with instrumental touches suggesting Ike Turner, T-Bone Walker, and musical accents suggestive of The Ronettes, and Lazy Lester as Curran and his band have a take no prisoners approach to reviving 50s wild, raucous rock and roll on a collection of originals modeled on the wilder side of the fifties from such labels as Federal and Specialty. The tone is set with the wild little Richard style performance of a lesser know Etta James song, “Tough Lover." Take a song like “Dream Girl,” where opening it Curran’s vocal takes a nod to Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson before it sounds like someone put some benzedrine in Nick’s Ovaltine (to steal a line from Harry ‘The Hipster’ Benzedrine) as he sounds like his soul was possessed by Screaming Jay while his wild guitar makes some of Ike Turner’s wilder solos using his whammy bar sound fairly tame. “Flyin’ Blind,” is a rocking duet with Blaster Phil Alvin, where Curran’s wild singing makes Alvin come off as teen crooner. On “Lusty L’il Lucy” Curran comes off as a cross between Little Richard and Larry Williams with the saxophones recreating that old Specialty sound before yet another guitar solo rockets off into the stratosphere.

The manic wildness of “Reform School Girl,” does not mask the fact that Curran is one mother of a performer. Rock and Roll still lives on this, a magic carpet ride of classic rocking sounds, that fans of the wilder side of the fifties music scene will want to take for a spin. Incidentally, Nick was recently diagnosed with tongue cancer and we can only hope the treatment is successful so he can get on to road to promote this release.

For purposes of FTC regulations, I received this from Delta Groove’s publicity firm. The review was written for publication Jazz & Blues Report, but yet to have appeared in print.

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