Honestly, at first I was skeptical. The 69 Cats? Don't you mean The 69 Eyes? I wasn't far from the truth. The 69 Cats features Jyrki 69, vocalist for The 69 Eyes, legendary rockabilly guitarist Danny B. Harvey (Rockats, Lemmy's Headcat), bassist Chopper Franklin from The Cramps, and Clem Burke (Blondie) on drums. The music within their debut, Transylvanian Tapes is pure American rockabilly. But it's twisted with some horror punk and goth glam. Think Elvis meets The Stray Cats then tossed with The Misfits, with some Dr. Demento and that dude who wrote and sang The Monster Mash.
While rockabilly, in any form, isn't my go-to rock genre, when you have a prize winning line up such as above, it warrants some attention. Excepting two guitar instrumentals from Harvey, the majority of the Transylvanian Tapes is cover songs, a few with some b-movie, horror, death, and otherwise grim references. But the song selection is, generally, varied and interesting. Some songs deserve some mention.
The album starts with a version of The Doors' brief People Are Strange, done in away that feels like walking in a graveyard as the moon and fog rise. Akin to that atmosphere is their rendition of Sweet Transvestite from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, giving it almost a grave and humorless feel (unlike the original). Another near miss is the cover of Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London, where their interpretation doesn't seem to get the sarcasm inherent in the songs. And Jyrki's delivery of, 'and his hair was perfect,' the best part of the song, falls a bit flat. Alternatively, The 69 Cats reach into the rockabilly goldmine and cover Johnny Cash's You're My Baby and Elvis' She's Not You. The latter is the better of the two, maybe the best song on the album, as it feature rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson (at least, I hope it's THE Wanda Jackson). Another fine cover is that of Del Shannon's Runaway, nailing the vocal arrangement within the rockabilly context.
As for some performance notes, vocalist Jyrki delivers the songs with perfect Bela Lugosi meets Elvis humorous creepiness like he's fondling a well stacked deceased blonde go-go dancer in the coroner's morgue. Upright, of course. Harvey offers his impressive riffs and leads, probably from a Fender, with that smooth steely sound, maybe with a little tremolo, typical of the genre. Essentially, The 69 Cats nail the sound down tightly, making the entire album an interesting and pleasing listen, even for those, like myself, not bent towards the genre. Recommended.
Essentially, with Transylvanian Tapes, The 69 Cats nail down tightly the goth rockabilly sound, making the entire album an interesting and pleasing listen, even for those, like myself, not bent towards the genre. Recommended.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]