Starting off “Last Train” with a rockabilly riff that would make Brian Setzer proud, Hotrod Boogie quickly gets tepid by riding this riff for an extended period of time, pushing their luck with over two minutes of what essentially is the same thing. The rockabilly stylings don’t end with “Hotrod Anthem”, but become ever more obvious during “Saturday Night Rock”. To be honest, the aforementioned tie to Brian Setzer is by no means covered by the one riff on “Hotrod”, rather Raymond tries eir hardest at all sections of “Saturday Night Rock” to sound like Brian, play like Brian, and bore the hell out of me like Brian. The faux-live recording of the track is just trite; if the track is live, that is acceptable but don’t pretend as if it is live when it’s just studio. KISS’s reputation was forever flawed when they attempted the reverse by dubbing studio licks over their Alive album, and I feel that I personally have less respect for Hotrod Boogie with their antics on “Saturday Night Rock”.
The only thing I can find myself greatful for on “Last Train to Chuco” is the fact that, true to the rockabilly form, each track ends quickly and relatively painlessly. Don’t get me wrong, the music is played correctly and without fault, the bass is chugging away throughout each f the tracks as the drums provide a valuable timekeeping function, but there is nothing in the music that is the least bit enticing for me. There is ton of room in rockabilly for innovation, as evidenced by the work that individuals like the late Joe Strummer and Mike Ness have done in the last ten years incorporating their past with splashes of rockabilly.
What strikes me the most is the outright and wholesale lifting of the general sound from the most iconic band in rockabilly and the brash claim that they (Hotrod Boogie) is original in any sense. If Hotrod Boogie attempted their own thing with the skills that each member brings to the table, I have no doubt that what could be created would be some of the most impressive music out to date. I love the talent of Raymond’s guitar, but all the talent in the world can be squandered if a band can’t get out from the shadow cast by their influences. If you like Brian Setzer, by all means pick up this album. If you like good guitar players, pick up this album. If you like originality, pick up another Broken Bonez release.
Top Track: Go Cat Go
Hotrod Boogie – Last Train to Chuco / 2004 Broken Bonez / 7 Tracks / firstname.lastname@example.org / http:/www.brokenbonezrecords.com / Reviewed 24 January 2005