New Release Rack: The Lustre Kings’ “Go Green”
THE LUSTRE KINGS
Go Green With the Lustre Kings
Wild Boar Records
Nippertown’s fave rollickin’ rockabilly roustabouts are back with their fifth album, Go Green With the Lustre Kings, and I’m happy to say that I was mistaken when I thought that perhaps bandleader Mark Gamsjager & Co. were goin’ all Celtic on us, judging by the title.
But as guitarslinger-vocalist Gamsjager explains, “The fact is that I’m not a songwriter, and I wanted to make a record that would represent really good songs that we’re doing in our shows. So I titled it Go Green, as in recycled songs.” And given that the album is slated for release just prior to Earth Day (Wednesday, April 22), the title gives it a double meaning.
The disc kicks into high gear with the snappin’ slap bass of Chops LaConte, as the band revs up with “50 Miles From Nowhere (1000 Miles From Home),” a hot-wired but woeful tale of life on the road.
If there’s a recurrent theme on the album, it’s the battle between Right vs. Wrong underscored with such vintage gems as “It Ain’t Right,” “Wrong Wrong Wrong” and “Ain’t It Wrong When You Don’t Do Right,” culled from the songbag of rockabilly rebel Tex Rubinowitz.
But the current line-up of Lustre Kings – drummer Liam Hogg, steel guitarist Kevin Maul and saxman Brian Sears, in addition to Gamsjager and LaConte – do it right every time.
With Nippertown saxman Cliff Lyons handling the production chores (with an assist from Gamsjager and Jim Gaudet & the Railroad Boys’ mandolinist Sten Isachsen), the album was recorded at Isachsen’s Bender Studios in Delmar, and the sound is pristine without robbing the songs of their vibrant live energy.
The key to the Lustre Kings’ music is their masterful ability to swing – something of a lost art since rock & roll lost the roll in favor of rock. Check out Doc Pomus’ “Boogie Woogie Country Girl” or bluegrass kingpin Jimmy Martin’s old-school country shuffle “You Don’t Know My Mind,” if you need convincing.
And Go Green isn’t all pedal-to-the-metal high-speed rockabilly, either. Ye olde Santo & Johnny strollin’ steel guitar instrumental “Sleepwalk” gets a very tasty remake in Maul’s reliable hands.
Several special guests make appearances as well, led by Caroline MotherJudge who takes over the lead vocals on the sexy, upbeat “Fallin’,” a Neil Sedaka tune originally recorded by Connie Francis back in the ’50s. Later on the disc she returns to duet with Gamsjager on “You’re the Boss,” a Leiber/Stoller tune featured on the soundtrack of “Viva Las Vegas” by Elvis and Ann Margret.
Ultimately, there’s a little something for everyone on the album – twang, swing, sass, sway and plenty of rip-snortin’ rock and roll. You can’t go wrong with Go Green…
Mark Gamsjager & the Lustre Kings celebrate the release of “Go Green” on Sunday (April 19) at The Hangar in Troy. The rollickin’ party also features a headlining performance by the one-and-only Commander Cody & His Modern Day Airmen, as well as an opening set from Texas troubadour Billy Eli with Kevin Maul and Tony Markellis. Showtime is 6pm, and tickets are $25.
Paul Rapp’s review from Rapp On This