The Kingmakers are yet another Canadian group who have picked up the baton of Americana and carried it over the 49th parallel. However unlike the majority of acts we’ve reviewed here who delve into bluegrass, singer/songwriter musings or country music The Kingmakers are unashamedly rockabilly and proud of the retro tag that comes with this. So proud in fact that they’ve recorded in the Sun Studios in Memphis in the past and on this, their third album, shifted to Nashville to record the album at Cowboy Jack Clement’s studio, Clement being the man who recorded and produced much of Jerry Lee Lewis’ Sun output. In addition they’ve persuaded The Jordonaires to sing on a few of the songs while JM Van Eaton, Jerry Lee’s drummer joins in on the fun.
First thing to say is that this is great fun. Pump up the speakers and pretty soon it’s difficult to stay seated as they run through some amped up rockers and swingingly good fifties teen toe tappers. With only one cover, Van Eaton’s Memphis In ’55, their songs, mainly written by bass player Steve Donnelly, have an authentic touch that we’ve not heard since The Blasters announced their mission to reclaim American music. Indeed the opener Well Well Michelle and Johnny Green could sit comfortably on a Blasters album while Beale St. Memphis TN Morning After Blues, a deliciously loose and slinky blues number has the Alvin brothers stamped all over it. To show however that they are no mere copyists the band have a fine zydeco influenced number in Women and Weather while Prom Night Car Crash is a great Johnny Tillotson type death song. Great fun.