'4 Hot Tracks!!' is a four-song EP by the Swingin' Blackjacks. It's also a four-of- a-kind winning hand, dealing out cool original rockabilly numbers performed by a trio that practically defines the term "deserving of far wider recognition".
The early eighties punk music scene prompted Matt Allen-the Blackjacks' lead singer and guitarist--to delve into the originals of the covers performed by so many subsequent artists. Names such as Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Fuller, and Buddy Holly had been familiar from oldies radio and nostalgic tributes.
But Robert Gordon, The Stray Cats, and The Blasters, also played a crucial role in Matt's decision to become a confirmed greaser, as did a Sun Records compilation. Matt remembers taking a special affinity to seminal black legends as Howlin' Wolf, Junior Parker, and Roscoe Gordon-all recorded by Sam Phillips in the early fifties.
"Little Red Head" is a hybrid creation that perfectly captures the flavor of those vintage Sun sides with a solid groove that just won't quit. Another piece of highly evocative nostalgia is "I Love You So", a hand-clapping rave-up that brings to mind Buddy Knox, Eddie Cochrane, and Gene Vincent. It hooks you from the outset, thanks to bassist/producer Mark Fournier's steaming brew of swinging, highly percussive fretwork, abetted by Matt's confident, relaxed vocals, braced by just a hint of twang.
While the Blackjacks orientation is toward no-holds-barred guitar-based r&b, they've been known to throw in the occasional honky tonker too-- just to kick up some sawdust on the floor, so to speak. "Never Go Out To Play" is a sterling example of the slightly moodier side of the band.
But the best gets saved for last, as "Little Easter" showcases Allen's affinity for The Fabulous T-Birds, SRV, Johnny "Guitar" Watson, and The Paladins.
This firestorm of energy incorporates all the ingredients necessary to make one unforgettable song. There's that throbbing insistent beat which creates an undertow of drama, and there's that defiant reverb-drenched guitar work. Top it all off with surly vocals and riveting lyrics, and the result is spontaneous musical combustion.
Performing with style and a demonstrable love of the music, The Swingin' Blackjacks continue to grace numerous venues in Toronto and region with their appearances. This sampler is good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll, a throwback to a simpler era when it was all about just having fun and cruising away your blues. And for those needing a fifties fix-- the price is right too.
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