How do you spell “cool”? That word lends itself to many interpretations, but one surefire way is this: r-o-c-k-a-b-i-l-l-y.
Rockabilly, man. It’s hard to come by in Taiwan, but damn, it is always cool. We had the awesome Chicken Rice in the early 2000’s. There is Fullhouse down in Tainan. The Deadly Vibes, perhaps more garage, played with that sound. Maybe 88 Balaz flirt with it, too. But for real straight-up ROCKABILLY, who can you name? Forgive me if I’ve missed a few bands, but the sad, sad fact is they are few.
So it was a happy Christmas when I spotted the Sugar Lady disc at Eslite as I did some finishing touches on my holiday shopping. It’s ok to treat yourself right, y’know. “Be your own sugar daddy,” I told myself, “Buy the Sugar Lady.”
This 5 song EP was released back in August 2013, but I was on hiatus, becoming a real daddy, so pardon my tardy awareness. And now, upon telling a friend that I was writing this review, I was informed the band had already broken up. So back to the aforementioned sad fact: rockabilly is hard to find to Taiwan.
But now that I’ve found something both recent and decent, doggone it, I’m gonna review it. And what we get here is a nice taster of that classic old sound, bookended by two brief instrumentals, conveniently entitled Intro and Outro. Reverb, tremolo, and riffing. It’s all there, as is a CD design replete with the standard themes of B-movie monsters, tough guys, and tougher chicks. And the fun. Sugar Lady bring the fun of it all, too.
In a retro band, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. It is more about honoring and celebrating the era. Good Old Days gets down and dirty, driving forward, headstrong and bold. Rich in tension and and dramatics, it is too bad I’ll never hear it live.
Modern twists have also found their way into the mix. My Little Baby is a playful ode to an iPhone. This is an enjoyable, well-written, and well-executed number. Although simple, the backing female vocals really elevate this track into the pleasure zone.
Anyway... 12345678 Go!!! gets back to basics: rocking and partying and a classic bass line. Visions of pompadours and polka dots flash before me, hot rods and cigarettes fill the background. There used to be a time when people actually danced to rock ’n roll. And songs like this were what probably had the kids moving. It makes me wanna move.
This EP was a nice find. I can only hope it serves to inspire more musicians and fans to seek out rockabilly. Know your roots. History can be cool.