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Howlin’ – The Rhythm Slicks
The Rhythm Slicks are a four piece from South Wales, a part of the UK that boasts some of the foremost performers and musicians on the Rock ‘n’ Roll circuit. Here we combine the talents of Kevin Burnett, songwriter, vocalist and rhythm guitar, with gifted lead guitarist Nick Jones, and familiar faces Tony Biggs and Mark Kemlo on upright bass and drums respectively.
The opening track is a kicker at over three and a half minutes duration. Already, a few bars in you get the feel of the band’s style. The guitar riffs are ballsy and accomplished, the beat and rhythm strides through ‘Black Whiskey and Gasoline’, and with the volume turned up to the max in my headphones, it’s an aural treat. Pacey and punchy, that’s the best way to describe the opening bars of ‘Blowing Through’, which makes best use of the infectiously repetitive drum beat, and a well-conceived key change mid-song.
There are a number of ‘Destiny Brown’s when you research it. This one on track three is a well-travelled and experienced musician in a Juke Joint fashion. Her story is set to a more sedate and jazz pace, to really good effect. ‘Blue Voodoo’ displays more of Nick Jones’ dexterity on the six strings, set to expert drum progressions from Mark Kemlo. If you’re looking for one, here’s a stroll beat. Back up rocking again with the title track ‘Howlin’, delivered vocally in a wolf-man style, unsurprisingly perhaps. The lead guitar cries and screams in the instro breaks, all that’s missing is a vocal ‘howl’, to go with the sinister growl and laughter. Yeah readers, this is well deserving of the title track honour.
Ok readers of a certain vintage, when you see the name ‘Rockford’, what do you think? The Malibu based private eye, played by James Garner? So did I. Well, ‘Jumping Mister Rockford’ isn’t anything to do with that, this is a bright and bouncy rocker, that bridges styles between country and Rockabilly. A slight easing of pace for ‘Black Hearted Woman’, a nippy stroll beat that has an early Ike Turner feel about the guitar work, and embittered lyrics about a lost love. I liked the ‘ad-lib to fade’ ending to this, it makes you wonder exactly how much further the lyrics would go, other than the promise of composing the song.
Some Blues next, with top drawer walk and slide on the guitar on ‘Red Devil Baby’, which is complemented by the ‘tick’ of Tony’s bass slapping. ‘Storm Blowing Ali’ is another jazzy feeling song, with a catchy rhythm and a super-cool late-night vibe to both the lyrics and guitar work. We end with a classic blues bopper riff opening ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’, another howl-at-the-moon themed rock-along with just the right amount of ‘how hows’ to give it that floor filling sound. Quite the lady this song is about.
The Rhythm Slicks are another band that we have yet to see live, something that must be rectified when we, and they, can go out again! There are a variety of styles, beats and rhythms on this record. The song writing is accomplished, all the tracks are original compositions, and the musicianship is exemplary, from the engine room of the tempo, to the blistering guitar solos. Kevin’s vocals are powerful and carry the lyrics extremely well.
This is one of those records that needs to be played loud and proud, readers. Top stuff