It’s Rock ‘n’ Roll but not as you know it!

Retrobates live WP“I’ve just heard this great band on the radio,” said my Dad down the phone from the UK.
“No, you haven’t,” knowing full well what tripe local radio can be.
“No, they did a great version of Enola Gay.”
He wasn’t kidding.

And neither was Bernie Keith, who keeps playing The Retrobates on his Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven radio show.

The Retrobates take New Wave and style it with old quiff, taking key rockabilly elements of strong rhythms and vocal twangs, combine it with authentic pop, and pass the milkman whistle-ability test with ease.

Their album, Going Backwards, contains immortal gems from OMD, The Undertones and The Vapors, which sounds like a rundown from a John Peel show. But squeezed between the Fat Bottomed Girls there’s some glam rock and Two Tone, creating a fantastic school disco for those who remember Gripper Stebson nicking dinner money on Grange Hill.

Rockabilly has a sprawling legacy, birthing a variety of sub-styles and influencing other genres such as new wave and punk rock, The Retrobates take it back again.

Retrobates WPSounding like the Tennessee Two in Sun Studios, OMD’s ode to the H-bomb is a remarkable feat. Enola Gay is a pure pop classic whose hooks and melody translate styles very well, providing evidence of high quality song writing; a signpost to why these 11 songs have been chosen.

Teenage Kicks, the eternal tale of love from boy to girl, fills the dance hall next as the upright bass encourages the poodle skirts to twirl. The album’s pace is steady and the sound conjures images of denim turn ups and immaculate grooming. 

With a smooth shift, heaviness ensues with the gloved hand of My Coo Ca Choo and quirky numbers from Tenpole Tudor and Adam and the Ants. Rounding off the pantomime is the world’s most bizarre cover of Baggy Trousers: nutty manoeuvres are hard to do in this slightly slower repaint.

Sewing a thread from the fifties through the cloth of the late seventies and early eighties has given The Retrobates a unique and enjoyable manifesto, one which creates an imaginative rockabilly romp.

4 Responses to “It’s Rock ‘n’ Roll but not as you know it!”
  1. Ian Rivers. says:

    Thanks for a really nice review Alex, I’m glad you enjoyed our new CD. We had a lot of fun making it and we were pleased with the result ourselves. I hope it won’t be too long before we record again! Cheers. Ian Rivers.

  2. Bernie Keith says:

    Tripe??? You’re right, of course, Alex, but we’re a cut above! Thanks for the mention. Bern

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