New pupil in rock ‘n’ roll’s old school.

JDJS WPRock ’n’ roll has been heard from dance halls and diners, through the mediums of radio and television, and now it arrives in an instant on to our hard drives; there’s still something appealing to millions of fans. So when recording a set of songs cut from old roots fabric, how do you give it modernity?

JD McPherson created a lesson in history; a sonic selection from each decade since Buddy Holly hiccupped his way to stardom. McPherson’s second LP, Let The Good Times Roll, has continued, and further explored, various tastes and re-channelled them into 1950’s rock ’n’ roll.

Recorded in Jimmy Sutton’s Hi-Style studios, the warmth from the analogue valves radiates from the vinyl giving the whole room a glow, but when the title track and opening song’s lively beat starts, the joyous call to let the good times roll enlivens the most dormant heart.

The rock ‘n’ roll template for lyrical nuance and subject matter are almost untouched when combined with newer, louder stylings. It’s not as mind bending as some of Jack White’s experimental blues-rock howl, yet the eternal human themes of desire and emotional strife fend off any lament from the rock ’n’ roll purists.

Hardcore rhythm and blues is seamlessly harmonised with flashes of hip hop, sounds of ‘Clash City Rockers’ and a Rubin inspired Cash. A tremolo guitar echoes Johnny Marr’s playing on ‘How Soon Is Now,’ with a Smithsonian jangle on closer ‘Everybody’s Talkin’ Bout The All American.’

JD Salford WPMcPherson’s soulful tenor croons through on the tender ballads rekindling Holly’s sensitivity and vulnerability, a touchstone from JD’s Tulsa youth in the mid-80s. While not as rabid as The Jim Jones Revue, but equally important, is the roasting riff on ‘Head Over Heels’ spurred on by Wilko Johnson’s jagged edge playing, while elsewhere is heard the squealing primal frenzy of Little Richard and heavy piano of Jerry Lee Lewis.

Substantial horns give extra old time swing to many tracks, as the quick electronic sounding pulse gives ‘Shy Boy’ contemporaneity. There’s a moment where it almost lights up into The Cult’s ‘Lil Devil.’

Sutton and McPherson flourish, moulding shapes and grafting tissue of old on new, squeezing every drop possible from luxurious percussion throughout, showcasing a delight in the practical usefulness of rudimentary handclaps.

McPherson meshes old authentic with contemporary left field elements to his vision of rock ’n’ roll, showing the genre is not in stagnation. When in the right hands, it is a forward thinking look back at a genre which is still the sound of love, loss, life and rebellion.


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