Darkness 69 On August - 20 - 2014

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[REVIEW] “TRANSYLVANIAN TAPES” – The 69 CATS

It starts on a sombre note. A lonely guitar telling us a tale of a lost soul… and then it kicks off with drums and Jyrki’s enchanting voice, taking on one of the most legendary songs by The Doors, „People are Strange“. And what a great rendition it is! Definitely on par with one of my favourite covers of this song by Echo & The Bunnymen, which evokes images from the iconic 80’s vampire flick „The Lost Boys“, the soundtrack of which it enriched and made it cult. The Cats’ version is equally good, and I’d definitely love to see it adorn the silver screen as well.

Those familiar with The 69 Eyes’ opus will surely recognise the phrase „sunglasses after dark“, and now we got our very own gothabilly version of the same-named track, originally performed by Dwight Pullen (and yes, covered by The Cramps as well) – you can almost see ponytails shaking and full skirts swaying in some bar back in the 50’s. Except this is 2014, and we’re in dire need of some original rock’n’roll feeling – a task which this track and the whole album perfectly fulfill. And what is rock’n’roll without the King – The Cats cover the majestic and sweet „She’s Not You“, where Jyrki duets with none other than Wanda Jackson – the Rockabilly Queen. Some nice doo-wop going on there for the nostalgia fans too.

The fourth track was really the one where I knew I had to write my impression the very first night – it’s the kind of song that makes you smile without you even knowing it. „Runaway“ took me way back, because the original by Del Shannon was actually one of my favourite songs when I was just discovering music. I can’t even remember the last time I listened to the original! Jyrki’s voice and the chorus that invites sing-alongs and repeat listenings are just some of the treasures you’ll find in this track. Simply put, amazing!

In case you thought this was a trip down memory lane with cherry trees and stuff, the fifth in the row is there to remind you this is a gothabilly album, for Tim Curry’s sake! Back in February, Jyrki tweeted a question about what the final track might be for the album while wearing a Rocky Horror Picture Show shirt. Among other tracks, I guessed „Sweet Transvestite“ and I was right! The 69 Cats don’t even need to add a special flavour to the song, since it’s got plenty, what with all the kinky dialogue and playful delivery. In this version, Jyrki is Dr. Frank N. Furter to The Devil’s Daughters lost couple – and it works really, really good. Of course, here the second part of „antici…“ is pronounced like „passion“, just to add to that naughty level.
sweettransvestite
/Yes, that naughty/

Edge of Reality“, another Presley (though not typical) track, takes us a bit to The 69 Eyes in terms of Jyrki’s voice, but everything else is different, starting with Clem Burke’s and Chooper Franklin’s rhythm section and vignette variations by Danny B. Harvey on guitar. The atmosphere is deepened with „Necromance for Guitar“, an original instrumental by Harvey, which, besides the perfect title, also invited images of whiskey shimmering in the glass, lost hopes and loves, the whole „we had it, girl… until we lost it“ feeling, perhaps written only because a guitar is the only true companion of musicians. But don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom, because the song carries a sweet melancholic tune in itself, which is cheerfully greeted by „You’re My Baby“ – yes, Johnny Cash is in the house tonight! The Cats give it a wonderful fast spin and with all the quick „ohs“ and rockabilly beats, it turns into one of the best covers of any song ever! The lyrics „I love that hair, long an’ black, hangin’ down in the middle of your back, don’t cut it whatever you do, ’cause I need it to run my fingers through“ will get any man who sings it to me into some delightful trouble, alright!

Werewolves of London“ is another great cover, successfully avoiding any similarity with that annoying earworm Kid Rock created by mixing the original and „Sweet Home Alabama“, so big kudos to these cool cats for that. The howls never sounded better (and pay attention to lyrics near the end)! After that, we are treated with another classic, this time with „Black Cadillac“ by a long forgotten rockabilly singer Joyce Green. The lyrics about giving her two-timing lover what he deserves translate well when sung by Jyrki, so the revenge sounds almost sweet! „You ain’t coming back, baby,“ Jyrki sounds off ambiguously, and before we get to ponder how black that cadillac really is up close, the sound of cameras clicking get through the speakers, and we are treated yet again by a rendition à la The 69 Cats. This time it’s Duran Duran’s 80’s hit „Girls on Film“ – and once more I’m amazed how this unusual combination actually works. Give it a spin and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
BlackCadillac
/Black, black, black, black No. 1…/

The „penultimate“ track of the album is another instrumental by Danny B. Harvey titled „69 Guitars“, which has very attractive elements of surf rock, coupled with some screams and beats which are just made for a Tarantino movie. It’s a perfect backdrop for some serious dance moves in the moonlight, maybe including the famous Swim dance move… if you were spending your vacation at Camp Crystal Lake, that is. Do not kid yourself – this is a goth-filled album through and through. If you needed any proof – the instrumental seamlessly transforms in the final and epic „Bela Lugosi’s Dead“, once again showing us just how fantastic this idea was and how good these songs sound when done Cats’ style. Jyrki is truly the Elvis of our time, the man who could make even yodelling sound sexy. The love and appreciation for some of the monumental tunes of the 20th century that he and his friends Danny, Chopper and Clem, all legends in their own bands, have and share is clearly heard on every single second of „Transylvanian Tapes“. This album is an incredible homage to rock’n’roll and some of its music royalty; a real gothabilly tour de force from start to finish! So, don’t miss it and I can only hope that by endless playing I will actually summon some spirits to conjure a massive tour, because these songs must be heard live!transylvania69cats
Review by: Ilhana/Darkness 69

Categories: News, Uncategorized

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