It feels good to actually get excited about a new rock ‘n’ roll band in an age when every other genre in the world is capturing my attention. Don’t get me wrong, I was raised on rock, as the Elvis song goes: I was six when I sat wide-eyed watching Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show, 13 and mesmerized by The Beatles on the same show, and 18 when I went to Woodstock in 1969. Although married at 23 in 1974, I kept rockin’ in a series of bar-bands while my ex-wife was chief bread-winner. By the ‘80s, I was still grooving to tried ‘n’ true favorites like Harry Nilsson, Allmans, Van Morrison, Dylan, Donovan, The Band, Waylon Jennings, Elvis Costello, Pink Floyd, Cream, Dr. John, Kinks, Stones, Who, Otis, Zeppelin, Creedence, Bruce, Doors, Santana, Bowie, Beach Boys, Tull, ZZ Top, Elton, Faces, Johnny Winter, Jimi and Janis but the dearth of new rock bands was frightful. Sure, Prince, Metallica, King’s X, Testament, Steely Dan, Willy DeVille, Cheap Trick, Cars and Police carried my ‘80s but the ’90s was a barren rock wasteland. As my aptitude for new rock atrophied, my successful experimentations veered towards jazz, bluegrass, country, world, folk, singer/songwriters, funk, soul and the avant-garde. My friends still make fun of me at how I don’t like U2, Stone Temple Pilots or just about any rock band from the ‘90s on. Believe me, I’ve tried.
By the new millennium, I’d given up. I was back to Little Richard, Everlys, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, The Killer and Chuck Berry. Of course, cliché though it is, rock ‘n’ roll will never die, it’s just that it also cannot be improved upon anymore. (I also have been known to headbang with metal (as long as there’s no stupid attempt to inject any harmony, melody or decent lyrical content whatsoever) but that’s just a release valve for my intermittent inner rage (so metal-wise, for me, it’s death all the way). In retrospect, the rock bands I’ve loved have always been blues-based.
Enter The Record Company.
This Los Angeles-based trio has captured my attention like no rock band since, uh, Los Lobos, I guess. Being a singer myself, I’ve always naturally gravitated towards bands with solid lead vocals. Chris Vos is my kind of vocalist (he also plays guitar and harmonica). The Record Company takes its cue from the kind of blues I used to listen to non-stop. There was even a period where I sold off all of my rock records and listened to nothing but the blues for almost two years. Blues and rock go together like pot and music. It’s a natural fit. Give It Back To You is The Record Company’s Concord Records debut. It rocks like a bitch in heat. Bassist Alex Stiff also plays guitar and drummer Marc Cazorla also plays piano. In fact, it reminds me of one of my favorite albums, Hooker ‘n’ Heat, a little thing Canned Heat did with John Lee Hooker back in the day. They’ve only had two indie EPs so far (Superdead in 2012 and Feels So Good in 2013).
Highlights include the guitar-less “On The Move” (harmonica/bass/drums) and the acoustic rockabilly “Don’t Let Me Get Lonely” with Stiff on stand-up bass. The single is “Off The Ground” which features Stiff using a slide on his electric bass.
Still, the thing I’m most psyched about is the emergence of Chris Vos who sings like his life is on the line. A dairy farmer from Wisconsin, Vos epitomizes everything I love about snarling frontmen from Jim Morrison and John Fogerty to early Rod Stewart and Billy Gibbons.
Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll.