“Hail Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so sang the great duck-walking
sage, which was appended 35 years later by Garland
Jeffreys to include, “comes from R ‘n’ B and Soul,” to put a fine point on
it. Most would agree, though, that R ‘n’ R is the child of a shared heredity
between R ‘n’ B/Soul and Rockabilly/Western Swing/Country. It evolved from
those roots. Superior music makers dig for those roots. So it is with Gravys Drop, an Oakland, CA band that
digs the musical styles of previous Golden eras and wants to rattle your bones.
The band has become an almost instant hit in the East Bay and Bay area, and
their initial cassette release from cassette kings, Burger Records, sold out
the first day and has had to be replenished several times since. It’s also
available as a download from Bandcamp.com with a bonus song, “Pushin’ Too
I’ve often pontificated, the best music is found in the
underground, and the main reason that I subscribe to Rolling Stone is to remind
myself how much shit is being shoveled out to the public by the major music
industry of fluffed up, sugar-coated crap. Sports has now replaced religion as
the opiate of the masses, but commercial music, fabricated to make money, is
surely the mind-numbing lobotomiser (v. lobotomize, perform a lobotomy on a
person; cause a person to feel apathetic or mentally numb, deprive a person of
vitality) of the masses. That’s why it’s critical that we constantly
remind ourselves why we love rock music in the first place, and reboot our
brains by listening to the old stuff or a current band that plays it.
Gravys Drop is the
project by recent East Bay transplant, Billy Grave. A half-dozen years ago he
was part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Adventure
Kids, later becoming drummer in Nobunny’s band of misfits. Not long after, he got an urge to go out on his own, wrote
some songs and put together a group of like-minded players to hit the studio.
His band was made up of ace guitar whizzes Jay Rosen and David Fox, Michael
Loconto on bass and piano, Andrew Bianculli and Jake Gravy. Lending a hand in
the final mix was Greg Ashley, of Gris
Gris fame. It’s a talented mix of like-minded souls. Grave cites such
varied influences as The Beach Boys,
Flying Burrito Bothers, Everly Brothers, Waylon Jennings and Creedence. Indeed, the three covers on
the album are “Made To Love,” by the
Everly Bros., Waylon’s “Waymore’s Blues,” and a fine, souped-up version of
the oft-covered “Satisfied Mind.”
Their “Runaway” is an original, a bit of bubblegum mingling
with a Jan & Dean/ Beach Boys sound. Another original, “Happy Birthday,” has a lot of Dave Edmunds flavor going for it along with a ‘50’s tang. A lot of Nobunny emerges in “Trash Rock Groupie,”
which, no surprise here, IS trash rock in mid-tempo with distorted vocal and a
touch of xylophone. The “Love Me Do” intro of “Gravys Drop” quickly downshifts
into a rockabilly twang sound similar to The
Fenderman on “Mule Skinner Blues.” Then there’s a slight turn into
country-billy with “Buddhist Guru,” that then rocks out totally like classic Flamin’ Groovies with some fancy
string-tickling. You get a mixed bag on “My Friend Dave,” which starts as a
slow ballad with slide guitar, later shifting into an upbeat country rocker.
“Secret Stash” is balls-to-wall, Fender-reverb rock and roll jam, influenced by
The Velvets. Billy is an admitted fan
of their Loaded album in particular.
The band will be dropping a 7″ single June 1st,
of “Buddhist Guru,” b/w “Happy Birthday.” This album will later on be released
on vinyl in November by Burger. The album has a lot going on for it, some
snazzy playing and certainly some impressive songwriting. I love a jumpin’ jolt
of good old Rock ‘n’ Roll, and was delighted to get turned on to these guys.
All I can say is, Good Gravy!
DOWNLOAD: “Secret Stash,” “Buddhist Guru,” “Trash Rock Groupie.” BARRY
Get an earful of hot gravy here – http://gravysdrop.bandcamp.com/