Rocket to Memphis – Jungle Juice

January 01, 1970

(Off the Hip)


At first glance this Australian combo is practically
drowning in kitsch: leopard-skin mini-dresses and rockabilly bouffants for the
ladies, tiger-striped scarf for the guitar player, member names like Voodoo
Viv, Betty Bombshell and Shotgun Pete, song titles including “Hoodoo Jive,”
“Zombie Rumble” and “Black Cat Fever.” Funny thing, though – Rocket to Memphis is surprisingly
potent on its second LP Jungle Juice.


The band’s mix of rockabilly and jump blues hews closer to the
voodoo brew of Texan wackjob Reverend Horton Heat than the blazing insanity of
the Cramps, which means the songs simmer instead of burn. But that just gives
the burlesque charisma of singer Bombshell and the reserved skill of
singer/guitarist Razor Jack Memphis room to breathe – no overwhelming
histrionics here. When Bombshell sings “I got a switchblade under my bed/I got
weird thoughts in my head/Don’t make me mad/’Cos honey I’m bad,” she sounds
self-confident and composed, rather than wild-eyed and nuts, which makes for a
nice contrast to the usual mania from the ducktails-and-tattoos crowd. No
psychobilly here – just old-fashioned Americana
from the other end of the world.


Bad,” “Never Felt Like This,” “Hoodoo Jive” MICHAEL TOLAND

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