Under the banner of ‘Mambo Sons’ Tom Guerra and Scott
Lawson have issued three fabulous CDs. Firstly, there was the self titled debut
‘Mambo Sons’ (1999), a good rock ‘n’ roll album laying down the
gauntlet of proper music, none of those tape loops for these boys. By the time
of the second album ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ the boys had really hit
their stride, and for their pains ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ was voted
best independent release of the year by the prestigious NY Rock Magazine. (I
can tell you without a doubt it will definitely be Mott the Dog’s album of
the year this year.)
Now in 2005 we are given ‘Racket of Three’ which sees
the boys now all out at a full speed musical gallop. This album simply wipes
the floor with any of its contemporaries over the last few years.
Since the last album, the line up of ‘Mambo Sons’ has
changed a little. Mike Hayden has slipped off the drum stool to make way for
the very impressive Joe (The Cat) Lemieux, whilst with the departure of Jeff
Keithline on bass, Scott Lawson has simply strapped on the bass himself and
taken over the four string, allowing the Mambo’s a very timeless sound,
giving you the impression that Scott may have admired the odd bass line from
Ronnie Lane of the ‘Faces’ or Andy Fraser of ‘Free’. Which now gives
you ‘The Racket Of Three’.
As soon as opening song ‘Play Some Rock & Roll
(She’s Comin’ Over)’ starts up with some bristling guitar riffs from Tom
Guerra, your attention is grabbed, your foot starts to tap, and most
embarrassingly of all you start to try and sing-a-long to the words on the
first time you hear it. By the time Scott Lawson sings at exactly one minute
forty eight seconds into the first song, ‘’Yeah; And I just gotta say
WAAAAAAHHH” before Tom Guerra comes in with the first of his guitar solo’s
that will peel the wallpaper from your room, you just know that you are
listening to something very special.
This is not music for little boys and girls, this is the
stuff of men and their ladies; here is music that Keith Richards and Johnny
Depp would put on if they were having a party.
After the opening blast of ‘Play Some Rock & Roll
(She’s Comin’ Over)’ you get ‘Valentine’ which starts off with a
little acoustic guitar introduction, but don’t be fooled by this and the
title - the band soon swaggers into the chorus. There are no thoughts of taking
their audience to school from the Mambo’s, they just sing songs from their
big old Connecticut hearts. There is nothing wrong with knowing what a song is
about by just looking at the title, that’s allowed these boys to let the
music do the talking for them. Each song on the album has it’s own identity,
some with a lighter feel, some as heavy as an anvil, the one thing they have in
common is that the Mambo groove flows through it’s veins.
‘Mr Rebound’ is quite delightful, whilst ‘Sidewinder
Walk’ is a great song in itself which has a false ending which then allows
the guitars to really kick up their heels. ‘You Broke My Mind’ shows off
that oft forgotten musical skill of smashing bottles, and includes the immortal
line “Now I’ve got whisky breathe, but you’ve got half a mind.”
You could put this CD on from start to finish at any party,
and the only thing you would have to do at the end is push play again. It’s
As well as holding down the bass playing responsibilities,
Scott Lawson gives a vocal tour de force throughout the entire collection,
showing off a wide range of throats, mostly very buoyant, with a nuance of
audacity, getting down and dirty with the guitar work of his partner on ‘Been
Out Of Touch’, but often as well very tongue in cheek. Then this is a rock
‘n’ roll album, and it is supposed to be fun.
Joe (“The Cat”) Lemieux was an excellent choice of
drummer: he is very unselfish, leaving each song with plenty of space, playing
in the same way as Charlie Watts does for the Rolling Stones. Tom Guerra is one
of America’s most respected guitarists, but for ‘Racket of Three’ he
really pulls out all of the stops, playing like an axe hero when required,
although by no means dominating any song, adding some great slide guitar to
‘Be On Time’. But his greatest asset to the Mambo’s is his ability to
switch styles to suit each individual song. Of course his whistle playing on
‘Rummy Hop’ should not be overlooked.
Mambo Sons are definitely a guitar orientated rock ‘n’
roll band, but when they do call for a little tinkling of the ivories, only the
best will do, and a special bow should taken by Andre Balas whose barrel house
piano on ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ is nothing
short of superb, whilst elsewhere Matt Zeiner does an excellent job fitting in
beautifully with the Mambo’s.
It is impossible to listen to The Mambo Sons without a great
big cheese eating grin spreading across your face, which is what rock ‘n’
roll is supposed to be all about. They maybe a racket of three, but a very fine
racket it is to.
This is all about rockin’ guitar, bass, drums, throat, and
songs; who can possibly want more than that? For more information on the
wonderful Mambo’s please look up their website at www.mambosons.com. This is
music to enjoy.
The thing I don’t understand is - why is their second
album called ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ but this record has a song on it
with that same title? Odd really...