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Big Sandy Bringing Back Rock N Roll


05/04/06
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(conqueroo) From the very first song on Big Sandy & the Fly-Rite Boys’s forthcoming Turntable Matinee album, you know where this journey is headed. “Drop the needle in the groove and start to move,” he sings in the lead track, “The Power of the 45, Part 1,” a spitcurl rockabilly number in which Sandy cites many of his influences by name: Little Junior Parker, Lazy Lester, Johnny “Guitar” Watson and Ronnie Dawson.

The new album, Big Sandy’s eleventh, which ships July 11 on Yep Roc Records, also features the Western swing of “(Yes) I Feel Sorry for You” to the old-time country of “Lonesome Dollar,” the Stax-style Memphis soul sendup “Slipping Away” and the bossa nova “Spanish Dagger.

The recording of Turntable Matinee found Big Sandy and company in a more relaxed studio setting than ever before. “We were looking for a place that we could just come and go,” he says, and they found just such a place in the studio of their producer and friend D.E. Hannigan. This made them feel at home indeed, considering it’s built in the very house that Fly-Rite Boys bassist Jeff West grew up in. “I lived in it for my first ten years,” West says. “Then I lived there again from the late ‘80s until ’94, and now [Hannigan] lives there. The studio is in the garage.”

“Recording was different this time,” Big Sandy said. “I feel like it was a bit more of a creative atmosphere, because we worked up all the songs in the studio. A good example of that was the song 'Spanish Dagger.' I wrote that song . . . Well, I met a girl at a car show we were playing, then I wrote the song the next day, and then we recorded it the day after that.”

Based in Southern California, the group is almost always on the road, enough to burn through two tour buses in recent years. The first was a converted passenger bus from 1949 that they retired for use on an old movie set, followed only a few years later by a yellow 1950 school bus that they left for dead in Montana. “We're flying more now,” says Big Sandy.

The band has appeared on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and NPR’s “All Things Considered.” They’ve played the Grand Ole Opry as well as roadhouses throughout the world. According to San Jose’s Metro, “flies right by the poseur high-moussed hair and washable tattoos of such '80s rockabilly phenoms as the Stray Cats into an aerie all their own where the music is to dance to and the words can make you cry."

Turntable Matinee closes with a reprise of “The Power of the 45,” in which Big Sandy sings, “Feel that rhythm in your soul, taking control. That's what keeps me alive, that's the power of the 45.” Big Sandy isn't speaking just for himself; as you listen to him sing about his own love of the music, you can't help but fall in love with Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys too.

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