Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers – Ugly Mobile (Dirty Water Records)

DWC1066_hiArtist: Hipbone Slim & The Kneetremblers
Album: Ugly Mobile
Released: 22nd April 2016
Label: Dirty Water Records

Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers are probably the best at paying homage to the great pioneers of rock n roll that I have heard lately. Sir Bald Diddley, aka ‘Hipbone Slim,’ aka ‘the Bald Bomber’, leads the band. He is a magician when it comes to strings and a wild devil on stage. At his side are Bruce ‘Bash’ Brand, a legendary rock n roll drummer with decades of amazing work up his sleeves, and the grand Gastus Receedus on the bass and harmonica. I dare you to check out the backgrounds of each one of these true masters, but be sure you’ll have yourself a good week or two, for these three have been everywhere and done it all. No wonder you can’t find a single fault in this album, for the members of Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers have been playing in more combos and records than I have eaten tacos. And I love tacos.

These Brits are truly, madly and passionately everywhere when it comes to rock n roll! The new album, Ugly Mobile, is like an encyclopaedia of rock n roll. There is a little bit for everybody – old-school rock ‘n rollers, surfers, rockabillies, greasers, cowboys, hillbillies, swamp voodoo priests, bluesy garage rockers, you name it! And it’s all packed in a crazy-frenzied, yet very mature punk attitude.

Pure rock n roll and 60s surf rock welcomes you right from the first riff of the first song, ‘Bald Head, Hairy Guitar.’ I’m a sucker for good surf sound, so they got me hooked straight away. They keep going at a steady perfect pace. ‘Ugly Mobile,’ ‘Orangutan,’ ‘Number One Son,’ ‘There’s only one Louie,’ all roll smoothly from blues, to rockabilly to garage through the wonders of surf, illustrating the true history of rock n roll from its early days.

When ‘One Armed Bandit’ comes, I envision myself as a lone cowboy, no, not a cowgirl, on a horse, heading west, following the sunset and my own thoughts. ‘Don’t know where to start’ follows that same galloping tempo that brings us thirsty for the front of a dusty saloon in some no-name town in a western movie.

In ‘Sally Mae’ we’re confronted with a huskier, angrier voice and a raspier garage sound, something we can also hear in ‘There’s only one Louie.’ With the next song ‘Voodoo Love,’ we’re back to a more open and light rockabilly voice, with the guitar riffs bringing us the smell of brilliantine and leather bomber jackets.

‘Hieroglyph’ and ‘Meanwhile Back in the Jungle’ are surf master pieces. I can just let my body linger in between, all warm and fuzzy. ‘Ramona,’ on the other hand, is just fun! It’s that needed fun that so many uptight people need nowadays. I imagine us all clapping our hands, stomping our feet with big grins in our faces. They say Brits don’t know how to let their hair down, but I say bull!

The wonderfully mellow intro of ‘Why Can’t I find (What I’m looking for)’ uses a pretty well-known approach of early rock n roll. It’s easy to give your full attention to the lyrics, which are a true reproduction of the angst shown in the lyrics of the kids back in the 50s. Well, last century, new millennium… Is it really a reproduction? We kind of never left that boat, now did we?

If you want a crash course in rock n roll, look no further. Ugly Mobile could be sent out to space, along with the pioneers of the genre that are up there already, to show aliens how serious we still are about the excitement and freedom that only rock n roll can provide us. Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers are intensely trained professional rockers. If you want to try this at home, please do and never give up.

-Penelope York