Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings Review

DJ Caterina left a review of Tommy Conwell and the Little King's Hi-Ho-Silver! on iTunes:

“Kings' Sophomore Release - Good to Great..."
The liner notes on the Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings sophomore release Hi-Ho-Silver! ends with a statement of gratitude to all the artists "who showed us how great a band can be and gave us good stuff to steal."
But there's really no 'stealing' going on in any of these covers -- just some great interpretations of some rock, jazz and blues classics. Hi-Ho-Silver! is a tribute to the many styles of music that have influenced the Little King's leader, Tommy Conwell, since his 80's hey-day with the Young Rumblers, right up to Hi-Ho-Silver!
The CD title takes its name from a line in "Honey Hush," a cover of Big Joe Turner’s 1953 #1 hit that spent eight weeks at the top of the R+B charts. Turner’s 1987 Rock n Roll Hall of Fame Induction cites him as “among the first to mix R+B with boogie-woogie, resulting in jump blues - a style that presaged the birth of rock and roll.” It's no wonder that Conwell makes this song his rollicking own.

Conwell kicks off H-H-S with a cover of Don Covay’s “Bip Bop Bip,” a true homage to the original, and a reflection of Conwell’s deep musical roots. “Roll With Me, Honey” pays tribute to a version by Etta James -- except she sang, "Roll with Me, Henry -- and “Sonnymoon For Two” is a Sonny Rollins cover. The one Conwell-written track, "Smarty Pants," is a well-crafted guitar rock-blues jam that sits well with the rest of the tracks.

Conwell’s version of Joan Jett and the BlackHearts “Make Believe” is more feminine and sweet at the chorus than the BlackHeart’s comparatively masculine original from their 1981 debut album. This same sense of fun resonates throughout the CD, including on a cover of The Queers’ “Punk Rock Girls.”

"Without Love (There Is Nothing)" -- an Elvis Presley gospel hymn -- is re-imagined into the more powerful "Without Love (I Am Nothing)." With only Conwell's vocal and an acoustic guitar, the result is spare and memorable. Some might say the song is misplaced in this compilation, but to the Conwell faithful, it is a resounding reminder of his talent and musical gifts.

I'm Not Your Man by Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers played at the end of the Cool Vibes Acoustic Diner Radio Program show on April 25.
Tune in.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Everything They Say Is True - MTV (live) 1988

Left to right: MTV VJ Adam Curry, Chris Day, Tommy Conwell and Rob Miller

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers -- only two! Chris Day and Rob Miller -- perform "Everything They Say Is True" on MTV with the leather-clad host Adam Curry. This was the 80's!...The Young Rumblers were promoting "Rumble" in 1988.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Charlie Gracie documentary - "Fabulous"

Tommy Conwell appears on this clip for the Charlie Gracie documentary entitled, "Fabulous."

The Charlie Gracie documentary "Fabulous" chronicles the life and career of Rock and Roll Pioneer and Guitar Virtuoso Charlie Gracie. Charlie knocked Elvis from the top of the charts with his #1 monster hit "Butterfly". He went on a world tour and appeared frequently on televison programs including Ed Sullivan. He influenced some of the greatest rock icons of all time including: Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Van Morrison and Graham Nash. The film features interviews with: Graham Nash, Andy Williams, Peter Noone, Fabian, Frankie Avalon, The Dovells, Danny and The Juniors, Bill Haleys Comets, Jerry Blavat, Paul Moore, Tommy Conwell, Soul Survivor and several other music industry notables.
Documentary DVD available at:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, Empire Rock Club, 1986

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers, circa 1986.

Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers recorded live at the Empire Rock Club, Philadelphia, USA on December 19, 1986. Hear the Tommy Conwell interview with WMMR at the link below.

Disc One
1. Interview with Tommy Conwell - Post-concert with radio station 93.3 WMMR
2. Here I Come

3. Love's On Fire
4. Walkin' On the Water

5. Do You Still Believe in Me
6. I'm Home
7. Everything They Say is True
8. Cruisin' Slow
9. Tonight's the Night

Disc Two
1. I'm Not Your Man

2. A Million Pretty Girls
3. Possibilities
4. Workout

5. I Believe I'm in Love with You
6. Satisfaction Guaranteed
7. Downtown Train

8. Space Cowboy
9. Demolition Derby
10. It's Your Life
11. I Knew the Bride
12. Run Run Rudolph

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sho' Gone Crazy Music Review

A review of Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings' Sho' Gone Crazy released in 1997, courtesy of Debbie Gayle Rose, Middle Tennessee State University.

Rockabilly fans can celebrate a practically perfect album in Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings' Sho' Gone Crazy. The music starts fast and furious, and it never really slows down. To top it off, the quality of the music, lyrics and performances is as fine as anyone could ask for. The liner notes claim this is Tommy Conwell doing music on his own terms; in that case, he should always be allowed to do music on his own terms if it is going to be as fine as this.
From the first number, "Pony Time," the pattern of lively, hopping fun reminiscent of the '50s is set. "All God's Children Wanna Rock" bops along and proves that if they don't beforehand, they certainly will when they hear this song. "Moaning," despite its sad-sounding title, is a moving musical number that will tear up the dance floor, starring the sassy sax of Darryl Ray Jenkins. The funny, snappy lyrics of "Bad Haircut" keep the pace and add even more light and levity to the proceedings, as does "Going on Down Here." "Want You to Feel Good" mixes Conwell's fine vocals with that snappy sax for an unforgettable swing. "Mashed Potatoes" brings in a slight change of style without slowing the pace, but does not fail to show off its rockabilly roots. Heart and soul is poured into the performance of "Let Go," and I defy anyone to keep their feet still while this one rocks along. "Get Down" is a fine, frisky, frenzied tune that sweeps all in its path along with it.
Continuing the crazy, swinging pace is the solid song "Betty Jean." "That's All" is another fine number with just the right feel to it. You have to love the sax in "Bottle Woman," a smooth, sweet swing. I knew they would eventually have to slow down, but not by very much -- or not so that you notice a great deal with "It's Raining." It's a sad ballad of lost love and rain, nostalgic in feel, but fresh and lively. "Boogie Picking" is the ultimate in truth in advertising, and these boys do not give their instruments any rest in the final song on the CD.
The group consists of Conwell on guitar and vocals, Jenkins on tenor saxophone, Pat Coppa on bass and Paul Ramagano on drums. They should all take several moments to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. It is not often that a CD comes along with every song a winner and played with such skill and obvious love of the genre.