Thursday, March 23, 2017

TCYR - Review of 'Rumble' in Main Line Times, Aug. 11, 1988

A review of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers' Rumble featured in Main Line Times newspaper, August 11, 1988.
[Thanks to Bill Sammons for the article.] 


‘Rumble’ Well Worth Wait
by Jay Friel, Main Line Times 

It was a long time coming, but Rumble was well worth the wait.
Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers’ first effort on Columbia Records is an unpretentious 10-song package that effectively captures the straight-ahead, bare-bones music that made this band a local favorite.
Kudos to producer Rick Chertoff, whose credits include the Hooters’ Nervous Night and One Way Home, and Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, with keeping things simple—no effects rf filler—and letting the Rumblers do what they best—play honest, emotional, raw, rock.
The record also highlights Conwell’s collaborative songwriting abilities and ever-improving singing voice, as well as adds to the solid reputation of a fine rhythm section—bassist Paul Slivka and particularly drummer Jim Hannum whose powerful poundings drive all the Rumblers’ numbers.
Guitarist Chris Day and keyboardist Rob Miller (formerly of Robert Hazard and the Heroes and the Hooters) add new touches throughout the record, and contribute consistently fine backing harmonies.
And of course, the one element never questioned with this band—Conwell’s hot guitar—remains the focal point.
The album contains an even balance of new and old songs (five each), as well as a good mix of the usual raucous Rumblers rockers with of a couple of slower, almost ballad-like tracks.
A juiced-up version of I’m Not Your Man, the album’s first single, leads off the record with a gruff rap by Conwell before jumping into trademark crunchy guitar and rough vocals.
This version of the song has been significantly beefed-up from the version that appeared on 1986’s independently-released Walkin’ On the Water. This is the opposite of a trend that had appeared to take hold of other local bands after signing with big record companies.
Other tracks from the first album, Love’s On Fire, Everything They Say is True, and Walkin’ on the Water, aren’t changed as much, but do contain alterations, such as more prominent keyboards on the latter but the total eliminations of piano intro in the former.
The LP’s second track, Half a Heart, sounds like a Hooters’ song—and there’s a good reason. The punchy keyboard and rhythm guitar beat comes from the collective mind of Hooters Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, who wrote the song with Conwell and Chertoff. Unfortunately, all the minds didn’t help, and this is probably the album’s weakest effort.
The album’s tastiest tracks are the Sly Stone-inspired I Wanna Make You Happy, from funk songwriter/producer Kae Williams, and an older tune—a particular favorite over the years in the clubs—Workout.
The album’s most beautiful cut, If We Never Meet Again, demonstrates clearly that Conwell can sing a slow song, as well as belt out his more traditional blues-rockers.
The gospel-influenced Gonna Breakdown, was written by the team of Conwell and Philadelphia-based songwriter Marcy Rauer. This track starts slow but progresses into some of the nastiest guitar licks on the album, as well as some soulful, to-the-limit vocals by Conwell.
Tell Me What You Want Me to Be contains a strong country flavor and that Bo Diddley beat that this band performs so well.
A chuckle from Conwell at the conclusion of Walkin’ on the Water appropriately closes the album.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry [1926-2017]

Legends never die. Rest In Peace to a Rock 'n' Roll pioneer and legend, Chuck Berry, 1926-2017. 

Fans of TCYR know that Chuck Berry songs have been in Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers' setlists since the beginning. 

Video: Tommy Conwell talks about his musical influences and Chuck Berry (80's).  

Video: Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers perform a cover of Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" at the Pennsylvania State Fair, in Bensalem, PA, Memorial Day 1989. 

More Chuck Berry covers --

  • Around and Around - Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers recorded live at the Bottom Line, New York City, USA, 1988.

  • Almost Grown - Tommy Conwell and the Little Kings live at Grape Street Pub, 1999.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Tommy Conwell with SideArm... and flowers!

Tommy Conwell performing with backing band SideArm at the Flowers After Hours: I Love the 90's event at The Philadelphia Flower Show on Saturday, March 11, 2017.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Meeting the Young Rumblers in Dallas - Late 80s!

Sometime in the late 1980’s…

A look-back story sent to Audio Rumble from Louie Chaump:
I cannot remember the exact month and year but I remember everything else like it was yesterday. I was 25 and just got a promotion from the mail room at CBS Records to a full-time retail rep for CBS. 
At the time we were distributing Columbia, Epic, Def Jam, Chrysalis and a few other record labels. Tommy was on Columbia Records. I was on the sales side. We took records to the retail distributors like Sound Warehouse, Hastings, Tower, Camelot, and the promotions guys took the music to local radio. The promo guys were the coolest. They were always bringing in the up-and-coming acts to our office, then to radio and then to dinner. And other times to a “record release” party where I would be responsible for bringing out the local record store managers. It was the best job ever. 

I had an AMEX card and endless tab! I remember our Columbia promotions representative, Michael Scurlock, invited me to dinner with Tommy and a few of the other Young Rumblers. We went to a seafood restaurant near downtown Dallas. Tommy and the guys were super! They were polite, cordial and very outgoing. We had a great dinner. 

The next night I think Tommy had a gig down at a venue on Elm Street in east Dallas. It’s call Deep Ellum down there; the area was an old jazz and blues mecca back in the day. I think in Dallas that year, he played a venue called Deep Ellum Live, but I’m not sure about that. The show was great, and the crowd was great. On another night, we had a party for retail and radio reps at Dave and Busters in north Dallas. The party was fun, and the band again was friendly and accommodating.

I had recently bought a 1973 Fender Stratocaster and I brought it in and asked Tommy to sign it. He looked at the guitar and saw that it had already been signed by Jimmie Vaughan. He was kind of taken aback, and expressed how he much he appreciated Jimmie’s playing. Then he signed my guitar.

I still have that guitar today, and since then I have had many other guitarists sign it including: Steve Howe (Yes), Vernon Reed (Living Color), Bill Carter, Charlie Sexton, Alejandro Escovedo, Willie Nelson, David Grissom, Dino Lee, Miles Zuniga (Fastball) and Chuck Prophet. Chuck was impressed that I knew of Tommy C... 

Oh, one last thing. I believe Tommy was in Austin, Texas, the night before Dallas. He may have purchased the Antone's T-shirt at that time. I think he may have played at the Steamboat or the Backroom in Austin, but not sure. God bless Tommy Conwell! Still two of my favorite records ever are “Rumble” and “Guitar Trouble.” 

Thanks, DJ Caterina, and I am glad to share this story with Audio Rumble and continuing the life line of rock and roll!

Love and peace,