Labretta Suede & the Motel 6… ? Now how the hell does a band from New Zealand nail that Southern 1960-70s Cramps-esque psycho-rockabilly style? Not sure but they do.
I recognize a few NYC institutions in this video I think, including “Pimps & Pinups” which is where I loyally once got my hair cut before my “stylist” moved to another salon down the street in the Lower East Side.
Seeing this video from director Serg Soza made me homesick for NYC and what passes for a rockabilly scene there (LES & Brooklyn). NYC’s scene is more compact and less strictly defined than say Los Angeles, where if a stand up bass isn’t in the band, well, hell that “ain’t true rockabilly son” and the Cramps (in my opinion after my short stint on the west coast), don’t get the love & respect they deserve.
A whole another post I realize but this has been bugging me for a while, ever since some silly comments on our Dorados Rockabilly Trio’s “Bettie Page” video surfaced. Rockabilly “purist”: When did Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly or Gene Vincent play with a stand up bass? When, when, when did that become a requirement and what judge or jury made that call? I’m not being confrontational or cute, it’s an honest question. I’m either missing a gap in my rockabilly history (very likely) or there was a sudden move by a majority of rockabilly fans to say that unless there is a stand up bass, it’s not true rockabilly.. I digress but I’ll revisit this topic at another time.. you can be sure.
But this does bring up another almost equally interesting question that is well above my pay grade but something I’m curious about none-the-less, how do you differentiate traditional rockabilly (Gene Vincent, etc. played today by performers like Big Sandy or any “Wild Records” recording artists) from bands like The Cramps or Labretta Suede & the Motel 6.
It’s very clear there is a major distinction yet it’s equally clear to me that the genres, meld and over-lap somehow as well.
All I know is that I’m in the heart of the South right now, in the heart of music country and let me tell you this kind of music doesn’t exist in it’s natural environment anymore. It always fascinated me that bands like Social Distortion & Tiger Army weren’t more popular in the south. Their appreciation and use of Roots Country is obvious, yet modern day Nashville and Country Music sounds nothing like the old country songs of the early 20th century or the hey day of the 1950s, which is the only kind of country I can even stomach.
And if it takes a band from New Zealand/Brooklyn to keep alive the hey-day of a musical genre that lost it’s mainstream popularity a long, long time ago.. then so be it. They do a good job and I hope I can catch up with these guys when I get back to the East Coast next week. I bet they’d make a great interview and an even better band to catch live.
BTW.. New Zealand? That’s the “small island” of Australia right? Just joking my Kiwi followers!