Sunset Boulevard is a six-part dance-band consisting of bass, drums, keyboards, guitar/vocals and twin-saxophones. The band members have played with artists as diverse as ‘Van Morrison’ to ‘Chas and Dave.’
We saw the London-based group play live this week at the admirable Staines Riverside Club. It was a wet Bonfire Night and the venue was not as full as it should have been for such a class act. But for those members of the Staines public who were able to give up the
dubious pleasures of a sodden sky-rocket and a poor Catherine Wheel — it proved to be a memorable evening filled with quality
musicianship, vintage memories and cheerful entertainment.
The output was jolly rock ‘n’ roll — with shuffle rhythms — warming saxophones, boogie-woogie keys (from Holly Taylor) and clever guitar/lead vocals from Damian Mccabe.
The twin-sax sound favoured those songs that possess the biggest hearts. So the joy-filled “Tutti Frutti” for example, with that favourite lyric ‘A wop bom a loo- mop a lomp bom bom!!’
We also enjoyed plenty of Chuck Berry (we particularly loved the smooth melodic charity of “You Never Can Tell” aka the “C’est La Vie” song) — made famous by the Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction. According to legend, Berry wrote this song whilst serving time in in federal prison. Hence, the title. And, to this day, we still don’t know what a “souped-up jitney” is! But the song was performed with passion and zeal by the Sunset Blvd gang. And even had some audience members up-and-dancing.
To slow things down and show off the masterful piano we had the jazz standard “My Baby Just Cares for Me” which is actually from the musical Whoopee! (1930) but became far more famous when it was recorded by Nina Simone.
To bookend this choice we had ‘Reet Petite’ (which, like Simone’s ‘My Baby’ was re-released in the late eighties with an accompanying clay animation video.) The song was made famous by Jackie Wilson, but was written by the Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
The party ended with lots more fun ‘n’ jokes and the Big Joe Turner jump-blues number “Flip, Flop and Fly” (which is more-or-less identical to “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”)
It was a fun night of boogie, swing, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul.
And — as usual at this wonderful venue — we had a terrific time.
And it was so much more reliable than soggy fireworks. Fantastic!
Guest drums by Brian Hillier
Guest vocals Mary Mccabe
Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©