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Music Review: Buzz Campbell – Shivers and Shakes

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The early 2011 album, Shivers and Shakes, is the first of Buzz Campbell’s “solo” albums, as it no longer carries the name Hot Rod Lincoln, his long time rockabilly band. Campbell is an American rockabilly guitarist/songwriter/singer inspired in no small part by the 1980s rockabilly giant: Stray Cats. Indeed, Hot Rod Lincoln toured with the Cats in 2008, had songs written by Brian Setzer and Lee Rocker, and Campbell is now a lead guitarist in Rocker’s solo band.

Buzz Campbell - Shivers and Shakes (Album Cover)The sound of the album is set in fairly safe rockabilly territory, but that isn’t to say that there are no style changes between Shivers and Shakes and earlier Hot Rod Lincoln albums. Campbell himself mentioned in an interview at the tail end of last year that this album has a much edgier feel than the Hot Rod Lincoln sound. This is noticed most in the echo surrounding the vocals and the style of the songs being a lot less gentle than tracks such as “Runaway Girl.” The sound of the album is largely consistent, but there are a few separate sounding tracks and I shall pick those up in my track-by-track listing.

“Crazy When She Drinks” – This track originally appeared on Rocker’s brilliant Black Cat Bone album. Campbell’s version is faithful to the original, well sung and well played. A good opener to the album, even if it’s nothing new.

“Rockabilly Heart” – A Rodney Crowell-sounding track bemoaning being a rockabilly in an uncool world. The song is not a hard rocker by stretch of the imagination but it’s got a pleasant enough feel. The guitar solo is impressive and certainly the highlight of the track.

“Shivers and Shakes” – The title track is the edgiest track on the album. The echo is high on the vocals and most of the song is in minor key. The song rocks well and is a definite highlight of the album.

“My One Desire” – This is a ’50s original by Ricky Nelson. It’s a faithful cover of the Stray Cats recording of the track. It’s hard for me to judge this song fairly as the 2003 version at the Stray Cats reunion gig is one of my favourites. Nonetheless, this is a good version with some smart guitar.

“I’m on Fire” – Upon seeing the title, I assumed that this a cover of the early ’60s track by Jerry Lee Lewis. However, it is rather a Springsteen original. A slow, country-flavoured track and not a favourite on the album for me.

“Bag of Bones” – A mid-tempo rockabilly track focused on the singer’s inability to balance his work and his sex life with his girl! The song is securely within the rockabilly genre but I certainly couldn’t see this appearing on a Hot Rod Lincoln album; the style change is certainly present on this track.

“Another Rooster In The Henhouse” – This is the low point of the album, personally. It sounds very much like one of the ’50s rockabilly cash-ins that sprang up as Elvis kicked off the rockabilly style. I’m not sure whether this is a Campbell original or a cover of an earlier track but either way, the lyrics really don’t appeal to me at all and the song does very little for me.

“King Of Fools” – This is the first heartbreak track on the album. It is still a mid-tempo track but has a much gentler feel, which matches the subject of the song. Pleasant, if not special, in my opinion.

“Time” – An interesting cut that sits across the jazz/rock ‘n’ roll line, it’s a track with a clear hooking riff begging a girl to spend a little more time… .

“Baby Don’t Go With Him” – It’s a pure rockabilly track that shows up the strength of the bass player in the band. The vocals have quite an Elvis touch to my ears: “Baby don’t-a-go with-im.”

“Love, Lies and Heartaches” – Here’s a rockabilly track closer to the country end of the spectrum. Some of the underlying finger picking reminds me very strongly of a Buddy Holly track, but I can’t place which one it is.

“Rawk-a-billy Fever” – Another track that sounds straight out of those ’50s rockabilly cash-ins, some of the lyrics make me believe that this is an original by Campbell but I’m not quite sure.

“Scot-Mo” – Campbell rounds the album with a quiet country/rockabilly track to show the strengths of his finger picking. This wouldn’t sound out of place on Setzer goes instru-MENTAL.

Overall, this is a decent rockabilly album. There are certainly plenty of tracks on the album that I really enjoy, and the few that I would consider skipping are certainly in the minority. The album makes a good addition to any rockabilly collection and I can’t imagine that a fan of the Stray Cats or similar artists/bands would want to turn this one down.

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About Richard Johnson

  • Buzz Campbell

    Richard,
    Thanks for your honest review. I appreciate you giving my CD the time. I enjoyed your comments and found the article full of good info. for the reader. I’m posting a link to your blog on the website.

    All the best.