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Evan Johns and The Hillbilly Soul Surfers
Big Cypress CD 1019, 2001 (29:46)

Psychobilly maniac returns.

Linda Dailey Paulson, 31 December 2002

Evan Johns is one of those guitar guys you've never heard of but figure you probably should have once you have. The list of folks he's worked with reads like a who's who of semi-obscure roots rock music - Danny Gatton, Timbuk 3 and Neko Case - and some not so obscure folks, namely Mojo Nixon and Jello Biafra. For Moontan, he hooks up with The Hillbilly Soul Surfers. In short: psychobilly meets surf for a musical rumble.

Johns tends to go for the talkin' blues inspired delivery on this all-originals album. Well, equal parts talking and yelping. It gets old quick. Is "Love Thang" for real? It's a Dylanesque (Bob Dylan that is) howler. "Rantin' N' Ravin'" is just that. Probably the best of the vocal tunes is the Hank Williams inspired "All Your Cheatin'."

In stark contrast are the instrumentals which are really great. "Surf Don't Crawl" is particularly fun, as is the testosterone-fueled "Acid Wave." Love that organ (or guitorgan in this case). The thick guitar on "El Rey De Rota Corazon" is sweet without being sappy. Then there's the loping Bakersfield Telecaster feel of "Shootin' the Merle." Very tasty. There just aren't enough songs like this on the CD.

When and if there happens to be a next collaboration between these artists hope it consists of all instrumentals.

performers  Evan Johns, vocals, guitar, mandolin; Sherman LeRoi, guitar, pedal steel, guitorgan; Grant Harvey, bass; Eric Jerde, drums

production  Produced by Dave Sherman and Jeff Bakos; mastered by Rodney Mills.

songs  Dear Doc · Acid Wave · Ever So Desperate · Love Thang · El Rey De Roto Corazon · Moontan · Shootin' The Merle · Rantin' N' Ravin' · Tradin' Lullabyes · All Your Cheatin' · Surf Don't Crawl · Dancin' Till The End Of Time

getting it   This CD is pretty hard to find, but you can get it at Evan Johns' web site.

Copyright © 2002 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.