Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hot Lava Tunes

The Blue Hawaiians

Live At The Lava Lounge



by Heather Phares
The L.A.-based Blue Hawaiians formed in 1994 when bassist/vocalist Mark Fontana, guitarists Mark Sproull and Bron Tieman, and drummer Tom Maxwell did a favor for a friend by playing at the opening of her new nightclub, the Lava Lounge. Both the group and the club became favorites with L.A. hipsters, as they combined retro exotica with a seedy, slightly dark edge, and director Quentin Tarantino was one of the band's earliest fans. The Hawaiians added to their kitsch-noir mystique by claiming to be Wayne Newton's backing band, moonlighting on some L.A. gigs; it took a year for their true identity to be discovered. By that time the group was a fixture at venues like the Viper Room, the Roxy, the Wild Cat, the Derby, and the Hollywood Palladium, playing shows on their own and with artists such as the Brian Setzer Orchestra and the Ventures. By 1995, the Blue Hawaiians were also developing the studio side of their band, appearing on the Del-Fi collection Pulp Surfin'. The following year they appeared on the label's Shots in the Dark compilation, and by 1997 recorded Live at the Lava Lounge. The group recorded their first full-length studio album, Sway, in 1998, and released their major-label debut Savage Night the next year with new guitarist Gary Brandin and keyboardist Eric Godal. Along with playing live and recording, the Blue Hawaiians also appeared in the BBC documentary History of Rock & Roll and in PBS's retelling of surf icon Mickey Dora's life, In Search of da Cat.


by Glenn Swan
Live at the Lava Lounge is a modest fireball of hipster cover tunes performed by the swingers of the surf torch, the Blue Hawaiians. Earning points for authenticity, the quartet members pay tribute to the likes of Jerry Cole and Lee Hazlewood, but they'll frequently pepper things up with wild cards like the jazz staple "Caravan," Lionel Hampton's "Red Top," and even a pulped-up version of "Jockey Full of Bourbon" by Tom Waits. Dreamy slide guitar shorelines segue to inner-city Thunderbirds in the endless pursuit of cool. Mark Fontana's crooning on a couple of these tracks (notably "A Cheat") throws a sort of David Lynch haze over the ears. Initially, this style of music seldom lends itself to any performances of wild abandon, but the musicians all take turns sneaking a little extra heat onto the stage over the course of the hour, until the band is so warmed up that the chairs have started to melt. The call and response of "Jet Black" clicks out an edgy switchblade tango, and "Jack the Ripper" is a cross between a gang rumble on the pier and Gidget with a whip. Any hints at crime noir along the way finally get their cover blown by the explosive "Dick Tracy" theme, a fall over backwards finale to a show that has steadily grown in energy and aggression. For a live set it's a great recording, and there's no denying the solid musicianship and energy. Equally important is that everyone — on-stage and off — was having a good time.

1 The Wipe Out
2 Pipeline/Endless Sleep
3 Surfin' Tragedy
4 A Cheat
5 Latin'ia
6 Apache
7 Red Top
8 Jockey Full of Bourbon
9 Baja
10 Caravan
11 Theme for Young Lovers
12 Jet Black
13 Soul Surfer
14 Jack the Ripper
15 Slave Girl
16 The Jester
17 Dick Tracy


New links posted @ 320 COMPLETE!

Thanks, Big Boss Man


DaBoss said...

Hi Tru:
As tho knowest, a duo of mine all tyme favourite smokey, surfy, rawk recordings. Every one who enjoys magnificent musicianship and great song writing should have these two in their collection - no if, ands or buts!

If thou wants them in higher bittage shout out.

Your new updater widget is 'F'IN cool!

Check in when you can.