The RingMaster Review: Hipbone Slim vs. Sir Bald
Playing like a schizophrenic battle of the bands within the insatiable creativity of one man ably aided by his equally skilled and hungry cohorts, Hipbone Slim vs. Sir Bald is simply one thrilling treat to let loose all those inhibitions to. The album is a forty track double CD release bursting with unadulterated goodness and mastery from the King of UK rock n roll, Sir Bald Diddley. A man with more musical alter-egos than hairs on his head, Sir Bald has created some of the most essential sounds in modern rock n roll, songs which could easily have graced and driven forward the times of their influences whilst standing as fresh and vibrant leaders of today.
The album brings together a union and faceoff between the distinctly different sides to his inspirational imagination. Disc one features twenty slices of delicious treats from Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers, all songs never before released in a CD format. Standing eye to eye on the other disc there are a mischievous and hungry selection of tracks from Louie & the Louies, Kneejerk Reactions, and The Legs, all with that magnetic common denominator, Sir Baldy. Released through Dirty Water Records, it is a package which just ignites the passions, a release which, if the varied riches of rock n roll send your saucy bits a tingling, will have you squealing like Meg Ryan on a washing machine. The album in many ways only scratches at the surface of the creativity of the man but easily shows why his skill and diversity across surf, rock n roll, garage, blues, R&B and rockabilly is so adored and devoured without a pause for manners.
Sir Bald has been called “Britain’s string king” because of his striking guitar style which has been influenced by the likes of Bo Diddley, Link Wray, Chuck Berry, Dick Dale and more. It is a style once heard never forgotten and one which lights up any genre he chooses to thrill with. As mentioned disc one features Hipbone Slim & the Kneetremblers, a band plays with its inspirations and passions on its sleeve and openly heard within tracks which range from instantly contagious to sensationally irresistible. Alongside Sir Bald the band has the massive talents of drummer Bruce ‘Bash’ Brand (the Milkshakes and Headcoats), and bassist Gastus Receedus (Big Wigs, Arousers, Playboys) bringing great songs to an even greater life. From the opener King Tut Strut the disc is an incessant feast of pleasure, every track in their different ways turning the tap to greed full on for more of their joys. The first song saunters along with a swagger which has the passions whimpering in delight, it is a sultry tease which attacks from many angles, from the Eastern promising guitars, and seductive sax caresses to the inciteful beats and uncomplicated vocals of Sir Bald, the song just makes love to the ear.
Across the tracks there is a great expanse of flavours offered such as in the following Crawl Back To Me which moves in Gene Vincent circles, Time To Kill with its Buddy Holly mesmeric and warm whisper, and the wonderful instrumental Bury The Hatchet which harks back to the likes of The Fireballs and The Ventures. Biggest highlights come from the wonderful rockabilly romp of Ooga Booga Rock, the Johnny Cash toned High On Hog, and the sweet wickedness that is Food Man Chew, a song which has to be the new soundtrack to TV show Man V. Food as well as any night of unbridled filthy passion between consenting adults. It is hard to pick best or favourite songs though this trio are always to the fore and are equally rivalled by the brilliant I Hear An Echo with its caped crusaderesque groove and the anthemic rampage of Set You On Fire.
The first disc alone is one you would sell your soul to the devil for but there is so much more to shoot your personal mercury beyond boiling point. The second CD begins with tracks from Louie & the Louies, songs which are born from the seeds of surf and frat rock. With bassist Matt “Sleepy Louie” Radford and drummer Brian “Ramblin’” Louie Nevill alongside Sir Bald, the trio spark the flames with the sizzling instrumental Louieville and then stoke the fires with the predatory prowling of There Ain’t No End In Sight, its breath sinister and bordering manic. The track is a classic and makes an irresistible filling between Louieville and the equally tasty instrumental Marrakech. With an atmosphere as distant and wanton as the beckoning sounds, this piece just leaves one drooling. The fiery Backfire and the Stones garage blues swagger of Birdman send the senses and passions to overload and if you are listening to the whole release in one go by this point you are looking for an oasis of respite from the sonic majesty to date, though equally not wanting it to end…
… which it does not as The Kneejerk Reactions unleash their unique brand of rock n roll, their R&B brought with feistiness as deliberate as the antagonistic driving sounds. Songs like You Don’t Know Right From Wrong and Wastin’ My Time rile up attitude and passions with the sonic scorching from the guitar of Sir Bald and the hypnotic bass of Les Lerrard, not to forget the crisp jabs of drummer Ronnie Drand. The songs arguably do not flow quite as easily through the ear as elsewhere, their passage combative and fuelled by garage rock energy, but are equal when it comes to providing full pleasure. Top honours here goes to Where’s McComb?, a track which is as excitable as a dog in a lamp post factory and just as incessant.
The final onslaught of satisfaction comes from The Legs which sees the main man alongside Spaniards Jorge Explosion and Mr Pibli from garage-punk band Doctor Explosion. The songs are a thrilling mix of beat, garage, and blues infused with plenty of sixties and modern essences. The thumping stomp of instrumental Legless sets up a treat of impossible to resist pleasure, whilst the Meteors like stroll of Gotta Eat and the raw guitar smouldering of Ain’t The End of the World fan those flames even more for unbridled joy.
Hipbone Slim vs. Sir Bald is a release which brings the inimitable imagination, skills, and sounds of Sir Baldy and just some of his work into a deserved focus. He has caused a long review for a long album but what a pleasure the bands and songs give, if you want to hear ‘real’ rock n roll in some of its guises than this album is a must.