Room Service Review by Greg Crooks 2CHY-FM Coffs Harbour

Posted by admin on September 16, 2018 Reviews | | No comments
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Greg Crooks – 2CHY-FM Coffs Harbour


From the first few bars of this CD you know The Bellhops have a winner. Big band blues with power and class. Good confident vocals, strong instrumental skills and genre-stretching arrangements are also what you get. The production from A#Sharp Studios’ Jeff Cripps is noteworthy for clarity and presence. Having seen these guys live I know they can replicate the recording with audience pleasing performances. The covers have been done too many times before. Nonetheless The Bellhops make mouldy song like “I’m Ready”, “C.C.Rider”, Personal Manager” and “Got My Mojo Working” come alive with their enthusiasm and arranging skills. Muddy Waters’ “I’m Ready” has gone from malevolent Chicago Blues to big band romp, with solos from saxman Steve O’Connell, guess pianist Don Hopkins and slide guitarist John Russell (who wrote most of the originals). Likewise “C.C.Rider” romps along, fuelled by slide guitar and Steve Trew’s amplified harp solos. “Personal Manager” sticks closely to Albert King’s original version with sax, slide and harp solo. “Mojo” is some-how brought to life as a funk workout.

The original numbers shine and sound like instant classics. “Red Eyes” is a stop-time big band singalong with a harp and brass break. This and other swing and Jazz based tracks would not be possible without the wonderful bass of Mark Roulston and the sharp drumming of Steve Lovarini. Most Vocals are taken by rhythm guitarist Ian Dittman. He takes the lead on “Down On The Avenue”, a swinging number where the whole band chime in on the faster choruses. Ian also sings “Shake Dem Bones”, which sounds like a Louis Jordan number gone swampy. His best vocals are on the slow blues “Criminal of Love” – one of those tracks where the audience collectively close eye sand sway. It features a brilliant but brief sax solo.

“I Don’t Boogie On Sunday” could have been written by Moon Mullican; it has that swinging rockabilly feel. Steve Trew handles the raunchier vocals and comes across a little like Kim Wilson. In fact his number could be the lost Fabulous Thunderbirds takes with brass added. Steve sings “I Got Saved” with real venom. It’s a song with a twist- when his women left him he was “saved from a life without alcohol or cigarettes”. This is great album. Blues top party to. Even the liner notes are worth talking about. They are written in poorly translated mock Eastern European and Decorated in lounge music manner. And leave this disc in the player if you want to hear a bonus snippet of traditional slide.