Room Service Review by Real Blues Magazine

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D Robertson – Real Blues Magazine:


Since this is the first time I have heard The Bellhops, I am assuming this is their debut disc – and it’s terrific. Enthusiasm abounds! The Bellhops hail from Australia, but I certainly hope they will tour North America (if they haven’t already) as they’ve definitely got a lot to offer. This is certainly one spirited crew: Steve Trew (vocals and harmonica), Ian Dittman (vocals and guitar), Mark Roulston (bass and harmony vocals), John Russell (vocals, slide, dobro guitars) and Steve “Wrongway” Lovarini (drums and percussion). Also guesting on this album are the fantastic Brassholes (Bruce Allen – baritone sax, Ross Conners – trumpet, Steve O’Connell – tenor and soprano sax), as well as excellent backup musicians Don Hopkins (keyboards), Bill Tselepis (congas) and Ross Lombardo (keyboards).

This Disc offers 12 tracks, six of which are originals (exceptionally good material by the way); “Red Eyes” by Ian Dittman is a remarkable little blues boogie positively guaranteed to get you onto the dance floor. “Down On The Avenue” (Dittman/Reynolds) is a more contemporary style jump/funk/blues (also an admirable little dance composition) that offers a touch of the nostalgic; the other four originals all by J. Russell (showcasing skilful song writing); “Shake Dem Bones” is a catchy swing/blues with superior drumming by Lovarini – you’ll love swingin’ to this one; “Criminal of Love” is a slow burner featuring choice guitar work; “I Don’t Boogie On Sunday” – an excellent boogie with admirable harmonies – areal bootie shaker; ” I Got Saved” is a low down blues featuring exciting harmonica and great guitar licks(anothe exciting dance piece).

Of the six covers, The Bellhops have added their own ‘hop’ and present some wonderful renditions of Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready” a Bell-boppin’ blues; “C.C. Rider”, dishing up a heaping helping of a traditional favourite; Tom Lavin’s “Doin’ It Right”, an excellent version complete with fabulous horn and harmonies; (Porter/King) “Personal Manager” filled with great guitar riffs and will have any listener groovin’ either standing or seated; the old standard “Got My Mojo Working”, originally redone ‘Bellhops style”, a little bit funkified with harmonica laden fills – no one will be sitting still for this one and “Sick and Tired” (Kenner/Bartholomew) featuring exceptional fine sax – a real hip shaker.

I would also point out that lead vocalist Steve Trew and Ian Dittman are both fabulous, demonstrating not only strength and versatility but also a delightful exuberance that is intensely executed on this album. These guys really know how to party! And, given the originality utilised (even on the covers) my vote is 4 bottles for a superbly produced (by Jeff Cripps and the Bellhops) outing with good sound quality. Let’s hope there’s more to come!

This review first appeared in Real Blues Magazine December 1997