RUF RECORDS 1235
OLD SCHOOL–VEGAS BABY–NIGHTTIME–RUN FREE–RIGHT GIRL–JUKEBOX JUMP–ELISE THE BRAZILIAN–COUNT ON ME–AROUND MIDNIGHT–A CHRISTMAS TWIST–SKINNY JEANS–THAMES RIVER SONG–COMMONER TO KING-BIG BESS–LOVER PLEASE–HAPPY BIRTHDAY
Si Cranstoun is the London-born son of a ska promoter who has just released a mighty fine album that will make the listener hearken back to the day when labels such as Art Rupe’s Specialty, Lew Chudd’s Imperial Records, and Sam Phillips’ Sun Records ruled the airwaves. Yep, this is an album that is vintage in its nature, but as contemporary as they come in its feel. The title is, indeed, “Old School,” and Si’s mix of originals written with a retro feel and some cool covers convey what you might hear at one of his live shows. Joining Si, who’s on guitar and vocals, is Mez Clough on drums, Stewart Panaman on bass, and a host of others on keys and horns.
“The Right Girl” conjures up the classic Fifties doo-wop love songs, while the horn-heavy hop of “Vegas Baby” name-checks Elvis, Louis Prima, Sammy, Dino, and Frank, and utilizes trilled syllables just like Jackie Wilson and “Reet Petite!” “Jukebox Jump” dares you NOT to jitterbug, while sweet organ and harp define “driftin’ down the old Thames River,” with a vocal reminiscent of Sam Cooke. “Commoner To King” gives a nod to Si’s salad days, as well as being an ode to a lover.
We had three favorites, too. “Lover Please” is a staple of Si’s live shows, and the hollow-body guitar sounds of “Big Bess” recall Big Joe Turner. “Run Free” is another soulful cut that will bring to mind “Night Beat”–era Sam Cooke, as Si “keeps runnin’ to free my soul.”
Remember when the kids on “American Bandstand” would “Rate-A-Record” every week? Well, with Si Cranstoun and “Old School,” he gets a hearty 98 from us, because we loved the beat and it was easy to dance to! As Si will tell you, “Old School never goes outta style!” Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.