When we got the chance to correspond with Jackslacks we at Sonic decided to do something a bit different by asking him who he would personally put in his Rockabilly hall of fame. What follows are his choices:
Let me start by saying I’m a rockabilly cat that fell in love with the original rock ‘n roll period 1955 – 1959. That said I’m a huge fan of Sam Phillips Sun Records and the roster of artists that recorded there during that golden era including Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and my musical hero Carl Perkins.
With that history in mind, I would start my own Hall with a song I co-wrote with childhood friend (and Billy Joel guitarist) Tommy Byrnes titled, “Bank Account’s Too Small.” It’s a rockabilly song first and foremost, while lyrically telling a story that most rockers have experienced… playing hard, but seemingly never having enough money to show for it. I tried to emulate the Sun sound as best I could using vintage microphones, tube amplifiers, and venerated recording gear (2” tape).
Next up is the track “When She Was Mine.” I am after all a child of the 1960’s and also a big fan of the British Invasion groups including Beatles, Rolling Stones and Kinks. Here, I tried, musically, to incorporate some of the great harmonies I heard growing up, while lyrically telling an age old story of a love gone bad. Really, for me anyway, the Beatles initially integrated all the finest elements of 50’s rockabilly into a pop radio format. Examples include Paul imitating Little Richard’s vocal style, George using a Gretsch Duo Jet and/or Country Gentlemen while replicating Carl Perkins guitar licks (and little foot dance) and John’s power guitar rhythms, (barre cording) analogous to Chuck Berry.
Thirdly, I picked a song called “Best Friend Gone Away.” For me, this track brings to mind a fine summer day in Southern California; carefree and warm, perhaps something the Beach Boys might have recorded in the early sixties. The vocal harmonies are bright and tight, the infectious bass line bouncy and fun and an electric guitar solo that just oozes an old school rock and roll vibe.
“Your Time Has Come” is what I would describe as a ‘Blues-a-billy’ record. There are, after all two distinctly apparent genres within the Rockabilly subculture: Hillbilly (Country) and Blues… Carl Perkins infamously referred to rockabilly as “blues with a country beat.” For this number, I brought in an old friend and ex-bandmate, Johnny Mercury on electric guitar and utilized San Diego jazz pianist Anthony Stevens for the session as well. My brother, Bill Giorgio (Nobody’s Business) plays the blues harmonica.
My final pick is “Generations Hypnotized,” a cheeky harangue to a culture held in thrall of their smartphones. Scrupulous social observation for sure. Lyrically, the song is simultaneously edgy and entertaining. Certainly, a rockabilly bedrock is present, albeit with some added color; most notably the use of Hammond organ and flute. The track also includes a reprise of sorts, a finale vamp (section) that fosters additional depth, groove and melody.
(Thanks to Tom at Polymath PR)