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Racket of Three
© 2005 Guerra / Lawson

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Mambo Sons
Racket of Three

Total Time: 41:27
Cost: $9.98 + s/h*

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STYLE: Rock-n-Roll

HOME TOWN: Northampton, MA

1. Play Some Rock & Roll (She's Comin' Over)
2. Valentine
3. Man Of Steel
4. Brandy On The Shelf
5. Be On Time
6. Sidewinder Walk
7. You Broke My Mind
8. Delta Slide
9. Mr. Rebound
10. Rummy Hop
11. Been Out Of Touch
12. Safe With Me

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Mambo Sons

Issue #83                                 Feb. '06

Rock-n-Roll is now a card carrying AARP member. The teenagers who Rocked around the clock with Bill Haley’s Comets, duck-walked across stage with Chuck Berry, shook their hips with Elvis, hit the dance floor to Jerry Lee “the killer” Lewis’ 88s, or Raved on with Buddy Holly are now collecting Social Security checks as they listen - just as baffled by Rock-n-Roll’s spawn as their parents were by their new found musical rebellion – to today’s musical equivalent.

What happened to the bastard son of Country, Blues, and Jazz? It begat so many bastard children of it’s own that it created a whole new world of music. Chalk up such diverse genres of today, such as Triple A and Alt. Core, Dark Wave and Emo, Twee and Nu Metal, Shoegaze and Screamo, and, dare I say it?....Indie, to that of who Rock-n-Roll crawled in bed with throughout the ages. And that, most of the time, was the rebellious youth of any particular generation, because restless and rebellious youth are never satisfied with the status quo. No, for what else is youth for than to rebel against the established culture, no matter what that culture may be, represent, or stand for? In fact, even if the current crop of rebellious youth (or any generation for that matter) totally agreed with what was the norm, of course it would not necessarily be the norm then, would it? Therefore, Rock-n-Roll, music base born of the musical fusion of Country, Blues, Jazz, and Electric Guitar, was destined to sire children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren (etc) that, while possessing the same bloodline, would bear little or no resemblance to their namesake. So what may I ask has become of Rock-n-Roll in its elder state? Has it been placed in a home for the aged, to be monitored and cared for until it is ultimately declared dead? Even then, who can define what would constitute its death, for even as it lies in state there are countless teenage bands and artists of the present day calling their bastard genres Rock-n-Roll. Will Rock-n-Roll be remembered as eternal only in the archives and annals of history, or will Rock-n-Roll never die?

Which brings us to Mambo Sons. While the name may point to a lineage derived from Latin music, Mambo Sons kick out pure unadulterated Rock-n-Roll. Rebelling to the current watershed of poser genres, Mambo Sons flip the whole scene back on itself and burst out with as solid a Rock-n-Roll record as you would ever find in the 50s and 60s. They have wrestled a home for it here in the new millennium right out from under the noses of all the so-called R-n-R genres of this day and age. To call it a throwback would be blind (or should I say deaf) judgment.

Racket of Three, the CD by Mambo Sons, states its case with song #1, as Tom Guerra (guitars, vocals), Scott Lawson (lead vocals, bass), and Joe Lemieux (drums, percussion) unleash Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over) with a big sound R-n-R guitar and piano ringing out hooks galore with a running rhythm cranking along – Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Bomp, Ba, Bomp… if you can’t shake your ass to this bass and drum duo then you are not a Rock-n-Roller – “Hey!, I said Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey!”

While hard Rockin’ numbers, such as Sidewinder Walk and Been Out Of Touch, give us a full helping of slammin’ guitar chords and dirty blues style vocals with a smidge of street creed and back alley leanings of the 60s garage mentality – where Mambo Sons show the heart of the music, parading Rock-n-Roll in one of its early outfits/incarnations (screaming guitar leads intercut with over the top power chords) – and Hot, Hot, Hot guitar racing double time through every swamp blues that roared from out of the bayou and into Nashville and everywhere else in-between, it’s the purer balladesque songs that make this platter one for the ages.

Channeling Buddy Holly’s “Everyday,” the song Valentine radiates a music box aura as a clockwork backbeat lends itself to accessible lyrics and a rocking piano accentuating the vocals of a man pining for the girl. Of course, isn’t that what 90% of Rock-n-Roll is about? – Girls. That’s what else Mambo Sons have captured here as well. Listen to Man of Steel, an Asbury Park influenced (I can see Southside Johnny covering this song) power ballad. With Special Guest, Matt Zeiner, on the Hammond B3 organ (as well as piano elsewhere) to bounce feel-good R-n-R hooks galore, we can’t help but sing along: “’Cause no one else can make me feel / like the way you make me feel / You tell me to just keep it real / But I’ll take on the Man of Steel.” Yeah! What else can you say to that? “na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na” is what and that’s what we incant as the song fades and we stake our claim to the girl.

Brandy On The Shelf and Safe With Me offer up two more mid-tempo ballads that have your foot tapping while you’re shimmying your date across the dance floor to boppin’ romantic metaphors. The many lures of Rock-n-Roll are not lost on Mambo Sons as they demonstrate through the flat out rockers and beat carrying ballads each subtle niche that the art form was not only founded on, but embraced and enhanced as it grew.

That’s why songs like Be On Time (garage psychedelica), You Broke My Mind (Rockabilly, Bluegrass), Delta Slide (Delta Blues), and Rummy Hop (Island rock) work to perfection as each allows not just a glimpse, but a firm hold and feel of the subgenres that helped to not only birth Rock-n-Roll, but were birthed by it as well.

All that adds up to one astounding testament to the bloodline that nurtured in the current state of music affairs, and maybe it is the classic tale of love on the rebound that sums it all up. Mr. Rebound is set to an old time uptempo blues backbeat with ringing guitar chords offering a bouncing dance floor swing – Where’s the upright bass? – Huge open tuned chords fill the expanse and swell this number into the personification of Rock-n-Roll. As a homage to the Mother of all genres the song gives Rock-n-Roll a human guise, equating the whole spectrum of youth to the female who is snuggling up to whoever is handy after being dumped once again. Because lets face it, every time a new genre grows old and lets us down, it’s good old Rock-n-Roll that is there to comfort us, and even though he knows that it’s probably a temporary thing (until the next good-looking/sounding genre comes along), he can accept that. Because Rock-n-Roll spawned every one of those suitors and those that will be coming along, and when they move on and leave us behind, or self-destruct and break our hearts, Mr. Rebound, Rock-n-Roll, will still be there for us.

Am I Mr. Rebound /
I know I ain’t no catch /
We like each other /
But we’re not a perfect match /
Not even sure if its something that I lack /
Can’t help but feel one day she’s gonna throw me back

Rock-n-Roll as a throw back? Never.
And Mambo Sons are making sure that Rock-n-Roll won’t be cashing Social Security checks anytime soon.
The CD Racket of Three redefines AARP as:
All-American Rockin’ Platter.

Take that you bastards!

Racket of Three by Mambo Sons
is available now for $9.98 + s/h*

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                          Add $2.00 per each CD after.
Everywhere else -$7.00 for the first CD ordered,
                                        Add $3.00 per each CD after.

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