Though Roddy Radiation is best remembered for the less than three years that he spent with the original Specials, and the handful more that passed with their late-'90s reincarnation, the heart of his career has lain within some ferociously reinterpreted rockabilly -- hence the title of this remarkable collection and hence, occasionally, the singularly unexpected rhythms and riffs that scythe through the mix. Drawing from 20 years worth of unreleased demos, outtakes, and sessions, Skabilly Rebel highlights all three of the bands Radiation has led since the 1981 demise of the Specials -- the Tearjerkers, the Bonediggers, and the Raiders. In addition, a couple of solo demos, a couple more cut with his brother Mark Byers, and one outtake from the Specials' 1996 Today's Specials album complete a portrait of one of the modern age's most underrated songwriters and guitarists -- whatever style of music you're talking about. His playing is remarkable throughout, and every listen finds another lick peeling out where you least expect it. The unreleased nature of the material does arouse one disappointment: a Bonediggers' take on the classic "Desire" opens the album, rather than the Tearjerkers' superlative 1982 single version. That aside, Skabilly Rebel is a devastatingly dynamic collection that'll leave you begging for more.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson
feat: Roddy Byers