The Hot Shots

Jubilee!

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The Hot Shots play stripped-down rockabilly and rock & roll revival sounds with a touch of skiffle on Jubilee!, mixing a few originals with covers of old classics by Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers, Fats Domino, and others. It's not a sound that differs a whole lot from American revivalists with a similar instrumental lineup, until you hear those heavily accented, English-as-a-second-language off-key vocals and harmonies come in, as the Japanese combo nobly struggles to pronounce certain consonants. Yes, they sing better rockabilly in English than most Americans could sing rockabilly in Japanese. And it's cute and endearing, but not enduring. It's not just because, as the old cliché goes, it's not clear why you'd want to hear these kind of covers when the far-superior originals are still accessible. It's also because the group doesn't really put that radical a spin on the old sound, leaving the novelty of hearing Chie Kodama's earnestly quaking vocals as the chief point of distinction -- a novelty that's only entertaining for so long. The band does play with some pizzazz, spinning off some mighty speedy flamenco-rock licks on the original instrumental "Red Smoke."

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