After a gap of almost 20 years since their early-'80s debut Shake and Push, the Morells re-formed and put out a self-titled release in 2001 (members had continued to work and record in the intervening years, usually under the name the Skeletons). To no one's surprise, it's quality bar band-roots rock that breaks no ground, but is at the top level for artists of this niche. There's just one original among the dozen songs, which (like Shake and Push) cover some esoteric R&B and early rock items so obscure that even collectors will probably have trouble identifying the sources. The two songs by minor rockabilly legend Ronnie Self, for instance, are among the most well-known tunes on the album. There are also a couple of retro-style songs written or co-written by fellow noted alt roots rocker Ben Vaughan. One thing that helps keep this a leg up on most of the competition -- and there is a lot of competition in the bar band-roots genre, despite the low sales roof -- is the Morells' versatility, which takes in jump blues, rockabilly, honky tonk country, and novelty rock. There's also straight instrumental blues in the closer, a cover of Roy Buchanan's "Roy's Blues."
The Morells Review
by Richie Unterberger