Kaiser George & the Hi-Risers

Transatlantic Dynamite

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It's fitting that Rochester, NY's Hi-Risers and Scotland's Kaiser George (of the Kaisers) would find their way towards each other in the new millennium, for both acts live in the sounds and era of the Beatles circa 1962-1964, when that group was pounding out sweaty rock & roll and cheery pop and releasing such beguiling Capitol Records LPs as Please Please Me and With the Beatles, albums that made clear the group's love for Carl Perkins-style rockabilly and American pop-soul -- and albums that began to showcase their emerging songsmithery and deceivingly complex pop. The early Beatles are an obvious reference point, but not so obvious reference points include the Bobby Fuller Four, whose energetic, party-time, clean-cut rock & roll the Hi-Risers embody, and the Merseybeat hook-happiness of the Hollies, which Kaiser George clearly brings to the table. These transatlantic collaborators live in that golden twilight after rock & roll's Big Bang and before its meltdown and revolution. (Kaiser George dresses like Hank B. Marvin of the Shadows, if that's an indicator of where these cats' collective head is at.) Kaiser George's Merseybeat vocals and the group's tight, strappy, twang-laced rock & roll are a dead-perfect match here, storming through the harmony-laced hand-clapper "I'd Rather Be with You" and slinking through the spooky, reverbed "I'm Gonna Haunt You." The Hi-Risers are a versatile, nimble unit, and you can hear a little bit of everything bright and vintage in there: Beach Boys harmonies, Bakersfield twang, rockabilly clamor -- if it rocks and has sepia tones, the Rochester, NY, unit has a handle on it, and they provide the perfect musical bed for their U.K. counterpart. The highlight, though, just might be "Stand by My Baby," wherein the group proves that they just plain swing. This is vintage rock & roll and pop at its finest, done dead right in 2006.

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