Vibrate with the Crank Tones

The Crank Tones

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Vibrate with the Crank Tones Review

by Michael B. Smith

Rockabilly lives, ladies and gentlemen. If you've been longing for the untainted sounds of 1950s hillbilly rock, the kind of stuff you grew up listening to -- the Sparkletones, Carl Perkins, and Buddy Holly -- then the Crank Tones are just what the doctor ordered for your musical diet. In his ravings within the liner notes, Joe Coughlin describes the Cranktones' playing as "as loose as it is tight" and their songs "as tough as they are tender." The trio is made up of "Crankie" Frankie Blandino (guitars, organ, vocals, and steel guitar), Johnny "Hot Shot" Sciascia (doghouse bass and vocals), and Stanley "Rimshot" Kozlowski (drums and vocals), and they deliver originals as well as cover tunes with all the fire and passion of their '50s predecessors. The set kicks off in high gear with "Pink Cadillac," evoking images of both Buddy Holly and Dave Alvin during his Blasters days, and "Lonesome Tears in My Eyes" swings with all the good-time rock & roll feel of the best rockabilly rant. The boys rock right through the middle of Roy Orbison's "Mean Little Mama." "Snake Pit," a Crank Tones original, screams with some guitar work that would make James Burton grin. Perhaps the highlight of the entire disc is the inclusion of two covers from the Sparkletones. Blandino and the band do an excellent job of staying true to the style and sound of the Sparkletones on Howard "Sparky" Childress' "Cotton Pickin' Rocker" and Joe Bennett's "Rocket." "Broken Heart" moves at light speed. If Metallica had been around during the '50s, this is what they would have sounded like. Just when you think you aren't going to be able to take the heat any more, the Crank Tones tone it down with a beautiful slow dance rendition of the instrumental "Teardrop" before picking it right back up with "Blue Moon Baby" and wrapping up the rock & roll show with "Vibrate." The Crank Tones have all the energy of a punk band, the sound of your best early rock & roll band, and the ability to choose just the right material to perform. These guys are going places -- you can count on it.

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