Angel Air Records (label)
05 February 2016 (released)
14 March 2016
It would take the most embittered old curmudgeon not to like this! This 1985 recorded album was to be their final and for some strange reason only available in Sweden. Now re-released worldwide you too can have a listen.
MATCHBOX’ roots go back to '71 and they were a retro band even then. Their story began 1971 in Feltham, West London, albeit the lads called themselves CONTRABAND back then. Amongst the band’s set favorite was the Carl Perkins rockabilly ditty MATCHBOX and they liked it so much they decided to call their outfit just that!
With the usual re-shuffle of personnel over the following years, MATCHBOX released their first single in 1975 but it wasn’t until another four years before the band found mainstream chart success with hits like ‘Rockabilly Rebel’ and ‘Over the Rainbow’.
The musician on this album include most of the original members, and are Graham Fenton (lead vox), Dick Callan (e-guitar, acoustic guitar, tenor sax, vox), Brian Hodgson (e- and acoustic guitar, bass, vox), Gerry Hogan (e- and acoustic plus steel guitar, vox) and Jimmy Redhead (drums, percussions, vox).
First track 'Get up and Get Out' puts us somewhat in mind of one Bill Haley with its mix of dance hall vibe and good ole rockabilly swing - and this is a real feel good track. Get on your dancing shoes. Title track 'Going Down Town' immediately invokes tragic teen idol Eddie Cochran with its familiar sounding chord structure. There’s a bit of Buddy Holly in that one, too. Summertime Blues meets Peggy Sue, yeah.
‘Stealing Hearts’ features some nice harmonica. Someone out there seems to think the composition would be alright for our Cliff… well, still a bit too heavy even for Cliff I would have thought! Easy on the ear and also quite run of the mill.
More domineering harmonica on ‘Nothing To Do But Rock And Roll All Day’ - what's wrong with rockin’ and rollin’ all day if you can afford to. And if you can’t, you can at least sing along to the track. Next up is the zappy 'She's Hot', featuring some nice bass from Brian. All the guys double on various guitars and we are supplied with a real treat. Bands like Stray Cats jump to mind.
The syrupy but admittedly dead-catchy 'Can't Get Over You' is all melody, harmony and emotion. This number fades into the somewhat corny but mighty fun 'Roller Skating Sally' – you just know that sax solo is a-coming, don't ya? Shake that leg, daddy-o!
Indeed, the fun never lets up. The guys know what they are about and lead vocalist Graham Fenton's voice is ideally suited to this genre. ‘Flip Flop Floosie’ could as well have been created for the Big Bopper and sounds the real deal. ‘Shooting Gallery’ is one of those irresistible ‘finger-snap’ and ‘let’s sway’ affairs – the exaggerated vocal intonations are almost a send-up though it works perfect. Things are more straightforward again on the slick ‘Think You Took My Loving And Run’ while ‘Hot Love’ (no, not a T.Rex cover version) is pure, pacey rockabilly with a honkin’ sax solo. All you hepcats out there will love this one! Closing track ‘This Is Where I’m Getting Off’ (haha) with a intro that somehow reminds of Billy Swan’s ‘I Can Help’ but it quickly comes into its own and we’re treated to another stonkin’ sax solo.
MATCHBOX’ 'Going Down Town' represents a fine tribute to a bygone era and succeeds only too well in re-creating the sounds of the greats. All 12 tracks on this re-release were written by Brian Hodgson – a versatile guitarist and also former Rutles founder-member. And a pretty fine job he did too!