It probably was West Side Story‘s visual flair (and the ace Sondheim soundtrack) what really stuck and romanticised the Greaser generation. Much more so than the diluted fluff of Grease or the grim propaganda of 52 miles to hell. The mantle of rockabilly has been revived several times, sometimes unsuccessfully, sometimes quite successfully (see Brian Setzer‘s dirty guitar licks.)
In Sheffield of all places is where I find a band doing some “strawberry milkshake, triple cheeseburger and Dapper Dan modeled quiff” brand of rockabilly. This band is called Roaming Son and after witnessing them two (2) times in their live form (at the Washington and at a Roller derby), I pondered if what you see live translates well into a recording.
Just like the case of The Hot Soles, yes but not entirely. You see, Roaming Son are a live band and although History of Violence is a swell collection of 4 tracks, the live element will be missed. “You can’t always get what you want“, said an old stone that never stopped rolling.
‘History of Violence’ goes for a grittier side of life, where double-crosses and treachery are abundant. Two parts Coronation Street, two parts Route 66 and one dash of lime and you’ve got a cracking EP opener with a swell solo and a mean rhythm section. ‘Belly of the Beast’ is probably their best live song (so far) and perhaps this is the only one that suffers; it feels a bit limited, but still managing to deliver a punch. “You dance with the Devil / He doesn’t change / The Devil changes you” is a rather good platitude to remember and it’s probably the eye of the storm of this song. Solo’s untouchable.
Actually, scratch that about the recording not capturing their live energy, as ‘Gonna Get You’ finds the stud and nails it in one fell hit; every single element driving forward and forever wedging themselves to the wall. Conversations in dive bars, punch ups at low lit pool joints and a sunset in the Huasteca are the images this song creates. ‘Gonna move’ is a groovy easy going ditty, the orange sherbet you get after a rich meal to take away anything still clinging to your palate.
With History of Violence, Roaming Son takes a good, solid step forward. Let’s hope there’s another step coming up soon.
Words: Sam J. Valdés López