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Mambo Sons - Racket of Three

Review No: 240
Added 26th August 2005


Tom Guerra: Guitars, Vocals, Bottle Smashing, Whistles, and when he was very quiet some keyboards

Scott Lawson: Bass and Lead Throat

Joe (“The Cat”) Lemieux: Drums and Shaking Things

Matt Zeiner: Keyboards including Piano, and Goff Professional Hammond B-3

Andre Balazs: Piano on “Play Some Rock & Roll

Under the banner of ‘Mambo Sons’ Tom Guerra and Scott Lawson have issued three fabulous CDs. Firstly, there was the self titled debut ‘Mambo Sons’ (1999), a good rock ‘n’ roll album laying down the gauntlet of proper music, none of those tape loops for these boys. By the time of the second album ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ the boys had really hit their stride, and for their pains ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ was voted best independent release of the year by the prestigious NY Rock Magazine. (I can tell you without a doubt it will definitely be Mott the Dog’s album of the year this year.)

Now in 2005 we are given ‘Racket of Three’ which sees the boys now all out at a full speed musical gallop. This album simply wipes the floor with any of its contemporaries over the last few years.

Since the last album, the line up of ‘Mambo Sons’ has changed a little. Mike Hayden has slipped off the drum stool to make way for the very impressive Joe (The Cat) Lemieux, whilst with the departure of Jeff Keithline on bass, Scott Lawson has simply strapped on the bass himself and taken over the four string, allowing the Mambo’s a very timeless sound, giving you the impression that Scott may have admired the odd bass line from Ronnie Lane of the ‘Faces’ or Andy Fraser of ‘Free’. Which now gives you ‘The Racket Of Three’.

Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)
Man Of Steel
Brandy On The Shelf
Be On Time
Sidewinder Walk
You Broke My Mind
Delta Slide
Mr. Rebound
Rummy Hop
Been out of Touch
Safe With Me

As soon as opening song ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ starts up with some bristling guitar riffs from Tom Guerra, your attention is grabbed, your foot starts to tap, and most embarrassingly of all you start to try and sing-a-long to the words on the first time you hear it. By the time Scott Lawson sings at exactly one minute forty eight seconds into the first song, ‘’Yeah; And I just gotta say WAAAAAAHHH” before Tom Guerra comes in with the first of his guitar solo’s that will peel the wallpaper from your room, you just know that you are listening to something very special.

This is not music for little boys and girls, this is the stuff of men and their ladies; here is music that Keith Richards and Johnny Depp would put on if they were having a party.

After the opening blast of ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ you get ‘Valentine’ which starts off with a little acoustic guitar introduction, but don’t be fooled by this and the title - the band soon swaggers into the chorus. There are no thoughts of taking their audience to school from the Mambo’s, they just sing songs from their big old Connecticut hearts. There is nothing wrong with knowing what a song is about by just looking at the title, that’s allowed these boys to let the music do the talking for them. Each song on the album has it’s own identity, some with a lighter feel, some as heavy as an anvil, the one thing they have in common is that the Mambo groove flows through it’s veins.

‘Mr Rebound’ is quite delightful, whilst ‘Sidewinder Walk’ is a great song in itself which has a false ending which then allows the guitars to really kick up their heels. ‘You Broke My Mind’ shows off that oft forgotten musical skill of smashing bottles, and includes the immortal line “Now I’ve got whisky breathe, but you’ve got half a mind.”

You could put this CD on from start to finish at any party, and the only thing you would have to do at the end is push play again. It’s that good.

As well as holding down the bass playing responsibilities, Scott Lawson gives a vocal tour de force throughout the entire collection, showing off a wide range of throats, mostly very buoyant, with a nuance of audacity, getting down and dirty with the guitar work of his partner on ‘Been Out Of Touch’, but often as well very tongue in cheek. Then this is a rock ‘n’ roll album, and it is supposed to be fun.

Joe (“The Cat”) Lemieux was an excellent choice of drummer: he is very unselfish, leaving each song with plenty of space, playing in the same way as Charlie Watts does for the Rolling Stones. Tom Guerra is one of America’s most respected guitarists, but for ‘Racket of Three’ he really pulls out all of the stops, playing like an axe hero when required, although by no means dominating any song, adding some great slide guitar to ‘Be On Time’. But his greatest asset to the Mambo’s is his ability to switch styles to suit each individual song. Of course his whistle playing on ‘Rummy Hop’ should not be overlooked.

Mambo Sons are definitely a guitar orientated rock ‘n’ roll band, but when they do call for a little tinkling of the ivories, only the best will do, and a special bow should taken by Andre Balas whose barrel house piano on ‘Play Some Rock & Roll (She’s Comin’ Over)’ is nothing short of superb, whilst elsewhere Matt Zeiner does an excellent job fitting in beautifully with the Mambo’s.

It is impossible to listen to The Mambo Sons without a great big cheese eating grin spreading across your face, which is what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be all about. They maybe a racket of three, but a very fine racket it is to.

This is all about rockin’ guitar, bass, drums, throat, and songs; who can possibly want more than that? For more information on the wonderful Mambo’s please look up their website at www.mambosons.com. This is music to enjoy.

The thing I don’t understand is - why is their second album called ‘Play Some Rock & Roll’ but this record has a song on it with that same title? Odd really...

Mott the Dog resides at Jameson's the Irish Pub