Wednesday, May 27, 1998

GOT THAT TWANG

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 1998 at 12:00 AM

The ongoing rockabilly revival isn't all about DAs and extroverted couples dancing, you know. Take Detroit's relative new kids on the rockabilly block, the Starlight Drifters, for example. The band, together a mere year-and-a-half, has managed to create a distinctive sound, reminiscent but not overly reverent toward all things hiccupy and twangy commonly associated with the 1940s and '50s rockabilly period. The Drifters' drumless, reverb-soaked sound comes out of the speakers as though recorded from the bottom crevices of an echoing cave. The net effect is that Drifters originals with such seemingly trivial titles as "Don't Mess Up My Hair" and the noirish detective tale "Johnny Dynamite" sound timeless alongside the covers included here of Johnny Horton's "One Woman Man" and "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young." What's most encouraging here, though, is the range this quartet can cover without breaking a sweat. The man-dumps-woman-before-woman-can-dump-man ditty, "I'll Be Gone," doesn't hint at the simple loveliness of "Drifting Starlight." Retro doesn't have to mean retread and the Starlight Drifters prove it in spades.

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