South Filthy, The Boxmasters, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Rockabilly loaded with gospel influences and a myriad of heavy guitar and swing. Welcome Speedball Baby hailing from New York City. Picture that vintage microphone with a switch to turn on the excess muffled vocals and distortion. In the mid to late 90s Speedball Baby helped advance the rockabilly scene with their energetic live shows which infused drug overtones and hillbilly caustic twang. In 1996, the band delivered their first full-length entitled Cinema!. The tracks that ensue are quite entertaining containing tremendous vocal variety. Dark muffled screams to lively vibrant chants and spoken word. Ron Ward is a very solid frontman deliver tremendous variety with his approach.
After the first intro track a Stranger's skin, we are lead into very catchy melodies and core swing. "Rubber Connection" is one of the more catchy tunes with more commercial melodies. We get a good feel for their use of distortion and reverb as is pretty consistent during the Cinema! experience. "Black Cat Moan" features an on onslaught of tambourine and hippy hipshake bounce. The song ends with a taste of spoken word "Don't ever forget it little girl" which leads into more spoken word with a message in 'Suicide Girl' the longest cut on the album. 'Black Eyed Girl' kicks in some classic 50s and 60s swing riffs. The title track is one of our favorites, as the chorus screeches 'CINEMA' and it swings into swing and terrific spoken word.
Dave Roy: drums
Ron Ward: vocals
Ali Smith: bass
Matt Verta-Ray: guitar
Several one minute ditties like "Dog on Fire" and "Toss My Salad" show us some of the experimental sides of Speedball Baby. "Mr Heat" the ballad track is a bit of a snoozer, but don't give up as the last two tracks really end strong. "Drug Owl" closes the album with some great change-up work and yelps that remind us of David Yow of Jesus Lizard fame.
1. A Stranger's Skin
2. Rubber Connection
3. Black Cat Moan
4. Suicide Girl
5. Black Eyed Girl
6. Dog On Fire
7. Skull Poppin', Skin Tastin', Love Wastin' Son Of A Bitch
8. Shakin' It Loose
10. Toss My Salad Mr. Heat
11. Dancin' With A Fever
12. Drug Owl
Speedball Baby was obscure in the 90s and has grown even further from the norm over the years. A true shame as they had developed a nice body of work with three very strong LPs backed by impressive production. The band called it quits after the album The Blackout (also worthy of your time) in 2002. Fans of rockabilly and swing should definitely give Cinema! their attention. Speedball Baby bleeds authentic rockabilly swing and fans of the genre will feel more complete after a few rotations. - 4/21/2015
Standout Tracks: Drug Owl, Cinama!