Jeremiah Johnson – Hi-Fi Drive By
A bit retro in arrangement but filled with old-school R&R energy akin to 50s stalwarts. The opener “68 Coup Deville,” is equal parts Fabulous Thunderbirds & ZZ Top. Nice.
Jeremiah Johnson (lead vocals/guitar) has a typical rocker voice from the school of The Del-Lords, Steve Earle rather than the late Robert Gordon or Bronx-legend Dion DiMucci. Johnson’s magic lies in his ability to create a genuine R&R atmosphere besides getting down to boogie.
Many artists similar to him can play in this genre but they lack atmosphere, mood & ass-kick. There’s no re-creation of the era without sounding like a parody or imitator. This isn’t part of the 10-cut, 42-minute Johnson scenario on Hi-Fi Drive By (Drops Oct 21–Ruf Records).
His R&R includes soulful flavors (“Ball & Chain”). The rock n’ roll tradition is maintained gloriously through Johnson’s instinctive talent captured in the production of Paul Niehaus IV (bass/Wurlitzer/piano/guitar) & Tom Maloney (guitar/piano).
Yes, there are R&R cliches but it’s to be expected in this kind of performance. The vintage melodies are embellished with modern lead guitar runs that shed new light on an old genre. “Young & Blind” almost has that Cameo-Parkway Record label sound, home of Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell & Dee Dee Sharp.
With “Skippin’ School,” Jeremiah slips into a distinctively smooth-talking soulful gear ala Marv Johnson, Jerry Butler & Chuck Jackson. The band sizzles throughout in perfect early 60s singles classic tradition. What makes it even cooler is that it has the melodic drift of an early jazz-lite Bobby Darin.
There’s nothing revolutionary here but an artist serious enough to reshape, if not reinvent a decades-old genre & really put a buff & shine to it. Johnson also refrains from showboating that may compromise the boogie-woogie value by summoning the melodic ghosts that put back the roll in rock and…
Highlights – “68 Coup Deville,” “Ball & Chain,” “Young & Blind,” “Skippin’ School,” “The Squeeze,” & “The Band.”
Musicians – Joe Meyer (drums), Tony Antonelli (percussion/bgv), Kasimu Taylor (trumpet), Frank Bauer (tenor sax), Kevin O’Connor (baritone sax), John Covelli & Dave Dickey (trombone), Kevin Buckley (strings) with Victor Wainwright (piano on cut 1), Brandon Santini (harmonica on cut 3), Allie Vogler, Emily Wallas & Mattie Schell (bgv).
Dawn Wilcox’s CD photography is quite attractive throughout the 6-panel laminated package.
Color photograph by Angela Girardier. CD @ https://www.jeremiahjohnsonband.com/
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Jeremiah Johnson European Tour Diary – Sept ‘21