Fri, Nov 2, 2012.
I'm a real sucker for horns, which means Shirley Jackson's got me right in her sights. The Nova Scotia singer and tenor player leads her Good Rockin' Daddies through a bunch of vintage blues and early rock n' roll numbers, fired by a four-piece horn unit. Jackson's blues are the jump variety for the most part, which means dancing and moving, and lots of fun numbers. And when she gets into the rocker side, it's the late 50's blend, a little more arranged than rockabilly, but the same attitude. In fact, she reminds me a lot of Wanda Jackson, vocally, and in attitude.
Jackson has a real flair for writing in these styles, grabbing the key feeling of what that music was all about: fun. The style was from a day when people simply wanted to have a social, good time when they saw a band, and that meant dancing, and some laughs too. She even finds a couple of obscure silly ones to cover. There's Yo-Yo Baby ("don't keep me on a string"), which has, of course, lots of bounce. Skiddy-Wo, and I have no idea what that's about but it sure sounds like a good time. But don't take her too lightly; Jackson can get the sad blues too, as on The Best I Ever Had, where she wishes she could get back with an old lover ("If I knew then what I know now").
Through it all, the band cooks, with lots of solos. We get to hear all the different horn players take turns, with bits of trumpet, flugelhorn and baritone sax. They fill extended passages in the vocal numbers, and come to the fore on the instrumentals scattered throughout the disc. And Jackson has a not-so-secret weapon in the Daddies in guitar player Marc Doucet. His stinging leads and chopped rhythm playing shine throughout, particularly on the instrumental he wrote, King's Stomp. That's a great track where the band melds old to new, as the horns lead a 60's-flavoured soul number, but Doucet takes it modern in the breaks with his fireworks. This disc's a pleasure to hear from start to finish, but as you know, I'm a sucker for horns.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).