Scene & Heard - CD Review
Review Taken From Issue 251 - May 2018

Rhythm Train
Homerecords
By
Trevor Noddles Thrapston, Northants

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13 Tracks:
1. For Someone To Love, 2. Please Mama Please, 3. Something Else, 4. Sixteen Tons, 5. Trouble, 6. Rebelene, 7. Crying Over You, 8. Think It Over, 9. Baby Let's Play House, 10. Weep & Cry, 11. Rattled, 12. King Creole, 13. Till It Hurts.

Some few weeks ago Maggie kindly sent me via Postman Pat a CD entitled Rhythm Train on Homerecords. Now I've heard of many trains but not the Rhythm Train, it certainly doesn't run on Amtrak in the States or Network Rail in the UK. I'm led to believe it runs on the SBB CFF FFS railways. Further investigation led to www.hillbilly.ch bingo which gave the game away, the abbreviation CH is Latin for Confoederatio Helvetica, translates into English as Switzerland.

There are currently three members of Rhythm Train, Gretsch guitar/vocals Urs Odermatt, drums Philipp Hohl, and double bass, Vik Stadelmann. Their website infers the guys play, "hot, loud & dirty, Rockabilly, Country & Western Swing" again from the website, "17 years on the road, and a lot of concerts in the whole of Europe", also "the fusion of Country, Hillbilly, Rockabilly, Western Swing & Blues is the label of the band!" My curious nature needed to be satisfied, I've only been to Switzerland a couple of times to Basle. I know the Swiss race are extremely clever, very independent, and never joining the Eurozone.

Within this relatively small nation the nationals speak one of at least four languages, Swiss dialect of German, French, Italian and Romansh, and every so often, English to add to the mix. There are some very talented precision engineers carried over from the early clock/watchmaking industries. I thought the daily diet would comprise from muesli, gruyere cheese, fondue, raclette, polenta and braised beef, two hours watching tennis on the television, or listening to one of scores of classical composers, but an emphatic no, these guys have really broken the mould, Rockabilly is on their menu 24/7.

Urs Odermatt informed me via e-mail that he was smitten by the Rockabilly virus as a small child, from which he's never recovered and hopefully he never will. His neighbour always had a house window open, and blasted the area with Rockabilly music. What a way to start his day, on the way to school, not many of us could boast that. Urs also stated he got to know Crazy Cavan before Elvis. Sounded a bit upside down to me, but it worked for him. I'd certainly prefer 706 Union Avenue, or Gracelands in Memphis opposed to Tata's Steel works at Llanwern near to Newport Gwent - Cavan's mecca. His parents wanted him to pursue an education in classical music, but he soon became very disillusioned. At the ripe age of just 16 he purchased his first guitar and became the lead guitarist for a Hillbilly band. Then in 2002 he started his own outfit, Rhythm Train. Originally they had a steel guitarist in the line-up, but no drummer, later replacing the steel player with a drummer.

The current line-up have been together for four years having toured mainland Europe ever since. UK promoters please be aware these guys are gagging to get over here. This 13 track CD is an infusion of covers, and some of their own compositions. Track 1 starts with a good cover of Buddy Holly's 'Lookin' For Some-One To Love'. Track 2 is a splendid version of Go Cat Go's 'Please Mama Please'. Track 3 is Eddie Cochran's 'Somethin' Else' and is possibly a little thin as there are only three instruments. Track 4, Tennessee Ernie Ford's 'Sixteen Tons' is a real big number to copy, but includes some nice twangy sounds of the Gretsch guitar. Track 5 and no introduction with this one. 'Trouble' is one of the big sounds originally written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller for Elvis. This version was OK. Whilst a great song, I consider there have been far too many covers over the years by different artistes for this version to bowl me over.

Track 6 is 'Rebelene'. I'm uncertain where this track has its origins; the riffs sound as though it's a modern song, possibly from a Country artiste if not their own. As I've not heard the track previously it's one of my favourites on the disc. Track 7, 'Crying Over You' is another track I'm uncertain about. Again I think a modern number; to me another of the better tracks as I'm not comparing it with any earlier rendition Track 8, 'Think It Over' is a vintage Buddy Holly classic and now given an Alpine feel. Track 9 is Arthur Gunter's song, 'Baby Let's Play House' which was recorded in 1954 a year prior to Elvis putting a Rockabilly beat to it with Scotty Moore & Bill Black. Rhythm Train have put together a fair version.

Track 10 is 'Weep & Cry', definitely a good Country track, the earliest version I could find on the web was by Charlie Monroe, although it may be older. It's a great rendition by the trio possibly showing their true strengths. Track 11, 'Rattled' starts with a driving drum before the vocals come on board. Then the Gretsch guitar, before the walking beat of the upright bass becomes prominent. Certainly an usual balance of instruments, which makes the song rather quirky. Track 12 is 'King Creole' and no prizes for this one. A cover of the Elvis film title tune, it contains some very good guitar work, but is an excessively bold move to cover this track and make it their own. Track 13, 'Till It Hurts' opens with some great Blues guitar sounds. On the UK dance floors it would be on the cusp of a slow stroller or smooch. Not certain where the track has its origins but I consider it one of the best of the 13 tracks.

There's a mixture of tracks on here, but if Rhythm Train were considering the UK for gigs, they'd be better aligning their repertoire to the lesser known numbers, or their own compositions, as the very big numbers are a tad thin and the band will need their own identity. Urs mentioned to me his love of Crazy Cavan's music. In the summer of 1975 the Rockhouse LP 7510 Crazy Rhythm was recorded with all the band's own compositions, so it can be done successfully. Some of the tracks I couldn't find elsewhere on the web, so considered they were their own, readers please, confirm where you may have heard them. All tracks were mixed and mastered by Felix Hohl in 2O17 somewhere in the Alps. Unfortunately there is no IBAN number on the sleeve so my suggestion to get a copy is either via Amazon or contact Urs via e-mail through the link in the website, www.hillbilly.ch.

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