Scene & Heard - CD Review
Review Taken From Issue 225 - March 2016

There are currently several people who write regular reviews for the magazine;
but unbiased reviews from other individuals are always welcome.


C D Review

The Stargazers: Carry On Jiving
Ruby Tone Records RTRLP 1
By Trevor Noddles, Thrapston Northants.

13 Tracks:
1.Let's Go, 2. The Wedding Band, 3. Play My Game, 4. Little 'Ol House Of Rock, 5. Free Tonight, 6. Boo Hoo Hoo, 7. Keep Cool & Carry On, 8. You Bring Out The Poet In Me, 9. Phantom Frolic, 10. The Wonderful Thing About Rock 'n' Roll, 11. Haunted House, 12. Louise, 13. Love, Love, Love.

What a breath of fresh air. I've heard many bands, and musicians either play, or attempt to play jive music, but the Stargazers are one of the best at their craft. The CD, Carry On Jiving recorded in 2017 at Skinny Farm and Gizzard Studios, encapsulates a similar flavour to that promoted by the Comets, the Jodimars, Freddie Bell & The Bell Boys from the USA plus Tony Crombie from the UK during the early fifties. The recordings are also on a par with the 50's sounds.The theme of the disc follows seemingly as a sequel to the series of the legendary British Carry On films. There's also some tongue in cheek liner notes from Sid Fiddler, the band's entertainment manager. The front, (dummy cover) depicts facial characters of the band members, and what appears to be actors from the Carry On Team including a police officer, the Queen and a guardsman all jiving. Everyone appears to be having fun and enjoying themselves.

Going back in time to the early 80's, nearer 40 than 30 years ago, I recall the Stargazers, setting out on their musical career, and being bloody good at what they did, although the current line-up has a few fresh faces. Since their inception, only the vocalist, and the guitarist remain. Tim 'Trundle' Purkess (double bass) joined in the mid-late 80's. I'm reliably informed his first recording with the Stargazers was on their second album, Back In Orbit released on Ace Records. Ricky Lee Braun, the original drummer left about 1991. John Wallace the early saxophonist left several times over the years to play with The Jo Boxers and Heavy Shift, finally departing in 2005. I'd seen John several years ago with the Midlands based Jive Romeros. The current drummer joined around 2007, the saxophonist soon afterwards and the piano player has been with the band for 6 years. All current members have worked together to create Carry On Jiving. Despite the changes in personnel over the years, the Stargazers still hold the same esteem in my book. Their career has seen them support and work with household names from the music industry in the UK, Europe, Japan and the USA.

Musicians included on the CD are as follows; Peter Davenport, described as the 'Twanger' the guitarist responsible for writing or having co-written several of the numbers. Danny Brittain, the 'Crooner' no prizes for guessing, he's the lead singer. Jim Russell, the 'Tub Thumper' the drummer and writer of at least two tracks. Aaron Liddard, the 'Honker' saxophone player, plays both tenor, & baritone saxes, yet another composer. Jamie Rowan, the 'Ivory Tinkler' the pianist who wrote 'Free Tonight'. Matt Radford, the 'Bottom Ender' double bass player and Tim Purkess, the 'Other-Ender' a bass player on some of the tracks who also mixed some of them. All the tracks are originals, having noted that the band members had a hand in writing them, I couldn't wait to listen to what was in store. The thirteen tracks include; 'Let's Go' which starts off proceedings with a Tony Crombie style drum roll. This is followed by a vicious tenor saxophone, then clever guitar work, well before the vocals interject.

'The Wedding Band', slower tempo and layered saxes to a more 'New Orleans' style of rhythm. 'Play My Game' with a big brass introduction features some modern 21st century lyrics referencing e-mails and the like. 'Little Ol' House Of Rock' sounds as it could have been recorded by the Comets, or the Jodimars. 'Free Tonight' has a rolling blues piano introduction followed by layered tenor saxophones that could have originated from the 40's or the 50's but with a far cleaner recording sound. 'Boo Hoo Hoo' is a track I could have imagined Freddie Bell & The Bell Boys recording during the 50's. 'Keep Cool & Carry On' has a great Tom-Tom drum opening roll, before the sax comes in, styled very much in a light Louis Prima mould. 'You Bring Out The Poet In Me' is a big band sound from a relatively small line-up.

'Phantom's Frolic' is an instrumental inspired by Henry Mancini with brass arrangements and sax lead by Aaron. It has the other instruments following behind and includes some unusual work by Jamie Rowan on the organ. 'The Wonderful Thing About Rock 'n' Roll' is a medium tempo number that has inspirations from either side of the Atlantic with a very bluesy guitar style. 'Haunted House' and what a Rocker! A far cry from the track recorded in Memphis with the same name by Gene Simmonds on Hi Records. This one includes some big supporting vocals with the moaning vocal sound created using a melotron. The penultimate song, 'Louise' I was expecting a ballad but far from it, it's a good medium tempo Rocker referencing the ladies name. The final track, 'Love, Love, Love' has a rolling drum opener, closely followed by the tenor, then unison vocals coming in prior to the lead singer taking hold of the mantle.

How would I sum up this CD? Easy, possibly the best Rock 'n' Roll recordings I've heard in eons. Promoters, especially jive venues look 'em up and book 'em, you'll not be disappointed. Many thanks to the Stargazers for supplying me with the history of the band and more finite information of the recordings.

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