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Though busily running the high octane rock & roll bands Beebe Gallini and the Short Fuses, singer Georgia Conley Ramin and her drummer/guitarist/husband/producer Travis Ramin took the time to mash up with guitarists Ruyter Suys and Blaine Cartwright of Nashville Pussy and bassist Mark Hendricks of Nine Pound Hammer to cut Aloha From Kentucky, an album of tradition-minded country rock (Or is that rockin’ country?) Anyone seeing the Pussy names and thinking this is some kind of heavy rock/C&W cockfight, fear not. While classics like Johnny Cash’s “Jackson,” Loretta Lynn’s “Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’,” the much-recorded “Silver Threads and Golden Needles,” even Ike & Tina Turner’s “River Deep, Mountain High” certainly get a rock & roll turbo charge, every tune is treated with genuine respect – it’s clear everyone loves these songs for what they are, not what kind of hay they can make of them. The proceedings really find their rhythm when they take on tunes not as familiar as the obvious titans. Check out the raucous takes on Merle Haggard’s “Bull and the Beaver,” co-starring NPH singer Scott Luallan, and Conway Twitty and Lynn’s bopping “You Blow My Mind,” with Cartwright, as well as the frisky version of Wanda Jackson’s great “Stop Kicking Our Hearts Around. ” Possibly best of all, Miss Peach has a grand time opening the record with a C&W-ified version of Dutch glam rockers Bonne St. Clair and Unit Gloria’s “Do You Know What Love Means?” The musicianship is strong, the vocals are impeccable, and the spirit is infectious. All covers albums should be this good.
Though Georgia only contributed backing vocals, both Ramins also figure in the catalog of Tina and the Total Babes, whose sole album originally came out on the venerable Sympathy For the Record Industry in 2001. The Minneapolis-based outfit bristles with the experience of veterans of the nineties and ‘aughts rock & roll underground. Besides Ramin, guitarist Jacques Wait served time in the Rank Strangers and Magnatone, bassist Johnny O’Halloran worked with Nikki Corvette (as did Ramin), the Magnolias, Magnatone and, currently, the Short Fuses, and frontwoman Tina Lucceshi matriculated in the Bobbyteens, Deadly Weapons and the Trashwomen. Presaging the punky power pop revival that hit later in the decade, the quartet knocks out cool tune after cool tune, from the luscious “Christy” and the defiant “Why Do I Like You” to the effervescent “All About Makin’ Out” and the irresistible “Tongue Tied.” The band also includes a trio of cool covers, including “She’s So Tuff” from late seventies New York obscurity the Demons, sixties-era Minneapolis garage rockers Michael and the Messengers’ “That’s the Way I Want It” and the timeless “Tell That Girl to Shut Up” from Holly & the Italians, whose spirit permeates the entire record. Rejoice, power pop fanatics – Tina and the Total Babes is back and holds up very nicely.
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