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Permalink Legend of Daphne Blue by The Derangers - CD Review by Noel

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Legend of Daphne Blue by The Derangers - CD Review by Noel

The complete album title is “The Legend of Daphne Blue and the Westernmental Sound”. From the liner notes, “This album is a retrospective of the bands best recordings from 1990 to 2013.”

The Derangers are Drew Townson on lead guitar, Al Harper on rhythm and lead guitar, Adam Cat on bass, and Paul Gallo on drums.

Tears of the Seneca
If you aren’t familiar with The Derangers, “Tears of the Seneca” is a great introduction. Known as the Keepers of the Western Door, the Seneca Nation is also the westernmost of the six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy in what is now New York State and Southern Ontario. Time was, the “West” began at the Hudson River Valley. “Tears of the Seneca” has a wonderful, classic-sounding spaghetti-western melody, to which are added what sound like wooden flutes, a sad, soaring female voice, and blues guitar stylings that reinforce the emotions formed by this lovely yet melancholy, strikingly beautiful song.

Twang ‘Em High!
Someone’s gonna be hanged by the neck until dead. Or not. The drums and spurs death march slows to a stop, as if the soldiers started noticing all the guns trained down on them, and then there’s a blast of rockin’ surf guitar. It’s time to go. NOW! The chase is on. The classic song by Dominic Frontiere is given quite a high-energy redo, and it sounds terrific. The twang is strong in this song, and there’s a lot of dueling guitar play along the way. But the ending seems to say the Federales gave up the chase and turned back. There’ll be no hanging today.

El Chupacabra, Live on WMFO
This song encompasses everything fantastic about The Derangers. The complex orchestration, the wonderful musicality of the melody, the perfect sound and feel of the performance, all combine together to create a marvelous listening experience. This is easily one of my favorite songs on an album filled with stand-out songs.

Santa Monica
The surfiest of the songs up to this point on the CD, it nonetheless seems to point away from the beach and the famous pier. Or maybe to the not-so-distant past, when Santa Monica was at the farthest end of the West. It’s got the feel of both times, as those moments when you’re looking at the modern world but can’t shake the way things used to look. Or as if you can see the lingering ghosts of the past all around, like an emotional double exposure. The last thing you hear is the crash of a just-kicked reverb tank, and you’re back to reality. But for as long as the song plays, you’re in two worlds separated by time, but standing in one place.

Rio Sangre
This is the old South-West of imagination, story, song, and film. Along the Rio Sangre, bad men sometimes terrorize villagers, and less bad men sometimes ride to their rescue. Life is hard, and the reward for surviving is… surviving. But there is beauty, too, if you just look for it. In the sunrises and sunsets. In the simple peace that comes as night falls. In the innocent, smiling faces of small children, and sometimes the less innocent smiles of women with black eyes. You live along the Rio Sangre because you have to, but then, where else would you live? The Rio Sangre is home.

The Impaler
Stomp your feet! Jump up and down! You can’t help it. The driving beat, the pounding rhythm, the captivating melody, all contribute to a powerful and irresistible monster of a song. It would be my favorite, except there are so many others I like as much. The title immediately recalls to mind Vlad, the source of the Dracula legend. Dracula supposedly could hypnotize his victims into willing slaves to his desires. This song has a hypnotic quality that keeps me coming back for more. This Impaler just kills me.

Monkey Island
Of course it’s got a swinging beat. Monkeys got to swing. Hear them call out the tune? It’s a dance number, ‘cause monkeys got to dance. And everyone knows they dance to that crazy jazz rhythm like back when swing was king. Yeah man! You’ll want to join in, but watch out. The beat is infectious and you won’t want to stop. Keep this up and you’ll be a monkey, too. Maybe Monkey Island is my favorite song?

Ether Cocktail
Ether is an anesthetic. Inhale a little and you feel no pain. Inhale a lot and it’ll knock you out. Exotic rhythms have that effect, too. There’s a place where they serve this cocktail made with ether. It’s not on any map and no cabbie can take you there. But it’s there just the same. The place is dimly lit, with scattered people sitting in shadows. You shiver once with fear, but the music calls to you. You go in anyway, and order what the girl with the intensely calm smile is having. The bartender says it an Ether Cocktail. Have one and your cares start to drift away. Have two or three and you’ll find yourself in a place where you won’t care how bad it hurts, wearing that same smile. I’ll have another, bartender, and one more for her.

Magdalena, NM
It’s a real place, is Magdalena, New Mexico. Named by Spanish soldiers, it’s seen its share of history, been a silver mine boom town and went bust when the market collapsed. Unlike so many others, this town didn’t die, even when it’s well went dry. The song named for Magdalena, NM, is much like the town. It has a vitality, an energy that does justice to its name-sake, and the musical traditions it follows. The trumpet duet finally sets the song firmly in the high desert where it belongs. If you don’t want to go to Magdalena, NM, to see the historic sites or new art galleries (there are now two hotels in town!) you can just play this song until you do.

’69 Firebird
Ah, the Firebird. With more extreme styling than its Camaro sibling, and lower slung, you could get it with an OHC inline six and 4-speed manual in ’69, or you could get the Trans Am. Me? I wanted the 400 HO Ram Air 4-speed. It had more horsepower and rev’d 400 RPM higher than the Trans Am, yet looked like a regular Firebird. Can you say Q-ship? This song is like that car. It sneaks up on you, and then it puts the hammer down with massive amounts of bottom end power before it quickly unwinds all the way up the scale to redline. Dance to its tune and it’ll leave you breathless. What a ride… and song.

Agave Rain
This song is intoxicating, much like its namesake. Tequila is made from the sap of the agave plant. And what a nectar it is. This is one of those songs that I can play over and over. It’s lush, warm. Falling rain begins the song, and the music builds slowly, like a coming rain storm in the desert, to reach its dramatic conclusion. And as suddenly as the desert rain comes, it ends, accompanied by the sounds of birds quenching their thirst. I guess you have to experience a rain storm in the desert to understand, or you can listen to “Agave Rain”.

Wichita Lineman
What can I say about this cover one of the most beautiful songs to ever rule the radio? The Derangers interpretation is dramatic, beautiful, faithful to the mood of the original, sensitively and lovingly performed.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Live
The Derangers rock the daylights out of their interpretation of one of the most iconic songs in filmdom. Man, they kill this song, in the best way! You’re gonna want to dance to it for all you’re worth, and you’ll be glad you did. That Daphne Blue ’61 Strat just screams throughout this wild and wonderful performance! I’ve got to see this performed live, from right up front.

In fact, that’s how I feel about The Derangers after listening to this record over and over again until I finished writing this review.

All songs are original except “Twang ‘Em High!” (Hang ‘Em High!) by Dominic Frontiere, “Wichita Lineman” by Jimmy Webb, and “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Live” by Ennio Morricone .

The Legend of Daphne Blue is Drew’s 1961 Daphne Blue Fender Stratocaster, which is played on every song.

The Legend of Daphne Blue is produced and recorded by Drew Townson. Design and layout by Ted James and Drew Townson.

The Derangers are on the Internet at

and on Facebook at

On the Deep Eddy label and available from Deep Eddy Records at

The Legend of Daphne Blue is dedicated in loving memory to Dana Townson, 1962 – 2011.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Here's a video of The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, Live taken by Unsteady Freddie. You can see Daphne Blue it all its glory.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Noel - you are hired to write the liner notes on the next Derangers album!

Wow Noel, I just read the review - hands down the best, most thoughtful and well-penned one we've had in 20+ year - and very entertaining to boot! You are a really talented writer. And what blows me away the most is that you really GOT the tracks. Even though they are instrumentals, every one of these songs tells a story. They are all ballads, told around the cowboy campfire and spun by the voice of Daphne Blue. If I had written the description of each song MYSELF, I couldn't have nailed it any better than you did. Tears of the Seneca IS about the legendary and proud tribe who believed the great father put his hand down to earth making impressions of his fingers, creating the Finger Lakes. After reading about General Sullivan's sacking and burning the Seneca village of Canandaigua, the tribe's most sacred town located the north end of Canandaigua Lake, I looked at the map and noticed for the first time, yes those lakes look like fingers, but they also look like tears. Song-by-song you totally heard the story inside the music. The vibe. The mojo. Some sadness and melancholy. Hot rods and swinging monkeys. Tequila and western movie themes. You discovered the bygone era in America where neon lit the evening sky along Route 66. Fantastic, Noel. In fact, every time we play "Twang 'em High," which we do every gig, while the drummer is playing the gallows walk on the snare, I say, "Next time you hang a man, you better make sure he's dead!" Thank you for the wonderful, insightful review. I am thrilled that you like the Deranger's music, (and Daphne is too!)


Drew Townson
The Derangers
Los Texicanos
Boston, MA

Last edited: Feb 09, 2015 18:43:50

Wow! Drew, thank you so much for the kind words. And yes, I'll happily write the liner notes for your next album.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Another great review Noel.
I'm thankful for your creative and insightful reviews!


What a great review, Noel! Well done! The Derangers CD was one of my very favorites last year, just love it! Very creative and unique music that captures a special atmosphere. Love the tone of that Daphne Blue Strat, too! Here's hoping we get to hear more from them soon.

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I can't believe I missed this before but Noel's review is spot on.
(Anytime I need to read an example of someone with imagination I just read one of Noel's great reviews. Sometimes it's like he does a mind-meld.)

Me gusto mucho.

SoCal ex-pat with a snow shovel

DISCLAIMER: The above is opinion/suggestion only & should not be used for mission planning/navigation, tweaking of instruments, beverage selection, or wardrobe choices.

Well, that sure worked good. I just ordered a copy. Smile

This popped up yesterday. Thank you, everyone, for the complements. I love writing reviews. Getting to listen to this music, over and over until the songs tell me their stories, well, it's one of my favorite pleasures. I hope it's not too much longer before I can start writing again.

And yes, this record is fabulous!

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Since I had to put away my guitars for the foreseeable future, I started thinking I might start writing music reviews again. But honestly, it's been a very long time and I don't know if I still can.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

I know this is an old post, but I had to get my $.02 in. My wife and I were lucky enough to catch The Derangers live poolside at Ohana, an annual tiki event at the Tiki Resort at Lake George New York last summer.

They absolutely blew us away. We even got to chat briefly with Drew after the set and I got to see beautiful Daphne up close. We became lifelong fans that day.

I was so inspired that, not only did I purchase the CD, but I picked up my strat for the first time in years and started learning Wichita Lineman and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. I am looking forward to The Derangers' next release.

Your review is so well written and insightful. I am sure you still have it in you and I would love to read more of your reviews.


Bassist Adam Cat was kind enough to invite me and a buddy to sit in on a Derangers’ rehearsal last June when I was revisiting my old Massachusetts stomping grounds. What a treat to see such fine musicians at work, and what a great album Daphne Blue is. And, thanks to Drew, I even got to take Daphne Blue for a little spin! Such graciousness. Here’s hoping for more from The Derangers.

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