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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Music Reviews »

Permalink The Black Flamingos "Play Speedway and other songs"

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Ah, what a nice release!
This is a very well produced album.
In first the clear and clean sound shines over all. You can hear the guitar as it sounds. With a nice amount of reverb.
The songs are very jazzy influenced, which I like a lot.
There is a lot of air in the songs! Good!
The 3 piece band works together like good friends. There is space for the cool basslines. Drums are perfect for this band.
If you listen to a song like Kali Ma, you will be reminded to Mancini, a flavor of vibraphone.
There also some fuzzy and fast moments on this album.
The "Experiment In Terror" cover has got an excellent jazzy arrangement. The bass! Wow!
The song "Eviler" starts so cool also. The guitar is very smart. And always this jazzy feeling! Ah, I love the whole album!
The artwork is funny.
Is there a vinyl out? Would be senseful.
Please, everyone who is interested in good surf music, support this extraordinary band! Get it:

Twang cheers!

Ralf Kilauea

Last edited: Nov 10, 2018 10:53:54

Great review! Definitely looking forward to checking it out.


"I knew I was in trouble when the Coco-Loco tasted like water!" -- morphball

Here's my review of "Play speedway and Other Hits" Check my blog for photos and links.

Black Flamingos
“Play Speedway and Other Hits”
Hi-Tide Recordings

The Black Flamingos new album further explores their surf-noir sound, warmly filling the tracks with a bare bones rhythm section that places Robbie Butkowski’s lush guitar in the spotlight. There are some minimal, and always very tasteful side accompanists, padding a production that sounds period specific to the late fifties. The tracks have a natural ambience, and I don’t detect a shred of digital embellishment or trickery. Just some talented session cats sitting in a room together, making music.

“Play Speedway and Other Hits” is not an album that relies on gimmicks, shock or bluster. It has a tonal minimalism that focuses on the prowess of the lead voice. The arrangements are uncluttered, so you can really hear the reverb fall-off and the cymbal sizzle. I think every song is augmented by some kind of 4th instrument- an acoustic guitar or percussion- but they rarely repeat, and the trio remains the focus.

The first song, “Speedway" is the lone epic in the set, a slow burner starting with legato chords, then a two-step groove picks it up as the dragster engines alight The chorus shakes with additional tambourine, then featured breaks for the rhythm section and a crunchy lead guitar solo to kick it into high gear.

After ”Speedway” the songs tend to be more focused in their scope. "Chicken Wire" makes me think of what a proto-Slacktone, with it's jazzy inversions and swinging beat, might sound like. “Rendezvous" picks up the tempo a little more, with Bukowski soloing over some crackling, reverb damped chords. Baritone sax introduces, then adds beef to “Haunted Hall” with it’s dramatic syncopations. "Malibu Run" is a stripped down take on the Richie Allan and the Pacific Surfers tune, revealing a possible source of inspiration for the Black Flamingo’s overall sound and melodic direction. "Kali Ma" is full-on exotica, with vibraphone as the second lead, over gently rolling jungle toms. This is one sophisticated composition!

As the needle drops on side two, the Flamingos downshift and the rpms peak as Butkowski’s tone thickens to feedback level on “Okinawa", which seems like it could have been a mid 60’s hit for the Ventures in Japan. Black Swan (not your pappy’s "Saturday Night at the Duck Pond”) is a new re-working of the Tchaikovsky theme, with guest fuzz guitarist Chris Barfield laying down the Davie Allanisms while Bukowski cleanly double picks around the elegant and iconic melody. Another cover follows, Mancini’s “Experiment in Terror” is downbeat but smile inducing, so different from the frantic Laika and the Cosmonauts version. “Shark Repellent” comes on strong with a trad surf vibe, again with a proto-Slacktone thickness to the chord inversions. Finally, “Eviler” twists the mind with a circular and confusion inducing melody, perfect as a cinematic coda to a strong set of material.

I must mention the sequencing of this album as being clearly well thought out as the tempos and intensity build then release, a brilliant flow on par with The Car’s’ debut album.

Declan O’Connell’s bass is always in the pocket; while he does take an occasional turnaround to shine, he keeps it busy, but in the background. In a trio format, he has a lot of room to move around without intrusion. I don’t know if he recorded with the short-scale Mustang bass he uses live, but he has a nice hollow tone here, passing for an upright in vibe. Drummer Vincent Minervino remains subtle and supportive, a model of restraint. I think there’s an old saying about the hardest thing to do is make it look easy, but that’s these guys in a nutshell, so very good.

Overall, The Black Flamingos’ “Play Speedway and Other Hits” is a pretty chill set. I keep thinking about the warm jazz albums on Blue Note– of course this isn’t jazz, but it has that honest, live approach where the musicians are hearing and playing off each other’s subtleties. It’s a great set.

LISTEN & BUY " S P I N - T H E - B O T T L E " NOW @ Bandcamp

My blog- Euro Tour Blog
Pool Boys on Spotify
Frankie in Frankie & The Pool Boys
DJ Frankie Pool Boy on North Sea Surf Radio
Phayrentz in Pollo Del Mar

I ordered a copy. I like what I hear. Smile

Ah, there will be vinyl soon Yes

Twang cheers!

Ralf Kilauea

Ralf - thank you very much for the kind review! The vinyl is available now from Hi-Tide Recordings

Black Flamingos • Hi-Tide Recordings • Asbury Park Surf Music Festival

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