Impala: "El Rancho Reverbo"
Icehouse Records, 1994 (www.icehouserecords.com)
"El Rancho Reverbo" was the first release by Impala, back in 1994. So, obviously, this is not a "new release" by any means; however it is new to my CD player! Recorded in Memphis TN at Sam Phillips Studio, "El Rancho..."' does hearken back to the simpler times of twist, twang and reverb.
Impala features John Stivers on guitar; Scott Bomar on bass, Farfisa organ and guitar; Justin Thompson on tenor sax; and Jeff Goggans on drums. Additional players include Alex Green on Hammond organ and "Sunrise" on trumpet.
The CD kicks-off with the oh-too-short "El Rancho". This 31 second tidbit begs to be developed into a full-fledged theme suitible for the next Sergio Leone spaghetti-western episode. "El Rancho" whets the appetite, and leaves you thirsty for more, gringo.
The second cut, "Odalisque" is a stomping surf number full of drive and reverb. A catchy melody, rolling drums and a haunting tone makes this cut particularly memorable.
"Ronnie and the Renegaids" is a rockin' little number with just a touch of the reverb. Although a simple arrangement, "Ronnie and the Renegaids" is a hopping tune, for sure.
The next few cuts on this CD take a little detour through the cornfields: "Wild Night at the Bloody Bucket" has a Chuck Berry-esque roots rockin' sort of feel to it. The twanging Telecaster sound of "Wild Night..." may not be everyones cup-of-tea, but I found the tune to be fun and an enjoyable listen.
"Last Tango in Turrell" really caught my attention. I am a sucker for Latin rhythms coupled with haunting reverb guitar. "Last Tango..." ands in a chirpy sax line and several beautiful twists and turns. "Last Tango in Turrell" really shines and stands out as an "instant classic" on this CD.
The hauntingly-trippy-slow-dance-sax/organ/reverb-sound of "What the Astronauts Drink" proves enchanting. The sax and organ have just the right live ambience...this tune sounds as if it were recorded in the Rendevous Ballroom: lots of space and natural reverberation. Simply another beautiful cut.
"Anna Vienna" is a cool surfer's stomp type number...very energetic and a cool tune. "Open All Night" is a soul-style tune, but soul in the old Booker T and the MGs sense...sort of a "Delano Soul Beat" number. The organ/sax/trumpet interplay is way cool and smooth. A very Stax-influenced number.
"Taos Pueblo" provides yet another dose of reverb and drive...the tune is simple and somewhat one-dimensional.
In "Have You Seen This Man", the twanging Telecaster sound returns, but this time it is tempered with a healthy dose of reverb. You can almost make out the lyrics (or rather make up the lyrics) as you listen to this nifty melody.
Near the end of the CD, two tunes in particular stand out: "Hell of a Woman" and "Experimente in Terror/Stalkin". "Hell of a Woman" is a smokey sax-driven minor-keyed theme for some pulp-style detective tale. Very moody...think: "Twin Peaks Soundtrack"...and you know what I mean.
In the final cut, Impala, trys their hand at a medley: Mancini's "Experiment in Terror", coupled with Lee Hazelwood's "Stalkin"...very intriguing, to say the least.
Overall, Impala hits the mark with "El Rancho Reverbo". They deliver a nice collection of moody, authentic surf-style tunes mixed up with some nasty rockers and a touch of country twang. Overall, the playing is very good with only a couple of minor problems...occasionally the instrumentalists are out of tune, or playing in the wrong key. Also, sometimes the rhythm (or tempo) seems to noticebly vary in an annoyingly wobbly sort of way. Very slight problems, probably only noticeble to the musicians in the listening audience.
Overall, I'm glad I picked up "El Rancho Reverbo". Impala certainly delivers up a tasy slice of reverberated roots-style rock-n-roll. Twang!