The title of Ricky Nye and the Swingin' Mudbugs' sophomore release (the follow-up to 1998's Piano is Fun!) is a play on the recording philosophy behind the album. Nye likes to record in as few takes as possible, and Quick was done with little overdubbing or other fixes (just like Fun!). But if you've seen Nye's trio perform live, you know that the local prince of Boogie-Woogie-styled piano probably doesn't require many "do-overs." There are certainly no holes in Quick 'N' Dirty. The energy and spontaneity exhibited makes listeners feel like they are dancing the night away in some sweaty bayou speakeasy. That intimacy translates superbly as Nye and Mudbugs Tony Franklin (drums) and Nick Lloyd (upright bass) rip effortlessly through a plethora of Blues stylings on songs written by a variety of composers (save "Oh Yes," the sole Nye original). From the down-low Blues of Muddy Waters' "What Is That She Got?" and the more up-tempo R&B of "Grits Ain't Groceries" (made famous by Little Milton) to the yearning, soulful balladry of "Please Send Me Someone To Love" and Nye's trademark barrelhouse rolls on "Downtown Boogie" and "Dixie Lullaby," you can take Quick 'N' Dirty as a musical history lesson or, more appropriately, as a joyous escapade through the repertoire of one of Cincinnati's most talented musicians. Nye obviously has the deepest respect for the New Orleans-spawned art form, but he doesn't treat the material too preciously, raucously banging out the tunes with skill and grace, but also with a genuine sense of glee, something that permeates from nearly every note. Between quality releases like Quick 'N' Dirty, Nye's organization of regular Blues and Boogie piano summits, featuring like-minded artists from around the world, and steady European touring, his place as one of the preeminent masters of the style is secure.
(rickynye.com) -- MIKE BREEN
· THE CINCINNATI REDS U.K. -- YOU TAKE THE HIGH ART & I'LL TAKE THE LOW ART
They have the best local band name in Cincinnati and their candid album cover art will surely be the source of more double-takes than the Nicole Kidman/Lenny Kravitz romance stories on the cover of The National Enquirer. The sexually charged but defiantly empowered Cincinnati Reds U.K. is a collective of local women who pimp a fractured, experimental brand of industrious Indie Pop, buoyed by cracked electronics, remedial drum machine sounds, brittle guitar plucking, melodies that melt like a Dali clock and a nefarious sense of humor that can get bawdier than the Wife of Bath's yarn in The Canterbury Tales. This debut album works best when the songs take on the fragile, primitive Pop naiveté of some dusty K Records 7-inch ("Watch," "Sometimes," "Tea") but many of the tracks are just too unsturdy and pitch-challenged to be wholly effective. If you demand musical proficiency in your listening selections, You Take the High Art should probably not be on your holiday wish list. But lo-fi home-recording aficionados will definitely want to mine the album for the gold amid the coal. (tokyoroserecords.com) -- MB
· JERRY KING AND THE RIVERTOWN RAMBLERS -- THE SUN SESSIONS
If you're a modern Indie Rock artist ready to record an album, Steve Albini's studios in Chicago might be the dream setting. Rockers of all sorts would probably kill at the chance to lay down tracks at Jimi Hendrix's old Electric Ladyland studios. What's a recording-ready Rockabilly cat to do? Pilgrimage to Memphis and rent some time at the legendary Sun Studios, of course. Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers, one of the most impressive Rockabilly troupes in the area, did just that for their rollicking debut disc, aptly titled, The Sun Sessions. The five-piece group has ace chops, but what makes The Sun Sessions such a success is their ability to capture the energy and spirit of the masters, injecting the traditional sound with the necessary authenticity to make it sound like it was indeed recorded in the '50s during Sun's heyday. Also inspired by the locally-spawned King Records family, the Ramblers are built like the prototypical Rockabilly crew -- stand-up bass, shuffling beats, soulful, twangy lead vocals, call-and-response back-ups, driving guitar and songs about crazy women and mean little mamas. Singer/rhythm guitarist King has the vocal presence of a youthful, ornery Eddie Cochran, his spirited, jumping croon speckled with a barrage of inspired "C'mons" and hiccups that slap-back with wet, echoing reverb. The group's motor mostly runs at a steady, high-octane pace and that's when they are at their most effective. Highlights include "40 Days" and "Crazy Woman," which finds King at his most excitable, the propulsive "I Want Your Lovin'," and "One Cup of Coffee," which has that wild-eyed, early Elvis feel. Elsewhere, "West, South" slows down the tempo and breaks up the train-chugging assault with a lonesome ballad that best shows off King's vocal talents, while album-closer "Trouble" momentarily turns the shuffle into a flat-out strut before grinding the gears back. The joyous performances are priceless and the lively recording techniques give the album an undeniably vintage vibe, refreshing in this age of auto-tuners and multi-layered tracking. Recording at the foundation of Rock & Roll, it's nice to think that the Ramblers ran into lingering ghosts checking out the new blood. After listening to The Sun Sessions, if there was indeed any spectral intermingling, the spirits probably offered them a light off their Zippo, gave 'em a pull from their flask and challenged them to a game of dirty pool. Sun Studios is just where this talented band belongs. Jerry King and the Rivertown Ramblers are the real deal. (geocities.com/rivertownramblers/) -- MB