“Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids are really neat. But my father wants them to stop cruising in our neighbourhood.”
Flash Cadillac were an American Rock ‘n’ Roll band formed in 1969 and most famous for their portrayal of Herbie and the Heartbeats in the film American Graffiti. Flash Cadillac fused their classic 50’s Rock ‘n’ roll sound with the popular Surf style that came afterwards and the result is a sound that departs from the classic sound of artists such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Eddie Cochran whilst still remaining true to the foundations that these legends put down. The first song is an upbeat cover of the country classic Mule Skinner Blues, which tells the tale of a man looking for work, hoping to earn a “Dollar a day”. In the Cadillac’s version however, this story takes a back seat to the punchy rhythm and variety of strange noises singer Flash accompanies the music with. this opener sets the tone of the album, a classic base from which the band pushes outward, with the finished song sounding as distinctive as if the Cadillacs had written it themselves.
From this country cover the band move on to an original composition named Reputation, A classic fast paced Rock ‘N’ Roll song about a man’s turbulent love life, held together by an unmistakable guitar riff and making use of the Summertime Blues classic Deep voiced authority figure who warns “you better be no later than one, son”. Coming straight after the excellent cover of Mule Skinner Blues you could be forgiven for thinking that Reputation was another tribute, so much does it sound like it was ripped straight from Rock ‘n’ Roll’s golden age.
The third song, Crying in the Rain is a slower paced affair and not nearly as impressive as the opening two, seeming to drag despite being under two and a half minutes long. Whilst not terrible by any means Crying in the Rain seems to be Flash Cadillac’s attempt at a classic love song, complete with backing vocals singing “shalalala”, but rather than a sincere story of heartbreak it comes across more as a cheesy and lacklustre ballad, lacking a recognisable chorus or guitar riff to pull it together.
Luckily the record soon picks up again, with the fourth and fifth tracks, Teenage Eyes and Betty Lou once again showing what the band are capable of, with both having catchy lyrics and memorable piano and guitar parts to back them up. Betty Lou‘s call and response “Betty Lou, Betty Lou” evokes images of the classic American teen romance, whilst still managing to feel fresh and distinct from the myriad other songs written on the same subject.
Rounding off the first side is a cover of the instrumental track Pipeline, which, whilst enjoyable , is not a memorable enough interpretation to set it above the other covers of the song, or indeed the original.
Moving onto side two and the opener She’s so Fine, featured in the film American Graffiti. Owing a lot more to the surf sound of bands such as the Beach Boys than it does to the Rock ‘n’ Roll sound present on the first side of the album, one wonders if this is due to the input of the film-makers or a choice by the band. Whilst this would normally be quite jarring, putting the song on the beginning of side two stops this feeling of discontinuity and the song itself is one of the better to be made after the genre’s heyday in the early 60’s.
Tell Him No, a plea from the singer for a girl to reject another man, is good but largely forgettable, and one gets the feeling that The Cadillacs had run out of ideas at this point in the album. This feeling is short lived however, and swiftly dispelled by the thumping bass and catchy vocals of the next track Nothin’ for Me, a kind of reverse love song in which Flash sings “You’re not the only fish in the sea”.
This is definitely the standout track of side two, with the following songs lapsing back into the routine of a traditional Rock ‘n’ Roll song (You Gotta Rock) and Endless Sleep, a forgettable love song, albeit with a menacing guitar sound that does its best to pull the rest of the song up from mediocrity, and almost, but not quite, succeeds.
Ending the album is Up on the Mountain, A fast paced track about a man whose wife ran away with all his money. Again showing just how good Flash Cadillac can be, the song combines good lyrics with recognisable riffs and a bassline that ties the song together, resulting in a Rock ‘n’ Roll sound that evokes the feeling of the 50’s, whilst still being unmistakably theirs.
A link to the full album can be found below:
A link to the full album can be found below: