Posts Tagged ‘Psychobilly’

Flat Duo Jets: Wild Wild Love

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Reissue of untamed debut EP and LP

Many years before guitar-and-drums duos became a template, Chapel Hill’s Flat Duo Jets cut a fresh figure on the college radio scene. Formed in the mid-80s by guitarist/vocalist Dexter Romweber and drummer Chris “Crow” Smith, they added bassist Tony Mayer for their full-length, self-titled debut. Paired here with the earlier cassette-only release (In Stereo) and a second disc of session outtakes, the package revels in the basics of live-to-tape, rockabilly-inflected rock ‘n’ roll. But even that is shorthand; Flat Duo Jets was hardly a rockabilly band, as their influences included classic rock instrumental combos like the Shadows and Ventures, surf bands, contemporaries like the Cramps, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Los Straightjackets, and in their cover of “Sing, Sing, Sing,” big bands. And all of this was channeled through the rebelliousness and spontaneity of first-generation rock ‘n’ rollers like Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent.

The band got national exposure with a 1980 television performance of Benny Joy’s “Wild Wild Lover,” with Romweber’s fervor rendering David Letterman’s band mostly superfluous. Their cover of the theme from “Man with the Golden Arm” turns the original’s tense ‘50s jazz into a powerful rock ‘n’ roll grind. The group slows down for the ballad “Baby” and a cover of Elvis’ “Love Me,” but even here Romweber’s rhythm guitar is fiery and Smith’s sticks are heavy. They show off their range with piano and a New Orleans bounce on “Strut My Stuff,” and close the EP with a pair of Buddy Holly covers. The session tracks mix rehearsals and alternate takes, and include guitar-and-drum rave-ups, mid-tempo piano blues and covers of “Penetration,” “Rock Me Baby,” “Harlem Nocturne” and even the Andrews Sisters’ “Apple Blossom Time.” The original album is a terrific invocation of rock ‘n’ roll’s untamed youth, and the bonus material makes the reissue even more dangerous. [©2017 Hyperbolium]

Dexter Romweber’s Facebook Page