CONNECTICUT ROCKS CD REVIEW

 

MAMBO SONS CD REVIEW BY PAUL BEZANKER
(Author of Connecticut Rocks! The History of Connecticut Rock 'N' Roll© )
(Review copyright 2001 by Paul Bezanker)


MAMBO SONS (TGUERRA OASIS INC. CD#E2509) Tracks: Habits of Mine; Crazy Girl;
Monkeyfinger; Devil Moon; Slipaway; Tomonga Street; I Go Wild; Nasté Shondé;
Give me the Party; Everybody's Got a Little Judy in Them; It Was You; The
Power of Time.  Scott Lawson, lead & backing vocals; Tom Guerra, guitars,
lead vocal on #10; Kenny Aaronson, bass guitar; Mike Hayden, drums.

The front cover is a black & white photograph of Lawson and Guerra standing
on an otherwise empty train station platform in downtown Hartford, with the
State Capitol building to the north. The image evokes a personal memory of
waiting in the pre-dawn hours for a northbound train to Montreal and
connecting to Toronto to one of Don & Linda Keele's wonderful record
conventions, and sensing the approaching train by its sounds and vibrations
before actually seeing it.  This cover photograph similarly invites you to
anticipate the oncoming music!

First, though, why is this CD and band titled "Mambo Sons?"  Tom Guerra
wrote on his fine website ( www.tomguerra.com ) that they took the band's name
"from an old T.Rex song," though it's sufficiently obscure.  Notwithstanding
the eponymous CD title, friends and bandmates Tom Guerra and Scott Lawson,
with help from some very capable friends, have created an energetic,
rocking, yet occasionally repetitive 12-song debut offering.  Although I was
expecting a possible Latin influence from the CD/band's name, instead a
first listen yields a powerfully delivered rock'n'roll band with heavy
Jagger/Richards influence.  A lyric sheet, however, would help.

The impressive line-up of special guest musicians includes: Rick Derringer
(lead singer and guitarist for '60s garage monsters, The McCoys, and solo
'74 hit, "Rock And Roll, Hootchie Koo"); Mike Hayden (of Silverado, Thunder Road, Second Son); Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Hall and Oates, Foghat, etc.); Collin Tilton (of Shaboo All Stars
('82), 8 to the Bar ('88 on), and in-demand session man, including Van
Morrison's "Moondance"); Alan "Pops" St. Jon; Jimi Bell (of Sparky, Joined
Forces, Most Wanted); Joe "The Cat" Lemieux (with Plastic Money on 1984 LP
"The Irony of Solution"); Freddie Mac; Gina Gun; E.M. Bradley; Garry Segal
(of Garry & The Moodswingers); Doug Jones (of Arizona Maid Band ('81), '82
backup for Carol Hahn; solo work in mid-'80s on); Jim Rosati; and Rob Fried
(self-taught, in Max Creek ('79 on), backup for Bruce Pratt ('88)).

Highlights:  "Nasté Shondé" is the standout, most original cut on the CD,
with its reggae influence, the track has a different overall sound and
feeling from the rest of the CD.  "Devil Moon" is a slower bluesy tune,
reminiscent of Dr. John and New Orleans r&b in lyrics and rhythms.  "I Go
Wild" features a fine wailing sax bridge by Collin Tilton.  Garry Segal
begins "Give Me the Party" with about five seconds of superbly handled harp,
sounding like some really obscure Little Walter blues piece, then the band
breaks into straight-ahead Rolling Stones' rock.  The band turns in
well-done tight funk on "It Was You" with guitar solos by Rick Derringer.
"Slipaway" - did Ringo let this song slip away? - includes Beatles-esque
tight vocal harmonies.

This reviewer is looking forward to Mambo Sons' next CD.  In the meantime,
don't miss this killer rocking band in person!