Pittsburgh's rockin' Highway 13 have just released their second album and
my-oh-my is it a good'n ! High energy rip-roarin' rockabilly with the
greatest emphasis on FUN ! We recently got treated to this trio's live
show and it was the kind that you never wanted to see end. All round swell
guys Woody, Blair and Jim have unleashed 17 cuts of timeless energy that
can surely win themselves a ton of new fans the world over. Come back real
Have you ever popped a CD into your player for the first time and instantly been taken over by the music? For instance, you're listening to it in your car. You find yourself turning up the volume, turning up the bass, and driving faster. Now your tapping your fingers on the steering wheel, trying to sing along, though you don't know the words yet and really just make a complete ass of yourself to the passers by. Sound like you?
Well, that was me when I popped in the new HIGHWAY 13 release, Thrill Show. Since it's birth into my CD player, it hasn't moved. But I sure have!
Thrill Show, the second full length album from the Pittsburgh trio, is one of the best modern rockabilly albums I've ever heard. It's so good, that I would be willing to apply the cheesy analogy and strand myself on a desert island with this one (and maybe one of the cuties from the band if I had my way).
The album contains 17 original tracks that pack more feeling and energy than most of today's bands put together. There is a unique passion in the way these guys play that's often missing from modern rockabilly music. Woody's vocals are right on the money, Blair's bass slapping in superb, and Jim's drumming is tireless.
The trio's passion for rockabilly is evident in every song. Their lyrics are full of references to cars, drag racing, women, drinking, and more. They embody so many aspects of this culture with their music, that it's easy to forget this record came out in 1999 and not 1959.
As if their music wasn't enough to win my approval, these have got to be the nicest guys this side of the Mississippi river. They're fun, spontaneous, and all-around good guys. Their enthusiasm towards music is inspiring, and their live shows are worth every penny.
Rating: One of the best albums I've heard this year. If you don't
already own this album, buy it now, or eject yourself from the gene
pool because you obviously refuse to listen to me. If you've been
a good little reader, and already own this album, be sure to pick
up their first release, Been Up To The Devil's Business, on Get
Hip Records. This first release is by far one of the best rockabilly
albums I've ever heard.
Pittsburgh City Paper
The world through which Highway 13 runs is a dark one, inhabited by hellhounds constantly on the trail of classic car-driving desperadoes with slicked back hair, six-guns and six-packs. One would hardly believe that this hell-to-chaos thoroughfare happens to pass through Pittsburgh, but in fact it would seem to both originate and terminate here. Thrill Show!, the second full-length from local greasers Highway 13, reaffirms Pittsburgh's place on the rockabilly map.
The Highway 13 lyrical schematic can be drawn freehand: boy meets girl, girl stabs boy in back, boy hops train, dyes hair black with shoe polish in gas station bathroom and goes to Reno cuz his "wallet's fat" and wins or loses classic cars at cards while drinking bourbon. However, the lyrics aren't what makes songs like "Stingin'" and "Laugh Now, Cry Later" into instant classics. Woody Bond's reverb-bathed hollow-bodied guitar and Blair Powell's upright bass-slappin' puncture the rhythm laid down by new (and already former) drummer Jim Bleyer's primal rock beats. It's the total-rhythm outlook that sets Highway 13 apart.
Taking cues from rockabilly's precursors - blues, R&B, and country - H13's tunes bounce in a sensual, old and somewhat pagan way forgotten for a generation and a half in the wake of forward-motioned rock'n'roll. That unholy rhythmic bounce which drove girls to tears and fathers to shotguns has not been lost on Highway 13. For credentials, check the "way too bad/and way too mean" romp "Suicide Machine," the atmospheric instrumental quiet of "Towanda Terror," and the album's finest track "Mama Raised a Fool," which contains steel guitar as well as Bond's most confident vocals - sounding stronger than ever on this record - combining to arouse memories of classic '50s country music.
Since their Been Up to the Devil's Business LP, Highway 13 have added more
blues licks and lickin' sticks to their hot-rod rockabilly repertoire, and
it does nothing but improve Pittsburgh's best-known greasy-haired export.
Highway 13: These local heroes may have cut themselves
the rockabilly album of the year in "Thrill Show!" The
sound is authentic enough for the purest of purists, but vital,
with -- get this! -- songs that feel like songs, not genre
exercises. Best of all, guitarist Woody Bond delivers every
line with personality to spare. It's not about supporting
local music. Buy it 'cause you know you're gonna love it
(assuming you haven't been brainwashed into thinking
you're too smart for three-chord rock 'n' roll). Just tell your
record clerk it's on Get Hip.