Head Cat at the Belly Up Tavern 2.19.10 Keith Boyd
It's my contention that when you reach a certain phase in life you're just not concerned with musical labels and genres anymore. You simply want to hear something GOOD and who give a flying fuck if it comes from Satan worshipping goat-ropers, Half Albanian taxi drivers or Mulatto night-soil men? Good is of course HIGHLY subjective. It usually ends up being one of those, "I know it when I hear it" deals and with a few caveats, that is that. I'm not suggesting that age or time brings to a close the brain and ears' desire for novelty and new colors. Whenever someone wrangles a new version of the truth from strings, wood and circuitry I'm SO there. I'll blissfully float in the ether to the droning sound pressures of SUNNO)))'s newest screed. I'll lap up any number of hypnotic Mars Volta Sci-Fi polemic. There's no issue with digging any number of highly bent, new-blood creations. More power to them I say! BUT...there's that receptive pocket of my aural faculties that gives into head-bobbing bliss at the tones and rhythms of GOOD OLD ROCK-N-ROLL!
Last night I heard something good, let me tell you and that something good was croaking and driving beat of The Head Cat. The Head Cat is the breath of fresh air side project of Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead), Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) and Danny B. Harvey (The Rockats) and it is one HELL of a great live band. Last night at local San Diego music-venue/treasure The Belly Up Tavern, Head Cat ripped it up and made that pleasure center brain-pocket rattle and hum.
This is my second time seeing HC and if possible they were better than the first. The music is heavily drawn from the great 1950's through early 1960's songbook and is played with a tightness, reverence and passion that moves it far beyond a tribute and into the realm of love. These musician's so obviously love this music and hand-pick numbers from Johnny Cash's "Big River" to Eddie Cochran's "Something Else" with such care and consideration you can't help but smile and stomp along. The playing and tone brought to bear on these songs is simply astounding. Danny Harvey's guitar utters the sounds of everyone from James Burton to Chuck Berry to Stevie Ray Vaughn while somehow managing to still find new places to explore. Lemmy's bass (on a beautiful custom carved Rickenbacker) slaps along with the best punch of an upright while buzzing with a hint of its' Motorhead homeland. And lastly the drumming and technique of Slim Jim Phantom are a lesson in smooth and steady.
So few people could do a project like this and pull it off. It takes a certain courage for these artists to step away from their tried and true audiences and make The Head Cat happen. It could have been corny. It could have simply been sad. What it is however is the combined power of three masters of their own realms stepping out and finding a beating heart of pure and simple Rock-n-Roll. This is music they so obviously love and so obviously thrill in playing. In doing so they're given us something beyond good to listen to; they've given us something great! As the opening number said, "I heard the news, there's good rockin' tonight!".