|Royal Crown Revue - Live at the Asbury Lanes|
|Written by Dave Wright|
July 20th—Asbury Park, NJ
I've always thought Royal Crown Revue should be one of the biggest bands in the land. Arena tours, their pictures cereal boxes, platinum records...the whole bit.
Now maybe that's wishing on the moon, but heck—wha'ts not to dig? They always deliver killer live shows, they've released a stack of great CDs, and they're even nice guys to boot.
RCR has a legacy to be proud of, including tours that have taken them around the world, gigs with everyone from Social Distortion to Neil Diamond, slots at the world's biggest jazz festivals, even TV and movie appearances.
But most importantly, they've inspired—inspired punks and rockabilly kids to rifle thru their parents' records looking for some Count Basie, Duke Ellington, or other classic american music; inspired kids across the country to pick up instruments and maybe start a band of their own. That's how Big Bad Voodoo Daddy got started.
Fresh off a tour of Spain, RCR kicked off a short east coast tour at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park, New Jersey. A circa 1961 bowling alley, the lanes has quickly become the hippest spot on the east coast for original music. Two bars, friendly staff, hip crowd, a great sound system & DJ and, of course, bowling!
Dem Brooklyn Bums got things off to a great start with some hard hitting swing of their own. RCR soon hit the stage sans their lead singer for their traditional instrumental start to the show. Lead singer Edddie Nichols was introduced next.
Eddie is equal parts James Cagney and Frank Sinatra—with a dash of Mel Blanc thrown in. He's also a great frontman, leading the band thru a set of songs that span their 16 year career. Originals "Hey Pachuco", "Walkin like Brando", "The Contender", "Zip Gun Bop" were played, as well as a great selection of covers that included "Something's Gotta Give", "Sunny Side of the Street" and a searing version of "Salt Peanuts".
Mark Cally (guitar) and Steve Pandis (bass)—the most recent additions to the band—really fit in well and smoked on their respective solos. The horn section was also in great form. Featuring Jim Jedeikin on alto and baritone sax and original members Mando Dorame (tenor sax) and Scott Steen, this fine unit was also invited to tour and record with Bette Midler last year.
Drummer Daniel Glass is a force of nature on drums—his love for the music and history of classic swing drumming is easily apparent. He displays a deft, swinging touch when needed, but can kick up quite a racket when called for. His nickname ain't "BAM BAM" for nothing, ya know.
The band did a couple requests—including mine, for "Watts Local"—before ending up with a hard-rocking version of "Viva Las Vegas". As for the future, RCR debuted a new song with a Spanish flavor called "El Toro", so perhaps we'll see that on a new album at some point. A trip to Moscow is also in the works.
The band's two most recent releases are the 2001 live set Passport to Australia (available thru the band's website only) and 2004's Greetings from Hollywood, a collection of rare and unreleased tracks(and 1 bonus live song) that flow together surprisingly well for a compilation. The gold nugget here is a soaring, give-the-Chairman-a-run-for-his-money version of "Come Fly With Me".
Don't dare miss 'em live, pick up a CD if ya can, and keep your eyes open in the cereal aisle—just in case wishing on the moon counts for anything these days.