MAMBO SONS

"Heavy Days" (Omnicide; 2009)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

One of the few things that Christopher J. Kelter (our East Coast Editor) and I disagree on is the use of band comparisons in an album review. I like to say "this band sounds like Guns N' Roses or early Gwar" while Christopher tries to avoid that. I think comparing a band the reader may not know to a band they most definitely will know gives them a good idea of whether they'll like the new CD or not; Christopher thinks that it's taking a review-writing shortcut. (Obviously, we're both correct -- how else could the two of us aspire to the top of the Rough Edge food chain?)

The above paragraph aside, however, there's no way I can tell you what other artists "Heavy Days" sounds like (or vice versa). Why? Because this two CD, 20-track slab of bluesy, funky, classic rock probably has dozens of influences, at least, from B.B. King to Bob Dylan to Tom Petty to the Rolling Stones to ... well, the list goes on and on. So, I'm going to take a page from Mr. Kelter this time and stay away from the comparison name dropping.

What I will tell you about "Heavy Days" is that, if you've ever been a fan of the classic rock you hear on the radio these days, it's almost impossible that you won't like this CD. The band has never sounded more dynamic, the songs are well-written and superbly performed and will imprint your brain upon first listen to that you'll want to hear them again as soon as the CD is over.

Tom Guerra really shines here on guitar as does Scott Lawson on vocals. Guerra's guitar is blues-heavy with a sharp rock edge and Lawson's vocals are smooth and clear but unafraid to throw in a little emotion of humor (especially on tracks like "I Love My Family"). And the band's cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free" is as rough and raw as they come.

While it's true that "Heavy Days" may not really fit in the Rough Edge format (i.e., hard rock, heavy metal or punk), it's still a hell of a rock'n'roll record and I expect I'll be listening to it often in the weeks to come.

Mambo Sons: Tom Guerra on guitars and vocals; Scott Lawson on bass and vocals; Joe “The Cat” Lemieux on drums and vocals; Also appearing is Matt Zeiner on Hammond, piano, clavinet, and Wurlitzer on several tracks.

For more information, check out http://www.mambosons.com

"Racket of Three" (Omnicide / Guitar Nine; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It's not as edgy as "Play Some Rock & Roll," but "Racket of Three" is still a vibrant rock'n'roll record that will put a smile on your face and a bounce in your step. 

A light blues album with amusing lyrics, punchy melodies and a sense of fun throughout, "Racket of Three," like "Play Some Rock & Roll" before it, isn't the kind of CD you'll be banging your head to but, if you're in the mood for something with a lighter attitude, this is it.

Whereas "Play Some Rock & Roll" brought to mind the Rolling Stones, "Racket of Three" is more akin to Huey Lewis & The News. And that's not a bad thing. The News may have enjoyed huge popularity to the point of over saturation, but they were always and still are a great bunch of talented musicians and songwriters first. Mambo Sons enjoy those same gifts.

Highlights here include the rockin' "Sidewinder," the George Thorogood drive of "Rummy Hop" and the very entertaining "You Broke My Mind."

Mambo Sons: Tom Guerra - guitars, vocals; Joe Lemiuex - drums and percussion; Scott Lawson - lead vocals and bass. 

For more information, check out http://www.mambosons.com

"Play Some Rock & Roll" (The Orchard / Guitar Nine; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The most important criteria for a CD to be reviewed here at Rough Edge is "loud guitars." That's what we like: fat riffs, sharp leads, chunky power chords ... all played at maximum volume.

Unlike Spinal Tap, however, the Mambo Sons don't turn it up to 11. Whereas some bands generate pure volume with their guitar sound, the Mambo Sons instead create "edge." In other words, their amps don't have to be maxed out for their guitars to be loud.

The sound of the Mambo Sons is more akin to the Rolling Stones than AC/DC, but their feisty rhythm and blues will be appreciated by anyone who likes good, classic rock'n'roll. "Vintage" is a term I've found often associated with the Mambo Sons, but I'd prefer another term: Timeless. The songs on "Play Some Rock & Roll" are those rare tunes that could be popular in any era. They're blues-heavy rockers with bite and soul; it's almost impossible not to be enveloped in them instantly.

True, if you're looking for some head-banging action, Mambo Sons aren't what you need. But if it's some timeless, lively rock you seek, your search can end with Mambo Sons.

Mambo Sons: Tom Guerra - guitars, vocals; Mike Hayden - drums, vocals; Jeff Keithline - bass, vocals; Scott Lawson - lead vocals. 

For more information, check out http://www.mambosons.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2009 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 15 Mar 2017 23:33:44 -0500 .