Monday, August 19, 2013

68-75 - Don't Say I Didn't Tell Ya - Real Rock Played Right

68-75 appears to be the latest rock sensation to emerge from the deep south of America - to be exact they hail from Atlanta, Georgia, which isn't the first city I think of when I think of rock 'n' roll hotbeds, but I will say that when Atlanta unleashes rock on the world it's generally pretty great, and that's certainly the case with this bunch.

Give this a listen, then c'mon back:

Atlanta has been responsible for the birth of such acts as Mother's Finest back in the seventies, The Black Crowes, and The Georgia Satellites in the eighties and nineties, and even my amp building buddies of 65amps (Dan Boul and Peter Stroud of the Sheryl Crow Band) hail from the Georgia capitol - the city seems to reach deep when it does deliver, and 68-75 seem to be the current Kings of the Hill.

Suzanne Sledge is no new kid on the block, in fact, her band's EP Sanctified is a re-release recorded back in 2002 when Sanctified was the band's name. Mind you, Sledge and her axe wielding sidekick, Andrew Cylar haven't lost a step with their latest self-titled EP. The two records could easily have been recorded in the same session - great rock is like that, timeless and immortal. 

Sledge claims as references such acts as Terry Reid, Humble Pie, Stone The Crows, and I can attest that her music sounds as if it would have fit right in on any great seventies compilation. Her soulful singing will grab you by the throat and keep you engaged as Cylar's riffing manages to remind me of a hundred great players without ever stealing a lick - this bunch sounds more like contemporaries than imitators, and that usually separates the wheat from the chafe.

I spoke with Sledge recently from her Atlanta home, and it appears that the band is getting noticed in the UK - my friends at Classic Rock Magazine had the good sense to include the band on their Metamorphosis compilation CD included in their August 2013 issue (Kings of Chaos on the cover). My advice to the band is to get a full length album finished as soon as possible, play as many shows as possible, and get their asses on a boat for next season touring season in Europe and the UK. 

Camel's Back is the band's latest track , and it's a classic hard rock stomper that will have you thinking Page and Company as Sledge and Cylar confidently swagger across the grooves. An album full of material couldn't fail - hard rock seems to be regaining ground after a few years in the doldrums and 68-75 fits nicely in my current mix along side such strong contenders as The Temperance Movement, Scorpion Child, The Winery Dogs, Pinnick Gales Pridgen, JD Simo - a great year for hard rock debuts, indeed.

In fact, if were my call to make, I'd partner up 68-75 with a strong producer, go into the studio and re-record both Eps, all the new material they have in the bank and unleash it to the world as a package. I'm a big fan of albums - I know kids are into buying a track here, a track there, but real rock fans buy records. Both of their EPs sound quite like the same band, there's no disguising Sledge and Cylar's product - to have it all in one package would be to have a great package.

Here's one from the 2002 sessions that shows the band's timeless rock sound to fantastic effect:

Suzanne Sledge is a star you just don't know yet - she eats, sleeps, lives, writes, and sings great rock 'n' roll - I'm not going to get into comparing her to this or that female vocalist, she's her own person, and to hang tags on her would just be me being lazy. If you had heard her at Woodstock in '69, she'd be a famous legend and that's exactly what she should be today.

I haven't mentioned the rhythm section of drummer Matt Kotheimer and bassist Steve McPeeks, but they lay it down in classic fashion - the backbeat is always exactly where you want to find it, and the basslines propel properly - check it out, and see.

All good rock seems to be similar in it's speaking to 'universal struggles, loser's luck, and those rare moments of personal deliverance,' as Sledge says, and I have to agree. There's not much new under the sun, but anytime I hear rock done this well, and with this much talent and passion, I'm hooked. 

There was a time in which this band would have created bidding wars amongst huge labels, and a million bucks may have been spent before the first record's release - these aren't those times, but I still see grand times ahead for 68-75....

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