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Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The South is Gonna Rise Again!

When you think of Rock and Roll Memphis Tennessee often comes to mind. When you think of Wales and Rock and Roll you often think Manic Street Preachers, The Alarm, and The Stereophonics. A band that would often slip your attention when contemplating Welsh music would be Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers.

Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers are a Teddy Boy band from South Wales, Newport to be precise. They formed in 1970 and are still going strong today releasing new music and doing gigs all over Europe (with dates coming up this year in Germany, France, Finland, UK and Sweden).

To say that they were formed in 1970 though is to do them a disservice because the roots of the band go right back into the 1960's when they were teenagers and Rock and Roll was probably at it's lowest point being replaced by bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones (though funnily enough both of those bands relied heavily in their earliest days on the sounds of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly etc).

 From the Crazy Cavan Website:

"Crazy" Cavan Grogan started out as "Screamin' Count Dracula and the Vampires", along with Lyndon Needs, Terry Walley and Gerald Bishop. Although they loved doing those first early gigs, the band was short-lived due to their young ages and no one having a driving licence. It was a good start though and encouraged by those who went to see them, they knew that, despite the bastard media who wouldn't play it, Rock 'n' Roll wasn't dead and forgotten, and there were still thousands of kids out there who hadn't even heard of Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent or Johnny Burnette.

Cavan's sound was first heard of as far back as 1964, when cavan Grogan, Lyndon Needs and Terry Walley decided to form a group which at first was called "Count Dracula and the Vampires" and later for a short time was known as "The Sundogs". In 1968 Cavan, Lyndon and Terry teamed up with wild boogie piano player Brian Thomas and bass player Don Kinsella, as "The Sundogs". They were soon knockin' 'em dead in the local clubs. Cavan and the boys were out 'n' out Rock 'n' Roll fans before anything! They played the music because they loved it and not because it was the "in thing".

They got 'Crazy' Cavan Grogan; a dynamic, mean-looking and rubber-legged singer with the longest pair of drainpipes in the business. Lyndon Needs, fresh from school and the guitar shop; ready to play all the flashy leads, and if you gave him an inch of stage he'd leap miles in every direction. Terry Walley, who doffed a rhythm guitar and a cowboy hat and hasn't been seen without either since.

Mike Coffey, a tubs man with a fearful backbeat; who, you might be forgiven for thinking, learned to play drum by sinking piles in Cardiff dockyard single- handed. And, of course, a Mr. Bassman. First it was Don Kinsella, a powerful anchor for six years. Now new boy Graham Price (a fully paid-up Welshman) has slotted in neatly as the four-string backman. A source of inspiration at that time was when Newport Rock 'n' Roll fan, and editor of "Boppin News", "Breathless" Dan Coffey, who had for some time been shipping hundreds of rare, mostly unreleased, and uptill then unheard of Rockabilly records out of the USA into Newport.

When in 1970 this band was joined by Don Kinsella and Mike Coffey it was the start of "Crazy Cavan and the Rhythm Rockers". For four years they build up fame as a semi- professional unit, playing their own music, which, influenced by rockabilly, rock 'n' roll and country music, became known as "crazy rhythm". By the end of 1973 they had acquired a large following and there was increasing demand for a record by the group. It all resulted in the release of a single ('Teddy Boy Boogie' backed with 'Bop Little Baby')and an EP on their own label "Crazy Rhythm".The demand far exceeded the supply, however, and very soon these records became collector's items. Even though they did not perform in many countries, fans from everywhere responded to their music.

To reach more people, the band decided to become fully professional and soon bookings flowed in thick and fast. March 1975 stands as a landmark in their development, for then they were top of the bill at the famous "Lyceum" in London, England. Fans from all over the UK often travelled hundreds of miles to their concerts, which turned out to be an enormous success.

 (the debut album released in 1975 on Rockhouse Records)

In 1976 they signed to Charly Records (which today mainly releases re-issues of older music) and released 'Rockability'.

Listen to 'Knock Knock' from 'Rockability'.

In 1976 they released one of their classic singles, 'My Little Sister's Gotta  Motorbike' backed by 'Teddy Jive'.
 Two of their best albums followed in 1977 and 1978.

11 Real Gone Lover 

So many albums and compilations have followed since then but one I'd like to spotlight came out last year and is worth getting hold of if you want a good introduction to the music of the band. 'Teddy Boy Boogie' is a nice 36 track 2CD set spotlighting some of their finest tracks from 1975-1979 and it includes six live tracks.

 For information about the band and up and coming concerts check out the website.

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