Album Review

Birch Pereira & The Gin Joints: Of All the Gin Joints in All the Towns ...

Birch Pereira & the Gin Joints - Western Soul

I couldn't resist. I don't know why but I really love the movie Casablanca and repeat lines from it whenever possible. In the movie, Rick Blaine (as portrayed by Humphrey Bogart) spews one of my favorites when Lauren Bacall makes her entrance – “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine...” If that isn't one of the most repeated lines ever, I will eat your hat. Of course, this review is not about the movie but the band, the one attached to Birch Pereira, who will soon unleash Western Soul into the world. The album is not just Western Soul, if that be a genre, but is a collection of tunes that dance around multiple levels of the '50s and early '60s. Multiple levels.

I knew something was up when I heard the first strains of the opening track, “How Long (Until I See the Sun Again)” with its odd mixture of Martha & The Vandellas' “Heat Wave” and Sam Cooke's “Twisting the Night Away” which completely knocked me on my ass. It wasn't the music as much as how it was presented – light and airy without the accouterments you might expect in this make-it-obvious-or-people-won't-get-it world. Do you know that a large segment of the musical world actually believe that if you don't grab someone's attention in the first seven seconds, they won't listen? Boy am I glad I don't know anyone who thinks that because they are limiting themselves greatly.

They would more than likely brush off the second track, “As Long As I Live”, because it sounds a bit like Ricky Nelson (it literally reeks of late '50s and early '60s rock), or the fourth (“A Love I Can't Explain”) because of its Mills Brothers-style of swing and jump, or the fifth, "Could It Be Something Else,” a ballad straight out of the mid-'50s. A cover band? Hell, no, though they probably toss in one now and again. This is fresh 2000+ straight-on music maybe wrapped up in the past but also as present day in its presentation. Good stuff. Downright inspiring at times.

I wondered about it. Are they just another cover band with a schtick? I don't think so. Neither does Pereira, who explained it thusly: “Even though I was a kid of the '80s and '90s, the music of my youth just hasn't stuck with me. I'm drawn to the sound of pop music from the '50s and '60s. I love the way the swing of jazz could still be felt in rock 'n' roll and country music, the sweet vocals of Ricky Nelson and Fats Domino to the raunchier style of Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, the satisfying melodies and chord progressions and an often blurred line between genres in that era."

Even before reading that I knew it. The music says it all. The Ricky Ricardo sound of “The Carioca” screams it. The swing of “Lulu's Back in Town.” The simple cover of Ricky Nelson's version of “Ain't That a Shame.” The country & western ender, “If You Ever Change Your Mind.” They all refer to a look into the past I need now and again.

I love this album. I love the sound of it. I love the feel of it. I love the idea of it.

The band will be touring to support the album (in fact, with luck I will be seeing them tomorrow night). I heartily suggest that you check out their tour schedule. If they come anywhere within striking distance, go see them. I am betting they put on as good a show as they do on the album. If so, it will be a barnburner.

In the meantime, check out their website. They even have a player on it with their previous album loaded and ready for listening. If you have any interest at all in swing/rock/'50s/early-'60s etc., you might well be glad you did.