Jazz CD Reviews

Davis Payne – Self-Produced – King Records

A rockin’ rockabilly debut recording.

Published on April 25, 2013

Davis Payne – Self-Produced – King Records

Davis Payne – Self-Produced – King Records 32847  59:58 ***½:

(Steve Davis – vocals, rhythm guitar; Max Payne – drums, cymbal, vocals; Norman Ayerst – steel dobro, vocals; Michael Devine – guitars, vocals; Mike Slapper Loghrin – bass, vocals)

Rockabilly has had a place in the Canadian music scene since the mid-1950s when Ronnie Hawkins first made his way to Toronto from Arkansas. Adopting Canada as his home, he started what was to become a great bar band called The Hawks through which many future well- known musicians got a start, including those who achieved superstardom and who became known as The Band.

That is not to say that Toronto-based Davis Payne will become another The Band, but they do have an infectious and raucous sound that comes across with energy in their debut self-produced album simply called Davis Payne. With a very ambitious nineteen tracks, most of which are covers, but with a couple of originals written by Mike Devine and Davis Payne (Steve Davis/Max Payne), the band executes as intended.

Adhering to its true rockabilly antecedents, which is a combination of rock and roll with country & western, Davis Payne comes strongly out of the gate with Charlie Feathers’ original “One Hand Loose” which sets the tone for all the other up-tempo numbers to come, and where one senses that the group feels more at home. Lead singer Steve Davis has a rock-solid even-tempered style and he gets pushed along by the band whether it’s on “Put The Blame on Me”, or “Drivin’ In Love” and noticeably on “Marie Marie” which is reminiscent of Ronnie Hawkins “Forty Days” (itself a cover of Chuck Berry’s “Thirty Days”).

The name of Canadian-born Jack Scott might not resonate in today’s twitter universe, but in the fifties and sixties he had more hit singles in the U.S. than any other recording artist apart from The Beatles. While his hit “The Way I Walk” is delivered here by Steve Davis without Scott’s growling rockabilly insolence, it comes off as a heart-felt offering to a true original. Another icon whose music receives an updated interpretation is Gene Vincent’s “Race With the Devil” that was originally recorded in 1956 by his band called Gene Vincent & The Blue Caps. In addition to Davis’ engaging vocal, Mike Devine offers his own guitar riffs to what was one of the premier guitarists of his day.

So if you happen to be in the Toronto area and see the name Davis Payne on the marquee, check them out as there will be good rockin’ tonight.

TrackList: One Hand Loose; Put The Blame On Me; Drivin’ In Love; Dry Tears; The River; Marie Marie; Modern Don Juan; Tyler; Little Pig; The Banjo Song; I’m So Happy; The Way I Walk; Honky Tonk Nightmares; Crazy Baby; Rock And Roll Honky Tonkin’ Ramblin’ Man; Little Thang; Race With The Devil; Eager Beaver; Gordon’s Real

—Pierre Giroux

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