Clairy Brown & the Bangin’ Rackettes – Baby Caught The Bus (CD Review)
It looks and sounds like the Commitments led by Amy Winehouse. Melbourne’s Clairy Brown & The Bangin’ Rackettes is the best stuff to come along in decades. The dancing part of the Bangin’ Rackettes, who also sing, rivals the Raelettes or Ikettes. The instrumental contributors seem to have gobbled up all the grits, guts and soul from every big name ‘60s soul and r&b headliner, spitting it back out with their own twisted, banging spin on it while retaining the integrity of the original practitioners.
This thing opens with a bang. “Love Letter” leaps out at you like a Stax 45, blowing you back to the ‘60s through a funky time warp. But you need to see the video to get the full effect.
Looking and sounding like Winehouse, tricked out in a Dolly Parton wig and a tight secretarial outfit Parton might have worn in Nine to Five, Brown prances and twitches her way through a production number that looks like it could have been cut from Hairspray, sexy soul oozing from her pores.
The girl Rackettes; Ruby Jones, Camilla McKewen and Loretta Miller; provide background ahh ooohs and some go go choreography for “Baby Caught the Bus”, while the rest of the nine piece ensemble bang away like an unholy blend of the Dave Clark 5. and Parliament/Funkadelic.
The band slides back a bit farther in time for “Frankie,” a mashup of forties big band jump blues and ‘50s rock and roll, loosely based on the melody from Lavern Baker’s ’56 hit “Jim Dandy to the Rescue” featuring a wonderfully twisted sax solo worthy of Captain Beefheart from Darcy McNulty on baritone.
Featuring the unlikely combo of gospel and doo wop, “I’ll Be Fine” starts out with the ‘40s feel of the Andrews Sisters and goes out rockin, ‘60s style like the Ronnettes. It’s the closest thing to the rock and roll reviews of the fifties, like the Johnnie Otis Show, with enough variety to satisfy multigenereational audiences.
“It’s Too Late” sounds like it might have been penned by Smokey Robinson and sung by Martha and the Vandellas.
Baby Caught The Bus is a treasurer trove for r&b lovers, a ‘60s time capsule, a show and dance ensemble concept that’s been away far too long. Import this one to your collection immediately for maximum satisfaction.
By Grant Britt