Regular readers know I’m a sucker for anything Mersey-fied. Those magic years covering 1963 through 1965 were a distinctive period for the moptops, one that spread to other bands and whole northwestern region of England. And the influence lives in both serious (e.g. Utopia’s Deface the Music) and parodic forms (e.g. The Rutles’ All You Need is Cash). Today’s feature acts revive the Mersey spirit with some dynamite new material and strong performances.
Madrid, Spain’s The Chickenbackers add a distinctive Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet vibe to their otherwise Mersey-full debut LP Yeah Right, Yeah! You can really hear the synthesis on the opening track “Because I was Blind.” In fact, in addition to their spot-on Mersey sound, the band ace a broader mid-1960s garage and early Who feel as well, particularly on “C’mon C’mon” and their cover of the High Numbers “Zoot Suit” (obviously). Of course, the main event is the With the Beatles through Beatles for Sale aura surrounding so much of what appears here, like the sha-la-la perfect “By Your Side” and the jangle-heavy “Hipsterboy.” The record also includes some inspired covers, like the Count Five’s “Can’t Get Your Loving” and the Dixie Cups’ “I’m Gonna Get You Yet.” The band also crank out an explosively propulsive instrumental on “The Surfer Chicken.” Basically, this disc has got a song for every mood shift at your retro dance party. So get your Chelsea boots off the shelf and get ready for Yeah Right, Yeah!, an album that offers something old and something new in a very enjoyable package (with CDs available from Kool Kat here).
The river Mersey runs through Nashville, Tennesse, if the exertions of The Tummies are anything to go by. That unfailing “I Saw Her Standing There” beat is all over “Sweet Little Mistreater” and “Little Blue Heart,” the opening cuts of their 2020 album 9:30 Girl. Title track “9:30 Girl” evokes the more acoustic ballads on those early Beatles records but “Money From the Hill” advances the influences to the acoustic guitar folkie fingerpicking-style that appeared on the White Album. Meanwhile “Stuff Like That” moves into Rubber Soul/Revolver territory while “Under the Covers” gives voice to Beatles’ Buck Owens-inspired take on American country and western. The mix of male and female vocals takes us out of the Beatles sound a bit on songs like “Do My Eyes Deceive Me” but the songwriting style is pure vintage Mersey in the Gerry and the Pacemakers register. And not all songs here live solely in the Beatles universe. “Collector” reminds me of mid-1970s Canadian melodic rock from the likes of Chilliwack. I have to say, when I read the band bios and their links to seventies rock goths like Kiss I wasn’t sure what to expect. But The Tummies deliver applying solid Beatles chops to some pretty engaging songs.
Working the Mersey strip is a fine balance for any band. You’ve got to offer up the recognizable beat group motifs to draw the fans but deliver engaging and creative material to keep their attention beyond a novelty interest. The Chickenbackers and The Tummies deliver the goods and then some.