I’m always a bit dubious when a predominantly covers band go into the studio. Either the result is a bunch of re-worked pre-owned numbers, in which case what is the point or they record original material, which begs the question as to why are they playing covers in the first place. Maybe it’s a confidence thing or maybe it’s the fact that as a working band they know that the man in the street likes his comfort zones and is happy listening to a live “juke box” and the familiarity that goes with it. Well, the man in the street is an idiot.
Although I’m sure most people go to a 58 Shakes show to hear their well turned renditions of rock ‘n’ roll era classics, this 11 track collection shows that they could easily drop these into the set and only the hippest cats and coolest dolly’s would notice the difference. They capture the country, boogie, swing and jump-blues that went into the early rock’n’roll melting pot from the soulful do-wop of When Your Not With Me at one extreme to the Berry-esque Hey Freckles at the other.
The production lacks a bit of snap but you could always get around that by arguing that the record is aiming for a more authentic sound, though for my money a bit of a rawer edge and more of a punch would have worked wonders. Song-wise, however, this is spot on and hopefully will give the band the confidence to move towards a live set that pivots around their original compositions rather than the standards that see them ploughing already well tilled ground.