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Swooping out of Gravesend like a bat out of hell (and let's face it, whom wouldn't?), Tom Allalone & The 78s specialise in boisterous, belligerent and booming rock n' roll - and in this age of derivative and interchangeable indie baby boomers, thank God they're here to rebalance the scales of musical justice. Their debut album 'Major Sins Pt. 1' is a slam dunk of a test case.
A heady mixture of The Godfathers, Rocket from the Crypt, Billy Fury, Eddie Cochran, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Elvis Costello and The Attractions, The Specials and Chet Baker, the band manages to fold all these disparate music influences together with lyrical slants on booze, babes and break-ups to craft a light, airy sonic meringue that is immediately familiar yet thrillingly fresh.
The aptly titled 'Crashland' (because that's exactly what happens to your brain when this disc gets up to speed) is a caustic paean to the pleasures and perils of alcohol, yet it is swiftly trounced by the romping bass, handclaps, AC/DC axe interjects and Skid Row shouty vocals of 'Get Down & Dirty' - with a Harry Lime theme ending that is as inspired as it is hilarious.
'Castillero Del Diablo' is a live stalwart that brings to life images of the sawdust floored clubs usually frequented by vampires, bank robbers and mariachis in the films of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and indeed, the pulsating Spanish guitar-inflected 'Wounded' is just the kind of grizzled canción you'd expect the sweat-soaked moustachioed house band to be pounding out to the Tequila nipping clientèle.
A slow-burning riposte to a cheating lover, 'Wounded''s highlight is the suitably distressed guitar solo, the tone of which sounds eerily reminiscent of the late, great Irish blues man Rory Gallagher, something that should be impossible unless someone in the band left their kit outside in a thunderstorm and then gave it to The Mighty Boosh's Sandstorm for safe keeping.
The rockabilly sound of 'Hell Hath No Fury' is possibly the album's highlight; the train whistle group vocal and second chorus Elvis impression are worth the money alone, but then there's the classy, concluding bluesy comedown. 'The Jitterbug' is another jaunty bouncer that cheekily rips licks from The Offspring's 'Come Out and Play', whilst 'I'm Just a DJ' is a mischievous riposte to kids that dance to anything and fail to respect the poor schmuck that spins the discs and trudges home sober and alone.
More affecting geographical and personal musings make appearances on 'Gravesend Boys', 'Ten Little Cuts' and 'Dogshit Street'; the first of this trio being a cymbal thrashing, dirty tale of lust and love featuring those affable Gravesend rogues, a blink-and-you'll-miss-it wholly bizarre chord progression and lyrical references to sexy stockings. 'Ten Little Cuts' tackles the agony of the break-up, while 'Dogshit Street' is a quietly affecting social commentary in which the protagonist falls head first into a narcotic quagmire. The staccato bass and arpeggio piano melodies are piquant treats, as are the personal lyrical licks about how said "she" was in the same class at school and now suffers from the "disguises" of broken noses and blackened eyes; it's probably Allalone's most mature lyrical meditation.
'Major Sins Pt. 1' isn't perfect for sure; more than a couple of the tracks end rather too abruptly for comfort, there's a smattering of production snaffles like the echoed response vocal in 'Wounded' and the interruptive and too bright-sounding horns in 'Crashland' but these are mere gripes: 'Major Sins Pt 1' stands as an extremely confident début from The 78s; it's sassy, raucous, grubby, romantic, intelligent, and above all, it's fun - so much so, you'll be necking neat sour mash and wiping the sweat from the fascia of your CD player in under a minute.
'Major Sins Pt. 1' by Tom Allalone & The 78s is released on 4 May on the Nettwerk label.