Sunday, December 31, 2023

Steve Hooker - Seven Veils (CD) - #262

 Steve Hooker - Seven Veils (CD)

I've read the credits of the first song only after maybe a couple of dozens of run-throughs (seriously, this CD is on heavy rotation together with Emanuel Casablanca's new one, there's no room for a sheet of paper in between). First track coming up, I thought yes, I haven't heard Steve Hooker so Rock'n'Rollish  in a long time. Small wonder, "The Promised Land" is a coverversion of a song by a certain Berry C. and with that the next remark, should one know this person? There's a small bell tolling somewhere in the distance.


It shouldn't really surprise anyone that Steve Hooker gets started with a Rock'n'Roller. The Rockabillyblues and Soulman, as he brands himself. Soul on the other hand is a bit of a surprise, I'm not the brightest candle in the room when it comes to that genre and I've been skating very thin ice only for about ten years now. That is not to say, I haven't had any Soul records in my collection previously. Stay with what I know! On this new CD (2024) you'll find nine tracks, two of them coverversions (the other is written originally by a certain Redding O) and one track is a "Smokin' Remix" which can be heard in its original version on this CD as well. Seven originals and two coverversions, this alone is remarkable, wouldn't it be Steve Hooker. Of course, he's doing a coverversion every now and then, all for your enjoyment, but I appreciate his work really even more for his own original efforts


Very interesting is also the fact that "Treasure Island" is an instrumental. There's usualyy a bit of a gap amongst a lot of artists in that department when it comes to artistical integrity. Mr. Hooker sails the waters beautifully and is totally in control and presents a rocker (which is more like the Boogie direction, if I'm not completely off the rocker). With this Redding O. thing ("Snatch A Little Piece"), one should think that Soul is the main ingredient. That's maybe so, but I hear the guitar like it usually never appears in Soul (not even talking about the rhythm section). At a shade under 28 minutes with those nine tracks, one chases the other. It's not Prog noodling, that's for sure. Somehow with "Sadie Brown", this song will pop up again later, Alberto Y Lost Trios Paranoia come to mind and their "Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie", even though only because of the tile. But it is indeed a no nonsense mindless Boogie. Excellent!


No need to dissect every track on this CD (Pimphouse CD5), here's the short version: If Boogie and down to earth Rock with strong ties to Blues and Rock'n'Roll is your cup of tea, you've come to the right address. Since your sleepy head of a record dealer doesn't have the CD in his racks anyway, make a direct order on Steve Hooker's website at Stripped Down Stompin' Band ( and pay through Paypal. You won't break the bank and your collection will start to look very tempting to your friends and colleagues. Regarding the website, have a look around, the man is on the road for decades now and has made a few claims for greater notoriety, but in my book has missed the spotlight always by a fraction only. Not because of his fault, I add, rather because of the niche he's ploughing with his music. There are no riches for the dedicated. And he's done so on a constantly high level. Support the artist!

The Band (Stripped Down Stompin' Band):

Steve - Guitar, Bottleneck, Handclaps, Vox

Vic - Fender Bass

Brian - Drums


Stingray Davies - Bells, Hammond

Dee - BVs (Backing Vocals)

Writing this text, I'm listening to the CD for the third or fourth time (I'm not using text modules). And again, "Snatch A Little Piece", definitely not Soul (btw, noone has claimed it to be).



Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Black Slacks - Savage Sessions 1982-83 (LP) - #261


Black Slacks - Savage Sessions 1982-83 (LP)

Shortly after the 12" Rockin' Drifters release with recordings from 1980, this slab of wax makes its entry on the market and the band is the Black Slacks and on offer is a piece of Finnish Rock'n'Roll history 1982-1983. This is a very small print of only 100 copies (and no CD). I've no idea wether there are still copies available, I highly doubt it (the announcement of the forecoming release was in June 2023).
You can try your luck with the label on their site on 

As with the Rockin' Drifters, you get Arto "Archie" Hämäläinen once again, albeit two years older (making him 19 at the time), but in a seldom seen or heard role, this time as the drummer of the band. I knew that Archie had played the drums at one time in his life (and also saxophone, if my recollection of what I've been told is correct). But the fact that there would be a time when these recordings came to the surface was just not possible even beyond positive thinking. In contect, even the release of the Rockin' Drifters were something I didn't expect to see/hear during my lifetime. There he can be heard at an age of 17 on the guitar which proved to be his main instrument in decades to come.
I can't contribute to the story of either band and all I know about the Black Slacks is taken from the reverse side of the cover, titles "The Story" and then a short text in Finnish (see below - this is a Google translation).

What can you hear on "Savage Sessions 1982-1983? Fourteen tracks, of which thirteen should be well hung cover versions. I'm not too sure about "Herätys Kello (Tick Tock)". The credits state "J. Landi - Arr Black Slacks" and I can find a certain Jerry Landis on the internet wit a track called "Tick Tock", but I'm not even sure it was his composition. The genre is Rock'n'Roll, no question about that, and all in 1982-83 where, except in Finland, no thought was wasted on the style. Which is just to show how deep music in general and R'n'R specifically is ingrained in Finnish society (but so is Punk, British Style R'n'B, Metal etc.). The recordings are from a cassette from the stash of Arto "Archie" Hämäläinen and have been transferred. I bet, that this was never intended for public consumption, but despite the obvious sound problems is this an astonishingly good tape at 40 years old. It's definitely not Hifi, the fluctuations in sound are too obvious, but as a historical document in the wider sense of Doctor's Order (which came only much later), this is remarkable and priceless. I'm waiting now for a release with Archie on the saxophone.

As mentioned above, "The Story" has been lifted off the release (with just a bit of corrections - thank you Google translate, Finnish is not your strength) and I was actually a bit perplexed, Archie on Bass for a later incarnation of the Black Slacks? Confirmed, by the man himself! You're never too old to learn something.

Line-Up on the 12"


Tapio "Teiso" Mikkola: Vocals, Rhythm Guitar

Janne "Janski" Heikinnen: Lead Guitar

Keijo Ohtonen: SLAP Bass (R.I.P.)

Arto Hämäläinen: Drums

Pasi Pajunen: Rhythm Guitar 1982


One question remains to be asked and answered, what was the reason Archie stuck to the guitar after playing drums, bass, guitar (and if true - which I don't doubt the least - saxophone). He's a first rate gitarrero and it would take a long, hard brainstorming to come up with anyone else to be a match on the axe. I might ask him though.

THE Story


Teiso rehearsed Rockabilly in the living room of Pekka Teräs, who lives next door, where Teiso sang, Pekka hinted to Arto Hämäläinen that he would be a tough singer and after a while Arto went to talk to Teiso and the deal was born. This is how a band called THE STARLITES was born in Järvenpää in 1981, consisting of Teiso: Laulu, Veso Ikonen: Slap Bass, Pasi Pajunen: Rh-Guitar/background singing, Janski Heikinen: Lead Gtr and Arto Hämäläinen: Drms. The band played together for about six months In 1982 the name of the bönd changed to BLACK SLACKS Vesa Ikonen, left the band. Pasi Pajunen continued in the band for a few months, but moving to the USA stopped playing. Vesa sold his brilliant bass with the Slap feature, Keijo Ohtoselle joined the band as a new member. The rehearsal venue was Filmilinna (Filmari) in Järvenpää, where the band rehearsed at the back of the house.


All the songs on the album were recorded at Filmar in 1982-83, the band toured a lot at local schools and on 04.06.1983 at Lepako in Helsinki. After the Batto gig, Jamski Heikkinen left the band, but Jari Eklund had tipped Teiso to Bop Cats' Utsi Uusitalo and so Teiso got to sing in Bop Cats at the Punkalaitumen Särkän Weekend Hop party on 20.08.1983, two songs *TENnessee R'N'R" and "HYPNOTIZED".

BLACK SLACKS continued with a different composition in which Original members were only Teiso and Arto, who played bass in the new line-up. Jamski Heikkinen went on holiday in Cantania, Italy and travelled there with local rockers and told about Slacks, gave the band's contacts to a local party organizer and soon Italy contacted Finland and thus BLACK SLACKS got to the Italian gig in 1984 with this new lineup, By the end of that year the band was at the end of its life cycle.

See the spelling of Archie's name. I don't know wether this was a typo back then or just a change from the standard spelling.



P.S.: I can't thank Ari Kaipio enough for pointing me towards these releases (Rockin' Drifters and Black Slacks) and even more so, for sending me a copy of each release.