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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'Albums 1979-1982'
Artist - Matchbox

7T's / Cherry Red Records (UK) will release a quite stunning 65 track, 4CD box-set rounding up all of Rockabilly Revival band Matchbox’s recordings for Magnet Records between 1979 and 1982 this upcoming February 7th, 2020.

Housed in a sturdy clam shell box, each disc comes in a card wallet depicting the original LP art on the front. The 20 page booklet comes complete with in-depth liner notes plus pictures of all relevant singles sleeves and memorabilia.

Matchbox were formed in Middlesex, in 1971 by Iain "Houndog" Terry, Fred Poke, Jimmy Redhead, and Wiffle Smith.

After 1978, the line-up consisted of Graham Fenton (lead vocalist), Steve Bloomfield (lead guitar, vocals), Gordon Scott (rhythm guitar), Fred Poke (bass guitar) and Jimmy Redhead (drums).

Redhead had left in 1973, Smith in 1977 and Lupton in 1978 to tour with Chuck Berry. Dick Callan joined Matchbox on guitar, saxophone and violin until approximately 1985, writing many of the band's B-sides.

The band also appeared in the 1980 film Blue Suede Shoes which detailed the revival of 1950s rock 'n' roll music scene at the time.

Matchbox's biggest hits included 'Rockabilly Rebel' (Bloomfield, 1979), 'Midnite Dynamos' (Bloomfield, 1980), a cover of The Crickets' 'When You Ask About Love' (their only top five hit), and 'Over the Rainbow' (adapted musical song, 1980).

Their last single, 'I Want Out' (Brian Hodgson/Ray Peters/Tony Colton, 1983) from their album, Crossed Line, was produced together with the late, great Kirsty MacColl.

In 1989, Graham Fenton put together a band with Iain Terry, Bob Burgos, Howard Gadd and Greg Gadd. They called themselves Graham Fenton's Matchbox.

They recorded six albums in the early 1990s and the most popular Matchbox line-up actually reformed in 1995. The band have been playing live all over Europe since their comeback, especially in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Finland and Sweden (on occasions Iain Terry and Dave Dix were used as replacements for Bloomfield and Poke).

The first disc is their self-titled debut for the label which reached #44 in the UK chart. It contains the hit singles ‘Rockabilly Rebel’ (#18) and ‘Buzz Buzz A Diddle It’ (#22) as well as the non-charting ‘Black Slacks’.

The album now comes with four (4) bonus tracks, including two recorded under the name of Cyclone.

Disc: 1 - Matchbox (aka Rockabilly Rebel), 1979
1. 'Rockabilly Rebel'
2. 'Buzz Buzz a Diddle It'
3. 'Seventeen'
4. 'Tell Me How'
5. 'Hurricane'
6. 'Everybody Needs a Little Love'
7. 'Rockin' at the Ritz'
8. 'Hi-Fly Woman'
9. 'Love Is Going Out of Fashion'
10. 'Poor Boy'
11. 'Lord Mr. Ford'
12. 'Black Slacks'
13. 'Mad Rush'
14. 'I Don't Wanna Boogie Alone'
15. 'Palisades Park'
16. 'Crazy Haze'

As I'm sure you already know, Matchbox never failed to deliver not only other people's songs to the highest of standards, but also those of their lead guitarist Steve Bloomfield.

This debut album is fantastic, simply a rock 'n' roll joy to behold, all the way from the raucous, finger snappin' fun of 'Rockabilly Rebel' and 'Buzz Buzz A Diddle It,' on through both 'Hurricane' and 'Rockin' At The Ritz,' to the old Cyclone tracks, culminating in both 'Palisades Park' and 'Crazy Haze.'

The second disc is 1980’s Midnite Dynamos album which reached #23 in the British charts. The title track gave the band a #14 hit single and the album also includes the #4 smash ‘When You Ask About Love’.

The eight bonus cuts include the #15 hit ‘Over The Rainbow/You Belong To Me’ as well as two ultra-rare Japanese only singles, ‘I’m A Lover Man’ and ‘Little Lonely Girl’.

Disc: 2 - Midnite Dynamos, 1980
1. 'Midnite Dynamos'
2. 'Shocked N Shattered'
3. 'Checkin' Out'
4. 'C'mon Let's Go'
5. 'Marie Marie'
6. 'Southern Boys'
7. 'Back-Row Romeo'
8. 'Sixteen Chicks'
9. 'Sweet Lolita'
10. 'When You Ask About Love'
11. 'Jelly Roll'
12. 'Back Here in Boston'
13. 'Stranger in Nevada'
14. 'Love Is Going Out of Fashion (New Version)'
15. 'Scotted Dick'
16. 'You've Made a Fool of Me'
17. 'Over the Rainbow / You Belong to Me'
18. 'Don't Break Up the Party'
19. 'Stay Cool'
20. 'I'm a Lover Man'
21. 'Little Lonely Girl'

In truth, Midnite Dynamo's is a more slick, commercial album than their previous self titled album. The singles that they released from the album, 'When you ask about Love' and 'Midnite Dynamo's' were definitely for the more "bubblegum rock 'n' roll-orientated fans, but they worked well, for sure.

It also includes some great Steve Bloomfield originals like the title track, plus 'Checking Out', 'Sweet Lolita' and 'Stranger In Nevada' (a surprise instrumental).

Gordon Scott's version of 'Marie Marie' is far superior (in MHO) to the hit version by Shakin' Stevens and Graham Fenton's vocals on the other tracks, such as 'C'mon Let's Go', 'Southern Boys' and 'Sixteen Chicks' are downright superb!

It's also now nice to see some of the original B-sides from the 7" singles now having been added to this CD as they fully deserve to be.

The third disc is their Flying Colours album which contained the hit singles ‘Babe’s In The Wood’ (#46) and ‘Love’s Made A Fool Of You’ (#63).

Disc: 3 - Flying Colours, 1981
1. 'Love's Made a Fool of You'
2. 'Heartaches By the Number'
3. 'Angels on Sunday'
4. 'Lone Star Dreamers'
5. 'Bonaparte's Retreat'
6. 'Whiplash'
7. 'Babe's in the Wood'
8. 'Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes'
9. 'You're the One'
10. '24 Hours'
11. 'Wish I'd Never (Said Hello)'
12. 'Arabella's on Her Way'
13. 'Tokyo Joe'
14. 'Springheel Jack'
15. 'City Women'

A quite fantastic album from my childhood days from the band, the obvious stand out tracks here are the noted hit single (‘Babe’s In The Wood’ and 'Love's Made A Fool Of You’), sure, but other cuts such as the brilliant, finger snappin' joy of 'Heartaches By the Number,' the gentle mid-tempo hipsway of 'Bonaparte's Retreat,' and the frenetic '24 Hours' are also songs that could have been (should have been) hit singles.

The final disc is the 1982 LP Crossed Line, released here on CD for the first time. It features the #63 hit single ‘One More Saturday Night’ plus their collaboration with the late Kirsty MacColl on ‘I Want Out’.

Disc: 4 - Crossed Line, 1982
1. 'One More Saturday Night'
2. 'I Ain't Taking No Prisoners'
3. 'Crossed Line'
4. 'Mad Bad & Dangerous'
5. 'I Want Out' (Featuring Kirsty MacColl)
6. 'Rollin' On'
7. 'Riding the Night'
8. 'Gate Crashing'
9. 'Hot Loving'
10. 'Dreamers Sometimes Do'
11. 'Mean 'N' Evil'
12. 'Ain't Much Fun'
13. 'Heaven Can Wait'

Well, as you can clearly see from the cover art of this album, Matchbox may well have changed their image, relaxing into jeans, colorful tshirts and denim jackets, but their music remained British rockabilly to the core.

Opening with the finger-snappin' power swing of 'One More Saturday Night,' the title track is an addictive, sax-led beauty, and the harder-edged 'Mad Bad & Dangerous' is a growled beauty too.

More frenetic vocals and sounds come to the fore on the brilliant energy shown within 'Riding The Night,' and their duet with Kirsty MacColl on the frenetic pop of 'I Want Out' is still a massive joy to behold; even all these years later.