Right from the start you know that Cadillac Bill & The Creeping Bent’s CD Dining Out is ‘different,’ to say the least. First up on the Creeping Bent menu is "The Edna Mona Housewife Death Band." The lyrics are non-threatening and are basically an atmospheric 1940s/1950s-style 'b-movie script meets 50s Juvenile Delinquent rock ‘n’ roll' come to life. Being an art college graduate some years back, it’s only natural that frontman/lead vocalist Cadillac Bill’s creative energy be channeled into a musical vein that creates emotional and highly vivid musical masterpieces for his avid fans to enjoy.
Cadillac Bill’s hard driving, scorching compositions are termed ‘psychobilly.’ This is basically a ballistically charged evolution of true 1950s rockabilly performed, in this case, in a style that Cadillac Bill & The Creeping Bent can definitely call all their own.
I first had the great pleasure of seeing this very fine band, perform at Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern, (where the Rolling Stones played a surprise concert before their Voodoo Lounge Tour a few years back). Cadillac Bill & The Creeping Bent captivated this writer’s interest so much, that another time I ventured to see them at the Cadillac Lounge in Toronto’s west end, home to some of the finest rockabilly and hard-edged country .. featuring the likes of ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll queen Wanda Jackson and other iconic artists in this genre like Robert Gordon and the late, great Link Wray, as well as rockabilly legend Rompin’ Ronnie Hawkins’ CTV television documentary pre-airing party, (where Stones guitarist Keith Richards showed up incognito, and talked to this writer for 10 minutes about Hawkins, and 'music history/pop culture').
Cadillac Bill himself is quite a character. His lyrics are rock ‘n roll storytelling at its very best. Bill paints pictures and scenarios vividly in his highly descriptive lyrics to the point where the listener doesn’t know where make-believe ends and reality starts. This is the true mark of a highly active imagination that goes full steam ahead into creating some of the most mind-blowing compositions around.
There are some very special guest artists featured on Dining Out, including the lead guitar virtuosity of Danny Bartley of The Royal Crowns on "The Bogman" and "Thirteen Women". Another special guest includes lead guitarist Greg Clarke (of The Corndogs) on "Montana Avenue" and "Saturday Night At The Laundromat", as well as backup 'vox' on "Montana Avenue". The clear, smooth sound on Dining Out is no doubt due to the talent of producer Peter J. Moore, who also produces The Cowboy Junkies.
"The Bogman" has a beat and melody reminiscent of the opening theme songs of unforgettable 60s TV series like The Munsters and The Addams Family meets late 60s Beach movie parties and "The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow" from 1959. The listener can feel compelled to look out their window on an especially foggy night, to unexpectedly and spine-chillingly see ‘The Bogman’ about to ‘get them’! Harmless and nonetheless scary entertainment like this takes a real showman and musical ‘creator’ to bring about the imagery necessary to make this concept work and Bill does it to a ‘t’ .. as does his very way out and highly talented band -- which includes Jimmy Irwin on lead/rhythm guitar, Chris Rideout on bass, Ron Legault on drums, Jenny Jattan on piano/organ, and special guests like the inimitable Gene Hardy on saxophone.
"Thirteen Women" features some mighty fine New Orleans-style juke joint piano stylings, with guitar licks that somehow chill the spine, while Bill conjectures about "Thirteen women and me the only man in town." "Montana Avenue" is filled with energy-drenched rhythms and melodies, with a chorus reminiscent of atmospheric background music that’s right out of a foggy 1930s San Francisco street with super sleuth Charlie Chan investigating the latest crime scene. The background vocals echo "Montana Avenue" while Bill’s emphatic vocalizations declare the great storytelling theme. Wild guitar licks help this tune drift off on a ‘natural high’.
An everyday occurrence like going to the ‘laundromat’ is made special in "Saturday Night At The Laundromat". Bill’s very real-sounding walk on a dark, lonely street, ends with him asking for change to do the laundry. After this initial ‘encounter,’ the beat hits the listener with great intensity and takes the mood off into a surreal experience that’s sure to please. Wah-wah guitar riffs combine with hard-edged drumming and wild organ intensity. Then ‘the car starts up’, and where do we go? Well .. I think it’s driving along in the "Cadillac At Moonfire." With Cadillac Bill, this can’t just be ‘shimmering moonlight’ - it has to be ‘outta this world’ .. on ‘a moon’ - not necessarily ‘our moon’ .. the one we know and count on being ‘up there’ where ‘we are.’ Cadillac Bill’s excursion in the caddy this night, provides the necessary release we all need in a drive ‘out there,’ but not necessarily ‘out there where we think’ .. like maybe where Rod Serling might be still introducing his latest ‘story of suspense and fear’ or the Outer Limits warns of the unreality of "what we’re about to see".
As the sound of the caddy speeds along its dusty road journey at the end of this extremely entertaining and truly avant-garde Dining Out CD, we know that Cadillac Bill has ‘journeyed on’, to who knows ‘where’? However, with a flip of our remote, we can listen in again to Cadillac Bill & The Creeping Bent take us on another remarkable trip into their never-ending imagination in music, that truly has to be savored and enjoyed like a fine wine set to music.
In closing, I thought I'd share this anecdote from Cadillac Bill, about how his song "Cadillac At Moonfire" came to be written: "'Cadillac at Moonfire' is about this estate in the hills of Malibu, California where I bought my first Cadillac and it went on fire (burned to the ground ten minutes after I'd bought it, driving down the dirt track from the mountain)."