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Two Hits for the Kitty by Johnny and the Motones

From the first drumbeat to the last strum of a guitar string, this album rocks. It was recorded at the original Sun Studios, in the same room that once held stars such as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Ringo Starr, Little Minton and countless others. Some of the vintage instruments were used in the session as well: the Ludwig drum set that Ringo had played, Jerry Lee Lewis’s piano and 1933 Selmer tenor sax, vintage Fender amps. The room had the same tiles, walls, flooring and acoustics as it did when the million-dollar quartet of Elvis, Jerry Lee, Johnny and Carl played there. This one of a kind offer to play like the idols of the past came to bandleader John Altenburgh when he donated an archaic recording device called a "lathe recorder" to the museum portion of the Studios. He then banded together some of the best players in the Midwest to record this authentic and very grooving album.

The album was recorded in a single, 40-minute session, where the group called whatever tunes came to mind. The tracks are almost all original tunes, all done in a bluesy, Motown style. Every tune rocks with solid drum lines, boogie woogie piano beats, hot guitar licks and a brassy saxophone sound. The saxophone is used in a fashion very similar to Lewis’ recordings, providing backup voicings for the vocalist and creating sizzling solos when alone. The guitar sound is dirty and gutsy, probably due to the vintage tube amplifiers that were being used, and it suits the group perfectly. For a look at the studio itself, check out the bonus video feature of the band recording their song "Terminal Blues." Also check out Altenburgh's website for a radio interview and biographies of the other musicians in the group.

Any blues, roots, and early rock fan will love this retro album. It’s extremely easy listening, very danceable and has all the energy you’d expect from a group playing in the hall of kings.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Johnny and the Motones
  • CD Title: Two Hits for the Kitty
  • Genre: Blues
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Altenburgh Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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