High & Wild

Ray Condo & His Ricochets

Joaquin Records, 2000

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Condo

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/20/2000

Sometimes, it's fun just to kick back and enjoy a CD without having to think too much. Wire your brain into your feet, disconnect your worry and analysis glands, and have yourself a good time. For me, at least, a prime musical form to do this with is Western swing, and Vancouver-based Ray Condo & His Ricochets is pleased to oblige my musical slacking.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

This is not to say that swing is brainless. On the contrary, it's a complex, textured music; especially adding in the jazz, roots, and blues notes Condo and his band are fond of. High And Wild is a well-done piece of work, enjoyable, fun, and worth looking into.

Condo is a longtime veteran of the music scene (first recording in 1966) and his background includes country, punk, rockabilly, R&B, pop, and swing. In 1994, he put together the Ricochets, made up of a collection of established musicians from the Vancouver area. High And Wild is their third CD.

The production is excellent, playing up the band's sound well, though it's a little flat and brittle - perhaps to add a sound of authenticity to the material. The musicianship is excellent - it's hard to decide who to single out for special kudos, but I have to mention the intent, steady, thrumming beat of Pete Turland's standup bass (especially on "Whatcha Gonna Do When There Ain't No Swing", originally recorded in 1947) and Stephen Nikleva's talented lead guitar.

There really isn't a bad track on High And Wild. Worth special attention is "Fort Worth Stomp", the rockabilly-tinged "Baby I Don't Care", a neat cover of Connie Francis' "Many Tears Ago", and a truly…original…version of Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" On a couple of listens, I probably could have skipped past the Gene Vincent cover "I Flipped", but that's a minor quibble.

Overall, High And Wild is an excellent example both of traditional Western swing and of swing with a twist (several twists, in fact). Kudos to Ray Condo & His Ricochets for a truly wonderful trip into musical history.

Rating: A-

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© 2000 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Joaquin Records, and is used for informational purposes only.