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Johnny & the Hurricanes: [Live & Unissue]

Album Notes

Ace's double-disc collection of rarities from the swinging instrumental outfit Johnny & the Hurricanes opens with a song called "The Psychedelic Worm," a tantalizing title that suggests this Midwestern party band of the pre-Beatles era may have decided to ride the paisley dragon in the late '60s. That's not the case. Styles changed, fads came and went, and Johnny & the Hurricanes essentially stayed the same, churning out good-time rock & roll even if they threaded a Beatles tune into their repertoire or added a little more tremolo to their guitar. Disc one of Hurricane Force! chronicles some of these odd little detours -- the hopping rockabilly of "Um Um Um" is a highlight, partially for its tempo and partially for having the rare lead vocal; similarly, "Judy's Moody" has vocals, along with one of the livelier arrangements, all making for a good near-novelty -- and it's a good snapshot of how Johnny & the Hurricanes essentially stayed the same as the times changed, but the second disc of live selections cut between 1962 and 1990 might be a better testament to their enduring appeal. Although it has the occasional clunker -- "Bye Bye Blackbird" is stunted by cavernous '80s technology -- this generally shows how hard the band could really rock, all the way into the '80s, and that revelation is what would make this worth a listen to anybody who's not the kind of diehard who will pop for this collection without hearing a note. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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