The Bopcats have been rocking since the 1980s. They managed to release two vinyl albums during the first few years of their existence but then disappeared onto the bar circuit, literally performing thousands of times during the course of more than a quarter of a century. Their other recordings have been limited to promo tapes and self-issued releases.
They were in the first wave of the rockabilly revival movement and while they may expand in a blues or a straight rock and roll direction at times, The Bopcats have stayed true to their original intent and roots.
While today the band consists of a basic trio of guitarist/vocalist Lindy Fralin, drummer/vocalist Paul Hammond, and bassist/vocalist Steve Hudgins, a number of musicians have passed through. At times, there have been keyboardists and horn players, which have given the band a fuller sound.
They have finally raided the vaults to issue 25 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The 17 tracks trace their history from near the beginning to the present day. A number of musicians meander in an out but the one constant is Fralin’s guitar work, which can twang with the best of the rockabilly guitarists of yesteryear.
Unlike many bar bands, they are proficient at writing their own material. “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone,” “Sweet Thing,” “On A Roll,” “Wheels of Mine,” and “Dark Train” are perfect for a smoky bar or just cruising down the highway as they channel the likes of Elvis, Eddie Cochran, and Chuck Berry.
The Bopcats also fold in a number of cover songs. They pay tribute to Robert Gordon and Bob Luman with a scintillating version of “Red Cadillac,” and amp up the tempo and volume with a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Get Rhythm.” The group also strips The Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues” down to the basics as they move it over to a straight rockabilly presentation, and adds some keyboard lines to Dave Bartholomew’s “Who Drank My Beer,” which expands the band’s sound.
There is a lot of good music out there and The Bopcats represent years of hard work and determination, which have resulted in a mature and well-developed sound. If you like old style rock and roll, then The Bopcats should be a band for you. Their new album was 25 years in the making, so turn the stereo volume up, the lights down low, and grab your favorite beverage as The Bopcats rock and wail away.
Article first published as Music Review: The Bopcats – 25 Years of Rock ‘n’ Roll on Blogcritics.