Rockin' Billy
and his Wild Coyotes

Rockin' Billy Harnden has gone through several stylistic changes with the Wild Coyotes (especially after his brief stay in Texas). To be truthful, he's gone through several different Wild Coyotes. One minute, he's plugging away with the psychobilly thing (while Lou Marini - not the Blues Brothers/"Saturday Night Live" sax player - plunked away on his acoustic bass). At another point, I saw him with a black bassist and he sounded like he was making a serious play for the local blues market, as the songs he was performing all had straight-ahead shuffle rhythms.

His periodic musical shifts are reflected in his new CD, "Viva Le Rock 'n' Roll!" (RB). The songs are a lot more developed than on that self-released tape a few years back. Leaving the straight forward psychobilly takes to the likes of the Frantic Flattops, the new CD beefs up the sound with references to surf and blues plus the occasional stage rap (while the band keeps vamping behind him, Otis clay-style). I should mention that the current edition of the Coyotes is beefed up with the sax of Big Fine Daddy, whose bopalicious riffs chime in at the right time for that "Dragnet"/"Peter Gunn" effect. And even though "Zydeco Baby" sounds more like Tex-Mex than anything from Louisiana, the saxophone does a fairly credible job of duplicating an accordion.

- James Porter, New City - Chicago

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