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Rosie Flores

Working Girl's Guitar
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Rosie FloresThe first of Flores’ 11 solo albums came out in ’87, but by then she’d run the gamut from singer/songwriter (in sort of an L.A./Ronstadt mold) to punk (including a 1984 LP by her all-girl Screaming Sirens). Along the way, she dueted with Wanda Jackson and Ray Campi, hosted NPR’s “Whole Lotta Shakin’” rockabilly series, and produced the late Janis Martin’s final album.

Considering that she’s logged numerous sessions as both singer and guitarist (her résumé includes a stint as Butch Hancock’s guitar player), it’s surprising that this is the first album on which she handled all of the six-string duties. Hence, instead of a portrait of Flores, the CD cover is of her surfgreen, Bigsby-equipped, metalbody James Trussart Steeltopcaster (but fans will appreciate the back-cover shot of the ageless beauty, in fishnets no less, playing said Trussart with a contented smile).

The repertoire mixes Martin’s “Drugstore Rock And Roll” and Elvis’ “Too Much” (with Rosie not going quite as far out on a limb as Scotty Moore did, but digging in nonetheless) with a beautifully soft reading of George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (shifting to a lightly swinging shuffle for the bridge). Her three originals include the instrumental “Surf Demon #5,” co-written with the bassist for the Minneapolis sessions, Tommy Vee, son of Bobby Vee. Yes, that’s the Bobby Vee of “Devil Or Angel” and “Come Back When You Grow Up” fame. The elder Vee harmonizes perfectly with Rosie on his composition “Love Must Have Passed You By,” with Flores mixing crystalline arpeggios with Duane Eddy twang.

The younger Vee and drummer Noah Levy played on Brian Setzer’s Songs From Lonely Avenue, and handle ballads and rockers, like Ritchie Mintz’s galloping title tune, with equal ease and oomph.

Flores kept her rig simple, running the Trussart through a ’50s Princeton or a Deluxe Reverb. Her playing and, for that matter, her whole career is best described by her original “Little But I’m Loud.” If she decides to use any session guitarists in the future, they’d better bring their A game.

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Jan. ’13 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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