Jack Knife and the Sharps are a staple on the bar scene in Minneapolis-St. Paul. They have a reputation of serving up good old-fashioned rock and roll spiced by rockabilly, country, and ’50s-style rock. This CD certainly backs up that reputation.
Guitarist and lead singer Rick Hollister serves up everything he does with an extra dose of good taste, whether it’s the excellent guitar work and vocal on the rockabilly rave-up “Hot Rod Man,” or the twangy guitar and sarcastic (I think…and hope) lyric of “Gun Junkie.”
Most of the cuts here are originals, although there are some inspired covers, like a real fun, twangy take on Johnny Horton’s “Coming Home,” a dead-on cover of one of my favorite songs ever, “The Weight,” by the Band, and a version of “Money to Burn” that sounds like it should be a country hit, circa 1957.
There’s some fun instrumental work, too. “Jack the Ripper” would fit easily on a surfin’ compilation. There’s always been a thin line between rockabilly and surf, and Hollister’s guitar sounds here make the distinction seem even thinner.
All in all, this is a fine CD. There’s no 1,000-notes-a-minute soloing, but the playing is always heartfelt and tasteful. If you’d like some info on picking up a copy of the CD, write Outta Control Records, 3819 42nd Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55405.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’96 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.