The Morells have been making music in many forms for awhile, including as their alter egos, the Skeletons, who are responsible for “Rainy Day Parade,” one of my favorite tunes of the past 20 years.
These fellas are all fine players, and readers of VG will be especially fond of the playing of guitarist D. Clinton Thompson. He and the boys move from ’60s rock to rockabilly to surf music, to country, to jazz at the drop of a hat. In fact, they sometimes cover all that ground in one song!
The most “normal” cut is a cover of the Chuck Berry classic “Nadine.” It’s funky and has a fine scat/guitar solo. From there, we hit stuff like the very funny “Ain’t My Day,” which defines lyrically what we all go through from time to time. “Guitar Man” is the very funny, spoken-word self-tribute from a player to himself. The playing matches the lyric. “She’s Gone” has rockabilly licks and steals the melody from “Gentle On My Mind” to go along with more humorous lyrics. “How Come My Dog Don’t Bark” features jazzy guitar and lyrics asking about a certain visitor to the singer’s house. “Popbelly” is a Thompson-penned instrumental with fine jazz soloing. In keeping with the eclectic nature of the band, he even manages to fit in “Buckaroo.” Thompson’s “Cool Summer” is the land where Farfisa meets the Beach Boys. “Get What You Need” is loud. And the covers of two ’60s tunes – the Raiders “Ups and Downs” and Boyce and Hart’s “Let’s Dance On” – let the boys show their roots while showing off their uniqueness.
The Morells are impossible to categorize. They live in that nebulous territory along with bands like NRBQ. No matter what you say, it never captures the essence of what they do. Here’s a tip; go get it. You’ll see what’s so likeable.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct. ’05 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.