The Amazing Crowns

The rockabilly resurgence has been slow to earn complete commercial acceptance. Despite this, a handful of acts have plundered the genre effectively enough to turn neophytes on to the twang 'n' bop sound that defines rock's earliest moments.

Among those is the Rhode Island quartet the Amazing Crowns (formerly the Amazing Royal Crowns), which meshes the sounds of Carl Perkins with the volume and speed of Motörhead. The effect is not entirely original (see Reverend Horton Heat for a far better example) but seems to have earned the band an intensely loyal following. So loyal, in fact, one can hear devout fans loud and clear on the Crowns' Payback Live. On some tracks, they fill in the void when vocalist Jason "King" Kendall stops doing his thing (and apparently holds the mike toward the audience in various Frampton Comes Alive moments).

Live covers of early punkabilly material such as the Misfits' "American Nightmare" (much better the first time around) give the boys some street cred, but the Crowns' strongest asset is their sheer force. Tight guitars and whiplash rhythms punctuate each tune and give the kids something to mosh to. Anchored by the sturdy riffs and strong solos of guitar-slinger J.D. Burgess, the band generates enough high energy to prevent it from sputtering on stage. Yet its hyperactivity is a mixed blessing. Sometimes the lickety-split arrangements come across unfocused, even soulless. Other times it seems that such manic musicianship is the only thing keeping the Crowns from sinking into rockabilly redundancy.

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Mike Emery