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Bedlam Ballroom
     

Bedlam Ballroom

4.0 1
by Squirrel Nut Zippers
 

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Although it's easy to lump the Squirrel Nut Zippers in with mid-'90s retro-swing stalwarts Brian Setzer, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo, the Zippers have always sough inspiration beyond the patron Louies (Jordan and

Overview

Although it's easy to lump the Squirrel Nut Zippers in with mid-'90s retro-swing stalwarts Brian Setzer, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and Big Bad Voodoo, the Zippers have always sough inspiration beyond the patron Louies (Jordan and Prima) of this once-trendy movement. For their fourth album, this North Carolina collective have created a spicy gumbo of songs that draws from a variety of Southern roots traditions, including New Orleans R&B, ragtime, and Dixieland, with a dash of Brazilian and Latin rhythms to kick it up a notch. As always, married couple Jimbo Mathus and Katharine Whalen lead the charge, whether it's Mathus laying down a raspy vocal worthy of Rufus Thomas on the Stax-Volt flavored "Do What?" or Whalen channeling Billie Holiday on the seductive "Bent Out of Shape" and the modified lullaby "Hush." Elsewhere, the sultry vocalist takes a kittenish turn on the punchy "Baby Wants a Diamond Ring" and plays Astrud Gilberto to Tim Smith's Hubert Laws on the samba-flavored "It All Depends." The Zippers really hit all cylinders when they cut loose on numbers such as the rollicking instrumental title track and the stride-piano-driven "Do It This a Way," which bring to mind speakeasies, flappers, and Fats Waller.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Jeremy Salmon
Despite undergoing massive lineup changes, among which were vocalist and guitar player Tom Maxwell going solo, the death of original trumpet blower Stacy Guess, and the birth of a daughter to bandleaders Jim Mathus and Katherine Whalen in May 2000, the Squirrel Nut Zippers persevered through all of it to release a wonderful, progressive (for them) album. Granted, the hot jazz and Dixieland tunes that the band is known for are still present, but the first thing one hears upon listening to this album is a synthesizer and a Spanish guitar. And how about some '70s funk and soul? Funky is the surprising quality of this work, which is why the album stands out among the group's past efforts. Perennial Favorites had some good performances, but seemed more of a mere continuation of what was laid down on Hot. Here, New Orleans-type funky grooves mix with a Spanish guitar on consecutive tracks, and the juxtaposition reminds the listener of just how magnificent and inspired the Squirrel Nut Zippers can be when they try to grow. Perhaps those who were a part of the neo-swing "revival" of the mid- to late-'90s won't be so receptive to this album, but to anyone who enjoys spirited old-timey music (spanning a range of times), Bedlam Ballroom is a damn hoot.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/17/2000
Label:
Fontana Mammoth
UPC:
0720616550224
catalogNumber:
165502

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Squirrel Nut Zippers   Primary Artist
Greg Humphreys   Background Vocals
Gavo Tomasini   Conga
Mike Napolitano   Guitar
Jimbo Mathus   Vocals
George Rossi   Piano
Katharine Whalen   Banjo,Vocals,Baritone Ukulele
Andrew Bird   Strings,Violin
David Wright   Piano,Trombone,Electric Piano,Background Vocals,Wurlitzer
Stud Cole   Bass,Background Vocals
Je Widenhouse   Trumpet
Tim Smith   Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone,Background Vocals
John Pfiffner   Bass
Chris Phillips   Percussion,Drums,Gong
Giustino Riccio   Timbales

Technical Credits

John Plymale   Producer
Squirrel Nut Zippers   Producer,Engineer
Chris Eselgroth   Graphic Design
Mike Napolitano   Producer,Engineer
Lane Wurster   Art Direction
Stacy Guess   Composer
Jimbo Mathus   Composer
Michael Doret   Illustrations
Phil Gould   Back Cover
Chris Phillips   Sound Effects
SNZ   Engineer

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Bedlam Ballroom 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago