RECKLESS IN VEGAS – The Hard Way (2013)
RECKLESS IN VEGAS is a rocking trio who has released two EP’s of original material in the last five years, but right now are making some real noise in the independent US scene and media with their just released full length CD “The Hard Way”, reinventing classic ’50s and ’60s era tunes into some classic rock (at places, hard) numbers.
Founded by Michael Shapiro – who grow up in Las Vegas and whose grandfather owned a hotel there – on guitar and vocals, Mario Cipollina (Huey Lewis & the News) on bass & vocals and Ryan Low on drums, these guys have crafted a truly original record, something really enjoyable and original.
In its formative years, Rock ‘N Roll music didn’t have a greater enemy than Frank Sinatra, who called the latest evolution in popular music as “sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons. Rock ‘n roll manages to be the martial music of every sideburned delinquent on the face of the Earth”.
Of course the good Frank years later would record an album of duets with a number of Rock luminaries, and even said he liked Rock’s rhythms and energy.
Reckless In Vegas has taken the music of Sinatra and many of those other cats from the famous ‘Rat Pack’ as well as some of the glitzier ’60 croons and gives the stuff a gritty rock ‘n roll varnish on “The Hard Way”.
These re-imaginations are the brainchild of noted rock producer Dan Shea (Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins, Santana, et al) who created all the arrangements, and then produced, engineered and mixed the album.
The song selection is very clever and wide span. It’s a Vegas theme of sorts as all the original artists darkened a stage in Sin City back in the day. These performers include Rat Pack brothers Frank Sinatra (“Luck Be A Lady”, “My Way”, “This Town”) and Dean Martin (“Everybody Loves Somebody”, “Sway”), sixties hits like Neil Diamond’s “Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon” or “Solitary Man”, Elvis Presley (“Love Me Tender”, “Can’t Help Falling In Love”), Sonny & Cher, Tom Jones and more.
The disc opens with a tight take on “Luck Be A Lady” (made popular by Sinatra) almost unrecognisable behind that lively sharp guitar riffs and bouncy rhythm section.
Frankie Vallie & The Four Seasons classic “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” starts in a very soulful and singular fashion, allowing the band to continue gaining momentum and energy. It is this delightful addition of speed and distorted guitars that makes Reckless In Vegas shine; the vocals are raspy and the six-strings twinkle.
Reckless In Vegas tackles the Dean Martin classic “Everybody Loves Somebody” with the highly rhythmical guitar work of the opening strains, and then develops into a quicker riff and quasi-swaggering lead vocals. Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” version breaks free of the trappings of the original and makes it into something that could easily garner heavy rotation.
Singer and actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis) duets with Shapiro on Elvis’ “Can’t Help Falling In Love” with magical and magnificent results. The female vocal adds the perfect soft touch to the bold delivery present until now on the album, while the delicate instrumentation is simply stunning.
Perhaps the best thing about the arrangements is that Reckless In Vegas remember the fundamental melody and sound of the original while, at the same time, enlivening them with Rock energy. An excellent example is the cover of Deano’s “Sway”, giving it a liveliness and swing to it’s sway. Another is Diamond’s “Solitary Man” which has modern sound and bit faster pace.
The iconic “My Way” plays off of Sinatra’s passionate delivery, but then uses rock to bolster the song’s later crescendo.
On “The Hard Way” Reckless In Vegas makes these contemporary classic compositions into songs that the younger set can appreciate it, while maintaining the same melody and quality as the original performers.
The album serves as both a testament to the writers of this popular music songbook and to the band who are able to bring these classic tunes kicking and screaming into a more raucous rock ‘n roll – sometimes hard rocking – sound.
All in all, from concept to arrangements to the musicianship, Reckless In Vegas’ work here is simply terrific, a great listen, and tremendously entertaining.
Open you ears and enjoy “The Hard Way”, a great collection of oldies imbued with a modern rockin’ style and crisp production.
01 – Luck Be A Lady
02 – Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
03 – Everybody Loves Somebody
04 – Ring Of Fire
05 – Love Me Tender
06 – The Beat Goes On / This Town
07 – It’s Not Unusual / Miserlou
08 – Can’t Help Falling in Love (feat. Rumer Willis)
09 – Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soon / Solitary Man
10 – My Way
11 – Sway
Michael Shapiro – Vocals, Guitar
Mario Cipollina – Bass, Vocals
Ryan Low – Drums, Vocals
BUY IT !