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Tuesday, 24 May 2022

THE BELLRAYS - REVOLUTION GET DOWN (2003)

We're flashing back to 2003 when The BellRays released their classic album The Red, White & Black for this Hunnypot Approved video pick

The BellRays dug up this unreleased video and shared it officially to the world. A great and still relevant Tony Fate era blow out.

 

The Red, White and Black

By Ian Danzig EXCLAIM! Published Feb 01, 2005

Seeing The BellRays live is a revelation of what the rock music should be: an aggressive and soulful guitar-driven music that you feel in your guts. The BellRays have been channelling the true spirit of rock and soul since 1990, with this being their fourth blood-letting release. As expected this record oozes a genuine passion, combining the best of a '60s soul review with the fury of garage rock's greatest. Just imagine a young Tina Turner fronting the MC5 and you'll be getting close. But make no mistake, front woman Lisa Kekaula is no mainstream soul singer. Although her warm traditional R&B vocal stylings are big, lush and beautiful, her ferocity is uncompromising. When her rock growl rumbles the floor, you best pay attention, there are no options available. This is a band preaching the continuation of the rock-n-roll tradition in all its purity, anger and visceral power. The BellRays are on a self-professed mission to save rock music from itself and they need a witness.


Bust out your earplugs for The BellRays

Zach Hanner - Star-News Correspondent (9/7/2006)

You may never have heard of The BellRays, but you've most likely heard their music. This Riverside, Calif., quartet is going to make sure you don't forget who they are once you make the connection.

For the uninitiated, The BellRays' Revolution Get Down served as the manic soundtrack for a recent Nissan Xterra Commercial and provided the group with some national exposure to complement their critical acclaim. But it's never been about becoming famous for these four.

Tony Fate joined the band in 1996 after moving to Los Angeles from Indiana in search of a more happening rock scene. "There wasn't much going on in the Midwest, and things were happening everywhere else," Fate said. "I came to L.A. because there's no snow out here."

Fate began playing clubs right away and soon met fellow musicians Bob Vennum and Lisa Kekaula. "Bob was in a few bands that my bands played with and we got to know one another pretty well," Fate said. "He knew Lisa because they worked together, and I eventually started writing songs for them. They had The Bellrays going already so I was writing and doing studio stuff with them while playing in another band called The Gray Spikes."

But when that act folded, Fate signed on to play guitar while Vennum moved to bass duties. "It was really electric," Fate said. "We had gotten together to record this old Saints tune called Nights In Venice for a Saints tribute album and it sounded so good we just felt like we should keep it going."

Fate's sizzling guitar and Vennum's chunky bass complemented each other nicely. But while this duo managed the melodies, Kekaula commanded the stage as lead singer. One rock journalist described the band's sound as "Tina Turner fronting The Stooges," a pretty accurate metaphor.

The band adroitly combines the basic elements of heavy rock and Motown soul, seamlessly shifting across genres and inviting comparisons to the Detroit act that first set out to commingle these styles, The MC5. In fact, Kekaula fronted a recent MC5/DKT reunion tour and also won a Grammy for her vocal work with DJ act Basement Jaxx.

With their latest release, Have A Little Faith, the band, currently sporting Craig Waters on drum kit, solidifies its hold on this rock/soul combo sound. "We've always done the harder, punk style of music and we've also done the softer, soul songs but for some reason people didn't want to hear the soul stuff so much," Fate said. "This time around, Bob produced the album and tried to showcase the soul a little more, whereas the other records kicked off with harder rock songs."

The record kicks off with a smokin' shot called Tell The Lie and shifts through all the gears as the band shows its dynamic range. The title track slips in to Curtis Mayfield territory while tracks like Snotgun and Detroit Breakdown rev up the volume and kick out some headbangin' jams. But the record can only hope to offer a semblance of what the group's live act delivers.

The band tours internationally for several months each year, hitting both coasts and Europe, a continent where fans clamor for their wound up sound. And while it might sound like they've got it good, critical acclaim and solid selling European tours don't ensure that there's going to be another album.

"It might seem like we're in an enviable position but we've been the 'next big thing' for about eight years now," Fate said. "After a while, you're not the 'next big thing' but somehow we've managed to maintain a presence. Distribution is a problem and the radio stations just won't play us, even the alternative ones."

Perhaps it's the hard-to-define nature of the band's music that prevents writers and industry types from pigeonholing them in to one market, a practice that's become a serious weakness of the music business.

But odds are that The BellRays will keep making their brand of rock and drawing new fans from all over the globe.

For Fate, the American industry could take some cues from the way that Europe sells music. "They really keep that culture going in the papers and every media outlet," Fate said. "But here it's really kind of dead. The hard thing is trying to get your music out to people who are tuning in to stuff from all over the world. We pack houses in Europe but it's hard to get a gig in L.A."

 

Written by  Hot Tub Johnnie
Last modified on Tuesday, 24 May 2022
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