The Alligators set everybody grinning all over again
Don’t let the title fool you – this is musicthat will go on, a perennial Saturday night of fun and laughter. In the 80s and early 90s the Alligators were the band to see for a good time, Cajun and zydeco played with a rock n roll edge and a shrug of the shoulders to anyone who thought it should be otherwise. With a frontline of the irrepressible Geraint Watkins (who, apart from sublime solo records, is now a sideman to Van Morrison, Nick Lowe and Bill Wyman) on squeezebox, Gary Rickard on guitar and Robin McKidd onfiddle,all sharing vocals, it was a band packed with wayward talent.
This two CD, 43-track set features, unless I’m very much mistaken, their entire record output across four albums, THE BALHAM ALLIGATORS, LIVE ATTHE HALF MOON, LIFE IN THE BUS LANE and GATEWAY TO THE SOUTH. Only the last of these ever appeared on CD.
From the opening bars of the crazed Balham Two-Step through to the finale of Watkins’ inspired reimagining of Johnny B Goode (still a favourite at Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings shows) it’s a blast of timeless wonder.
The Alligators were the British answer to California’s Blasters, chaps of, er, craggy demeanour, wild expression and the ability to carve new tunes in the spirit of the past, an bring new life to the most unlike number- such as the extraordinary reworking of Let’s Dance.
While the core trio remains the same, the back line changes, from the late, manic Kieran O’Connor on drums to the final record when the sublime Bobby Irwin (Carlene Carter, Nick Lowe, etc) was in the drum chair along with bassist (and producer) Paul Riley. That final record also featured contributions from Commander Cody guitarist Bill Kirchen, Graham Parker guitarist Martin Belmont and Attractions drummer Pete Thomas.
This set takes you through a wealth of magic, from Rickard’s delicately performed Tennessee Blues to Watkins’
ebullient version of An album everyone should own. Nick Dalton www.proper-records.co.uk