Female retro rockabilly chirper Kim Lenz scores very big on this, her debut album.
With a solid ten originals emanating from her pen and sitting alongside four cover
tunes obscure enough to fit in seamlessly with the rest of the pack, Lenz chirps,
howls, whoops and hiccups with an élan highly reminiscent of the best of Wanda
Jackson, Lorrie Collins and Barbara Pittman. The Jaguars provide solid electric
guitar, string bass and drum support to Lenz' acoustic rhythm guitar and rockabilly
vocals every beat and note of the way with Mike Lester's lead guitar showing perfect
empathy. Recorded and produced by Wally Hersom, a special note must be made that
this album was recorded live, direct to an original mono one-track machine, making
the tracks collected here sound far more authentic than your average latter-day
rockabilly disc. With a cover that's a female version of old Gene Vincent and the
Blue Caps, and sound and style that evokes the perfect mood and ambience, this is
one very impressive modern-day rockabilly album.
-- Cub Koda, All-Music Guide
On the band's self-titled debut, Lenz and the boys strive to recreate a music that died the moment Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran got banged up in their infamous car wreck; rockabilly lived and died so quickly, it remained the most intact sound in rock and roll history, and Lenz's Jaguars keep hope alive by playing it so straight, you could use it as a level. Indeed, the record, with all the instruments recorded at the same time direct to one-track, sounds as though it was recorded from a distance. It's the work of fetishists who abhor modern technology and clean sound, who adore songs about kissin' and tellin', drivin' and dancin', and havin' a ball in the back of a 1957 Chevy. Lenz can sing, but more importantly, the band can play, and that's what turns a novelty act into art.
Production quality on this debut is total shit, which is precisely what Lenz and producer Wally Hersom were going for. They call it "authenticity," which is just another way of saying it sounds like something bought at a yard sale...in 1958. But Lenz's charm and chops put the whole thing over until you realize her bad-girl rockabilly-queen schtick is her entire reason for being; this "Kiss and Tell Baby" is no more a novelty act than Ronnie Dawson was four decades ago. Sometimes a girl just wants to be Wanda Jackson, and there ain't nothing wrong with that.
By Robert Wilonsky,