Kevin Breit Johnny Goldtooth and the Chevy Casanovas Stony Plain Records
Without doubt, Kevin Breit is one of Canada’s most intriguing musicians.
Whether working in conjunction with pals including Harry Manx (three albums) and The Sisters Euclid (five albums), on his own (seven and more releases), or as a sideman, Breit always brings something engaging and frankly unique to his recorded appearances. Blues, jazz, roots, and folk, Breit has demonstrated he can turn his hands and ears to every type of music. Last time out with the old-world, mandolin extravaganza Ernesto and Delilah, Breit created a showcase of story-telling and creativity as engaging as it was challenging.
Not one to repeat himself, Breit now conjures himself as Johnny Goldtooth and the Chevy Casanovas to deliver a (largely) instrumental set of guitar-based tunes to evoke a smarmy, 60s lounge-vibe with Duane Eddy accompaniment. Blasting out the set in ten days, Breit called upon friends to provide select overdubs, but what we have here is essentially Breit concocting his own experiments in vintage sounds much like Neil Young once did (in a different vein) with the Shocking Pinks.
The result is mixed. While one digs (and really, no other word is as appropriate) what Breit has done with this recording, after four or five songs it tends to blend into one extended jam of righteous coolness. “C’mon, Let Go” combines the mood of after-school cartoons (think Lippy the Lion & Hardy Har-Har) with Velvet Underground “Sweet Jane” riffs. “The Knee High Fizzle” takes a jaunty run through rockabilly references, with “Chevy Casanova” illuminating more uptown touches, complete with lively saxophone from Vincent Henry. Always a sucker for a bit of “Yakety Sax” (or yakety axe), “I Got ‘Em Too” is a favoured romp.
However, other pieces appear little more than excuse for playful song titles as evidenced by “Cozy With Rosy” and “Zing Zong Song, which initially borrows from Treme’s theme, before sliding into Los Straitjackets territory. “One Mo Bo,” a Bo Diddley homage, doesn’t progress beyond its implicit limitations, and “The Goldtooth Shuffle” isn’t much more than a groove, albeit a fine one, extended to three minutes. Predictably, “A Horse of Another Stripe” and “Dr. Lee Van Cleef” recall cinematic vistas.
None of which diminishes the obvious skill and artistry Breit possesses, nor the encompassing appeal of this recording. If nothing else, it is a whole lot of fun. Everybody’s Rockin’ clocked in at 25 or so minutes, a light, concise, and contemporaneously lambasted statement of rock ‘n’ roll minimalism that time has been kind toward. Breit gives Johnny Goldtooth and the Chevy Casanovas more rope, and while the results are not exclusively excellent, accepted for what it is—a blast of spirited, comedic, guitar wizardry—it provides an overwhelmingly pleasurable journey.