February 2000

Teddy Morgan and the Pistolas - Lost Love and Highways
HighTone HCD8112
Released: 1999

by Marc Rigrodsky

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

[Reviewed on CD]Teddy Morgan and the Pistols’ new release, Lost Love and Highways, makes me contemplate why young men pick up guitars in the first place. For fame and fortune? I doubt it. Even the most naive or ambitious musician has to know that the odds against him are great. To show off? That doesn’t seem likely, because the risk of failure is too great. No, male rockers, like writers (especially music reviewers) do it primarily for one thing -- to get girls.

I’d like to think Teddy gets them, or at least he could if he wanted to (I have no information about his personal life). Time was, a young man with a mild attitude problem, a good haircut, and tight pants could strap on a guitar and shake his hips, and he was in. I don’t know if that’s true anymore. Today, it seems like you need to have come from a broken home, have years of (failed) psychotherapy behind you, and a really bad haircut and clothes to make it in the music business.

Which is what makes Lost Love and Highways so refreshing. It’s good-old-fashioned rockabilly shot through with the blues. The arrangements are basic -- multi-tracked guitars, bass and drums, occasional (male) back-up vocals; no synths, samples, or drum machines here. The sound is stripped down and revved up. The guitar playing is enthusiastic, full of echo and twang, without being flashy or overwrought. The snap, crackle, and pop of the arrangements hearken back to a lost era, one of AM radio, roadside motels, and country boys being liberated in a cloud of beer, hollerin’ and rhythm.

Sure, there’s plenty of guy-with-girl-trouble songs on Lost Love and Highways (evidence of sensitivity, another virtue to the ladies), and they don’t always ring true. But none of that matters; anyone think ‘50's Elvis hung out much at the Heartbreak Hotel? The swagger’s the thing. Pop Lost Love and Highways in the CD player, and the room will shake, rattle, and roll to the sound of a young man making big noise to get the chicks, just like they did it in the old days. And, friends, there’s nothing wrong with that.