Halfway through the August 2003 concert, Timothy P. Irvin announced, “You might be on a CD we’re recording live.” A year later, might is reality, and 2004’s returning audience members scooped up CDs to hear themselves screaming and shouting for the opening hoopla of a very fine collection of favorites by Flash Cadillac. The mix is outstanding, with credit due to recording engineer Rick Harlow and house sound engineer Jerry Peat. The concert supplies a variety, from fast to “cuddly” numbers, with echoes of blues with “Turn on Your Love Light” and a slice of country wisdom in “I Only Have Eyes for You.”
The medley of Flash Cadillac’s TV and film credits consists of “Young Blood” from Happy Days, “Suzie Q” from Apocalypse Now and “At the Hop” from American Graffiti, which has been re-issued as a 25-year anniversary release. Re-listening to these songs, which have become classics, one can be struck by how pop music moves into standard, yet is constantly evolving.
Flash Cadillac came onto the rock and roll scene almost 20 years after Elvis created an individual style from his country roots that included Southern blues, gospel music and rhythm and blues, which itself drew on swing and jump-jazz rhythms. Elvis is gone, but Flash Cadillac keeps the era alive. They deliver a resounding “Rock Around the Clock” and a sweet “Hey Little Girl.” “What’s Your Name” is suitably playful. The opening cut, “Black Slacks,” is crisp. And they close with a strong medley of “Great Balls of Fire,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Surfin’ USA” and “Sweet Little Sixteen.”
Their “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “Peggy Sue” are still among the best renditions. “That’s Rock and Roll” is just the right beat and “Little Latin Lupe Lu” generates the swivel with fun interplay.
The arrangements that scoop one instrument’s solo into the next are particularly effective for continuous dancing, which is what makes Flash Cadillac a favorite. This recording features two saxophones, with Bob Fisher joining Dwight Bement, and together they make for a double-take resonance. The other four share vocals with lead vocalist Timothy P. Irvin: Pete Santilli, keyboards; Rocky Mitchell, guitar; Dave Henry, drums; Warren Knight, bass guitar.
One quibble: Without liner-notes and credits to composers and original artists, this album does a disservice. A listener has to rely on prior knowledge to connect the dots. Hopefully, this will be remedied for the album that will be available next year.