FAME Review: Dennis Gruenling - Rockin' All Day
Dennis Gruenling - Rockin' All Day

Rockin' All Day

Dennis Gruenling

VizzTone/Backbender Records - BBR711

Available from the VizzTone Music Store

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The send-up of older rockabilly, rock 'n roll, and 'race discs' artwork on the cover here is our key to the good-timey down-home nature of Dennis Gruenling's Rockin' All Day, the kinda CD Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee mighta collaborated on had they more of a sense of easygoing swingification. The backside cover's lower photo of Gruenling wailing away on the harp is particularly hilarious: he looks like Ozzy Osbourne playing harmonica while wearing someone's carpet (I don't where he managed to unearth that bizarre coat, but it's outrageous!). Dennis imported longtime partner and collaborator Doug Deming and not only is the guy's voice a mellow-down but the entire recording is beautifully mastered to imitate era (50s) technology, giving a very satisfying authenticity to the acoustics. The first really good indication, though, of just how bad-ass Gruenling is on the harp comes in the form of a self-penned number, The Rev.

In tone, Dennis can be either smoother than 30-year aged scotch, recalling some of Norton Buffalo's satiny wont, or hot shit deluxe: swingin', jumpin', and groovin' like an amped up happy banshee on All Hallow's Night. The guy prefers the jump side of things, but 2:22 AM, another of his own compositions, is lazy, soporific, and somnambulistic while, Jesus, so damn cool! Dennis' terrain, though, is somewhere from the 60s backing into the 50s. There are more than a few affinities with Dan Hicks' earliest oeuvre, as the good ol' days is where Big Dan also located his territory, but wait 'til you hear what Gruenling does with One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer. After Georgie Thorogood got done tearing it up, everyone thought the last word had been rendered. 'Tain't so, Magee, 'cause he and Deming turn it on its head, lounging things out like hip Pat Boones. Thus, get ready to don yer cat-thet-dun-got-da-cream smile as you listen to Rockin' All Day.

Companioning this disc is Vizztone's release of Deming's work with his home band, The Jewel Tones (here). On Rockin', Doug 'n crew sit in on half the disc while session gentz nab the other half, but Deming cleaves much closer to the tone and vibe of the aforementioned Lewis and Holly, as well as the swampy bluesers. Gruenling sits in with Jimmy's boyz throughout their own gig and tweaks his playing to match…but ya just hafta travel on over to that Deming disc to catch the shot of Gruenling in his hideously cool coat. Half the bluescats here in SoCal would pawn their souls to find habilement half so righteous!

Track List:

  • Rockin' All Day (McCracklin / Taub)
  • Roll Your Money Maker (Harris)
  • The Rev (Gruenling)
  • Saturday Night Fish Fry (Walsh / Jordan)
  • One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer (Toombs)
  • She's So Pretty (Morganfield)
  • You Can Do No Wrong (Perkins)
  • It Went Down Easy (Allen)
  • 2:22 AM (Gruenling)
  • What's Wrong With Me? (Gruenling)
  • Bloodshot Eyes (Penny / Hall)
  • Actin' Crazy (Deming)
  • Hotso (Gruenling)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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