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Jimmy Lewis & the Checkers - Yeah, Right
 

Jimmy Lewis & the Checkers - Yeah, Right

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Title:  Yeah Right
Company: Bomp
Catalog: BLP 4014
Year: 1980
Country/State: Oklahoma
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

This early 1990s obscurity has always reminded me of second rate Dwight Twilley, which isn't meant as a criticism given second rate Twilley still beats the crap out of most act.

So, as far as I can tell these guys are total obscurities. Signed by Bomp! Records, Jimmy Lewis & the Checkers showcased the talents of namesake Jimmy Lewis on vocals and rhythm guitar, keyboard player Marty Davich, former Twilley drummer Jerry Naifeh, bassist Douglas Nelson, and lead guitarist Ody Newton. Their recording debut cam when their cover of Aretha Franklin's 'Think' was included on the Bomp! double album compilation set "Experiments In Destiny".

The resulting publicity saw Bomp! rush 198o's "Yeah, Right". Judging by the liner notes the album apparently slapped together a side of newer studio material and a side of earlier Lewis demos (with backing from guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboardist Belmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fame). With Gordon Shyrock producing side one's newer material, it was easy to see why Bomp! latched on to these guys. Their mixture of pop moves and the mixture of early 1980s angst and aggression was a near perfect match for the label. In contrast, co-produced by Lewis, Naifen and Noah Shark and Max, the earlier side two material had a totally different sound and feel. With Lewis handling most of the instrumentation, the five side two tracks sounded like they'd been meant to demonstrate his breadth and music diversity which explains why the performances are all over the stylistic roadmap including everything from 1950s R&B (a cover of Jesse Stone's 'Money Honey') to 1970s-styled funk ('Dance with You').

- Kicked along by some killer barrelhouse piano and Newton's guitar, 'Rockin' Right' opened the album with a taunt, melodic rocker. The effect actually sounded a bit like Buddy Holly waking up in a power pop environment. rating: *** stars
- Ah, introducing a bit of new wave paranoia always makes for an entertaining interlude ... 'FBI' was a great power pop number. The highlight came in the discohordant piano chords that gave the song that perfect edge. rating: **** stars
- As mentioned above, 'Think' was included in the Bomp! "Experiments In Destiny" various artists compilation. Musically the song was a pretty straightforward cover of Franklin's song, Lewis retaining a surprisingly soulful vocal with a bit of power pop urgency. Easy to see why it was considered one of the standout performances on the compilation. rating: **** stars
- 'Night Ride' was probably side one's most straightforward commercial tune and bore more than a passing resemblance to Dwight Twilley's catalog. Power by some of Newton's best playing it made for a great track. rating: **** stars
- 'You're My Girl' would have made a perfect single for the band. Fantastic jangle rock melody, go-go girlfriend lyrics, and a nifty on-the-edge of doing something bad vocal delivery from Lewis. rating: **** stars
- Their cover of Jesse Stone's 'Money Honey' stayed true to the songs 1950s roots, but it wasn't about to make you forget Clyde McPhatter's smoking original version. rating: ** stars
- While it may have seemed like an interesting concept, slowing down Denny Cordell's 'I Think We're Alone Now' to a crawl really didn't do much for the track. Painful and it seemed to go on and on and on ... rating: ** stars
- 'Desert Night' found Lewis taking a stab at an AOR ballad. It wasn't bad if you were into '80s bands like Europe, The Motels, Quicksilver, etc. Otherwise ... rating: ** stars
- Perhaps against my better judgment I have to admit that the funky dance number 'Dance with You' was actually pretty good. Yeah, the sound quality was pretty dismal (it sounded like the thing had been recorded on one of those small cassette machines), but the track actually generated quite a bit of energy and was 100 times better than any Wild Cherry song. rating: **** stars

"Yeah Right" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Rockin' Right (Jimmy Lewis - Jerry Naifeh) - 3:51
2.) FBI (Jimmy Lewis) - 3:08
3.) Think (Aretha Franklin - White) - 3:02
4.) Night Ride (Jimmy Lewis - Neuhauser) - 3:12
5.) You're My Girl (Jimmy Lewis - Jerry Naifeh) - 2:53

(side 2)
1.) One Nite Stand (Green) - 3:00
2.) Money Honey (Jesse Stone) - 2:13
3.) I Think We're Alone Now (Denny Cordell) - 3:09
4.) Desert Night (JImmy Lewis) - 3:10
5.) Dance with You (Jimmy Lewis - Neuhauser) - 3:10
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