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JOHNNY CASINO AND THE SECRETS
I Am Who I Am, Not Who You Want Me To Be
Label: Off The Hip (Australia)
Catalogue No: (OTH7069)
Format: CD (jewel case)
Released: November 2008
Price: $ 25.00
 
Johnny Casino And The Secrets - I Am Who I Am, Not Who You Want Me To Be
Also from Johnny Casino:   Various Releases   Associated Releases:  Asteroid B-612:  Various Releases
Casino is backed by a rotating band of musicians located in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The players may vary (Brad Shepherd/Hoodoo Gurus, Kendall James/Persian Rugs, Bill Gibson/Eastern Dark all appear on this record) but the basic philosophy - to invoke and celebrate the intrinsic beauty of the rock'n'roll form - is as solid as Casino's melodic rock'n'roll riffs.
Tracklisting: (51:21 m:s)
  1. Who Needs Ya (4:47 m:s)
  2. Take Me Down To Your River (4:22 m:s)
  3. New Clothes Old Shoes (6:16 m:s)
  4. Brother Grahame Says (2:21 m:s)
  5. Sunken Treasure (2:47 m:s)
  6. I Am Who I Am, Not Who You Need Me To Be (3:59 m:s)
  7. Someday You'll Go (7:21 m:s)
  8. The Road To Ithaca (2:59 m:s)
  9. From Lip To Lip (3:19 m:s)
  10. Can't Be Who You Want Me To Be (3:12 m:s)
  11. I Can't Find My Way Through The Door (4:34 m:s)
  12. I Am Who I Am (1:16 m:s)
  13. The Deaf Leading The Blind (4:08 m:s)
I-94 Bar Review
Sometimes you have to go with the flow and not be too cerebral about an album and this is one of those moments.

This CD is a big body-shot aimed squarely at the heart, not the head. Lyrics aside (and they're intelligent and heartfelt enough - not just throwaways) this is an album that needs to be heard - felt - in its whole without being over-analysed or filed away into a genre or classification. So let's call it Rock and Roll and observe that it works.

On multiple levels; at times poignantly, at others forcefully, it's a newsreel of big, bold and brassy sounds with Casino's sometimes vulnerable, occasionally bitter and always engaging voice at the centre.

Johnny Casino and his Secrets (a rotating cast of collaborators whose ranks are determined by which city the bandleader finds himself in) are fighting the good fight on multiple fronts yet are still maintaining a consistency of sound. Theirs is a club whose membership is based on mutual respect. You could mix and match the players and still come out with a coherent whole. They know their rock and roll.

None less so than bandleader Casino who, as the album title infers, defies pigeonholing and dances to no-one's beat but his own.

At times, I Am ... sounds like the Prehistoric Sounds Saints or Louis Tillett and the Aspersion Caste with a big, swampy wall of brass, bar-room piano and bristling guitars pushing relentlessly through like a truck through marshland. At others, there's a delicacy and variation of tone that borrows from country-rock or Chicago blues, passing through the inner-western Sydney Delta.

Mo of Sydney glam rockers the Hell City Glamours likened Johnny's vocal on Can't Find My Way Through The Door as channelling Rick Danko and even as someone who's not a massive fan of The Band sans Dylan, that'll do me as a description.

Variety abounds. There's a surreal Velvets-style builder (Someday You'll Go) tinged with didgeridoo, a rocking pop classic (Brother Grahame Says), a Chuck Berry-meets-the-Groovies arse-kicker (Can't Be Who You Want Me To Be), a summery romancer (The Road To Ithaca) and a disarmingly heartland-styled rail (The Deaf Leading the Blind) that's contrastingly savage in its demolition of music industry commodification. All perfectly tracked to work as an album, not just a collection of songs.

The guests - Hoodoo Guru Brad Shepherd, The Boobytraps' Carrie Phillis and Kendall James and The Eastern Dark's Billy Gibson most prominent - are significant seamlessly integrated. Pianist/organist Jeremy Craib seems so integral to the sound that it'd be great to see him playing live full-time.

Casino's guitar playing is up to its usual greatness but it's a key element here, not the main object. He's proud of his vocal and rightly so. Above all, this is an album that's about the songs. All of which are original except for the opener, a fairly obscure Real Kids song Who Needs Ya that came out as a B-side on a Dog Meat Australian single 100 years ago. A canny choice.

I alluded to lyrics at the start. Don't ignore them; they're part of the whole, and about fleeting or re-kindled love, individualism and the emptiness of an industry that Johnny Casino is only too happy to sit on the edge of, looking in.

Well-kept Secrets he and his band might be, but while they and others like them keep making music this good - no, great - we can all live in hope.
Album of The Year - The Barman