Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros
"Bad Out There"
Jezebel Records

If you haven’t heard Frank Carillo and the Bandoleros before – or even if you have heard them - it’s hard to singularly categorize the group. They’re certainly not Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros. Instead, think a bit Stevie Ray Vaughn, some George Thorogood and the Destroyers, add in Bruce Springsteen and a dash of Dylan, then maybe you’ll have an idea of where the band’s sound is coming from. However, originality is one thing that Carillo does not lack. In fact, Carillo is a well-seasoned and world-renowned veteran of the music scene. Since the early 1970’s, he’s been a sought after guitarist, working with a diverse variety of well known musicians from Peter Frampton to J.Geils and Led Zeppelin to Van Halen. On backing vocals for his first album in 1978 was Yvonne Elliman and on his second in 1979 was Michael Bolton. Over the year’s he’s also written songs for various successful artists.

His current group was formed by Carillo in 2003, and includes Norman DelTufo (percussion), Eddie Seville (drums), and Karl Allweier (upright bass). “Bad Out There” is band’s debut release. When I first heard this CD, I was immediately impressed by its slick mixture of lyrical depth, Carillo’s distinctive, yet familiar, deep, gravelly voice, and the crisp tonal quality of the electric, acoustic, and slide guitars. What you’ll notice when you listen carefully is that the production quality is an extremely clean mix that equally highlights Carillo’s vocals and electric and acoustic guitar skills, placed upon a strong foundation of subtle percussion and bass.

Not going unnoticed, through March 2006, “Bad Out There” has been at or near the top of the Roots Music Report’s “Roots Rock Airplay Chart” for 6 months. The 14 song, 51 minute set is consistently strong throughout, but the title song certainly stands out. With the state of the country and the world these days, when you hear the song title “Bad Out There,” it definitely draws you right in, attracting one’s curiosity to learn Carillo’s thoughts of why it is “bad out there.” In fact, when you hear the lyrics, for those of you that think it is bad out there, you’ll empathize, and then want to hear more of the CD. I certainly did. In more traditional blues rock tempo, the 5th track “Watch Gonna Do (When the Levee Breaks), stands out. It’s got that down to earth, straight on, deep southern blues sound that you might hear on a great night at your local blues club. The next tune, “Just Like a Photograph,” is a great display of Carillo’s combined lyrical and vocal precision. In stream of consciousness like prose, the song is a short story, a day in the life. Throughout, “Bad Out There” display’s Carillo world-class guitar, and provides a nice variety of insightful lyrics and traditional roots rock energy.

David Geller

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