Pete Anderson (or Pīts Andersons in Latvian) is one of the most unusual musicians in Latvia. His latest album, Brass-a-Billy, is an excellent collection of classic songs as well as Anderson originals. The album’s title comes from the style of music Anderson performs: a combination of brass instruments with rockabilly melodies.
Anderson’s entire career is based upon the concept that rock music pretty much reached its peak in the 1950s, and certainly a very strong argument could be made for that theory. The music Anderson plays glorifies that era, a time when music and lyrics were simple, fun and exuberant, and much of the angst of today’s music was nowhere to be found. Even in deepest, darkest Soviet times, Anderson was performing this style of music and was just about the only person in Latvia to do so.
His biography is at times tragic and at times inspirational. Playing rock-and-roll, not to mention songs in English, was frowned upon by the Soviets. Anderson was called before the State Security Committee many times, and one time the committee even threatened his family if he didn’t give up doing what he was doing. Fortunately, with time the situation changed and he was able to continue doing what he did best. Anderson has also performed in many different countries, including the United States, Great Britain and all over Europe.
On Brass-a-Billy, Anderson provides all the vocals and is joined by an impressive list of musicians. All the songs are in mildly accented English, but there is not much else that would indicate they are performed entirely by Latvians. If the goal is to authentically recreate a 1950s sound, that is quite the accomplishment.
Included on the compact disc are songs like “R-O-C-K” by Bill Haley and the Comets, “Little Sister” by Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, “Am I Blue” by Grant Clarke and Harry Akst and many others.
Anderson also has a few originals on the album, including “Brassabilly Boogie” and “Red Corvette,” which seamlessly fit in with the classic tracks of the past.
Also included on the CD are two bonus tracks, “Calling all Comets” recorded in 1989 and “Jump, Jive an’ Wail” recorded in 1990—long before Brian Setzer had a big hit with the song. The CD also has the music video for “Jump, Jive an’ Wail.”
It is refreshing to hear a record that is so very unpretentious. Anderson’s goal is to play good old rock-and-roll, without any of the moroseness and misery that creeps into a lot of modern music. The music, as well as Anderson himself, is unabashedly retro and a blast to listen to from beginning to end.
Razzle Dazzle Records, 2008
On the Web
Pete Anderson’s official Web site has lots of background on the artist’s life and his music. His biography offers insight into how rock music was received during the Soviet occupation. EN LV RU
Where to buy
Purchase Brass-a-Billy from Amazon.com.
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