A Perfect Evening, the third release by The Lucky Strikes, is as
consummate a listening experience as the title implies. It's the ideal
soundtrack to a dream date at a divine nightspot with impeccable cocktails
that can be revisited time and again on your CD player to savor the
sumptuous "swinging lover" music played by this hot and jazzy Austin, TX
Hailed by the press as "the most authentic" of the acts to emerge
from the swing revival, The Lucky Strikes have outlasted the trend, thanks
to what Billboard calls "snappy rhythms and velvet vocals," as well as
sophisticated horn arrangements and a sound that appeals to lovers and
dancers of all ages.
On A Perfect Evening, the neo-standards written by bandleader
Craig Marshall seamlessly blend with classics by such songwriting legends as
Johnny Mercer, Jerome Kern, Cole Porter and Jimmy Van Heusen. It's
timeless music spiced with a whiff of nostalgia and scented with the irresistible
air of romance. From sprightly swing tunes like "I Remember You," "I Don't
Believe A Word," "What Is This Thing Called Love" and "Easy To Love" to
sexy slow dances like "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You," "A Perfect
Evening" and "When My World Began" to the instrumental tour de force of
"Poinciana" to the soothing last call of "Polka Dots & Moonbeams," the
album offers music for any and all occasions. A Perfect Evening is
swinging and crooning as it's meant to be: lyrically elegant, musically
sophisticated, and rhythmically captivating, embracing listeners in a warm
hug and seducing them with the sweetest kisses.
|Swing Time Magazine
With their first disc, Twelve Past Midnight, The Lucky Strikes pointed their instruments and twelve original tracks at the heart of the swing scene, literally. It was a romantic set of retro-contemporary torch songs and swooner tunes embellished by rich horns. This time they're back with fourteen pieces of new material and a lot more to swing about.
Both their lyrics and their music have become more reflective of events on the dance floor with subjects like "Swing Let's Swing." But even in those cases, colorful lyrics are often present, the reason being that lyricist and singer Craig Marshall is an undeniable Sinatra fan with the vocal chords to do his hero justice.
The crooner approach defines much of the band, but it's the combination of the sixties swinger with the attitude of a jump blues band that makes The Lucky Strikes unique. Still, this is not an in-your-face swing band. Sure, there are a few songs that let loose, like the double-timed "Til We Meet Again" or the heavier drum beat of "Once Before." But thanks to imaginative arrangements, the energetic horns and rhythm avoid the big hits, leaving the band with a suave and sophisticated sound: the drums are usually stroked with brushes and the horns stuff their charts with smaller, more meaningful notes rather than loud belts of sound.
Song and Dance is packed with quality moments. Each track finds time for a nimble-fingered player to take the spotlight. The melodies and orchestrations are ear catching and a dip into some beautiful string arrangements on the eighth track suggests that these boys have many more fresh ideas and the talent to see them produced. The say that everything is big in Texas. In this case, it's big secret that needs to be let out -- The Lucky Strikes.
|Billboard Magazine Spotlight Reviews
October 17, 1998
by Carrie Bell
If the passing of Frank Sinatra took the bounce out of your lidy hop, this act might be the cure. Founded by vocalist/guitarist Marshall, these lounge lizards' original compositions jump between hot jazz and romantic pop ballads, recalling the swingin' 50's styles of Ol' Blue Eyes and Tony Bennett. Little surprises stand out here, like Elias Haslanger's soulful saxophone on "Days Gones By" and Freddie Mendoza's light strings on "Lucky That Way." Grammy-winner Floyd Domino also peppers a few tracks with his masterful piano skills.
Unlike many neo-swing bands, The Lucky Strikes seem content with reliving the past. They make no attempt to contemporize their sound with punk strains, ska tinges, or discussions of current events. Instead, their martini music is snappy rhythms and velvet vocals, all of which beckon audiences to years ago.
|The Two River Times
September 11, 1998
by "Uncle" Mike
Why is it that musicians from Austin T. just seem to do every thing right? Take The Lucky Strikes for instance. At a time when everyone and their brother is jumping on the neo, retro, swing thang, it takes a band out of Austin to remind us how it should be done.
Taking nothing away from the Big Bad Voodoo Daddies, the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, and any other daddies you care to name, when it comes to swing, The Lucky Strikes are the most authentic. At their live shows you can't tell the originals from the covers. And one spin of their last release, Twelve Past Midnight, transports you back to the best days of Ellington, Porter, and Sinatra.
I caught up with The Lucky Strikes two weeks ago at Club Bene in Sayreville. Fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist Crag Marshall, The Strikes... performed a terrific mix of originals and classic standards. Some of the night's more memorable musical moment came on gems like, "Someone Elses's Dream" (1st class original), "Swing Let's Swing" (new on/heavy Sinatra vibe) "Why Not Fall in Love" (way cool original), "When You'll Be Mine (a swing for lovers gem),...
Hey This was a flawless performance by a group of inspired musicians who treated their audience to an authentic taste of the swing era! It's hard to tell if the predominantly teen audience realized what they were witnessing here. But, I can tell you this: The Lucky Strikes are the finest swing band I've heard! This was the way it was, when Swing Was King and Lovers Swooned!
..The Strikes possess an advantage a lot of the modern day swing bands don't
have, a style that can cater to youthful
dancers and golden oldies alike. Their second CD Song and Dance (set for
an October 6th release) is a wonderful arrangement of upbeat and swingin'
numbers that showcase Marshall's amazing song writing capabilities (both of
the LS's CD's contain ALL ORIGINAL material. A rarity in today's copycat
music industry) and the versatility of the band that seemed to harbor players
favoring straight Jazz. They show us that they truly can swing with tracks like
"Swing Let's Swing", "I Can't Sleep" and "Let's Make the Rounds". Marshall
still soars as the romantic crooner with his rich tone pouring romance in
abundance on tracks like "Believe it too" and "The Lonely Goodbye" (which
also features a haunting solo by talented trumpeter Milan Moorman). This CD is
truly a beautiful collection of modern swing tinged with silver screen
charm and glamour of years gone by.
|3rd Coast Music
by John Conquest
Frankly (ha, ha) I have very little use for the Swing revival. Like any other form, it had it's great moments and exponents first time round, which have largely been preserved and are still available, but, like the Rockabilly revival, the current movement seems longer on attitude and style than on musical substance (though I gotta admit, the clothes are cool). However, again like the Rockabilly revival, one's obliged to make exceptions for people who really do seem to have their hearts in it, and among these few are Austin's Lucky Strikes, which have some very strong cards in their hand. One is that Craig Marshall is not just a very polished vocalist in the swing crooner style, but wrote all 14 catchy songs and, as I think I remarked of their first album, his titles alone evoke classic Tin Pan Alley, Every Time I Look At You, Just Lucky That Way, Days Gone By, When You Are Near, The Lonely Goodbye. Then there's trombonist and arranger Freddie mendoza, tenor saxman Elias Haslanger, trumpeter Milan Moorman, bassman Dave Miller, and drummer David Levy, a formidable lineup, supplemented at various time by pianist Floyd Domino, Even Christopher blowing some mean baritone sax, as well and alto sax and clarinet, violinists Jamie Desautels and Tracy Seeger and cellist Carolyn Hagler. I mean, these are people who can play a bit. I can't help feeling that Lounge is pretty much of a live see and be scene, but if you like to drink martinis and/or smoke cigars at home, this would ge real well with either. If they only had Stan Smith on clarinet, they'd be pretty much perfect.