Safety Last

  • Safety Last
  • Safety Last EP (TwinTone) 1981 
  • Struck by Love (TwinTone) 1983 

This wonderful rockabilly quartet hailed from Minneapolis but first came together in New Mexico in the late ’70s. Returning home, they made a couple of records that are joyous explosions of unstylized, exuberant (mostly original) rock’n’roll and swing tunes that jump like nuts and display the pure musical strength of underamplified guitar, bass, drums and a spot of piano.

The trebly six-song (including two sturdy instrumentals) EP is a crackling energy jolt from start to finish. Exchanging two members, thereby acquiring both male (future Jayhawk Gary Louris) and female (singer-songwriter Lianne Smith, subsequently based in New York City) lead vocals, the full-length album is positively brilliant — originals that sound like classics and oldies that sound brand new. No tattoos or pompadours, just talent and pep.

[Ira Robbins]

See also: Jayhawks