If it was still 1959, I might like this

Rock and Roll, and maybe art in general, progresses by taking from the past and improving on it; not simply replicating it.  I really wanted to like the JD McPherson band, and I truly love rock bands that include saxophone and boogie woogie piano in addition to guitars and drums (see one of my 60s faves The Sonics for ex.), but even their originals simply sound like recycled 1950s rockabilly.  And rockabilly was never something I much cared for anyway.

Listening to the radio in the 50s and early 60s you would often hear only white singers and bands doing covers of originals from black singers/bands since the latter  were often not given airplay on US stations.  Even later, when things opened up a bit, if a popular band recorded a song original done by a black person or band, the former would often  overtake the latter in sales and play.  Examples abound: Can you imagine teens in the 1950s being inflicted with Pat Boone singing “Ain’t that a shame”, rather than hearing the infinitely superior Fats Domino version?  Or the same white singer trying to do justice to Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” and “Tutti Frutti”?  It happened.  Of course, Pat Boone wasn’t rockabilly, but people like Elvis, Bill Haley, and maybe Jerry Lee Lewis (and others) were, to one extent or another, and benefited from this not so subtle “radio racism”.  Others like Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent, and Eddie Cochran relied mostly (I think) on original materials rather than covering previously recorded “race music”.

I lived in Seattle, and I had a sister 7 years older than me who sometimes brought home 45s of the originals.  I had a friend who also had a sister who was several years older and she introduced us to Little Richard’s music. (I’m not sure, but there may have been a small, R&B music station in the area at the time.)  If I recall, the first black artists we heard on the pop 40 stations were Chuck Berry (always) and Ray Charles in 1959(“What’d I Say”).

So the tunes by JD McPherson are catchy, but I don’t think they do anything to add to the progression of rock music.  It’s like stepping back 60 years into the past.

Update Feb 16, 2015.  I have now had a chance to listen to several tracks from his new (Jan 2015) album “Let the good times roll”, and would probably recommend another listen based on this.  It seems to me to be a lot better than his earlier efforts.