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Willamette Weekly Online

Look, it's very simple: a few choice chords, four-on-the-floor drumming and some drunkenly walking bass lines. But many rockabilly bands seem too slow, too sober or too style-centric to get hair grease on their strings and let the music do its thing. Thankfully, Highway 13 makes no such wrong turns.

The Pittsburgh trio starts with the proper instrumentation (stand-up bass, hollow-body electric guitar, spare trap set). It then selects the correct lyrical themes (hot rods, hot bods and cold beer). Finally, with the addition of fashionable shirts and a few squirts of machismo--boom!--the formula for room-filling rockabilly is complete.

Of course, knowing the ingredients is one thing. Having chemistry and energy is a different story, but one Highway 13 knows well. Starting with the town-rocking rumble of "Dead Broke Drunk," the band swaggers and staggers through 16 songs as if on a quest to get messed up. Down the road, there's an ode to Granny's cool car ("Stepside Chevy") and tales about chicks who kicked 'em out ("Hillbilly Heartache," "Don't Want You Back") and ones they want to take 'em in ("Cool Rockin' Baby," "Hey Bettie"). Twist off the nearest bottle-top and see what the Devil's Business is all about.
-John Graham

Bad Trip #13

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6 tracks of "billy tunes make up "Been Up To The Devil's Business", and this is beer drinkin', rug cuttin', grease in yer hair R&R. Stand up bass, twangy guitar, and machine gun snare drummin' make Highway 13 sound like a vintage late 50's early 60's combo, and you can tell, after one spin,that these cats are a must- see if they ever roll into yer town. Cool, cool, COOL!!!!

Mohair Sweets #4

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Get Hip, that rockin' little label from Pennsylvania, presents another fine roots rockabilly item with Highway 13's "Been Up To The Devil's Business. This peppy little trio rants and howls through this semi-lo-fi set with plenty of the necessary vigour. Bull fiddles are slapped, large Gibson's twangulated and drums paradiddled in all the correct ways.

What carries a band performing this forty-plus year old music style is their ability to prevent themselves from getting too rockist in their presentation. H13 manage this admirably never straying from the true swampy rockabilly sound. There is plenty of echo, a necessary ingredient, but at the hands of less talented purveyors becomes heavy handed.

These cats are nearly the real deal proclaiming their love for cars and girls the old fashioned way. Remember, you need the car to get the girl, so the ride better be in order. Titles like "Hillbilly Heartache," "Dirt Nap," "Drag Strip" and "Dead Broke Drunk" give some indication of where this bands' priorities lay. Slick back and enjoy.

Moshable #19

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After the good Reverend Horton Heat has lost his cool (takin' too much angeldust with Al Jourgensen?) this trio keep those rockabilly juices flow and the sideburns grow. Nothing new and original here, just good clean adult greaser-rock 'n' roll with no trendy shit involved - it's recorded in the guitarist's living room! Gene Vincent is rockin' big time in his grave.

Custom Built

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Debut CD (and LP) of the Highway 13. Two members has left the group since their first EP, so the band is now trio. Fast and wild Rockabilly, that subjects: drag strips, Chevys and B-movie queens. That's what you get here and that's what you really need!!!

Sound Affects

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Rockabilly has never died, because there's always been a hardcore following that like the style of dress, the fishnet stockinged girls and the pulse of the Rockabilly beat. Thus Highway 13 can be sure to find an audience wherever they carry their snare drum, upright bass and vintage Gretsch White Falcon. Okay, the guitar alone is program and anybody familiar with the sound of the Cadillac of guitars will know what to expect and in true style Highway 13 do deliver. Their "Been up to the Devil's Business" album (US Get Hip 1060) is a scorcher and you can almost smell the burning leather of the dancers' shoes while they're spinning around their girls to the music. The band's at home both with the fast and the slow tunes, and thus "Wo Wo Wo" (a slow song) is as cool as the galloping "B-Movie Queen," both very basic and led by the performance rather than gimmicks and production tricks. The band knows the tricks in the Rockabilly songbook and the guitar playing of Woody Bond is a real show, mind that, ringing like bells and grumbling like a hounddog - often at the same time! Wanna know my favourites? There's the ghoulish 1:24 min. of "Dirt Nap" stalking along like Jack the Ripper in a foggy London night - dangerous and with a certain grace. The track following, "Kachunga," sounds equally poisonous, and thus the two make an inseparable pair that as a single would make history.


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This is the closes to the Reverend Horton Heat I've ever heard. The guitar is not as stellar but the song structures, subject matter and vocal tone and mannerisms are fairly close to right on. To be fair, both outfits are mining the same rockabilly vein and there are shades of original 50's boogie as well as hints of each era of rediscovery including some Stray Cats licks. you can count on at least a few tunes about cars, girls and booze and with "Stepside Chevy," "Cool Rockin' Baby," and "Dead Broke Drunk," you've just scratched the surface. Stand up bass, bare bones drum kit, and classic hollow body electric guitar. Good Production and songs.
- P. Edwin Letcher

Trouble Bound

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Yet more proof that Pittsburgh has one of the best, if not the best, music scenes going today. Highway 13 is high-octane, ass-kickin', hard-drinkin', woman-lovin' rockabilly from the Iron City. If you even remotely like rockabilly, this album is for you. Recorded in singer/guitarist Woody's living room, this thing sounds amazing. Every song is an ass-kicker, but especially "Hey Bettie," "Cuttin' Up," and "Dead Broke Drunk." Highly recommended.

Eye Deal

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This Pittsburgh trio plays enjoyable 50's style Rock and Roll. Most would call this Rockabilly but that term has been spread thin enough describing music that isn't. Highway 13 use the upright bass, the slap echo, the reverb, but none of the hic-cup inbred lunacy that only a handful of dudes pioneered 40 years ago. But that's ok this is good for what it is that's better than any Stray Cats album.
- Eric P.


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Thank goodness rockabilly keeps hanging in there. This always-vital precursor of rock'n'roll - hell, it was rock'n'roll before there was such a thing - has spawned some of the best of the revivalers and revisionists who've come down the pike. Highway 13 belongs more in the former amp. Been Up to the Devil's Business is an exercise in the classic rockabilly sound, updated only somewhat; the songs on this disc recall the straight-ahead slap of the Stray Cats or even Joe Ely when they first broke, back in the late '70s. There lies the problem, too: There's nothing particularly distinguishing about Highway 13's sound. It's punchy, it's got a lot of heart, it gets it all down pat, but it doesn't quite set your ears on fire the way rockabilly should. Highway 13 do rockabilly proud, no question. The talent and commitment are there; they now need to take the next step and do it entirely their way.
- Sam Gaines

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Jan. 16th 1998.

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A friend's wife was once overheard commenting during a Highway 13 performance about "all these songs are about girls and booze and cars." Granted, that unofficial holy trinity of themes assumes an inordinately large presence in the roots rock compendium, but in the right hands, it makes for music that's more fun than, well, girls and booze and cars.

"Devil's Business" the first CD offering from this local trio zips by with 16 of the punchy, upbeat ditties that have been filling barroom dance floors for the past three years. Gone are the cowboy blues from the band's earlier, five-piece incarnation; in their wake is a spare instrumentation (stand up bass, hollow-body guitar, five-piece drums) that creates a surprisingly broad band of noise.

The countryfied melody of "I'm Gone," the spooky throb of the instrumental "Dirt Nap" or the cornball bop of "B-Movie Queen" have the spirit and sass of Jerry Lee Lewis, although Woody Bond's Pittsburgh-via-Memphis voice lends the whole affair a pleasant campiness.

This works best on "Kachunga," a swampy staccato rocker about an alligator wrestler that gives bassist Blair Powell and drummer Scott Sinclair a healthy workout over playfully weird lyrics about "pickin' his teeth with alligator bones."
-Mike Seate
4 stars (Ratings are on a five-star scale)