Trying to conjur up his 50s idols on his previous albums, Robert Gordon evidenced great facility for rockabilly and for aping the work—down to the last nuance—of Elvis and other Sun Records luminaries. But Gordon’s talent also embraced apparent limitations. As much as I admired his ability to evoke the originals, I found myself being more impressed by technique than charmed by spirit. And I wondered why anyone would want to pay for copies, even ones as good as Gordon’s, when the real stuff was still available.
Be that as it may, the artist has to a large extent dropped his reverent histrionics and note-for-note re-creations on the new Bad Boy and decided to simply have fun with the music he admires. Not every cut works, but “Sweet Love on My Mind” and “Crazy Man Crazy” are first-rate rave-ups; I also like “Picture of You” and the title cut, which give strong competition to the classic Joe Brown and Marty Wilde versions. Much credit should go to Gordon’s spirited backup crew, which includes consummate guitarist Chris Spedding and the increasingly omnipresent Rob Stoner and Howie Wyeth.