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  • Writer's pictureLuke Wolk

Album Review of Frankie V and The Lonely Club

Artist: Frankie V and The Lonely Club

Album: Frankie V and The Lonely Club

Release: 2023

The members of Frankie V and the Lonely Club, have played together in one form or another for over 20 years, and have now settled in to create a powerhouse new album. Their sound is a classic rock blend of guitar and organ and powerful lead vocal laced with a blend of sweet harmonies. They grew up and nurtured their musical chops in the East Bay Area south of Oakland, home to power house bands like Tower of Power, Y&T, Night Ranger and Eddie Money. Over the years they've played all the major San Francisco Area venues, headlining and opening for bands like Journey, Tower of Power, Y&T, Greg Kihn, The Sons of Champlin and Eddie Money to name a few. The nine song set that makes up the album is a fresh take on a classic 70's influenced rock and roll. It is reminiscent of groups like The Steve Miller Band, The Doobie Brothers and at times flirting with ZZ Top. The thing with this era and style of music is its creators were at least a generation closer to the heyday of blues and classic rock and roll that is at the root of most of what was popular in music until the early 80s. Even The Ramones and many of their punk peers, despite all their rebellion against everything that society stood for, were unable to ignore the foundation that Chuck Berry built. It is that connection to the root that I believe makes 70's classic rock hold up the way that it does. That window in time from 68-82 produced some of the greatest albums of all time. It is truly an era of musical explosion and growth that Frankie V and The Lonely Club are clearly cut from. The first cut on the record Bad Information lets the listener know from the first downbeat that this outfit means business. It has a bluesy ZZ Top meets Aerosmith riff with smoky vocals and a memorable hook. It is obvious as to why this was chosen as the first single. The band beats the pocket like it owes them money and the guitar solo is a bluesy Pat Travers, Rick Derringer like piece. Essentially a blues guitar player, functioning in a rock and roll environment, very much like the great players from the Southern Rock genre. Day by Day is a track that I enjoyed quite a bit. It reminds me of Eddie Money or even the simpler side of Styx music. A strong keyboard presence and screaming sax provided by Ricky D plants the listener right back in time to when songs were crafted in a garage on dead end streets in towns like Asbury Park, NJ. Even the drum sounds of Mike Lencioni feel vintage. The exceptional bass line provided by Johnny Valentine rounds out a pumping rhythm section that is truly a masterpiece. The vocals are relaxed yet demand your attention. An instrumental, Zorro's Last Ride was an unexpected and compelling twist. As suggested by the title it is based firmly in Latin flavored music, but also has a hint of classic surf in it. The main melody is executed wonderfully with perfect guitar tone and taste. One of the cool things about that short window in time that Surf music was king was they could do whatever they wanted to musically, so long as it had that surf vibe. Players like Dick Dale pushed the boundaries with screaming guitars and altered scales creating exotic sounds in two and half minute pop infused and infectious tracks like Miserlou, but then would roll it back to a ballad that would tug at the heartstrings. This song is right at home in that mix, somewhere between Spaghetti Westerns, Surf, Carlos Santana and a Blues Rumba. Quite an impressive mix of it all. No Shadows is a song that perfectly embodies the late 70's early 80's AOR music. It has a Tom Petty meets The Cars at a Kinks concert in Detroit in 1979 vibe. This song was perhaps my favorite on the album. It is a relaxed mid tempo groove that the band confidently lays back on and just lets the train roll down the tracks to its destination. Frankie V's vocals could not have found a better place to sit in this one. The glove fits perfectly! At 3:26 it makes for a perfect radio cut, however I would like to think the band will stretch it to 7 minutes live with an outro jam that opens up and takes the listeners on a ride. This is that kind of song. Simply fantastic on every front! The attention to details on this production are glaring to those that choose to listen to them. Producer Vince Sanchez and the band knocked it out of the park. The sounds are "real" and captured impeccably. The mix is round and influenced by mixes of yesteryear, but somehow doesn't feel dated. But I suppose neither does so much great music from the 70's. I am not sure what it is about that era that makes it hold up so well. But whatever those mystery ingredients are, this band has found them and used them brilliantly on this record. If you are a fan of the 8 Track era of classic rock this album is a must hear. With each listen it gets better and will definitely be in my playlist for quite a while. I hope it finds the listeners it deserves!

Check out this cool interview as well!

Who are your musical and non-musical influences?

Frankie V: Hendrix, Beatles, Albert King, Kenny Burrell, Family & Jesus. Rich: The Beatles, Boston, Procol Harum, Stevie Winwood, Chester Thompson (Tower of Power), Lee Michaels, Rod Stewart & the Small Faces, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix Jimmy Smith, Tony Monaco Mike: Mine are 2 in the same My Dad, Michael Lencioni senior. He is a great father and was a great drummer and teacher. He studied with the legendary Chuck Brown in Oakland Ca and went on to teach many fine drummers. Johnny V: I studied classical guitar with a student of Andres Segovia, I like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Willie Dixon, Howlin' Wolf What album has had the greatest impact on your life as a musician? Frankie V: Electric Ladyland Mike: Back to Oakland Tower of Power. David Garibaldi is a monster! Johnny V: Little Richard Is there a particular song that has resonated with you for a long time? Frankie V: It’s Over by Roy Orbison Rich: A Whiter Shade of Pale Mike: What is Hip Tower of Power and Topsy Part 2 by Cozy Cole

Johnny: I Need Your Love So Bad, by Little Willie Jo The Fleetwood Mac version is great too. Stay With Me Baby, by Terry Reid also. What’s your favorite accomplishment as a musician thus far? Frankie V: Performing my own songs Rich: Working out harmonies, bass lines, etc. Mike: Playing with our current band lineup. I have been playing with Frank for well over 40 years Johnny V: Learning to play the tonnette in third grade, learning to keep time and play with a group of people. Tell me about your favorite performance in your career. Frankie V: Performing my songs at my Church, it’s a really big church with 7,000 people. Rich: Playing at the Monterey Blues Festival- they were having trouble with a B3 and brought up Jimmy Smith’s Hammond B3 organ and it was hot! Had a great time playing that gig! Mike: Well, That happened when I was 17 playing in the high school jazz band. We were touring Southern California and we were giving a concert at a high school in Costa Mesa. There was a song in ¾ called nemesis that was a moving tune and I had a drum solo in the middle of the song. It was our last song of the evening and when I finished the solo going to the outro I received a standing ovation and afterward people asked me for my autograph. Johnny V: There are so many, I cannot pick only one. But, one of my favorites was one of my first with the first band I was in, I was 15. We were very scared, but it was great fun. What's the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you? Frankie V: Give all you have every time you play.

Rich: Less is more! Mike: Never Stop Learning! Johnny V: Count your money before you play, keep your instrument in your eyesight at all times, and don't be stupid, report your earnings to the IRS. What made you want to play the instrument you play? Frankie V: The Beatles, my Dad. Rich: I started out with piano lessons, recitals, played drums and bass in my first band but always went back to the keys… it came easy to me. Mike: Wanted to be like my Dad Johnny V: Watching Roy Rogers play guitar on TV Watching James Burton playing guitar with Ricky Nelson on TV Are there any musicians who inspire you that are not famous? What qualities do you admire about them? Frankie V: Rich Sylvester, my keyboardist. His talent and humility. Mike: I am Always amazed at the talent of some of the street buskers you see in Las Vegas or SF or LA and their tenacity at trying to make a living. Johnny V: Being famous is a relative thing. So some of my favorites were those that had extraordinary ability, but excellent ensemble players. An example was a guy I worked with in high school, he was a star. Tell me what your first music teacher was like. What lessons did you learn from them that you still use today? Frankie V: He was really good and managed my first band when I was 12-13 yrs old. Taught me to always be IN TUNE! Rich: My music teacher was a nice old lady that taught me to practice- my takeaway was that nothing was written like I heard it on the radio so I learned to rely on my ear. Mike: He was my dad. He was strict about practicing and would not waste his time if you were unprepared. What I learned was 30 honest minutes of practice a day could change your life Johnny V: He was a country and western player, he played a big Gibson hollow body through a Fender amp. Always keep your guitar in a case, and do your finger practice 15 minutes every day. Thank you Lee Howard. If you could play anywhere or with anyone in the world, where or with who would it be? Frankie V: Probably Mark Knopfler Rich: I’d be right where I am today… with Frankie V and the Lonely Club! Mike: I'd Love to play one song with Tower of Power…..Anywhere Johnny V: Chuck Berry or T-Bone Walker, anywhere What strengths do you have that you believe make you the musician you are? Frankie V: A good ear, good listener. Rich: I have a naturally good ear Mike: I'm a triple threat. I can keep the meter, sing and compose. Johnny V: I pay attention, I can count, and I care. If you had to choose one... live performance or studio work, which do you prefer and why? Frankie V: Studio work. Love creating and crafting songs. Rich: Studio work, I enjoy the experience much more, as well as rehearsals because I’ve always enjoyed working songs out. Mike: I played thousands of Club gigs and enjoyed it but now I much prefer the studio. In the studio you are creating and memorializing what you’ve done Johnny V: Live performances, it is a dynamic and scary experience, every time. Other than being a musician, what was your dream job growing up? Frankie V: Just musician, that’s it. Rich: Architectural Drafting or Sign Painting Mike: Any Job where I didn’t have a boss Johnny V: To be a test pilot or a recording engineer What is your favorite piece of gear and why? Frankie V: My custom made Crook guitars. Rich: My Nord Electro 6 - it’s like 23 pounds and they’ve really dialed in the B3 and 122 Leslie speaker qualities! Mike: My Pork Pie Snare. It is snappy and deep at the same time. In my opinion better than my DW Johnny V: A Rickenbacker 4005 Bass, they look fine. What artists do you enjoy listening to nowadays?

Frankie V: Roy Orbison, Mark Knopfler, Kenny Burrell, Beatles, Albert King Rich: I still listen to the old classic rock: Eagles, Beatles, Moby Grape, SRV, Eric Clapton, Boston, CSN&Y, etc. Mike: Steely Dan, Eagles, Tower of Power, Bone Shakers, Clapton Johnny V: Bob Marley, Yellowman, Steel Pulse, Rita Marley, Eminem, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, Ray Charles, Old Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and Who records, Dead Kennedys What is the best way to stay updated on current news; gigs, releases, etc. Frankie V: Friends, social media Mike: I scour the internet constantly Johnny V: I have no clue. What are your interests outside of music? Frankie V: Family, friends, food, $$ tequila, and Jesus. Rich: Family, friends and good tequila! Mike: Family,working in my yard and traveling. Johnny V: Fly fishing, bait fishing, and woodworking

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