You might have read about them in the last NZM issue, maybe seen posters for Sal Valentine’s infamous ‘Deadbeat Prom’ gigs, and you may well have heard their fantastically catchy single Drink Until I Pass Out. You might even be lucky enough to have seen Ivan Luketina-Johnston and his nine-member band live on stage. If any of these fit, you’re probably really excited about this album. For those not so in the know, this album is packed with the 1930s aesthetic this big, fun Auckland band are known for – upbeat, jaunty, RnB- and swing-influenced wonders.
The self-titled album was recorded mostly live with Bob Frisbee (Street Chant, the Transistors) in his New Lynn studio, with Sal’s vocals recorded separately to really nail them. The result is something that resembles their joyous live shows as closely as possible. The 12 tracks are mostly written by Sal himself and looked over by Ben Sinclair, the band’s tenor saxophonist. The album itself is split into A and B sides, fitting in with the era-specific aesthetic. Needless to say, it still works more than well as a whole – with the split made noticeable by the incredibly upbeat opener to the B-side, Everybody Get Loose. Reaching that track is reminiscent of flipping a record – all of a sudden you’re hit with a wonderfully composed cacophony of guitars, drums, and horns. The album plays out with Drink Until I Pass Out, a song that’s not likely to leave your head anytime soon. ‘Sal Valentine & the Babyshakes’ is made for dancing and is sure to appeal to a wide audience, young and old alike.