Count’s 77 CD Review by Scott Thomas
What key word comes to your mind when visiting the Sin City Las Vegas? For me, the word is "Luck"... Well let me tell ya, for Danny "Count" Koker his luck has been very predictable... If you want luck, you've got to show up everyday with something to give, all the while having the knack for taking more chances then the other guy. This also goes along with good work ethics, inspiration and tons of energy. Danny is the star of the History Channel's TV Series "Counting Cars". Mr. Koker is also known for his numerous appearances on the reality TV shows Pawn Stars and American Restoration all the while making well-informed decisions to assess the value of custom cars, trucks and choppers.
So what does this have to do with music? Well, Danny also owns his own night club in Vegas called Count's Vamp'd Rock Bar. While running his own music venue, Danny would sit in every now and then sharing the spotlight with infamous bands that would grace his stage while singing songs of his favorite rock bands of the 70s. Then came the band Zito 77 consisting of John Zito on lead guitar, harmonica and vocals, Stoney Curtis on lead guitar and vocals, Barry Barnes on bass and vocals and Paul DiSibio on drums. The guys had a weekly gig at the club and Danny was talked into taking the stage to take on the lead vocals duties all the while covering great classic songs of such legendary bands as Bad Company, Kiss, Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin. This killer combination sealed the solid backbone of the band and gave them a nostalgic 70’s vibe. They now have a strong arsenal of originals and obscure 70’s cover songs. One night, Mike Varney the president of Shrapnel Records was in audience and was blown away with what he heard and with that signed the band for a record deal and Count's 77 was born to the masses.
So, here I sit jam'n out to Count's 77 and taking notes...
The first song shooting for the stars is "Your Love Ain't Right"... This song hits you good and hard with a knock out arena-rock punch. The song is full of screaming wah wah-induced guitar solos and is definitely one driving piece that adheres to a really contagious groove. The next tune "Let The Rockin Do The Talkin’” has a wild rambunctious juvenile feel to it. It's chocked full of up-tempo beats, aggressive guitar, driving bass lines and a catchy chorus line. As we shift gears, we come to the marching cadence motif of "End of the Day" with unforgettable vocals and lyrics. This is a sing-along battle hymn for those that work hard and face each day head on.
Stoney Curtis is the lead guitarist for Count's 77 and is known worldwide for his hard hitting psychedelic blues rock music. His live performances are legendary. The six-string axe wielder brings a sense of adventure to his song writing and playing and knows how to fashion magical moments like his rock heroes before him. He brings total professionalism to this project with his musical abilities giving each song its own vibe and character.
“Stoney’s blazing chops burn with lava lamp soul and silver guitar wow.” ~ Blues Rock Review
"Lovin' Like This" is a memorable romp full of exhilarating rhythm guitar with fast energetic beats and swaggering vocals. The next ensuing passion play is the southern rock hurrah "Shame on Me"... The shimmering slide guitar work by John Zito is flawless and brings a whole new dimension to Count's 77 on this track. And let's not forget bassist Barry Barnes infectious guitar interplay and drummer Paul Disibio phenomenal drumming. Ok y'awl, you'll want to hold on tight to something sturdy... Song number 6 "Stand Tall" will surely have you stomping your feet and bangin' your head. There is an awesome Thin Lizzy-esque dual guitar performance here too. Danny laments "Be careful with who you let in, sometimes trust is where trouble begins." Hard blues based rock at its very best.
Guitarist John Zito was self taught at the age of 11 and has played and recorded with members of Guns and Roses, Pat Travers and The Ramones. Zito has played nationally and internationally, both solo and with his current trio. In addition to national gigs, he has also played many venues around Vegas including the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. John is noted for his gritty vocals, along with his impressive slide work and authentic dobro guitar playing giving his music a killer soulful vibe.
"John Zito is the best kept secret in Las Vegas" ~ Rock Over America
The next song up to bat is "Riding with the Sons of Perdition" and this tune knocks it out of the park. This track has a heavy sinister sounding riff with impeccably tight percussions. There is a call and response going on with the dark riffs, mesmerizing verses and lead guitar solos. This is positively air-guitar-able material. Moving forward we now have “My Machine" blasting out of my speakers... This is a musically over-the-top escapade. The song's lyrics metaphorically speak of a hot rod car or motorbike as if Danny was singing about a hot chick. The song sounds tight, well-rehearsed, well thought out and satisfying. "Working for the Man" is a tune about the pitfalls of being a slave to the empire or “the man”. Danny revolts with his declaration "I'm sick of working for the man... Because there screwing me, it's all part of their plan." and he goes on to say that "they're dirty dogs and they're doing it 'cause they can." The music is edgy and critical of the matrix we live in today. This is a great tune for the Friday traffic-jam ride home from an exhausting week of work.
Growing up in Michigan, Barry Barnes played alongside many bands in the 80’s including 24K and Brat. Over the years Barnes performed with bands including The Look, Tony Elliot Band, 2nd Glance, Sick Dogs, Swag, SWS and more making him no stranger to the stage. In 2010 Barnes landed in Las Vegas teaming up with Stoney Curtis and John Zito. In his spare time the talented musician is one of the all-star cast members of the critically acclaimed Rock of Ages at the Venetian Las Vegas.
"Good Boy Bad Man" is another sarcastic up-tempo rocker that will hit you like a run-away freight train. The percussions on this tune are the capstone here. As we head on down route 66, we come to the crossroads with "Save A Little Something For Me". The band steps out here with some traditional blues and Danny's velvety heartwarming vocals along with Stoney's eloquently stirring lead playing are timeless.
Paul Disibio’s talent is built upon more than 30 years of playing drums and percussion professionally. He has performed in recognizable productions such as Blue Man Group and Grammy award winning band Al Rapone and the Zydeco Express. Whether Disibio is giving private lessons, lending his expertise as a technician to production teams or performing his dedication to the art of music his drumming always shines through.
The last two classic bonus tracks "Rock And Roll Hoochi Coo" and "Snortin' Whiskey" are impressive and superbly played. Each track has the original and highly acclaimed recording artist Pat Traverse and Rick Derringer ceremoniously playing the lead tracks on each of their tunes. What a way to close out an impressive album of music.
Parting shot across the Bow: These 13 songs are instinctively memorable and insanely infectious. Count's 77 is the winning formula for seventies rock and roll. Lot's of classics here... Get Your Copy Today!!!