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Big-T & the Bada-Bings


Jimmy Vargas & The Black Dahlias
The Tease...The Torch & The Noir

The 50-year-old unsolved murder of would-be Hollywood starlet/B-girl Elizabeth Short, otherwise known as the "Black Dahlia," has long held a strangle- hold on a number of writers' imaginations. Tough-guy noir novelist James Ellroy fictionalized her life in The Black Dahlia and true-crime author John Gilmore posited a believable solution to her murder in Severed.

Australian singer Jimmy Vargas is similarly possessed by Elizabeth Short on The Tease...The Torch & The Noir (Teasa-Varga Records). See, Vargas has developed a whole, um, "concept" around the Black Dahlia mystery. Here's the gimmick: Vargas is a reincarnated crooner 1958 Elizabeth Short in his former life. In his current incarnation, Vargas and his trashy swing combo, The Black Dahlias, make '40s-style noirish soundtrack music based on the Black Dahlia's life and (more precisely) death.

Concept overshadows content pretty extensively in the Vargas oeuvre. So when Vargas croons "her ghost still haunts you at 3 a.m./she'll never let you go," in his torch shuffle "The Girl You Left Behind," you know he's serious, even if he sounds a little like Anton LaVey working the crowd at an exotica benefit. In fact, both "Sacrificia El Mayombe" and "Maya Noir" sound as if Old Scratch is the real inspiration for Vargas' obsessions. But, in spite of the pretensions, a number of the songs work exceedingly well "Dreamland" and "Striptease in Noir" Scotch-and-emphysema fetish vibe. Hey, you can even dance to some of it! Whadda ya know? Hell ain't a bad place to be after all.

-Patrick Fitzgerald

Year 1999 Reviews
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Year 2003 Reviews
B.B. King—Let The Good Times Roll
Bellevue Cadillac—Take Out Out Takes
The Blue Dahlia—The Blue Dahlia
Bryan Ferry—As Time Goes By
Candye Kane—The Toughest Girl Alive
City Rhythm—Strikes Again
Dave's True Story—Unauthorized
Dmitri Resnik—It Ain't Rocket Science
Duke Ellington—The Essential Collection
Ernie Krivda—The Band That Swings
Etta James—The Chess Box
Fat Daddy Pussycat—Swing 2000
Flying Neutrinos—Hotel Child
George Gee & The Jump Jive and Wailers—Buddha Boogie
Hollywood Swing & Jazz
Hula Joe & The Hutjumpers—
Hula Joe & The Hutjumpers
Jimmy Nations Combo—Tarheel Boogie
Jimmy Vargas—The Tease, The Torch...
Josh Max's Outfit—Make It Snappy
Keely Smith—Swing Swing Swing
Kim Lenz—The One and Only
Midnight Cool—Jazz Classics Collection
Mora's Modern Rhythmists—
Call of the Freaks
Nat King Cole—Golden Years 1943-1946
The Original Band—
Still Rockin' Around The Clock
Peggy Cone—Bad Girl Shoes
Quinn Lemley—Dance or Die!
Red & The Red Hots—Gettin' Around
Red Peters—The Deacon Moves In
Sammy Davis Jr.—Sammy & Friends
Scrappy Hamilton—At Rock Bottom
Tom Maxwell—Samsara
The Slingshots—Feels So Right
  Retro Reading Reviews
Swing Style
Swing It!-The Andrew Sisters Story
1940s Hairstyles

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