Teddy And The Tigers were a rather short-lived Finnish phenomenon, who were active for only a few years during the late 70’s, but during that time became one of the absolutely biggest Finnish bands of the time, who spearheaded the rockabilly revival boom that was sweeping the land alongside with punk rock – sometimes with quite violent results, as teddyboys and punks didn’t get along!
As on this two disc set, most of Teddy And The Tigers’ material consisted of rockabilly standards, with only a few original compositions thrown in for good measure. Their style is also quite true to the classic rockabilly sound, without any of the new wave or punk elements later groups, who moved into neobilly and psychobilly, would embrace. The most noticeable deviation from the standard recipe is the electric bass, which means there’s none of that sharp slapping, driving tone here.
In retrospect, it’s easy to say that there must have been a lot of being in the right place in the right time and getting the attention of the right people, because, frankly, on a purely musical level the trio led by Aikka Hakala weren’t quite fabulous. Some of the time they nail their stuff, at other times it sounds amateurishly clumsy. Especially singer-guitarist Hakala has considerable trouble staying in tune, resulting in a pretty bad mess here and there. And even when he stays on note, he’s not exactly the Elvis Presley of his generation.
But on the other hand, where Teddy and his Tigers might have been lacking in musical qualities here and there, they were undeniably two steps ahead of the (Finnish) competition when starting out: rockabilly was heavily coming into style, and here was a band that sounded, well, if not totally professional, then at least professional enough, with a set full of rockabilly classics the kids wanted to hear, and who could at least halfway emulate the hickuping singing of their idols. And if Aikka Hakala wasn’t quite Elvis Presley in levels of poster boy charisma, either, he looked good enough. So it’s really no wonder they hit it big, even if only for a few years.
Listening to this 42-track compilation, one can understand why the band became a national sensation in their time, but also why there wasn’t a chance in Hell they’d make it internationally – remember, the competition was artists like Crazy Cavan and Matchbox, far more professional and ambitious guys! – and why their career was bound to be short. Their style is rather narrowly defined to auld style pop-tinged rockabilly, and not much more. And indeed, when they tried their hand at a more r’n’b style sound on what was to be their final album before a short comeback in the 2000’s, it didn’t sell nearly as much as previous albums.
For those who were there, and have lost their original vinyls, this release is probably 100 minutes of pure nostalgia. For the rest of us, this is an interesting piece of Finnish rockabilly history, endearing in its clumsiness and important because of the people it inspired.