Ian Hunter’s daughter part of new trio
The Rebelles is the sound of three stunning vocal talents paying tribute to the songs that inspire them. Formed of Tracie Hunter, Elizabeth Westwood and Phoebe White, and featuring a host of special guests and noteworthy collaborators, it’s a heartfelt homage to the rebellious sounds of the ‘70s, from three ladies with a deep-rooted passion for rock ‘n’ roll.
Tracie, daughter of Mott The Hoople star Ian Hunter, has music in her blood, and has already released three acclaimed solo albums and toured extensively throughout Europe and the States. Elizabeth was raised on American rock radio on the US east coast, and came to the UK in the 80s to form Westworld with former Generation X man Derwood Andrews, going on to enjoy a string of Top 40 hits. Phoebe has been working as a singer with seasoned blues musicians since her teens, and is currently a regular soloist in the Blues Kitchen Gospel Choir.
Since starting to collaborate, the girls have been invited to appear as backing vocalists with the likes of Steven Tyler, Def Leppard, Ginger Wildheart, The Quireboys and Mott The Hoople, at their 40th anniversary show. However, with The Rebelles, they take centre stage, to deliver unique takes on classic tracks from the punk, glam and blues rock canons. Their versions of 70s rock standards range from raucous, spirited run throughs, which channel the air of change and excitement that defined the era, to startling, stripped down, three-part harmony re-interpretations, which reveal hidden depths and humour in the lyrics to songs you love, and thought you knew. Live shows often feature cameos from the folks who made the Rebelles’ setlist famous, giving gigs the feel of an all-star stage invasion, crossed with an intimate jam session. A hugely fun, and hotly in-demand, party band, they’ve been seen at the Isle of Wight festival, Cambridge acoustic festival, and Voewood festival, to name but a few.
On March 18th the band will offer a first taste of a forthcoming debut album, when their timely take on the Bowie-penned / Mott-recorded glam hymn ‘All The Young Dudes’ is released via Turtle Recordings. A warm cover, which soars with the anthemic sway of the original, and captures the intuitive, easy, vocal interplay that makes The Rebelles such a compelling live act, it’s a poignant tribute to one of Bowie’s finest hours. While Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols) and James Stevenson (The Cult, Generation X) lend their bass and guitar skills respectively, backing vocals are provided by Tracie’s father, who revisits the track which he and Mott took to number 3 in 1972.
Tracie comments, “my dad was happy to get involved, he chaperoned Glen Matlock, James Stevenson and Mallett Hallett with the backing vocals and handclaps and played a bit of acoustic. We found a new melody to go over the chorus, we ‘oohed’ all over the end, and we do ‘ooh’ good. And here you have it, an obvious choice for us”. Indeed, there could hardly be a more fitting first single for The Rebelles; Tracie and Elizabeth had previously sung backing vocals for Holy Holy – the Bowie tribute from Spiders From Mars drummer Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti (who worked with Bowie, from his second album right up to ‘Blackstar’), and all the girls acknowledge the Thin White Duke as a massive influence. Says Elizabeth, “I remember being in the CBS building in NY in 1975 as a young kid and seeing posters of Young Americans. DB’s hair back lit, holding a fag. I think it was my first crush. I had the very good fortune of having lunch with Bowie on the set of Absolute Beginners ten years later. He was completely charming”. In the weeks since Bowie’s passing, The Rebelles have been invited to perform at two London tribute nights; the sold-out and live streamed Union Chapel event, and a second show held in Bowie’s home district of Brixton, where hundreds had gathered for an impromptu vigil on the night of his death.
‘All The Young Dudes’ is the first single to be taken from their debut album, which is due to land later in the year, and will feature guest appearances by Mick Jones, Clem Burke, Chris Spedding, Slim Jim Phantom and Kenney Jones (readers may wish to hazard a guess at the tracklisting based on those names). Tracie says, “expect to hear ten songs on this album that you already love, that will make you smile when you realise what it is, expect to hear a punk attitude draped in silk with a few sharp edges. Expect to escape for a while with us”.