SongoftheDay: BLACK LIGHTNING by THE BELLRAYS
Vocalist Lisa Kekaula guitarist Bob Venuum formed the BellRays around 1990 in Riverside, CA. Originally, the duo leaned heavily on a vintage R&B sound flecked with smoky jazz overtones. But with the addition of guitarist Tony Fate and Venumm moving to bass, the sound soon began to mix Kekaula’s alley cat soul vocals with a biting punk rock bottom end. The In the Light of the Sun cassette release appeared in 1993, followed by the “Wall of Soul” 7″ two years later. the BellRays issued their debut full-length, Let It Blast, in 1998 and supported it with an extensive tour that included a particularly fiery appearance at Austin’s South by Southwest conference. By now, drummer Ray Chin had joined the fold, and the ‘Rays were making waves with their furiously passionate sound. The Grand Fury LP dropped in 2001 from Los Angeles indie Upper Cut and was followed by a European release combining it with Let It Blast. Tours with notables like Rocket From the Crypt and Nashville Pussy continued to spread the word, and In Music We Trust reissued In the Light of the Sun. 2003 saw the Upper Cut release of Raw Collection, an odds ‘n’ sods compilation featuring B-sides, rarities, and vinyl-only material from 1995 through 2002. Red White and Black also arrived in 2003, and the band continued to crank out soulful garage-punk on 2006’s Have a Little Faith and 2008’s Hard, Sweet and Sticky.