CD Review – The Ballachulish Hellhounds “Red Eye’s Motorcycle Blues”
More homegrown Americana this time from the well kent (if you frequented The Captain’s Rest or attended any Scottish “bijoux” festivals over the past few years) Ballachulish Hellhounds. The Hellhounds are another band in thrall to old time American music and live they whip up a storm. Their debut album in 2010, Songs from The Great Atlantic Ocean was a fine mix of traditional and self penned songs that celebrated the long standing connection between the folk traditions of the old and new worlds. Our only quibble with the album was that it seemed a mite thin in the production failing to quite capture the energy and sparkle of their live shows. No problems this time around as Red Eye’s Motorcycle Blues positively jumps out of the speakers with a fire in its belly.
With six songs and only available as a digital download this mini album is intended to bridge the gap between the release of their debut and their next all original long player (promised for next year). One thinks the Hellhounds are short-changing themselves here as it stands up to scrutiny while promising much for the next album. In particular the title song, written by the band, is a fine tale of a farm boy itching to join some motorcycle rebels and failing. Delivered with a sly drawled vocal from Zander McFarlane it has a jaunty old time country feel and one can imagine Ry Cooder or Mike Wilhelm having great fun with this. Iron Horse/Born To Lose which, believe it or not, is a cover of a Motorhead song is the other stand out here. In the absence of power amps the Hellhounds drench the song in swathes of acoustic guitar in a melancholy mode with a sixties Byrds type feel although its not the jingle jangle Byrds, more like David Crosby’s internal meanderings.
The remainder of the album is of a traditional nature. Long Gone and Rabbit In A Log are fast and furious with the banjo and mandolin frantically flailing away. Lonesome Without You is a Carter family type singalong. Expertly delivered it recalls the likes of The Louvin Brothers and other greats of country music tradition. Bury Me Beneath The Willow which closes the disc is another old time tune which has been recorded by everyone and his uncle and the Hellhounds deliver a great version with some great solos on Dobro and mandolin but overall it’s the ensemble playing and fine harmonising that show that they truly capture the essence of old time Americana. All in all a great little album.
You can buy the album here