The Ballachulish Hellhounds

hounds 2014 copy

First Reviews for Red Eye's Motorcycle Blues...........

Posted on Friday, 28 September 2012

News :: First-reviews-for-red-eye-s-motorcycle-blues :: TBH7

We have just received the first reviews for our latest album. We 're delighted, thats all :)

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 asRed 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 andRabbit In A Logare 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 Willowwhich 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.


What the hell is an IP Macgyver? Well in this case….look. The Ballachulish Hellhoundsreleased a mini-album that’s 6 tracks long. That’s too long for an EP and too short for an LP. SO I worked out what letter is between them in the alphabet and got IP. BUT it gets better. EP = Extended Play. LP = Long Play. IP = INTERMEDIATE Play. I do believe I have invented a musical term and I’m quite proud of myself, please use it a lot and spread it around so that someone way more important than me can take credit and then people will call me a liar when I say I came up with it. That said, probably a term already as that’s what always happens when I come up with something.

NONE OF THIS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE BLOODY MUSIC!!!!

Quite right. SO what the hell is a Ballachulish Hellhound? Well for a start if you aren’t Scottish you probably can’t pronounce it correctly. They are a bluegrass, country, blues, punk (this is from their page, not sure on the punk bit) 3 piece from Glasgow but originally from up here. They play music that’s a combination of the first three genres there, and they do it damned well. Red Eye’s Motorcycle Blues is probably more varied than any 6 track IP (I’m gonna keep using it!) has any right to be. 5 covers, one original, intended to bridge the gap between their first album and the next one. Let’s get all track by tracky then. As I’ve probably established by now, proper journalists would bully me in a corner for being an idiot with comparisons. This is not about to change.

First up it’s Long Gone. It brings to mind East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed for me (FUCK the sitcom, it’s from Smokey and the Bandit). Plucky banjo and guitar, I do believe a Dobro is involved (I was actually raised on this kinda stuff). It’s toe tapping great times. This is followed by Rabbit In A Log, heavy on the banjo. Brings to mind the Beverly Hill Billies theme to me. It’s an old Bluegrass tune, most of the IP is, and it’s about trying to get some dinner out in the wilds. Without a huntin pooch. Damned fine stuff, more toe tappin. Hooee! Ends with a shave and a haircut on banjo. You know the kind of thing.

Things slow down a bit and get a bit more country for third track Lonesome Without You. Harmonising male voices, bit of a round the camp fire cowboy tune. Right down to not exactly note perfect singing, which fits the tune really. It’s got some great mandolin in it, big solo in the middle. Not totally down beat though at the end of verses a dog giving a wee howl wouldn’t be out of place.

Next up is, as far as I’m aware, the only tune that isn’t a classic or original. It’s a cover of Motorhead’s Iron Horse/Born To Lose. Which I wasn’t familiar with ahead of time so I’m giving it a listen right now. Slow, but heavy. The cover? Very much in the style of Johnny Cash’s America series. Right down to the singers voice. Not quite up to Cash’s standard, who is though? Hurt is AMAZING. But a damned fine cover all the same. Very mellow stuff, some lovely guitar. Rock has its origins in blues and that comes through big time with covers like this.

This is followed by the one original, and title track, Red Eye’s Motorcycle Blues. It’s a bit Cashy as well really. Bizarrely strange specific speed of 44 miles an hour in the lyrics. It’s pretty jaunty, not as much as the first two tracks, it’s about bikers and it has a nice steady hook to it. Very enjoyable and enough to make me look forward to the album that’s coming next year. To close things off we have Bury Me Beneath The Willow. Slidey blues guitar and a mandolin with male harmonies. Rather deep in the country blues motif again. Not as depressing as the title would make you think but would fit around a camp fire.

Overall this is a damned fine IP. I don’t care, I’m using the term whether you like it or not. You can listen to it free for nothing right here and get a copy for £6 or more. Personally I think it’s WELL worth that amount and a good way to bridge the gap between albums. You get one track that’s new and will no doubt be on the album PLUS a bunch of tunes that won’t be BUT give a vibe for the band. Great idea guys, doesn’t leave anyone feeling ripped off. Enjoyed the hell out of the whole thing and can’t wait for the album. Go have a listen and grab a copy!

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