By Alan Magpie
I was nearly up to date with this Friday’s releases and had played a couple of tracks each from four albums that didn’t quite catch my attention then, slightly disheartened I pressed ‘play’ one more time. A sound akin to Richard Manuel fronting the Old 97’s arrogantly strolled out of the office speakers, as if to tell me Lord Have Mercy should have been my first pick; not my last.
WOW! Bullard has a delightfully leathery voice and his band are red hot, to the point of melting the CD Player on that opening track; and it’s fair to say……things only get better from then on in!
WOOSH! If track #1 reminded me of ‘The’ Band, it’s The Marshall Tucker Band on the next song Wicked Ways; which is Southern Rock at it’s finest with a wailing Hammond Organ fist fighting twin guitars and a thuggish bass for prominence…….and winning.
Recorded in [South Carolina] you can virtually smell the sweat on the walls and taste the shrimp and oysters on the sultry Warpath and the sassy Evil Lovin’ which somehow starts where Skynard left off; but without the long drawn out guitar solos.
Hell! I don’t know if this is Southern Rock or even Country Rock or if either even still exists in 2018; but if they don’t…… they should, because songs like Hey Hey Mama! and Jesus, Jail or Texas sit comfortably in both categories that I grew up loving in the 1970’s and 80’s, with James Scott Bullard crossing both divides like those cool Outlaw bands did on my tin pot FM radio; but couldn’t get played on today’s Country Radio if they attached a $20 bill to the record.
Although Bullard sounds nothing like Dale Watson or Sturgill Simpson, it was those guys who kicked open the door four years ago for this type of cross-bred music; which comes unashamedly from the past but with a razor sharp 21st Century contemporary edge to the stories behind the actual songs, which are every inch as important as the crashingly Twangtastic guitars and boiler-house rhythm section which may not have been the case twenty or thirty years ago.
Where the Hell to go for a Favourite Track? The Honky-Tonkin’ Next Tear was an early contender but as the sun goes down over the yard arm, and a second empty beer bottle sits beside me I’m going for Back To You, which contains a little bit of everything that is good about this album; wailing and anguished guitars, a voice that sounds like it’s been steeped in bourbon, beer and bar-b-q sauce and a story that’s a bit of a weepy too. What’s not to like?
FULL TILT BOOGIE is definitely the soundtrack to one helluva Saturday night; but many years ago I remember the term ‘driving music’ and that’s exactly what this album is too……especially on a hot Summer’s day when you have your Wayfarers on and Baseball cap pulled way down low on and a long road ahead; with a loved one waiting for you in the distance.