Hillbilly Hellcats – CD review

Disclosure – I got these CDs for free (and a cool t-shirt too!)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been getting some CDs from a different “Cyber Publicity” firm in the US. Some of them will be reviewed here and some won’t be reviewed.

A parcel I got yesterday had a cool t-shirt and 2 CDs by a rockabilly band from Colorado, Hillbilly Hellcats. Now I love cool t-shirts almost as much as I love music, but the inclusion of a cool t-shirt doesn’t guarantee a good review, or any review at all.
However, I’d have reviewed these CDs anyway, cool t-shirt or not.
I don’t listen to rockabilly a lot – there’s hardly any in my collection, though I do like the popular face of “rockabilly”, The Stray Cats, and I have various compilations with original, period tracks by original performers. But I do like rockabilly – I always enjoy it when I am listening to it – it makes me feel good. These 2 CDs did more than that – they made me feel great! I only got them yesterday morning and I’ve listened to each one 3 or 4 times. I’ve raved about them online and offline and might have got myself involved in promoting a UK gig for the band (gulp!)

The 2 Cds “Our Brand” and “Rev It Up With Taz” have 40 original tracks between them. The songs are funny, they offer social comment, and, I guess, are only one aspect of the mind of Chuck Hughes, vocalist, guitar player and main songwriter.

The songs cover subjects such as white trash (in the song of the same name), sex, drugs, drink, rockabilly, cars, cruising, skateboards, hippies (“Hippie Dance” even mentions The Grateful Dead!), love lost, found, spurned and hillbilly (“Hillbilly Love”), trains, surfing, food (“Roadkill Cafe” – “You kill it – we grill it”) and much much more. Whilst most of the songs are played at a pretty fast tempo, they’re not all like that. Some are even faster! (“Harder Faster”). Seriously, there are some mellow moments too.

There is also some seriously good playing by everybody concerned. Chuck on guitar is, I am sure, a very good guitarist in many styles – there are hints of his jazz, rock and blues chops sprinkled throughout these tracks. But he has this rockabilly thing down pat. There’s twanginess all around, lightning fast runs and solos, jazzy chords and more. There’s a tribute to Duane Eddy (Big Orange Guitar) and yes, Chuck plays an orange Gretsch. Taz on drums (formerly with Rev.Horton Heat) is essential to this sound – keeping the driving rhythm moving along and his pairing with Lance on double bass is ideal – they are the powerhouse behind this trio.

If you already like rockabilly, you won’t be disappointed by these guys, they’re the real deal. If you fancy a change from the usual stuff you listen to, head over to myspace and give them a listen – and tell them I sent you!


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