(The intention was, at a later stage, to write a little feature of introduction to DAVE ARCARI and his special interpretation of Blues music. However, this short video does the job perfectly as well as featuring two of the tracks on the new album: ‘Devil’s Left Hand’ and ‘Hangman’s Blues.’)
Enjoy! (Oh – and don’t forget to read the album review that follows!!)
Upon my desk here at LOUD HORIZON TOWERS is a pile of CDs. A pile of about thirty, I would say – all neatly stacked in order of release date, the most pressing towards the top, obviously. In the interests of fairness to all bands / artists / labels / PR Companies etc., I stick rigidly to that order, reviewing each album / single as it surfaces from beneath those that have graduated to the ‘done,’ stack.
Mostly! As we say here in Glasgow “it’s ma ba’” (meaning ‘it’s my ball, and I’ll decide the rules,’) and when the envelope that carried this album spilt out its contents to reveal the new album by Scottish Alternative Blues man, DAVE ARCARI, there was only the one place it was going – straight into the CD player!
It was as if it were Christmas morning! Although, given the album title and some of the lyrical content, perhaps that is not a very apt analogy! See, The Devil features prominently on a few of the tracks – as does ‘the hangman’ and the ‘gallows tree.’
And that was perhaps the first thing I noticed about ‘Devil’s Left Hand’ – it seems quite considerably darker than Dave’s previous album, ‘Got Me Electric,’ – both from a lyrical and also a musical perspective. But that’s not to detract from what is an excellent Blues album – I mean, it’s The Blues, goddamn! It’s not meant to be light and breezy.
Actually, as with Dave’s previous work, his brand of The Blues blends elements of country, rockabilly with the Delta styled blues, and serves it up with a healthy helping of punk attitude. With Dave, what you see is what you get – one bloke, one guitar and that’s it! But the music is so engrossing, you tend to forget there is no additional backing…. the sign of a true bluesman!
The album opens with the title track and Dave delivering the vocals in his gruff, growling, trademark style. This is a guaranteed foot-tapper, with its rockabilly beat maintained solely by Dave’s deft guitar playing. ‘Can’t Be Satisfied’ is one of only four covers on the album (this one originally by the great Muddy Waters) but Dave stamps his own identity on it with his bottleneck playing style. The Devil appears again on track three, ‘Devil’s Deal’ (duh!) before Dave again takes the words of a Robert Burns poem and sets them to music, just as he did on his last album.
This time it’s ‘MacPherson’s Lament’ that gets the treatment. Interestingly, although the song is quite obviously Blues based, you can certainly detect little inflections of Scottish traditional Folk music permeating. Now, I detest Burns’ work (almost a treasonable offence, I know) and I also have no time at all for the dreaded ‘f’ word in music, but this interpretation works really well – although Blues will always kick Folk’s ass!
‘Blue Train’ is a cover of a Johnny Cash song, so all’s good here! Once again, although accompanied only by his guitar, Dave conjures images of that old rickety train rolling down the dusty track, simply by his rhythmic playing.
‘Trouble In Mind’ is another of the ‘covers.’ Written by Richard M. Jones, it’s been performed by loads of people from Big Bill Broonzy to Marianne Faithful! It has that classic old Delta Blues feel, and though I don’t have a copy of the original to hand, I would suggest that Dave hasn’t strayed too far from the original version apart from add a bit depth of sound and perhaps a little more fluidity. (Might be wrong, of course!)
The last of the cover versions is ‘Come On In My Kitchen’ – an old Robert Johnson song. We’re then back with the Arcari ‘originals’ starting with ‘Cotton On My Back,’ in which Dave laments the fact that people take him for the …. erm …. The Devil, just because he’s ‘a little messed up’ and dresses in black!
‘Hangman’s Blues,’ follows. …(see what I mean?) but despite the title and content, it’s quite a perky little number! ‘One Side Blind’ is simply just a simple little Blues ditty, before the rousing dance song ‘Texicalli Waltz,’ – yee-hah!
Closing number, ‘Dragonfly’ is a bit of a diversion from the rest of the album. It’s completely different and ‘out there,’ and probably sums up in one minute and forty-five seconds exactly why DAVE ARCARI is not just your conventional Blues player. Brilliant!
(Released through Buzz Records on 1st November 2010)
(10 / 10)