The history of Blues music and rock ‘n’ roll are inextricably linked, so it’s a natural fit that Glasgow Blues giant DAVE ARCARI should enlist the help of his Finnish pals, THE HELLSINKI HELLRAISERS to provide the backing on this, his fifth studio album.
The trio (Dave plus Juuso Haapasalo on upright and electric bass, and Honey Aaltonen on snare drum, cymbal and rub-board) play on all but one of the fourteen tracks, Dave reverting to his solo style on ‘Heat Is Rising.‘ This is actually what I would term’ typical’ DAVE ARCARI as every time I’ve seen him play ‘live,’ it’s on his own, with his steel guitar strapped across his front, his big tackety boots beating out the rhythm on the stage floor.
But the THE HELLSINKI HELLRAISERS are worthy allies and the combination of Dave’s gruff vocal style and slide guitar with the rockabilly vibe (at some points, it’s more of a skiffle sound) from Juuso and Honey works extremely well.
Coupled with the recording technique adopted at the Sonic Pump Studios in Helsinki, with just a touch of reverb / echo, the result is the feel of the guys actually playing ‘live’ in your own home. And I have to say, this again is playing to Dave’s strengths. I know he plays at various Festivals across Europe in front of bigger audiences, but he does seem completely at home in the smaller, more intimate venues where I’ve seen him play. (In fact, as I write this, he’ll be hauling his guitars and amps into the cramped confines of the 13th Note Cafe here in Glasgow .. and I can’t manage along!!)
What else can I say about this album that I haven’t said about the earlier releases covered by LOUD HORIZON? I’m not too sure, actually! Dave’s ‘The Man,’ as far I’m concerned and can do no wrong. His style is unique and his enthusiasm for his music really shines through his recordings.
Eleven of the tracks on ‘Whisky In My Blood,’ are ‘originals,’ with three covers making up the album: Bukka White‘s ‘Jitterbug Swing,’ is a foot-tappin’ rockabilly infused interpretation, sounding like that big old steam train heaving out the Deep South station; ‘Preachin’ Blues’ and ‘Walkin’ Blues,’ originally by Robert Johnson are supposedly the others…… but that said, my download copy doesn’t include the latter of those two, but yet still has fourteen tracks. I’m a tad confused!
‘Tell Me Baby,’ is an out and out rockabilly track, as is the stop / start ‘Day Job‘; ‘Third Time Lucky,’ is centred around the banjo with one of those song structures that is so familiar and infectious that you’ll be singing along even if you’ve never heard it before; ‘Still Friends’ also sees Dave playing banjo, this time in more reflective and downbeat mood – there would even appear to be a gentle little bit of Scottish ‘trad’ in this one.
‘Wherever I Go,‘ is another slower track, written obviously from the experience of living in he West of Scotland, with all those references to ‘rain,’ while ‘Get Outta My Way,’ reminds me a little of ‘Dragonfly,’ from the ‘Devil’s Left Hand,’ album.
On his own, DAVE ARCARI is awesome; with the added influence of THE HELLSINKI HELLRAISERS, this is about as powerful a blues come rockabilly type record as you’ll find!
(Whisky In My Blood’ is released through Blue North Records and is available now – 25th March 2013)