DIARY - 13 FEBRUARY 2013 - BIG HOUSE CD REVIEWS
TRAVELLING KIND (UNIVERSAL)
BIG HOUSE TRAVEL WITH WIRED LOAD
another Friday night/ crazy Johnny had to start a fight/ had a little
hell running through his mind/ had a little back seat love affair/ lady
luck wasn't waiting there/ it seems he ain't her kind/ got no choice but
to run/ bottle of whiskey and a loaded gun." - Highway Of No Return
- Monty Byrom-David Neuhauser.
boys Monty Byrom and David Neuhauser built the slab for Big House they
already had a royalty rich cash flow.
They had penned hits for acts diverse as The Stray Cats, Eddie Money and
David Lee Roth when Larry Willoughby - a cousin of Rodney Crowell - discovered
Willoughby, who released a solo disc in the eighties, alerted former Hot
keyboard player Tony Brown - head of MCA Nashville - and the band's demos
became its debut disc.
Singles including Cold Outside and You Ain't Lonely Yet
- lifted from the two day recording session - landed the soulful sextet
widespread exposure for its 1997 self titled debut disc comprised entirely
of original tunes.
said the demos were so strong they didn't need re-recording - especially
Cold Outside that was pitched to TV and radio news services
as a weather teaser.
"That's happened to me twice," Brown revealed, "for
Lyle Lovett's first album that I did, we mixed the demos because they
were so good."
They included accessible songs such as Amarillo, Sunday In Memphis,
Blue Train, Soul Country and Crying Town.
Now the band, formed in 1994, has released its second album Travelling
Kind with just one cover - a rocking revamp of the late Hank Williams
Sr hit There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight.
is a nineties reflection of the Bakersfield sound that was the alternative
to Nashville for three decades.
raised around Merle Haggard and Buck Owens it's the kind of music we've
always played," says guitarist Neuhauser.
"I grew up being the singer in the band, loving Otis Redding, so
that's where the soul comes from."
Although Big House released a radio friendly ballad Faith as the
first single it's not a true reflection of an album.
The sextet roam the lost and lust highways from riveting road song Highway
Of No Return, roadhouse romp of the title track, nocturnal searching
of Never Again and a truly scorching finale, Don't Believe Everything
It's a jagged journey from the mean streets of New York on Tender Dreams,
an obvious single, to the punchy pathos of Ain't Slept In Your Bed,
the vitriol of Second Hand Love and Trouble and pungent
pessimism of This Far Down.
The subject material may sound familiar but it's the delivery that is
The unique vocals of Monty Byrom are underpinned by a chugging rhythm
section that features brother Tanner on drums and the haunting harmonica
from the quaintly named Sonny California.
And for trivia buffs - the extra percussion is from Peter Bunetta whose
brother Al toured here with his charge John Prine.
WOODSTOCK NATION (DEAD RECKONING).
BUCK THESE HAGGARD BLUES
the way from Oklahoma, broke down in Arizona/ took a year to earn enough
to leave the burden that was on our backs/ took some lives and left some
tracks/ now I can't find my grandma's grave/ you don't know what's hot
when day to day is all you've got/ and the company's been renting you
the shade/ tryin' to buck these haggard blues." - Buck These Haggard
Blues - Monty Byrom-David Neauhauser.
Big House recorded its third album Woodstock Nation for Dead
Reckoning in 2000 there had been major line-up changes.
The two original members Monty Byrom and David Neauhauser produced
it for the label owned by frequent Australian tourists Kevin Welch
and Kieran Kane.
They kick off the disc with the optimism of Geronimo's Moon
- where the Indian spirit hints of better days to come.
But that's soon derailed with two strident social comment tunes on
the 11-track disc - especially Buck These Haggard Blues and
the title track.
explored the economic and political hardships faced by new arrivals in
the Golden state of California.
Buck Owens, a native Texan, and Haggard whose family fled the Oklahoma
dust bowl, shared in the title.
Although their journey to Bakersfield may have been tough with Haggard's
family toiling in labour camps it was nothing compared to the Mexicans
who crossed the Rio Grande with "beads and bibles in their hands."
They also bemoan the shattered dreams of the Woodstock Nation withering
like flowers on the vine and "that night they shot that preacher
down in Memphis/ well they used his blood to draw a line in the sand."
But all is not lost - the character in River Town leaves his embryonic
delta farm for the freedom a guitar picker earns in river towns from "St
Louis to New Orleans."
They also explore the vast tapestry of love from the cheating in Girl
Can't Help It, regret of Praying To Live, ruptured romance
in Lonely Shade Of Blue and the escapism of I'm Moving On.
But there's boomerang assertiveness in the character in Don't Do Me
Any Favours and the temptation triangle of He Don't Need To Know.
The disc's fiery finale is Walk Alone where the guitar-toting troubadour
flees from a lover who suffers matriarchal pressure from way above and
Big House deserves career longevity but this is a transient genre where
talent is definitely not the only recipe for success.
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