Dave Arcari and whisky seem to go together like ham and eggs. Sometimes we reckon he only started off in his quest to be Scotland’s premier blues artist in order to get offered dram after dram from adoring fans. It seems that after almost every feral delivery on stage someone comes up, glass in hand to offer homage and it’s somewhat fitting that he finally admits it in the title of his latest album, Whisky In My Blood. It’s something of a departure for Arcari who is renowned for his blistering solo performances live and on disc. Here he’s accompanied by the Helsinki Hellraisers whom he encountered on his regular trips to Finland, proof indeed that the Blues are universal. The Hellraisers (Juuso Haapasalo, upright & electric bass and Honey Aaltonen, snare drum, cymbal, washboard) actually appeared on a few songs on Arcari’s last album but here they clatter, batter and boom along with the main man allowing him to indulge in some rockabilly and skiffle.
It’s a great set that adds that extra dimension to Arcari’s usual sound. It allows him to come across as a demented swamp dwelling version of Led Zeppelin on Travelling Riverside Blues where his particularly lascivious slavering on the notorious squeeze my lemon lyric should be X- Rated. He revisits Robert Johnson on Preachin’ Blues which is given a tremendous run through and despite the great slide guitar playing it’s the singing which impresses most, a whisky soaked preacher indeed. Aside from another cover, Bukka White’s Jitterbug Swing which swings mightily Arcari penned all of the songs here. The title song is a classic celebration of the amber nectar and by all rights should have been recorded by The Dubliners if they had come from Alabama rather than Dublin. Third Time Lucky hits the same spot with Arcari on banjo and raising the ghost of Ronnie Drew. Tell Me Baby is a cracking rockabilly roustabout and this pell mell gung ho blues abandon is the primary feature throughout the album but Arcari and the Hellraisers do take some time to catch breath and deliver a few slower numbers. Still Friends has him picking on banjo and gruffly reminiscing on younger days while Wherever I Go is a boastful swagger of a song that stumbles along wonderfully. Cherry Wine is perhaps the best example of the synergy of the band with Aaltonen’s brushed drums, Haapasalo’s solid bass and Arcari’s fine slide playing and vocals coming together on what is an excellent song.
Have a look at this video on the making of the album which tells all much more eloquently than we can manage.
You can catch Dave this weekend at Broadcast in Glasgow. Other tour dates here