Jesse Dayton. The Revealer

jesse-dayton-the-revealerTexan Jesse Dayton has a CV that looks as if he made it up in a hurry on his way to a job interview, snatching random names from a hat in order to say, “I did that!” Well, sure enough, it’s not made up. He has played guitar with, written with, produced, filmed (and starred in the movie) with Willie Nelson, The Supersuckers, X, Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Waylon Jennings and Rob Zombie, to name a few. He’s also a successful solo artist, his first album, Raisin’ Cain, was released in 1995 and he’s continued to record in between his other duties on a regular basis with The Revealer being album number eight.

He’s had five years to write this album which he states has, “my best batch of tunes yet.” Recorded in the legendary Sugarhill Sessions in Houston, Texas, in the main live in the studio, Dayton recalls, “You could feel the ghosts of George Jones, Freddy Fender, Doug Sahm and Jerry Lee Lewis in the room while we were working.” Given that Jerry Lee is still walking this world it was probably his presence or aura that was felt but, aside from this quibble, Dayton just about sums the album up there. It’s packed with tremendous songs which, despite a fair degree of variety, are rooted in that hard rocking, outlaw country vein that grew out of Austin way back then with other mavericks such as George Jones given their due.

You know you’re in good hands from the start when the opening bars of Daddy Was A Badass chug into view, the song a true slice of outlaw country bluster with Dayton saluting an army veteran who “was a honky tonk dancer and even beat cancer.”  He married the belle of the ball, raised his kids, and flew off a cliff on his Harley Davidson at the end of his days. It’s a badass song to be sure, up there with The Blasters and Dayton’s firm baritone voice rides the rhythm as surely as the song’s hero rode his hog. The Blasters come to mind again on the rollicking Holy Ghost Rock’n’Roller with Riley Osbourne’s blistering piano recalling Gene Taylor’s although the topic, the battle between God’s and the Devil’s music surely reflects the careers of the two foremost rock’n’roll ivory ticklers, Jerry Lee and Little Richard while the song is preceded by a brief sound clip of the Rev. Jimmy Snow railing against “the beat.” Some of those ghosts mentioned earlier loom large on several of the songs. The Way We Are is a dead ringer for Waylon Jennings with Dayton saluting the rock’n’roll lifestyle, Possum Ran Over My Grave is George Jones lit large, a fine tribute to the man who, aside from being called Possum was also called “No Show,” with Dayton sending chills up the spine just as Jones could do. The countrier than country titled I’m At Home Gettin’ Hammered (While She’s Out Gettin’ Nailed) might not get much airplay in these PC days but it’s a hoot of a song and delivered with the irreverent humour and relish that characterised much of Doug Sahm’s latter music. One can just imagine Sir Doug, wherever he is these days, hearing it with some delight.

Dayton reveals his talent throughout the album. There’s a brief diversion into Springsteen territory on the organ fuelled swagger of Take Out The Trash with the guitars adding a magnificent jangled rush. Pecker Goat, co-written with Hayes Carll, is a real country rock thrash with fiddle flailing away and a fine guitar solo while Eatin’ Crow and Drinkin’ Sand is in a similar vein with the rock solid band sound leavened by fiddle interludes while Dayton gets to show off his flashiest guitar playing of the album while also sounding as if he’s singing from the depths of Hell. Away from the thunder, there are some lighter moments such as the delightful country duet with Brennen Leigh on A Match Made In Heaven, another nod to Jones and his various duets over the years while Never Started Livin’ is a good old redemption song, the bad boy saved by a good woman.  Mrs. Victoria (Beautiful Thing) is a moving country blues number with Dayton’s resonator guitar to the fore as he sings an affectionate song about a much loved Negro maid and Dayton closes the album with another acoustic number, Big State Motel.  A stark portrait of the morning after the night before it resonates with the life of a musician doomed to replay this scene over and over. It also allows Dayton to again show off his undoubted guitar skills.

A rock solid country album sure to please anyone dismayed with the current glossy Nashville output, The Revealer is, at the end of the day, Badass.

Good news is that Jesse Dayton rolls into town this week playing at Stereo on Wednesday 25th October. Meanwhile, if you want to see the Rev Jimmy Snow denounce Rock’n’Roll here it is.

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The Hellfire Club. Songs For Fallen Stars. Strength In Numbers Records

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Blabber’n’Smoke noted The Hellfire Club’s single release of Sun In The Sky back here.  Now the album it’s taken from, Songs For Fallen Stars is being launched this Saturday at Stereo, Glasgow. Produced by Johnnie Smillie the album is  jangle packed classic Americana, think REM, The Long Ryders, Grant Lee Buffalo with some Waterboys and Neil Young thrown in for good measure and you’ll have an inkling of what’s contained herein.
The single opens the disc and pretty much sums up the album. Strong and propulsive songs, hooks a plenty with muscular guitar breaks while Nick Ronan’s fiddle work is a fiery Celtic addition to the American influences. All Because Of You has some abrasive mandolin adding a folky feel with the band almost going into jig time on the refrains with fiddle and guitars skirling like bagpipes. Cal dips its toes into Neil Young waters with a melody that recalls Powderfinger at times. It lurches along with a rough and ready feel, the guitars unfettered and snarling while the fiddle is a dervish in the background as Willie and Helen Brown duet, their sweetness contrasting with the din and clatter of the band. Overall the song comes across as a bruised and battered dose of reality without any studio sweetness added; it does recall Neil Young’s maverick attitude to country rock and one wonders if producer Smillie’s well known affinity for Shakey was to the fore here.
Private Campbell is gentler fare initially with its mandolin driven intro although it’s not long before some restrained fuzz guitar starts to breakthrough adding a grittier feel to this tale of a soldier’s grim doom. Again there’s a folky root to this song but the band abandon any folk pretensions for the portentous and eponymously titled The Hellfire Club. An attempt perhaps to create a band mythology it’s a bit of a mish mash of roaring guitars and East Of Eden fiddle driven prog rock but there’s no denying it’s stirring enough and tailor made for live performance especially the climatic ending. We’re on surer ground with the honky tonk country waltz of Absent Friends which boozily weaves its unsure path and the fast-paced romp of Dali’s Clock which repeats the assured country rock of the opening song with the rhythm section on top form. Montgomery maintains this form as the band go on an Odyssey through the old South with lashings of guitar sparking and feeding back over an inventive backdrop that evokes the hope and fears of the civil rights movement as it pitches from jangled melody to discordant chaos. Montgomery closes the album on a high note although it should be noted that there’s a following snippet of old timey fiddle that properly ends the playing, a trick used by the band throughout the album with four of the 13 tracks comprising these snippets.
Overall a strong showing from The Hellfire Club and definitely recommended for anyone interested in home grown Americana. The album launch is this Saturday, 14th March and if you attend you can buy the album for the once only reduced price of £5 and that’s a bargain these days. In addition you’ll see the band play the songs and sets from The Dirt and Les Johnson And Me. In addition you’d be supporting local music, ’nuff said.