|Riding After Midnight, Clint Bradley
Bluelight Records, 2014
If you're reading this, you're probably already hip to Clint Bradley. You probably know him best as the lead singer for The Blue Cats/G-Men/Beltaine Fire. If you're a regular reader, you know that I think The Blue Cats are the most original thing to happen to rockabilly since Charlie Feathers recorded for King Records.
In the past 2 years, Clint and I have enjoyed a pretty regular correspondence. Clint & Co. should be better known here in the States... and I'm working on it... but damn, he has written and recorded so much great music... it's tough to pick a starting point for the new initiate! His solo stuff has always reminded me a bit of Roy Orbison meets Marty Robbins. I've found out, over the past year, that Marty Robbins is one of his all-time faves. Like almost any singer/songwriter I know, he has always wanted to record a personal homage to his roots... and this disc is just that!
Clint Bradley has always been intrigued and inspired by the classic gunfighter ballads of the aforementioned Robbins. Those are the songs that pushed him to pick up a guitar in the first place. It takes a really gifted singer to do those types of song justice... and luckily for all involved, artist and listener both, Clint Bradley is that quality of singer!
Imagine my excitement when Clint emailed me to let me know that my copy of "Riding After Midnight" was in the mail. A few months back, he has shared with me a video of the song "Man Walks Among Us". The sheer beauty of his rendition was haunting, for lack of a better word. Just him and his guitar. It doesn't get more stripped down than that! I was hooked! This song alone should be enough to get you to pick up a copy of this release. It's just that good! But... you guessed it, there's more.
I was thrilled to find that its an all-acoustic record. Acoustic guitar, upright bass, dobro, that sort of sound. It's a tricky ordeal to record like that and make it sound fresh and new... but Clint and his merry band of minstrels have done just that!
Starting with the title track, you know you're in for something special. Starting with some brilliant acoustic guitar and dobro lines, with a chugging bass and train beat snare drum, this will get your foot a-tapping! Bluelight Records has opted for a nice booklet complete not only with lyrics but Clint's own thoughts on each song. It truly is a very nice, personal touch. It just brings the whole project closer to the listener.
It's not everyday that a contemporary artist covers a song originally sung by Dean Martin & Ricky Nelson... but Clint does! If you're a fan of old westerns, you might recognize it from the jailhouse scene from 'Rio Bravo'. Between you and me, I like this much more than the original... and I grew up in Dean Martin's home town!
Bradley's take on his hero's "Doggone Cowboy" should go down a treat with the country fans... especially in the UK. I will always remember my first introduction to the British country scene... and let me tell you, to an American, it was an eye opener! The fans were dressed the part! Cowboys, Indians, and oddly (to me), as US Civil War soldiers. That said, I can see this song filling dance floors at the country music get-togethers. It's a charmer of a song!
When you hear "A Fine Horse", you'll swear it must be a long-lost cowboy classic. You'd be wrong. It's a Bradley-penned classic-to-be! Inspired my the Larry McMurtry books, and the Lone Dovemini series, this track just takes you out onto the plains, riding a fine horse... presumably into the sunset. But don't think the record is over..not by a long shot! We're not even halfway there yet.
"We Are Shane" has, at least to my ears, an almost bluegrass meets Mississippi blues guitar feel to it. Again, fans of westerns will recognize the title and the story line... and will, most likely, love it. This one is going to be stuck in my head for a while... I'm already waiting for my better half to 'borrow' the disc... and it will be stuck in her car's disc player for the better part of the summer.
Keeping with the Shane theme, Bradley takes on "Call Of The Far Away Hills" and just knocks it out of the park! This man's voice was made for songs like this. The band, apparently, loves this music as well, and they pay respect to the original sounds, while keeping it sounding fresh and new... which like I've often said, is a daunting task.
OK, I could go through and detail every bit of information about every track... but that would rob you, the reader - and potential listener - of the joy of hearing it firsthand, and with an open mind. I won't do that to you. I will, however, tell you that if you enjoy the western side of C&W, this disc is for you! Even if it's not your usual cup O tea, I'll suggest it for your collection. It's just a great record. As usual, Bluelight Records has done a great job of both production and packaging. Did I mention the 13 page booklet? Of course I did! I just wanted to remind you! If vinyl is more your speed, you're in luck! This release is available on 12" too! So what are you waiting for? Go get your copy! NOW!
I'd like to take a moment and thank Clint Bradley, not only for making such a wonderful record, but for the friendship. If any of you readers run into him on the continent, buy that man a beer and have one with him for me!
Produced by Darren Allison & Clint Bradley
Reviewed by Memphis Mike, 2014