By Jim Hynes
If ever a title typified an album, Full Tilt Boogie does a decent job. This is unrelenting, full throttle outlaw country assault with screaming guitars and riffs that sound at times like the Allman Brothers on steroids. James Scott Bullard’s ninth album has been compared to a modern day Smoky and the Banditsoundtrack, and Bullard is just fine with that description. Bullard is no newcomer and judging by the names of those he’s hung with, like David Allan Coe, Butch Walker, Dex Romweber and the Steel Woods, it’s not surprising to find this to be a raucous, beer drinking, rambunctious ride. The South Carolinian put together a kickass band, especially with Jeff Springs on the raging guitar and lap steel, who seems to propel Bullard into overdrive.
Bullard claims he’s taken a step down from the “poor me” stuff and replaced it with a brooding demon who owns his faults. He’s conquered his substance abuse and—a surprise to him—finds that he’s even more creative now. It’s his combination of outlaw country and Southern rock that makes him too over the top in terms of rock ‘n’ roll for mainstream country and a bit too country for your basic rock radio station. Yet, he fits in fine with that outlaw country sound. His characters are bikers, rodeo riders, and renegades, but his audience encompasses bankers, lawyers, and grandmothers.
Growing up a heavy metal fan who looked at his dad’s country/bluegrass musicianship disdainfully, Bullard moved from metal to rock and now country. He claims that his dad predicted it. Some would argue he hasn’t moved all the way toward country yet, given the blaring rock and slashing guitars backing him. In any case, Bullard is intent on carving out his own niche.
The song titles will give you an idea of the sound too. Rather than highlighting specific tracks, let’s just say that if you like the first two or three, you’ll be hooked for all ten. As mentioned, this is an unrelenting ride as evidenced by “Lord, Have Mercy,” “Wicked Ways,” “Warpath,” “Jesus, Jail, or Texas,” and “Leavin’ on My Mind.” You get the idea. Now, slip in the CD and crank it up.