By "Venice" Joe Pettijohn, Jr.
April 27th brings us the release of the much anticipated next installment of the career of James Scott Bullard. Here is a full review and preview of the record in advance of that release!
The first thing you’ll notice and need to know about “Full Tilt Boogie” is how awesome looking a record it is. It’s one of my favorite visual presentations in recent memory, simple yet vibrant (you literally cannot overlook this record in a lineup,) and as funky and badass as the music it contains. From brandishing a trippy picture of James on the cover to the font that looks like it just arrived straight out of 1978 this record brings it visually before you ever hear the first guitar lick.
And that’s just the start of the badassery this record brings.
Do you remember Bob’s Country Bunker in the movie “The Blues Brothers”? The rowdy roadhouse with the chicken wire in front of the stage, populated with truckers, farmers, hillbillies and honky tonk queens? Every track on Full Tilt Boogie would make the jukebox at Bobs, and get heavy play.
It is a rowdy, raucous good time, that changes pace when necessary to settle you down and allow Bullard to really unleash himself on you. It’s a very full and robust record that takes you on a journey with stops including rowdy women, living your own rowdy existence, and all points in between.
The record opens with the laid back, but edgy “Lord, Have Mercy On me”, a track that could be described as a plea for the journey that’s about to take place.
From there we move to the first single from the album “Wicked Ways”. A song that comes at you like a chainsaw firing to life and being thrust at you. A song telling the tale of living life on the edge, starting at the very beginning. “I was a baby, When my momma, said ‘no women, no wine, no songs, cause your daddy was a rambler, and that’s the same road that he left on'”. It’s a catchy opening line for the song, but more than that it is likely a true one, as James discussed last year in his appearance on the Country Music Armadillo Show.
The record rocks, rolls, and boogies on through “All To Pieces”, “Hey, Hey, Mama”, and “Warpath”, keeping up the high energy and hard living. “Jesus, Jail, or Texas”, the second single from the record, opens up with a laid back sound and feel, but then mashes the gas into a rowdy time. The song is an absolute highlight of the album, and the kind of song that if I had to guess, I’d say the great Waylon Jennings would hear and want to record for himself. It’s got that kind of attitude that Waylon loved to employ, and Bullard pulls it off on his own without a hitch.
The record continues to dish out the jabs and uppercuts through “Evil Lovin'”, “Leavin On My Mind”, and “The Next Tear” before arriving at the final track “Back to You” where the pace changes, and it finishes almost like a relaxing evening watching the sun set in the west. “Back To
You” brings a sound almost reminiscent of an Allman Brothers song. It is the perfect finish to the lively journey you’ve joined Bullard for.
“Full Tilt Boogie” is a damn fine record. There isn’t a down moment to be heard. It’s a record true to it’s own spirit and makes no bones about it. Brother Bullard brings the mail yet again, and come April 27th you’re damn sure going to want him delivering these tunes to your ears in that distinctive style of his.