Wednesday, 9 May 2018

EP: Bellew - Bang!

Bellew - BANG! Dundalk

Info: Last month Bellew released his debut E.P. 'Bang!' in the Spirit Store. Along with recording, mixing and mastering the blues rock E.P, Bellew played and programmed every instrument on Bang! bar the keyboards which were played by David Burke (Swords based keyboard wizard).

The 24 year old bluesman from Dundalk played with 3 different bands on the night of his E.P. launch. First accompanying Tara Tíne (Author Songstress and Hallion) on electric guitar, followed by lead guitar duties with Harry Hoban and the Brothers Kane and then with his own band (Shane Byrne of Pizza Pizza records on Drums, Kieran O'Surfer on double bass and electric bass, David Burke on piano, organ and ambient guitar and Tara Tíne on Bodhrán and vocals).

No other Irish EP will shoot an arrow straight onto the bullseye of my blues heart this year, that's for sure. Bellew's Bang! captures all of the old blues albums and 45's I've managed to accumulate over the years on vinyl. From John Mayall (and by association then teenager Eric Clapton), Albert Collins, early-Stones and even some Neil Young and Bert Jansch. A wide and wild spread.

The EP's title track begins proceedings and I admit I was a little shocked at what I heard, I wasn't expecting such proficiency, and mostly because I just haven't heard it apart from on said records, especially from an Irish act. This one is all Mayall & The Bluesbreakers with Clapton for me, think 'Steppin' Out', at 3:33 the fire is lit, this solo is fucking heaven to me.

'Diary of a Night Owl' has that Jansch acoustic intro á la 'Angie', but also tips its hat rhythm-wise to London trio America's classic 'A Horse With No Name' but without the morose slow tempo. Then comes 'Lu Blues', again Bellew displaying he can play some fine blues on acoustic just as well as on electric. There's a very slight swamp-blues tinge and he pings those harmonic notes off the fret-board like a cowboy whose bossin' it.

Wham! or Bang! even, a wave of rip-roaring and rolling guitar riffs come in rapid succession one after the other on '53', it's slightly outrageous and I love it. An expertly dropped break at 1:20 lasts less than 9 seconds and the electric guitar is off scorching again. It's quite chaotic and difficult at first listen to take in exactly how much Bellew is throwing at us here, and we're all the better for it. His vocal very much in the mid-60's cross-over zone when rock music was first dipping its toes in psych and garage.

Final track 'Black Sea' reminds me undoubtedly of my biggest hero on its opening bars, Rory Gallagher, it's like a submerged version of 'A Million Miles Away' on the Irish Tour album. Then it starts mixing psychedelic tones, before moving into James Gang territory. I love this, it's very care-free and free-flowing and genuinely feels like the artist is having fun, whilst sharing it around generously. 

An EP like Bang! provides me with a lot of excitement, there just aren't that many Irish blues-rock acts right now when you consider the swell of other genres which would have been unheard of 10 years ago in the greater music scene, but are now blooming such as hip-hop and electronic. In some ways this may work against Bellew, is it a reflection of a lack of appetite? I don't think so, more a lack of exposure to a very-skilled  (nowadays) sub-genre of rock music. If he keeps building it like this, they will come.

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