Belfast's Rab McCullough has been a fixture on the Irish rock scene since the 60's and is a contemporary of Van Morrison, Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore. Unlike those artists, Rab did not leave Ireland with the rise of The Troubles. He choose to stay at home to protect his family while sacrificing musical stardom. Through the 70's and 80's, time stood still in Belfast. As the 90's dawned, small rays of hope appeared for an end to The Troubles and with it, the opportunity for McCullough to once again pour his heart and soul into his music. A trip to Memphis in 1998 proved to be the catalyst for Rab to resume the career he thought he had lost forever.
His debut blues-rock disc was recorded in Brooklyn, NY and was co-produced by himself and Popa Chubby. As a result there is a certain toughness present on all tracks. A total of 7 are included and they are all originals. Rab handles guitar and vocals on them and delivers each with a raw edge. Things begin with the Irishman singing about a "Louisiana Woman". On it, his guitar work is hard and kicking. The tune is every bit as good as the material that today's better known blues-rockers crank out. Someone better catch up with piano player Mike Lattrell and dip his fingers in water. Surely they were burning after "Walkin' Back To You" was recorded. "Ain't Gonna Be Your Fool" is a token slow blues number. However it is performed from a rocker's perspective preventing the song from emoting to its fullest extreme. The Uptown Horns featuring tenor/baritone/alto sax, trombone and trumpet greatly assist to fatten the sound on "Trouble". This is the funkiest track and definitely the best. The brass pump energy into Rab's fretwork, igniting it into a plethora of wah-wah and other distorted effects. The Joe Perry-ish licks on "Mistreatin' Me" can be overlooked because they provide the perfect setting for Lattrell's organ to let rip.
Belfast Blues is essentially a mini-CD designed primarily as a marketing tool. Rab does not break new ground on this disc. At 32 minutes in length, the recording is too short to determine his potential. However, it allows him to make his mark on the scene. Let's hope the next release is full length and takes blues-rock where it hasn't been before.
For CDs, booking and information, contact: Karen Usher Tel: (352) 490-8053 Web: www.bluestormmusic.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Artist website: www.coolhandmusic.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Tim Holek, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.