Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2013 January 23 • Wednesday

Here's another great Bear Family release.

Hank Davis grew up in New York City where, through radio, which was a hell of a lot more interesting in the '50s than it has been for decades, he became obsessed with country, rockabilly and the blues. Sun Records in particular fascinated him and you can hear the influence of Elvis, Charlie Rich, Warren Smith, Carl Perkins, Dale Hawkins, even Roy Orbison, I think, in his music.

The title song is brilliant haunting rockabilly with great guitar sound and eerie tape echo on the voice. The lyrics have a fatalistic quality: "Lovin' you's like riding on a one way track / I can love you now but I can't come back". The rhythm has a driving freight train feel and the guitar solos are simple but succulent.

"There Is No Right Way" ("to do me wrong", the lyric continues), is one of those achingly beautiful pedal steel-driven country songs with a honkytonk swing.

"Lift Up Your Hands" is an uptempo song about a desperado in the Wild West. The use of the title lyric is quite ingenious, being spoken by different people in different contexts.

"I Don't Feel Like Dancing" is a great heartbreak song with wonderful pedal steel playing.

Electric piano—Fender Rhodes?—adds an unusual and funky element to the r&b-inflected "Early in the Morning". Perhaps they were going for a Ray Charles thing and, to cover their bets, decided to include some Duane Eddyish guitar playing also.

"There Goes the Guy" is a pop tune with a surprisingly aggressive pulse. The lyrics make use of "one way track" again and also look ahead to Charlie Rich's "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World".

"Low Down Moaning" has a menacing guitar sound and a really cool and weird rhythmic feel for the chorus. Art Garfunkel, who was a year ahead of Davis at Columbia University, sings back-up vocal on this! Hank used to play guitar on Art's demos and Art would return the favor by singing on Hank's.

There's even a station break by "Rusty and Doug" for New York City's own WKCR, referred to as "the only country and western music station in New York City"!

"Lonely Road" is another haunting pop song about loneliness and desperate love. The melody and harmonies created by the two singers are very poignant and the guitar solo by New York session musician George Barnes is really nice, with a wonderful tone On rhythm guitar is none other than Kenny Burrell!

There are some great lines in "A Minute To Run". Consider the opening: "This might have been a ballad / The emotions would've been valid". The song is exactly a minute long, too, so there's a concept at work here. It's got a swaying groove and is arranged for voice and one or two steel-string guitars.

Finally there's "Peace and Contentment", the last track on the CD, an uptempo bluesy instrumental featuring the electric piano.