BY MICHAEL TOLAND
When is a bar band not a bar band? When it’s made up of top-flight session guys and members of the Georgia Satellites, fronted/funded by a Danish businessman with rock & roll dreams in his eyes. Or at least that’s the premise behind Protector, the debut LP by rough-and-tumble pickup band the Bullhounds. Fresh from a stint at Complete Vocal Institute, entrepreneur Erling Daell tapped Rick Richards and Mauro Magellan from the Georgia Satellites, session bassist Keith Christopher (Shaver, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, the original lineup of the Satellites) and guitar gun-for-hire Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow, Pete Droge) to record a set of tunes paying homage to old-fashioned, no frills rock & roll.
The quintet pulls songs from a variety of sources – the repertoire of unknowns Alec White and Torben Christensen, tunes from Magellan and Christopher, a couple of uncommon covers – but filters them all through their own Chuck Berryfied vision, as if they all come from a single source. “If You Got No One,” “Mean, Mean Girl” and a crunching take on the Bluefields’ “Star Treatment” add muscle to the usual Berry/Stones chug, while “What Makes a Man,” “Red Kroovy” (nice A Clockwork Orange reference) and “Born With Nothin’” slow down the tempo and crank up the lighters. A cowpunk cover of Nine Pound Hammer’s “Drunk Tired & Mean” shows at least a glimmer of humor.
It’s all performed with the right balance of experienced skill and rowdy energy, and no one seems to be just going through the motions. But the writing is rarely more than solid and Daell’s gravely blare relies more on game enthusiasm more than actual passion. Despite some truly excellent ix-string fireworks from Richards and Stroud, transcendence remains just out of reach. Regardless of pedigree, the Bullhounds come off as just another bar band, instead of the ultimate bar band it should’ve become.
DOWNLOAD: “Drunk Tired & Mean,” “Star Treatment” “Make It”