Every now and again, you drop an album in whatever format into your system and it just stops you dead when you hit the play button!!! Welcome to Hugo Race because it just stopped me dead in my tracks. The raw blues of Dirt Road that unmistakable world, weary drawl, so dominant in my collection, (Don’t forget Hugo Race spent time as one of the Bad Seeds) this LP has it all. Worth noting; that Hugo Race also wrote the screenplay to “Ghosts of the Civil Dead”.
As you drop out of the opener, your pulled into “Saw the Lights” This track bleeds for you, that almost Southern drawl, picked acoustica, really sets up the lyrics to tell a story.
Next up we have the sort of cover version that I love, stripped back, given a new very different lease of life, what am I talking about? “John the Revelator” from Depeche Mode, but the T Bone Burnett influenced guitar work takes it to a whole new dimension, at times, sparse and intense you can almost feel the Bad Seeds breathing life into it, talk about a sonic soundscape. . Before you know it you’ve drifted through “Eyesight to the blind”, “Three Forks “ one of me personal faves on the LP, evoking Tom Waits at times, at others bringing forward its own identity. Before your hit with the next up “Certified fool” evoking Nick Cave at his most intense from her to eternity times, remember Race played on this stunner!! You can feel the music breathe, as it twists and crawl its way into your conscious.
There really is no let up, this is one of those late nite LP’s when your alone, sat sipping whisky drifting with the music, allowing the imagery evoked to come forward. You almost have to draw breath at this point you’ve become so immersed in the sound, but the reality is there is no let up, the second half of the LP is equally as strong as the first, no filler present, tracks like “Pray for sleep”, “Memnon Days” and “White Scorpion”, all hit the mark before you come to the LP closer “Earls Murder” really nails the feel of the whole album, what a soundscape.
When as you do I looked into Hugo Races background, knowing him only from the Nick Cave links, what I found absolutely stunned me from leaving Nick Cave and the bad seeds after playing on From Her to Eternity, Kicking against the Pricks, Tender Prey and Murder Ballads, before forming The Wreckery (You should really dig this stuff up, I did), to the releases with Hugo Race and the True Spirit, to his Solo releases of which this is one, to the Dirt Music releases, Sepiatone releases, into Hugo Race & Fatalists and beyond, what I found was a Multi Instrumentalist with a huge back catalogue waiting to be explored by yours truly. If you pick up one re-issue this year make it this one.
Author: Nev Brooks