Album Review: TEXAS CANNONBALLS – Texas Cannonballs

Rock ‘n Roll Saves [Release Date: 2013]

‘Texas Cannonballs’ is both the name of a band and an album that rocks out with pounding, dirt in the tracks grooves. From the opening rumbustious ‘Fly Away’ to the laid back Stones style acoustic finale of Dreaming’, this is Texan bar room boogie at its best.

Texas Cannonballs comprises Hector Watt on guitar and vocals, Preston Hubbard on bass – who contrary to persistent rumours is still very much alive –  Chris Ruest on guitar and vocal and Jim Starboard on drums, with Temple Ray providing both bv’s and harmony vocals. And while the first four tracks are incorrectly listed – tracks one and four and two and three are the wrong way round – if you manage to play the whole album in one sitting, you will be swept along by the essential flow of the band’s oeuvre.

Even when the album starts to wane a little at the half way point, they add an extra instrumental bite and bv’s to re-ignite songs such as ‘King of the Blues’, which initially kicks in with snappy intent but never quite catches fire.

Texas Cannonballs is your dream Austin band. They resemble the last four band men standing in a city steeped in musical history. The difference of course, is that they are essentially a new band with their own take on the Lone Star state’s musical history.

This is a roots rock band that has honed its craft over a thousand bar room gigs. Texas Cannonballs is the sort of outfit that originally gave Austin its reputation as an international hub of rock and blues, or at least before the developers moved in. The band inhabits the kind of niche that brought SRV, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and Omar & The Howlers international success. They rock, groove, percolate and bubble under, as the front line players add layered tones over a glorious bottom end, provided by the redoubtable Preston Hubbard and Jim Starboard.

The band’s collective bio is equally filled with high profile and obscure names, but it’s music with an essential Texan feel at the heart of it. They veer from rhythm & blues and rock & roll to Tex Mex and country tinged Americana, while never straying too far from the rock solid grooves of the opening  brace ‘Fly Away’ and ‘Hard Way’, and the riff driven rocking of ‘Me And The Devil’. The latter deals not so much with the devil in the small print, as the gritty guitar playing that turns occasional sludge into gold, and resets the band’s focus when the arrangements momentarily waver.

‘Texas Cannonballs’ is the kind of good time rocking album that the Fab -T Birds used to seduce you with, before they aimed at a commercial breakthrough. And that’s relevant, because Chris Ruest made his name with the Austin band the Solid Senders, who were frequently compared to the early T Birds at their best. And it’s that unwavering musical connection that anchors an album of old school, good time rocking that perhaps only Jimmy Vaughan still continues to explore. For while the guitar led rhythm and blues of ‘Texas Tumbleweed’ and ‘Me & The Devil’ are classic examples of the genre, it’s music that today is mainly an export commodity and keeps a band like this on the road.

‘Texas Tumbleweed’ is full of slide guitar slashes and rolls along much like its lyrical evocation: ‘Blow wind blow, yeah yer howling up a hell of a storm, you got us dancing in the desert, yeah the desert is my home’.

Not everything works that well, with Hector’s idiosyncratic version of Jerry McCain’s ‘I Want Somebody To Love Me’ sitting uneasily with the rock solid grooves of the first part of the album. However, Chris Ruests ‘One Slip’ steers the ship back on course with a languid but insistent slice of rockaboogie.  Hector’s ‘King Of The Blues’ nails another groove, even if it’s the triumph of bluster over substance and only an uplifting solo re-energises the stop-time ‘I Was Wrong’.

The band are in their element on the big tremolo figure of ‘Nobody Cares About Me’ and let rip on another Jerry McCain rocker ‘Geronimo Rock’, which would surely have made Preston’s former band member Chris Curran smile.  ‘King Of The Jungle’ goes back to what they do best, with some distorted riffs over a laid back groove that smoulders with intent, and they rock out one more time on the riff led ‘Me And The Devil’s before a lo-fi  finish on Hector’s ‘Dreaming’.

‘Texas Cannonballs’ is an album predicated on the implicit belief that there’s still an audience out there for some real deal, quality Texan roots rocking such as this. They ain’t wrong, grab a copy and head for the dance floor. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 21 November. Next session 12 December. The video above was a Halloween Special, streamed 31 October.

Check out the latest video here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 21 November 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 November 2021.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

Listen via Windows Media Player. Click or tap here and “open file”
Listen via other media player (eg. VLC) Click or tap here and “open file”

Get Ready to ROCK! Radio is also in iTunes under Internet Radio/Classic Rock
Listen in via the Tunein app and search for “Get Ready to ROCK!” and save as favourite.

More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

From 29 November the Featured Albums and Power Play segments will reflect those artists and tracks featured during 2021.

Popular (last 30 days)

This entry was posted in ALBUM REVIEWS, ALBUM REVIEWS (Mobile), ALL POSTS and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply