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A remasterd CD of Dogkennel Hill's seminal album, featuring bonus tracks. Here's a review from


If a good cast is worth repeating, than a good album is worth a review time and time again.
Truth be told, Sweethearts Of The Rodeo by Dogkennel Hill was already released back in 1999. Despite an array of excellent songs, the album sadly failed to make the impact it deserves. Quireboys founder member / guitarist Guy Bailey and former school friend Tim Bewlay, who briefly played with Bailey’s band in the 90’s, formed Dogkennel Hill in 1997. The impressive line up was completed by pianist Chris Johnstone (also Quireboys), drummer Simon Hanson (Squeeze), Dave Tregunna (Lords Of The New Church) on bass and Sarah Denton on violin. Additional help came from Andy Wain (pedal steel, dobro) and Pam Donaldson (backing vocals). While we’re at it, main dog Bewlay not only provides main vocals on the album, but also plays guitars, bass, keyboards…

Bailey and Bewlay wrote most of the material for the album and the final selection is comprised of eleven original songs and three live takes. Mind you, we’re not talking the blitz-the-booze guitar rock one might expect from any Quireboys member, but more heartfelt and organic country rock instead. Indeed, Sweethearts Of The Rodeo is in title almost identical to The Byrds sixth album – a nod to ex-Byrd Gram Parsons later band The Flying Burrito Brothers, who, together with fellow ex-Byrds Chris Hillmann and Skip Battin (amongst others) pioneered the very country-rock sound that Dogkennel Hill obviously felt inspired by. There’s also a fair bit of Bob Dylan and even a little Tom Petty thrown in the blender.

Opener ‘Sweet Seraphina’ sure leaves a bittersweet aftertaste, with some moody violin play supporting Bewlay’s equally moody singing. ‘Las Vegas’ appears to be a love-hate ode to one-armed bandits, tequila and all the clichés that come with a visit to Sin City – the overall sound is less country and more rock-orientated here, with bang-on percussions throughout.

One of the most beautiful numbers on the entire album is ‘Never Get To Heaven’ – a slow-burning ballad warning a girl how she’ll never get to heaven “in a car like that”. Well, depends on the speed of things I say. The song really is great as it is, but I imagine what it might sound like had Bewlay performed it as a duet with an artist like Margo Timmins from the Cowboy Junkies…

‘Put Him Down’ thrives on a distinct Dylan-style sound with trademark violin play and witty lyrics:

“He was just a joker, you were always wired and taut
Now you call yourself a player a mover shaker
And him he's still an astronaut
And he will take his medicine
You know a spoonful never killed no one before
And the good doctor laughed just like the time before last
At this black and bloody visceral jest.
It’s time to put him down.”

We enter Parsons / Burritos territory with the upbeat ‘Dirt On My Shoes’ - boasting a rather catchy chorus to make it even more upbeat. So does ‘Simple Man’ with its equally catchy violin solo. ‘Pull You Under’ is a well crafted and rough-round-the edges love song (or anti-love song if you prefer), delivered in tones of simmering accusation and raw emotion all at once, while closing track ‘Find A Girl’ simply is a grand ole little country-rock ditty that can compete with the best of them.

Sweethearts Of The Rodeo is an underrated little gem that deserves to be re-discovered and appreciated. Get it via Amazon and all the usual platforms etc.

Sweethearts of the Rodeo

10,00 €Price
This album is currently only available for download on the music page
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