Reviews

"I put the album on the CD player and from the off I was hooked.
The title track saw me pushing the replay button time and time again".
Mick Green Country Music & More magazine

    Jeremy Isaac : Country Music International      
Pete Smith in Country Music News & Roots says:
 
 

 

......Alan brings 30 years of musical experience to his latest album, a bright mix of 12 strong, self penned tunes that fall between traditional sounds and the country pop of top names like The Bellamy Brothers and The Mavericks.

He is joined by a group of solid British country muscos, notably respected fiddle player John Permenter and multi instrumentalist Geoff Betsworth, who covers all the bases from peddle steel, dobro and mandolin, lead guitar and keyboards, together they provide the perfect backdrop to the singer/songwriters mellow vocals.

Of the 12 tacks included not one is a duffer. While the themes of love, new ,lost and timeless are not new , they are handled with a sensitivity that has resulted in a consistent enjoyable collection of songs........

Given the low standard of many British releases this is an unusually strong that deserves to do well.

      ........ The Strait influence came through strongly on his debut "If It Aint Broke Don't Fix It".. that influence is also present on the follow up " Hey Mr Sunshine" again self produced but this time containing twelve McCulloch originals. Alan has a voice and feel for Western Swing and honky tonk, which is his forte, and will therefore please stone country fans. Excellent songs abound, particularly the title cut, which is picking up quite a lot of radio play, 'Warm Hearted Wonderful', 'Saddle Up, Giddy Up' 'That's it I Quit' and 'A Girl I Once Knew'. Geoff Betsworth adds some lovely steel , dobro and mandolin sounds and former Clint Black sideman, John Permenter, contributes fiddle.  

     


I remember reviewing Alan's last album and this new album continues in a similar vein. Alan is predominantly a song writer by his own admission and I get the impression that he would rather be that than anything but that doesn't stop him providing all the lead vocals on his album, to the words and music that he writes entirely by himself.
Alan's relaxed and almost lazy style of singing really lends itself well to the songs that he writes and along with Geoff Betsworth, who as well as recording and producing the album and playing on has put a really good album together.

Alan's song writing is very Country but he also seems to perfected the art of the under four minute song, and in some cases, under three minutes...........

.....Because I know of Alan's desire to have his songs covered by others, I have tended to listen to the album with that in mind. I can hear other people singing these songs as the play which must be a good sign. There really is some good material on here, my favourite being Warm Hearted Wonderful, which is so country it might be worth you having a listen to this album if you think we have no songwriters on these shores- turns out we might just have.

 
BCMA : says
One time rock musician Alan McCulloch, is a comparatively new convert to country music, but you wouldn't guess it from the range of styles covered in this new album.
Only the title track is not recognisably country, although it does admittedly have a Mavericks feel to it. All twelve songs are of his own writing and although is vocal style does, at times, seem a bit too relaxed, he's come up with an album of which he should be justly proud.
A special note of praise, too, for the accompanying musicians, Geoff Betsworth, John Permenter, Phil Middleton, Ian Sands, Len Whitehead and Darrren Gibson . A really nice tight sound.

Stone Country as the music used to be.
 

They say that first impressions count. If that's the case then I am delighted in what I hear from Alan McCulloch and this album Hey Mr Sunshine.

The facts as I know them tells that Alan is a good-looking young married guy from Carlisle, who writes, sings and plays country music. He has a management deal with Kent-based Alan Cackett, which put him into the same stable as the much hailed Niki Dean - the young Yorkshire girl with the potential of a big future in the country music.

For this album, under the sponsorship of Pirelli Tyres, Alan went to Geoff Betsworth, Seafield Music, Cumbria, for production and recording for 12 of the 13 tracks. Ian Sands at the Vaq Shaq Yorkshire recorded and produced the first track. The list of musicians on this album reads: Alan : lead vocals;Geoff Betsworth : lead, pedal steel guitar, dobro, mandolin, keyboards; John Permenter : fiddle; Phil Middleton : harmony vocals
Ian Sands : bass guitar, harmony vocals; Len Whitehead : guitars;Darren Gibson :drums

The CD opens with the bright and lively "Going My Way"; the story of a guy on the move after a broken romance who will not give in to the miseries- the tone is modern country with plenty of steel guitar.
"Hey Mr Sunshine Hello" has that Florida keys feel to it, which reminds of Jimmy Buffett or even the Bellamy Brothers.
The mood tempers down for "Forget About You" a nice mid tempo ballad about a guy trying to forget about an ex-lover. The warmth of Alan's voice takes the required sadness from the song but Geoff Betsworth sad Dobro offers some redress.
"Warm hearted Wonderful" wallows in warm praise of the guy's lady who is all country. The fiddle of John Permenter and Geoff's steel guitar help tie the knot of love.
" Pretty Blue Eyes" continues the love theme of the last track with as change of tempo around the same adoration.
Alan McCulloch sure has the ability to give you that feel good factor with his pleasing and warm, sincere voice that more than holds it's own with many Nashville stars.
"Saddle Up Giddy Up " is good country fun with a hint of cowboys and truckers mixed into the love plot.
A change of pace brings forward " Maybe Next Time" - a passive love song filled with hope and first class back-up harmonies.
"I've Seen Better Days" will be well requested on Alan's live shows from both dancers and listeners. It would be great to see this album toured by Alan and a good band. But I guess that I'm just a dreamer. Wish that money were there to make this happen then perhaps, Oh well!!!
"It Ain't Witchcraft" breaks that spell but not the spirit. This is a splendid high-energy ballad from this splendid performer.
" Too Many Time" hits those honky tonks with style. Hardwood floor, sobbing fiddle, dance beat - enough to give a drinking man an appetite for another round.
"That's It I Quit" moves to "Sammy Sands" Vaq Shaq without leaving the honky tonk. Liverpool's Lenny Whitehead sure picks that guitar some.
"A Girl I Once Knew (Song For Abbe)" is a fine song of lost love with a simple guitar backing that gives extra feeling to this passionate ballad.
The sunshine mix of "Hey Mr Sunshine Hello" brings this smashing home produced album to a close.

I honestly with that the one-track minded British music industry would take time to listen to the talent in home-grown music. Then perhaps the likes of Alan McCulloch would become the stars that they deserve to be. Alan has made his move, please back him by supporting this CD with sales and airplay requests. Even in these hardtimes for our music it's never too late.

 
 
Brian Ahern : Country Music & More magazine