Reviews


The Serious Business of Being Funny
A Young Person’s Guide To Hell
The Hellboys
Hellboys.com

Given that The Hellboys are the house band of the extended Guitar Craft family, it’s no surprise that Hellboy in chief, Tom Redmond, has a heavyweight address book.

Judging by the appearance of top-drawer players such as The California Guitar Trio, Tony Levin, Robert Fripp, and REM’s Bill Rieflin, it seems Redmond might also have a whole bunch of blackmail photographs to ensure their compliance in his Hellboys project.

Of course, this being a Hellboys album, it’s peppered with self-deprecating in-jokes about Guitar Craft and fandom (Mr.Boring), and the mysterious links between prostate trouble and the creative process (Rivers of Pee). There’s also a fabulous authentic thrash / death metal pastiche (We Used To Be) which would give Venom or Opeth a run for their money.

The savage rocking cover of Dylan’s Masters of War shows Redmond's punk credentials whilst the instrumental War is a solid-gone prog work out that comes across like the soundtrack to the apocalypse.

Aside from an ill-advised reggae-tinged pastiche (Save Me A Seat), for all the wise-acre sideswipes at one genre or another this album has a surprisingly persuasive, cohesive feel that takes it beyond a collection of phoned-in cameos and makes it sound like an actual band.

Perhaps best of all is the closing track, Angels, positing Robert Fripp’s soul-searching ambient explorations into a Country music setting. It shouldn’t work but it does. Much like The Hellboys themselves.

 


 

In Music We Trust, Tom Schulte (www.inmusicwetrust.com/articles/70f09.html, May 2005)

The Hellboys is an amorphous, protean group and somewhat of a prog-rock collective. The central principal is Tom Redmond. Redmond is part of the soundalike triumvirate that also includes Lou Reed and Larry McMurtry. On this album are Tony Levin, Jerry Marota, Robert Fripp, The California Guitar Trio and more. The album is a wonderful blend of shocking sounds, unexpected melody and quirky lyrics. (rating of 4.5 out of 5)

 


 

Studio M Live, Jim Clark (www.studiomlive.com/reviews/hellboys100704_jc.html), October 2004

Led by guitarist Tom Redmond, the Hellboys are basically a band of Robert Fripp’s disciples. Cha Cha With The Hellboys features many past and present collaborators and students of the iconic King Crimson guitarist – bassist Tony Levin, drummer Jerry Marotta, and guitarists Redmond, Tony Geballe and the California Guitar Trio (Paul Richards, Bert Lams and Hideyo Moriya). Fripp even joins in on a couple of tracks.

The music sounds quite similar to the California Guitar Trio’s output, except that there are some vocals, provided by Redmond, as well as some electric guitar, played by Geballe and Redmond.

And that duo also compensates for the lack of a keyboardist by conjuring up some very cool guitar effects.

“Cha Cha With The Hellboys,” is, well, a cha cha with the Hellboys. With it Spanish flavored guitar and percussion and randomly thrown in “cha cha’s,” the number marks a pleasant way to start things off. “Hellboys Blessing” follows with layers upon layers of acoustic guitars and Geballe and Redmond’s electric guitars providing some excellent effects. And Redmond throws in some “ahhhs” that float gently above the wash of guitars.

“Don’t Tell My Wife” starts off with more acoustic action that leads into an excellent Levin bass line.

The song sees Redmond singing, or more accurately, talking about a career musician who doesn’t “know C major for shit” and that he doesn’t want his wife to find out about it. A very strong, and humorous, song.

“Chord From Hell” features lots of weird percussion noises and guitar effects to start off the track before morphing into a fast-paced acoustic guitar battle. “Children Leaving” includes string quartet-like guitar effects from Geballe that beautifully back some quiet acoustic guitar. The 17-minute epic, “Missed The Train,” follows with power-tool sounding electric guitar and steady percussion and bass. Some growling vocals add more to the, strange as it may sound, acoustic industrial sound. Redmond’s Adrian Belew-like lead vocals kick in briefly before returning to acoustic mayhem. Some maniacal electric guitar keeps things moving before Marotta’s drumming briefly takes center stage. The guitars return before the track closes out with one of Fripp’s patented soundscapes. 



The mellow, faux-country tune “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder” follows up with Redmond giving a perfectly fitting vocal for this track. The guitars are in their glory here, from the acoustic picking by Richards, Lams and Redmond to a fine electric solo from Geballe. Again, Levin and Marotta hold things together with their understated rhythm section.

Cha Cha… closes out with “Robert Ain’t Your Father,” a song that’s intro and outro really wouldn’t have sounded out of place on any of the 80’s King Crimson discs. But breaking the track up is a Cajun-like guitar and Fripp’s harmonica-sounding soundscape.

Fans of Fripp, Levin, King Crimson and/or the California Guitar Trio should find something of interest on this disc. At the very least, it shows the influence that Fripp has had on a number of talented musicians.

 


 

 

All About Jazz, Glenn Astarita (www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=14707), September 2004

This independent release highlights the compositions of vocalist/guitarist Thomas Redmond. But it's more or less a union of the King Crimson crowd, featuring guitar hero Robert Fripp's soundscapes patented electronics on selected tracks. King Crimson bassist and fabled session man Tony Levin handles the bottom end chores, along with the California Guitar Trio and others. Ultimately, Redmond's tongue-in-cheek lyricism and the band's electro-acoustic guitar based passages translate into a highly entertaining brew. Just think of what might happen when a bunch of highly regarded progressive rockers set out to enjoy a bit of fun and frolic in the studio. Sure, they let their hair down, but the melodically centric comps, coupled with blithe lyricism all stacks up rather nicely. But it's clearly Redmond who provides the devilish sensibilities here, thanks to his downright witty and hilarious verse on selected tracks.

 


 

Sid Smith (www.sidsmith.blogspot.com, March 2004)

I know what you're thinking. Does his guitar have six strings or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the excitement, I've kind of lost track myself. But being as this is Tom Redmond, the most demented Hellboy in the world, who would blow your ears clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: “Do I feel lucky?”

Quicker than you can retort “Is that my only choice?” the Hellboys, spawned somewhere between the trash cans of New Jersey and the far-flung seminaries, boot camps, etc, of Guitar Courses, have been entertaining the troops with such dysfunctional classics as the Chord From Hell and the Janov-induced Hellboys Blessing for some time now.

The animating force behind The Hellboys, Tom Redmond, has been sticking it to the smug and stiff, the affected and vain, the misguided and just plain confused on more Guitar Craft courses than you’ve had hot dinners. And that’s just the Crafty lifers.

However, this is not just a collection of one-liners although there are some greats including my favourites “If you practice too much you’re out of the band”, “Louder always wins” and “Shut up I’m talking”.

Despite the self-deprecation and disarming disassembly that Redmond and his Hellish legion perpetrate, there’s an uplifting aspect to all the brown-notes and wrong-footing. "Don’t Tell My Wife" is frighteningly catchy and "Missed The Train" is well, just frightening.

Expect your mirth muscles to be well and truly exercised (or should that be excised) by "Robert Ain’t Your Father", with its jaunty waltzing interlude that is not so much Harry Lime but more quicklime given its ability to have you dissolving into laughter.

Not everyone will appreciate the humour though. Sometimes with a joke, you had to be there. On the other hand, you could just “honour convenience”, save yourself the trouble by picking up a copy of Cha Cha With The Hellboys.