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Cock Tales

Cat Lee King & His Cocks

Rhythm Bomb

With the band’s moniker coming under scrutiny and receiving a rather negative response on an underground radio station quite recently, it’s true to say that Cat Lee King & His Cocks and their new album ‘Cock Tales’ is likely to cause, if anything, a large portion of mirth among punters and press critics alike. There is much suspicion on these shores that the five-piece band from Germany are aware of the likely discussions and endless jokes that will stem from their moniker and title of their debut long player. But applaud them as we do because it’s the sort of attention that will turn heads and then, once knowledge of their authentic take on rhythm and blues spills forth and begins to hit home, any clever or crass decisions (depending on your own interpretation) regarding names and titles is soon forgotten about. Once ‘Cock Tales’ gets underway, any listener will soon forget the (unfortunate) title of both band and record because the album is a delight from start to finish. By delivering an ‘old-school’ rhythm and blues sound that is crafted from the 40s and 50s and without a trace of any modern touches, Cat Lee King & His Cocks get to work on fourteen tracks that are a mixture of covers and original compositions. It makes for a cool and sophisticated sounding collection, but one that has plenty of raw edges and therefore making for a fine balance of styles and influences. From their own number ‘Sweet Sandy Lee’ that brings Chuck Berry to the party via its opening raw guitar, and then followed by such sultry numbers as ‘I Wanna Love Somebody’ and much-loved and covered by numerous rockin’ bands ‘Drinkin’ Wine’, Cat Lee King & His Cocks certainly know how to rock. But equally compelling are the band’s ability to change things up with varying tempos and influences and, in the process, conjure up such magic as the thoughtful and classy sounding ‘Farewell Mademoiselle’ to ‘You’re The Greatest’ and then toss in a heavier dose of blues via ‘I Don’t Need No Money’, before offering one of their finest moments ‘Ain’tcha’ that was head of a recent EP campaign. Certainly form your own opinion when it comes to both name and title of band and record, but there’s one thing that cannot be disputed and that’s the sheer class of music blaring from this debut album that will have you smitten in no time.


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Deluxe Lo-Fi

Little Victor

Rhythm Bomb

Something of a coup securing the signature of blues artist Little Victor who issues latest album ‘Deluxe Lo-Fi’. The title of this new release from Little Victor accurately sums up the overall feel of this long player with a definite ‘lo-fi’ approach to the song writing throughout, but not without a sense of lavishness thrown in as well, which can be identified from the lengthy list of well-known contributors ranging from Kim Wilson of The Fabulous Thunderbirds (Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt), Steve Lucky (Blues Persuaders, Johnny Copeland), Carl Sonny Leyland (Chuck Berry, James Cotton, Louisiana Red) to name but a few. With the album being dedicated to Little Victor’s hero and musical partner Iverson Minter (aka Louisana Red), there’s plenty of personal touches from the handwritten tracks listed on the back cover that, if perused closely, read like the ups and downs of any relationship to the homely recording/production of the actual songs with their vintage qualities giving off a scent of times passed by. It’s the lo-fi qualities that really appeal, and certainly set their hooks in early via the swamp blues doubleheader ‘My Mind’ and ‘Graveyard Boogie’. Equally impressive is the following ‘I Done Got Tired’ and ‘This Letter’, with both tracks sounding at the end of their tethers and emotionally broken with a raw primitive blues supplying the musical accompaniment. From such wonderful (yes wonderful!) trudging rhythms, Little Victor mixes things up by transforming the tempo via the lively yet still gritty ‘Slow Down Baby’ that features the aforementioned Steve Lucky and, later on, ‘What’s The Matter Now’ with Jo Buddy that is reminiscent of Little Richard. Considering ‘Deluxe Lo-Fi’ is Little Victor’s first album in eight years, and with the man himself claiming this to be his best album since ‘Back To The Black Bayou’, Little Victor has very reason to believe so as ‘Deluxe Lo-Fi’ is a creative and engaging body of work that sounds as if it was recorded in an abandoned basement, yet gives off a highly professional and top quality feel that never once suggests a “lost tapes and B-sides” compilation. Top marks indeed!


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Soulful Woman

Billie and the Kids

Rhythm Bomb

Picking up from where the band left off last time is third album ‘Soulful Woman’ for Billie and the Kids. There’s a lively feel to the majority of songs on offer here with frontwoman Billie in fine fettle along with the rest of the band who power their way through a series of songs only allowing a few minutes to slow things down when the mood feels right. There’s no compromising during opening track ‘I Won’t Be Your Fool’ that is full of bullish instrumentation and sturdy vocals that mean nothing but business. Following on from that ‘Who’s The One That Stole Your Heart’ is lyrically an open confession set to a passionate performance from all concerned. With ‘He Can Rock’ tearing the house down via an opening shrill of vocals clearly influenced by Little Richard, and other more bluesy numbers such as ‘Baby How Long’ offering plenty of grit, it’s left to the likes of plaintive and soulful ballad ‘Another Love’ to provide another side to this talented band. If you’re searching for rhythm and blues packed with energy and emotions, then you’ve come to the right place with Billie and the Kids ‘Soulful Woman’.


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Cockroach Run Vol. 8

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

More dancefloor movers and another edition to the current series that features blues, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll with this being ‘Cockroach Run’. Consisting of a hefty twenty-eight tracks, the time soon flies under a series of scintillating tracks. Where this particular volume differs, however, from previous editions are the less predictable themes on offer, which is something to be praised because there’s humour afoot here, not to mention much reflection on life’s hardships. Whether it’s something a little exotic you’re seeking, then look no further than ‘Rockin’ In The Jungle’ supplied by Wailin Bethea & The Captains, to the nudge and wink conversation of ‘Topless’, before arriving at the downright bonkers and highly appealing ‘Nightmares’. There’s not a dull moment to be had during ‘Cockroach Run’ with The Jolly Jax Trio reinforcing such a point with their energetic ‘Everything Is A-Okay’, and then Joe McCoy & His Real McCoys really driving this message home with a wry sense of humour that sees everything from flying saucers crashing into planes and his partner changing her name! It makes for compelling listening and really deserves to be heard from start to finish as ‘Cockroach Run’ is a thrilling and unpredictable ride of emotions and sounds that just about manages to stay encompassed in its rockin’ rhythm and blues shell.


Released Out now

 

It’s A Man Down There Vol. 6

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Filling out the dancing shoes is the newest in the series with ‘It’s A Man Down There’. Set to a predominately shifting rhythm and blues tempo and where big band influences and sounds can be heard, not to mention rock ‘n’ roll. ‘It’s A Man Down There’ is certainly from the “Land of the Ravy-Gravy” as given by its press intro and voice Little Victor. There’s so much to be found between the grooves here that will fill the dancefloors whether it’s the rockin’ belter and Little Richard doppelganger in sound ‘Look Out’ supplied by Rockin’ Bradley, to major clue given by its title as to the source of its actual sound of Leon & The Hi Tones ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll In the Groove’. The back-to-back pairing of ‘I’m Gonna Pay You Back Baby’ and ‘No More’ from Bob Rayford and Johnny Fuller respectively ooze with class and speak of revenge, which is equally matched by the big band approach of ‘Bye Bye Bye’ from Doc Palmer. The halfway point of this particular volume in the series tips back and forth between more straight blues (Harvey Hill JR. ‘She Fool Me’) and mid-tempo rockers (‘Baby Shame’, ‘Satisfied With My Lovin’). The standout point and knockout blow of this entire set arrives via Jimmy Anthony and ‘Fore Day In The Morning’ with a vocal that could power the entirety of this album alone. With songs that suggest and certainly depict relationships turning sour, the dancefloor fillers making up this album will lift the gloom in no time and see ‘It’s A Man Down There’ not too down for too much longer.


Released Out now

 

Work With It Vol. 11

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

Another edition in the blues and rhythm and blues series that finds numerous artists upping the tempo and adding more layers to the primitive foundations of the aforementioned genres. Such musical developments are noticeable from the very beginning of this latest volume as ‘Work With It’ communicates this progression via several tracks where the guitar is often frantic in sound and expression. In fact, the guitar appears central to this latest addition in this series where songs fly out of the traps at great speed via Cal Green’s excellent ‘Huffin’ & Puffin’ and Chuck Mann’s ‘Little Miss Muffet’. The freight train rhythm and hollering vocal that introduces ‘I’m Tired Of Beggin’ is an impressive coupling that forces the listener to down tools before changing track and opting for a more sophisticated sounding ‘Mary Jo’ created at the hands of Red Miller & Quartett. That’s not to suggest that everything blaring from the speakers of ‘Work With It’ is a slick and well-oiled set of songs because the raw and primitive (guitar) sounds can be heard whether sounding almost ramshackle one moment during the aforementioned ‘Little Miss Muffet’, to similar examples later on from Slim Green’s ‘Shake ‘Em Up and beaten and bruised emotions from aptly named Guitar Crusher and equally compelling ‘I’ve Got To Know’. It may be the guitar that is the focal point in the latest series ‘Work With It’, but it remains the entire package of characters and tales to the varied assortment of blues and rhythm and blues expression that really reigns supreme here.


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Wine Is Fine

Miss Lily Moe

Rhythm Bomb

Hailing from Switzerland Miss Lily Moe has steadily built a name for herself with a strong and passionate vocal set to a rhythm and blues backdrop that has seen her perform at numerous music festivals in the US and Europe. With this being a rhythm and blues sound from the 40s and 50s, the sense of nostalgia is clear to the listener throughout the singer’s sophomore album ‘Wine Is Fine’. It’s the sense of times gone by, coupled with a genuine feeling of the majority of these songs happening in the here and now, which is largely down to the themes remaining the same i.e. the joys and woes associated with relationships that fill the narratives of these songs. Breathing life into these songs is Miss Lily Moe with a fine set of vocal deliveries that see her stamp her authority during opening song ‘Daddy You Can’t Come Back’ and then showing much resilience after one rejection too many via the lively rhythm of ‘Baby’s Gonna Rock ‘n’ Roll’, which is then repeated in similar style with ‘Mama’s Out To Have A Ball’. ‘Broken Heart’ ushers in a ballad and is delivered compellingly via Miss Lilly Moe’s vocal, one that is equally supplemented by the male backing vocals and making this a definite album highlight. Elsewhere, the focus is either to blow away the blues (‘Roll On’) or enjoy the genuine sense of occasion of a night out on the tiles (‘Rockin’ On Saturday Night’). Despite any downturns when it comes to finding the perfect recipe for love, ‘Wine Is Fine’ is an album strong in character where indecision never plays a part as the outcome of each and every song knows exactly what it wants. Such feelings are to be applauded, as are the fine musicians along with Miss Lily Moe who’ve created a heartfelt and authentic gem of an album. There’s no second album syndrome blues evident here.


Released 23 February

 

Factory Blues (Single)

Country Heroes

Safe & Sound Recordings

A genuine country sound straight outta Norway! Brushing down their country attire for a fresh outing are Norwegians, Country Heroes, and their brand new single ‘Factory Blues’. With the band having formed in 2014, and one full album (‘Southern Insecurity’) behind them, Country Heroes issue first single, ‘Factory Blues’, from their upcoming sophomore album ‘Honky Tonk Tears’. By focusing on the blue collar sector of workers, the factory theme reminds of a 70s era when such labour was in high demand and probably at its peak, especially in terms of output. In addition, country music pretty much dominated the (UK) airwaves during said period, and this is where the ‘Factory Blues’ of the Country Heroes is most reminiscent of, despite hailing from the southern plains of Norway. With a miniscule rock edge to the country guitars, ‘Factory Blues’ is a fairly detailed overview of a typical working week where banter can fly between workers, cigarettes and coffee are consumed and, of course, hard work being the main, and toughest part of all. But it remains the anticipation of the end of the working week where one is working to live rather than living to work as it’s all about hitting the (honky tonks) bars and going out dancing. All of these details are expertly handled by Country Heroes, who maintain a steady rhythm throughout, with wonderful narration from vocalist Jørund Vålandsmyr who is never overpowering yet manages to capture your attention with considerable ease. Lap up these ‘Factory Blues’ from 9 to 5 because there is much promise to come from this country band.


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London Is Trouble (Single)

Sol Heilo

Propeller Recordings

London can be an overrated commodity, just as other cities around the world can provide the same or similar experiences. Such feelings are expressed by Sol Heilo and latest single ‘London Is Trouble’, which is a rather beautiful and intimate acoustic folk song, and one written after the realisation of many years of life on the road with main focus Katzenjammer that the early promise of rock ‘n’ roll was becoming something of a chore rather than to be celebrated. Closer attention to detail reveals a solo singer baring her soul and missing certain aspects of her life back home, the snow for example, and thus channelling her grievances through this latest single: “I remember I was in the bar and had just bought myself a new guitar – a 1961 Gibson LG-0 – almost to fill my soul with something. It’s about how gray [sic] and dull London can be when you have no joy in your heart, and the ever-fleeting glow of late nights and early mornings.” With ‘London Is Trouble’ being the third single to be lifted from last year’s album ‘Skinhorse Playground’, any joy that is left to be found can certainly be had via ‘London Is Trouble’ and the impressive manner in which this intimate tale is told to anyone willing to listen. Top marks all round.


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The Long Harvest

Creek Road Eleven

Z-Trading

Without realising it at the time, this project had been a long time coming for lead singer and guitarist Toni Ruuska. What started in 2013 has since evolved into the five-piece band Creek Road Eleven and their debut album ‘The Long Harvest’. Despite the lengthy timeframe used in order to arrive at the stage where the band now find themselves, much attention to detail and a full and comprehensive search was conducted in order to recruit the right individuals to bring home, or more to the point create a genuine southern American country sound. Such attention to the finer details has certainly paid off as Creek Road Eleven deliver a ten-track album packed with rollin’ country rock tunes, and often with a blues edge that justifies their own description of “Southern-spiced country rock” yet makes it all the more remarkable considering their northern location! Closer inspection of ‘The Long Harvest’ reveals an album that is providing a sense of storytelling that affects the majority of us from every day tales concerning the boredom of work and those Monday mornings (‘Bad Monday’), to misfortunes in love and relationships as well. The latter aspect concerning relationships arrives during several numbers, but not without a touch of humour via the lyrics, and found during such loose workouts as the excellent ‘Under The Full Moon’ and equally good, yet jaunty in rhythm ‘Don’t Call Back’. But if it’s escape you’re looking for regarding the mundanities of life, then the “pick me up” greeting of bluesy country rock, ‘Long Straight Highway’ with its talk of long open highways and musically providing a real sense of any such freedoms, then Creek Road Eleven and their album ‘The Long Harvest’ are likely to be the perfect companions for any such journey right now.


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One Beer Left

Dusty Dave & The Heart Attacks

Rhythm Bomb

Having released their debut single back in 2014, The Heart Attacks scramble their creative ideas together once more to deliver a full-length album by the name of ‘One Beer Left’. In order to get the job done however, a new vocalist was recruited to their ranks by the name of Dusty Dave who applies a rather distinctive touch when it comes to the vocal department. With The Heart Attacks comprising of Lucky Steve (guitar), Dynamite White (blues harp), Rockin’ Bende (drums) and Ray Black (bass), who also served as producer for the record, Dusty Dave is in fine company as all concerned produce a mixture of predominantly raw blues songs. Such descriptions of the band’s sound  are noticeable from the opening blast of harmonica that introduces ‘Candyman Boogie’, and then followed by the rattlin’ rockin’ blues of ‘Ride & Roll’ and solid pace of ‘Good Rockin’ Rhythm’. ‘One Beer Left’ is not all about foot to the floor blues belters though, because there are slower tempos such as ‘Tough Enough’, with Dusty Dave’s vocal sounding more modern and revealing a different side to his vocal capabilities, to the catchy rhythm and reflective vocal of ‘Come Inside’, before ending up at the bottom of the blues barrel, emotionally, with two dark and gritty compositions namely ‘Champion Of The Blues’ and the album’s title track. There is a genuine feel of the entire band ploughing their way through a live set considering the flowing nature of each and every song, which was achieved due to the band performing together in the same room and with the recording being tracked live (Listen to ‘Worried Mind’, for example, which really projects the sentiments of its title). They may only have ‘One Beer Left’, but judging by the passion and musicianship at the centre of this record, Dusty Dave & The Heart Attacks certainly give a good account of themselves via their current record.


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Cheap Old Wine And Whiskey

Various Artists

Koko Mojo

A full pot of drinking songs straight from the juke joints of America’s past where blues and rhythm and blues provided the backing track to the joys and pleasures that alcohol could bring, but also its use as a means to combat the ‘blues’ felt when relationship heartbreak came calling. With twenty-eight songs varying between moods and styles and given by artists ranging from Lightnin Hopkins, Rufus Gore, Jimmy Liggins, Dave Bartholomew and Jimmy Rogers to name but a small selection, the quality is set to high when it comes to the collection that is ‘Cheap Old Wine And Whiskey’. Whether it’s a pared back guitar affair via Lightnin Hopkins ‘Drinkin’ Woman’ or a more up-tempo singalong with Johnny Davis and ‘I’m A Wine Drinker’ with its more than happy approach to drink your quota if you’re not feeling up to it, this long player has pretty much got the lot. Take for example the swinging rhythm and stunning vocal pipes of Al Jackson during ‘Let’s Drink Some Whiskey’, to the rendition of Stick McGhee classic (and rockabilly favourite) ‘Drinkin’ Wine’ superbly handled by Larry Dale, before taking further twists and turns via two wonderful ramshackle blues numbers ‘Sloppy Drunk’ (Jimmy Rodgers) and careering off the road ‘Drunk Drivers Comin’ (Richard Bros.). If you need further convincing that you’re in need of some fine company to help lift the spirits and ease the blues, then the punchy sax intro of ‘Wine Wine Wine’ and compelling vocals of Calvin Boze (‘Looped’) should have your limbs shaking in no time. With ‘Cheap Old Wine And Whiskey’ being a combination of the vinyl series ‘Too Much Booze’ and ‘Bad Hangover’, there really is no other option than to take up this addictive habit of blues and rhythm and blues as there are no hangovers to be had here!



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