Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Review: The Chicago Kingsnakes

The Chicago Kingsnakes - Blue Mosaic (MusicKing Records)
Their first proper album since 2003’s “Grass Roots”, though they’ve busied themselves over the intervening years touring the world with Byther Smith and playing shows with Junior Wells, Jimmy Witherspoon, Cash McCall, etc. When added to the fact that Kingsnakes leader, guitarist-vocalist James Anderson, has played with everyone from Buddy Guy and Albert King to Son Seals, James Cotton and Koko Taylor, It’s probably safe to assume that The Chicago Kingsnakes are some of the best and most respected blues players around.

That’s certainly the impression I get from listening to “Blue Mosaic”. Their style, unsurprisingly, is Chicago blues, and they play it slow and heavy, and tight and upbeat, and whatever way they play it, they play it well. Opening number “Take Your Time” is measured and intense, and highlights all their strengths, primarily great musicianship. When they’re aiming to get feet moving on tracks like “Blues Gone Uptown” and the Sonny Boy Williamson(esque) “Lefty” – the latter with harmonica courtesy of Nelson Keaton – they sound like the ultimate blues bar band. It’s another track, “So Cold in Chicago”, that I find myself returning to. Another upbeat number, it’s what they used to call a toe-tapper, but it’s a bit more than that, and seems to be stuck on repeat.
Simon M.

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