The Upshot: As much pound as boogie, as much snarl as soul—what’s not to like?
BY MICHAEL TOLAND
The line between the blues and rock & roll can be as fine as the hair on a baby’s head, and few walk that line as deftly as the bands on the Alive roster. In that spirit, guitarist Freddy J IV from Left Lane Cruiser and drummer Van Campbell from Black Diamond Heavies wrote some songs with a claw in each mud puddle, rounded up some pals and recorded them as King Mud.
Anyone familiar with either of those acts knows what to expect here: raw blues rock, with as much pound as boogie, as much snarl as soul, and there’s plenty of that in J’s slashing slide and Campbell’s frenetic kit work. But there’s craft as work as well – “Blood River,” “War Dancers” and “Smoked All My Bud” (with guitar from guest star Parker Griggs, leader of labelmate Radio Moscow) may sound like they’re being beaten by a gang of Hong Kong kung fu actors, but the song structure is too sound to fall to pieces under any assault. “Suzy’s Cookies” grunges out for a slow burn before revving up to a flashy finish, while “Take a Look” adds a folk rocking melody to its snarl to surprisingly good effect.
The band also takes on a smart pair of covers: the Troggs’ MC5-approved “I Can Only Give You Everything,” given a heavy rock makeover, and Dr. Feelgood’s “Keep It Out of Sight,” as rollicking as it should be. That’s King Mud in a nutshell – hard, honest and heaps of fun.
DOWNLOAD: “Keep It Out of Sight,” “Take a Look,” “Suzy’s Cookies”