Exile & Grace
This band, as our site has reported/reviewed many a time, has made their reputation entirely by hard work and consistent touring – occasionally derailed by lead singer Alan Nimmo’s throat problems which are currently seeing some future tour dates pushed back to allow time for recovery. But another factor in King King’s success here and all over Europe has been the delivery of a quality set of albums which make the most of Nimmo’s voice but also the musical talents of the group. Bob and his keyboard playing become ever more confident and colourful, bassist Lindsay Coulson works the nether regions of each number with fine aplomb and as for drummer Wayne Proctor…well I have known him many years now and his drumming, productions skills and touch are much admired. Not by me..ha, just kidding, Wayne my friend! If I was a drummer I would fear you. Possibly.
The outfit’s last studio release was in 2015 and this new collection sees the style of the group edge towards what you would have to call in the great scheme of things classic rock. If you have tapped a foot or shaken a fist to a Whitesnake or Thunder number, you know what I mean by this sonic territory. No proper fan wants their favourites to keep making the same album over and over again. That attitude has kept many groups from truly progressing (Gabba Gabba who ?) and it is best to respect any wish an act has to expand or explore as being just part of creativity. So let’s listen to what’s on offer here ….
Recent single She Don’t Give Me No Lovin’ does indeed have that stomping Whitesnake feel, as our single review by Glenn noted. Tough drumming and a real on-yer-feet atmosphere with Alan capturing that lustful timbre favoured by Paul Rodgers, all over that chugging Hammond and throbbing bass. (I could never play bass in this act, given my prediliction of rationing the root notes!)
Heed The Warning has an electronic pulse beat to start with edgy guitar, soon settling into a jagged tempo, with both voice and band stabbing at the beat. An ominous bridge stokes up the tension. Quite what events are anticipated is kept a tad vague..revolution in the streets? At 2.50 a stately guitar breaks edges into the mix. It’s infernally catchy and a likely stage favourite. I’d have used strings patches on the build; Broken uses that majestic rockblues tempo mastered by Free and the overlooked Steamhammer (heard their Mountains album?) though the latter’s vocals weren’t as strong as Nimmo’s. All credit, this is well-handled. ‘This world is broken’ Alan sings and he seems to be right, but only optimism and determination will conquer our foes so chin up, bro..
Find Your Way Home has a gorgeous Youngbloods-style electric piano tone and a song of the quality that made me listen up long long ago when I wrote about a very early Nimmo Bros album – half was SRV-derivative and the rest floored me with its passion and feel. That thread is alive here. A weathered vocal..and would this make a great male-female duet, chaps? Shall I ring Beth Hart? Tear It All Up rocks it up over a smacking beat, again a fine strong vocal and a band that knows just how to pile on the emphasis. King King really do rule in this territory and this is a must for the setlist, final song to give the guys a blow and namechecks? The legato guitar evokes Spirit, no bad thing ever!
Betrayed Me has a soft stomp and shimmering piano which adds an eerie touch. Not many can touch KK on these grinders and the grit in the guitar tone is spot-on. One of the best songs on the set and sung with aplomb. Long Time Running lets Wayne loose on a bluesy workout, that Bad Company influence back upfront and we are in bad-woman lyricland. Nobody Knows Your Name spins guitar figures across weaving piano and a loping beat, the ghost of Andy Fraser smiles down upon proceedings. He would have dug this, believe me…a very mean guitar break digs deep.
Final cut I Don’t Wanna Lie suddenly throws us into a Mose Allison tempo and a crisp song which gives an uplifting end to the collection. Bit of an addictive tune on this one and perhaps the best vocal here, agility employed to put the lyric over.
The album mix by Chris Sheldon gives the production of Alan and Wayne a depth worth adding to the mixture, keeping the sound fat but not blurred. Might be just me but the bass seems very well-recorded on his release. I view this record as no departure from the KK sound, but maybe it broadens their range a little and puts song quality upfront. No doubt they will embellish the numbers on stage but best they are strong to start with!
King King’s new album “Exile & Grace” is released by Manhaton Records on Friday 6th October 2017. Their UK tour kicks off at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Wednesday 17th January 2018.
You can read our review of their latest single ‘(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’ here: http://bit.ly/2uys3Kx
You can find all of our articles about King King here: http://bit.ly/1pcJBJC
For more information visit their official website here: http://bit.ly/2w4AMWI