The Chicago Kingsnakes
The Chicago Kingsnakes
The band is tight, with a top notch rhythm section and Nelson Keaton playing blues harmonica that dances in between the original lyrics sung by James “Ang” Anderson. Mike Bailey holds down the bass. “Lefty” is a fun, upbeat song with a danceable and familiar groove. The last two tracks are two different takes of the same song, “Mary Jane” — one a haunting, hypnotic style acoustic jam with a finger picking guitar and harmonica as Anderson sings in veiled references. The electric version kicks up the pace with stinging electric and heavy snare drums, courtesy of Gus Gotsis, for a danceable rhythm. Overall, the songs are original and the music is easy to listen to.
Fans of Chicago blues will enjoy the album and it’s numerous references that will be instantly recognized by Chicagoans. There’s nothing particularly ground breaking in the album; it’s got a traditional sound that’s well known and often played to blues fans. It is, however, simply good, easy to digest music. There are mixed influences in the album, from soul to R&B, but on Blue Mosiac, the Kingsnakes are largely doing what they’ve done best for over two decades: Chicago Blues.
http://www.chicagokingsnakes.com/ II. The Chicago Kingsnakes - Blue Mosaic (MusicKing Records) by Simon M. 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. www.chicagokingsnakes.com Simon M.
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