The Greatest Show on Earth
Set the Controls for the Heart of California via Cumbria.
When I had my radio show in the olden days https://www.mixcloud.com/JumpingHotClubRadio/ one of the Kontiki Suite band members got in touch and nervously asked if I would consider playing a song they had recorded. I obliged; and the track (Magic Carpet Ride) was a big hit for us and got played three weeks in a row. The ensuing LP was a firm favourite with the listeners too and ensured them a place later that Summer on the Jumping Hot Club SummerTyne Festival stage; where they wowed a very knowledgable crowd.
Presumably living in a castle bought on the proceeds and profits of that first record; it has taken nearly three years for the band to reappear; and (spoiler alert) the wait has been more than worth it.
The album opens with the bands trademark ‘jangly’ twin-guitars and Ben Singh’s laid-back smoky vocals on the rather excellent Bring Our Empire Down.
Track two, My Own Little World is actually a bit of a step into a slightly more psychedilc area; but only in as much as their heroes The Byrds did in the Dr. Byrds and Mr. Hyde era; still keeping the glorious twin Rickenbacker sound but adding some delicious harmonica playing and intricate drumming to a bit of weirdness in the background. A great song with an even better title btw.
When I played this album in the car (my favourite listening spot) I was immediately transported to the Gulf Coast Highway in a soft-top Red Corvette when listening to the likes of Here For You Now and All I Can Say, rather than the back-roads of Urban Northumberland in the drizzle, driving my 7 year old Renault Laguna Estate; proving what a magical album this is.
Using the Byrds twin lead guitar as a template is no bad thing; but as I alluded to earlier, on this, their second album Kontiki Suite have seriously moved on; with a couple of tracks having a slight Allman Brothers feel (Keep Up With My Old Self springs to mind ) and on the bridge of Burned I swear I heard echoes of early Pink Floyd.
Favourite track time? That really is difficult as this is an album of Old School delights and qualities that should be listened to as a complete album in one relaxed sitting; but if you twisted my arm I would have to go for album closer; the sparkling Years Roll On; which has a wonderful story of a boy staying in his small town playing Rock and Roll; and being jealous of an ex-girlfriend who has left for the bright lights of a big city (surely not Carlisle?).
There are enough differences here from their debut album to prove their hiatus was well worth it; but thankfully Kontiki Suite have retained their sweet North-West Coast ‘sound’ and with a good tail wind; The Greatest Show on Earth should bring them to the attention of National Radio and TV very soon.
Released October 15th 2015