Blackie and The Rodeo Kings
KING OF THIS TOWN
File Under Music
The Kings of Canada Take Americana to Infinity and Beyond.
While I’ve dipped in and out of the Rodeo Kings back catalogue over the years; it wasn’t until the Kings and Queens album that I really began to see why they are Superstars in their native Canada.
Then, of course their are the burgeoning solo careers of founder members Tom Wilson, Colin Linden and Stephen Fearing who all feature prominently in the RMHQ Back Pages.
Originally formed way back in 1996 this is the band’s 10th album; and #Spoiler Alert ….. is quite ‘The Zinger’ in many ways, corralling many and various forms of what we know as Rootsy Americana and adding their very own special blend of Canadian Rock and Roll to give us something quite extraordinary in a very ordinary genre.
The album starts with Hard Town, a Blues/Gospel hybrid which appears to tap into the current socio-political zeitgeist in a beautifully dark and moody manner.
Cold 100, which follows is more like what we would expect, a claustrophobic ‘driving song’; but with extra grit and robustness that features some sublime bottle-neck guitar (from Colin Linden).
It would be foolish to describe every single song; but there’s no filler here; every song is a stone cold killer; with the band switching track and mood with the greatest of ease.
There’s even a hint of Tex-Mex and Mariachi on the eminently danceable Kick My Heart Around; and the lyrics themselves ain’t too shabby either.
World Gone Mad is the type of Alt. Rocker that I love; a tightly packed melody, with everyone in the collective adding tiny bits to create a great big racket that needs turning up to 10 to get the best out of it.
As I wasn’t sent a Press Release (#sigh) I’m afraid to tell you who sings what for fear of making a mistake; but it’s evident all three take turns at the mic and each singer brings his very own strengths to proceedings.
Even though they have a Rock & Roll heart, every song here is carefully and calculatedly created to perfection; with the gently introspective Walking On Our Graves sung by Stephen Fearing still managing to have the power to surprise after all these years; as does the jangly Canadiacana of Medicine Hat which has some fabulous guitar breaks that reminded me of Duanne Eddy in his pomp.
With three Award Winning singer-songwriters at their core, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings songs are always not just articulate and grown-up; but accessible too ……. these chaps are educated to to the hilt; but ain’t no smart asses!
Selecting a Favourite Track certainly isn’t easy here; as every single song has it’s own merits that have touched me in one way or another in the last couple of days; but by today I’ve pressed ‘repeat’ a couple of times on two particular songs; Stephen singing the tender Grace is as good as anything on his recent solo albums (which I absolutely adore); and the addition of harmonica makes it sound like they’re sitting around a camp fire thinking of home.
The other is the title track King of This Town which just about shades the award of Favourite Track as it’s a collective effort and has a beat that will have you putting just a little too much pressure on the accelerator pedal when you hear it in the car. Think Tom Petty fronting The Band singing an old Neil Young song and you will be halfway there.
It’s still only January and I’ve already heard some great Roots Music, but it’s going to take something really, really special to arrive at RMHQ for this album not to be my Album of 2020.
In fact I’ll tell you how much I like it …….. I’ve actually bought a copy with my own money!
# Amended version
Released January 24th 2020