Roused into action after a late night conversation with Billy Gibbons about formative heroes, Bernie Marsden set about compiling a list of artists and songs that have shaped him over his 50-year career as a songwriter-guitarist.
The resulting Kings (the first of his ‘Inspirations’ series; the next volume, Chess, is due in November) sees Marsden and his band pay homage to tunes he first heard via blues greats Freddie King, B.B King. and Albert King.
Tone and feel are paramount here. Freddie King’s You’ve Got To Love Her With Feeling is a masterclass in cryin’ blues, with Marsden fashioning an emotive solo - and vocal - over Bob Haddrell’s pillowy organ line.
The slower, more soulful cuts tend to work best, be it Charles Singleton’s Help The Poor or the pained sweetness of Leon Russell’s Help Me Through The Day, a latterday analogue to the Whitesnake version Marsden first recorded for 1979’s Lovehunter.