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Blues Round-up: May 2013

Henry Yates on new releases from The Experimental Tropic Blues Band, The Cash Box Kings, King King and Emanuele Fizzotti

The Experimental Tropic Blues Band: Liquid Love

Named after the grief-hole nightclub where this Belgian trio holed up while recording in New York, Liquid Love is an album its creators fully expect to prompt pub battle lines. Produced (in the loosest sense of the word) by Jon Spencer, you sense the Blues Explosion leader’s grubby finger marks and malevolent spirit all over a record that’s roadkill-raw, sonically savage and informed equally by Skip James, Bo Diddley and The Cramps. Fumbled beats, bum notes and asides about hard-ons meet the shriek of feedback and rattle of the studio’s heating pipes. And while it’s sometimes irritating there’s a ferocity about cuts like Break Up and The Best Burger that blows away the cobwebs when you’ve got a desk piled up with smooth blues. It probably would have been prudent to put British Blues Award winners King King in the lead spot of this issue’s round-up, but for their whiff of chaos ETBB swing it. Worth a trip to Spotify to establish whether you’re in the love or hate camp. (710)

The Cash Box Kings: Black Toppin’

It’s a bit of a departure for the kings on their second album for Blind Pig. The joanna-hammering, post-war Chicago sound is still their cornerstone and strongest suit – try Money, Marbles & Chalk – but things get swampier on Hot Biscuit Baby, and Stonesier on My Tinai, while as a finalé they even reimagine the Velvet Underground’s Run Run Run as a beefy shuffle. (710)

King King: Standing In The Shadows

Double winners at the 2012 British Blues Awards, Alan Nimmo’s offshoot band sound palpably more confident (and commercially ambitious) on album two. Rockers like More Than I Can Take and One More Time Around should be the pick in their natural live habitat, but the musicianship wrings soul from slowies like A Long History Of Love too. (710)

Various Artists: The Devil And The Blues

Whether he’s purchasing souls or dispatching hellhounds, the horned red bloke is a pivotal figure in the culture and sound of the blues. Of course, this compilation of Beelzebub-themed material is supremely gimmicky, but good fun too, with the best moments naturally supplied by long-dead desperados such as Lightnin’ Hopkins (Black Cat Bone) and Robert Johnson (Me And The Devil Blues). (610)

Emanuele Fizzotti: Manny’s Blues

Manny’s Blues catches the fizz of Italian (now resident in London) bandleader Emanuele Fizzotti’s well-regarded gigs. An endearing singer and tasty guitar player, he takes Dylan’s Odds And Ends and The Beatles’ Lady Madonna for impressive spins, while punchy originals like Shut Up suggest that with a bit of money thrown at the production his adopted country might love him back. (610)

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.