Review by Peter Coates – www.facebook.com/InsideEdgePhotography
Channel 9 Music
Release – 6th November 2020
UK Blues-Rock band King King are pleased to announce the release of their fifth studio album Maverick on Friday 6th November 2020 via Channel 9 Music – King King’s new independent label. The follow-up to 2017’s Exile & Grace, this is the first album featuring the current live band, and with the new keyboard player having no little skill in arrangements, there is a clear lift in quality across the whole record.
Alan Nimmo is the remaining founder member of the band formed in 2008 in Lincoln, and he is the energetic face, voice and guitarist of the band, often hitting the stage in a kilt, for his Scottish roots, and in the past few years the band has toured with the likes of John Mayall, Thunder and Europe, which indicates the reputation they have developed as well as the breadth of their appeal.
The sound is an amalgam of blues rock, with hints of more classic British rock and some melodic AOR touches – heavy on the Hammond organ and keyboards providing warmth and depth behind the twin guitars of Alan and his brother Stevie Nimmo, and a soulful lead voice with great backing vocals.
The album opens with a cracking double of Never Give In, an absolutely awesome opener, and Fire In My Soul, both of which are chock-full of melody, and motor along nicely driven by the chunky riffs, and the latter is one of the catchiest hook-filled tracks of 2020 so far. Says Alan Nimmo:” ’Never Give In’ was a song that came out of a number of similar ideas that I couldn’t quite settle on so eventually when it blossomed and presented itself to me I knew what we had to do with it! I wanted to have a big sound with plenty of space, a classic rock song that still said, “King King”! It’s a song about grit and determination, a willingness to keep on trying and “never give in.
A smouldering blues ballad in Whatever It Takes To Survive sees the band in full lighters in the air mode, redolent of Whitesnake, Glenn Hughes and Thunder at their peak – full of power and passion, and the slight Glaswegian lilt in the voice just adds to the character. The track fades back mid-pomp, before exploding into a twin-guitar screamer, while the band power through the backing – this one has the hairs on the back of my neck quivering!
A bit of electric piano from Jonny Dyke provides the main line for the super-melodic first single, I Will Not Fall, which has an FM feel to it, both in the band and the radio. There are some really atmospheric backing vocals here too, and a rock-solid rhythm section in Andrew Scott (Drums) and Zander Greenshields (Bass). While my sources in the UK tell me that both Nimmo brothers are electric on stage in their guitar playing, the guitars are rarely the hero through this record – they are constant in providing the melody and filling the backing track, but so interwoven with the keys and the vocals that they don’t overpower the songs.
Another gentle ballad in By Your Side is all voices and piano, before it builds up and up through the power of the vocals, before we really do get a blistering guitar solo, before the final chorus fades out with a couple of haunting notes on the piano. One World is another belter of a track, all power chords, keyboards, and on-point vocals. Alan Nimmo’s range is impressive, and he goes from mellow baritone up towards Steve Overland territory here, and the chorus could be off a Bad English record.
The production on the album is equally impressive, with Alan and Jonny Dyke helping out Liam McCluskey, who also engineered and mixed the record. Everything Will Be Alright has a great tempo, and has some positive-thinking in the lyrics that are even more relevant in the COVID-19 world of 2020. The band could almost have thrown in a bunch of female soul backing singers here to provide an added touch without being at all out place. This contrasts nicely with the melancholy ballad When My Winter Comes, which has the most glorious vocal harmonies backed by a tear-jerking piano melody.
Dance Together is a wild and crazy ride, driven this time by a cracking guitar riff, and a solid beat – think some of the classic Robert Palmer tracks combined with the irrepressible humour and energy of Thunder in their prime. This will be a real crowd-pleaser live, and sees an almost-disco bass line from Zander G that pumps beneath the guitars and keyboards, and a tasty little guitar solo that leads us into the closing chorus.
There is more of an Americana feel to the album-closer End Of The Line, which again sees Alan’s voice and the backing vocals providing a wonderful melody and warmth to the track, and a stripped-back mid-section with the guitars showing their paces, before the organ powers up and adds a level of emotion to the solo.
King King have delivered a wonderfully constructed, powerfully executed and gloriously produced album, with songs that have such simplicity in the main, without the need to go off at unexpected or unnecessary tangents – relying on the quality of the lyrics, and the melodies in the music, which provide more and more impact on every listen.
The 10-track album, released on CD, vinyl and various bundles, is available for pre-order from www.kingking.co.uk.
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