The Coral’s James Skelly is quickly becoming one of The Red Devils’ most outspoken supporters.
First he calls “King King” the best thing he’s heard all year, now he adds them to NME’s list of the “100 Greatest Albums You’ve Never Heard.” His thoughts are a little more detailed and expansive than what appeared in Mojo:
Until last year I’d never even heard of this. Our producer John Leckie gave it to me while we were recording “Butterfly House” and it blew my head off. The Red Devils used to play live in L.A. in all these little clubs and Rick Rubin loved them. So he just recorded them live in this club called King King. The band — all amazing players — just sound like they’re on fire. There’s something about the way Rick Rubin’s done it too, it sounds really special. He could have done it in the studio but it wouldn’t have been as good. With “King King” you can hear the whole atmosphere of the club — you’re there, you’re with them, you can smell it. As for the band, Lester Butler was just one of the greatest-ever harmonica players. He sings into a bullet mic while playing the harmonica and he sounds fantastic. The guitarist Paul “The Kid” Size was only 21, but he was unbelievable.
What’s interesting about “King King” too is the band took a blues sound and did something completely new with it. At the time nobody had done anything new or exciting with that sound since the ’70s. They took that sound and gave it real attitude. So it sounds more like rock ‘n’ roll, not slick blues, it’s raw. Anyone who’s into that attitude will connect with this album. I know if I was 18 and I’d heard this, I’d have loved it. They do some real heavy blues tracks which sound like The Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” but it also sounds like Nirvana playing Robert Johnson tunes. It starts with “Automatic” and it kicks off with this distorted harmonica, which sounds brilliant. The second track “Goin’ To The Church” is just a hundred miles an hour but the best song on there I think is “Devil Woman” which is the one track the whole band wrote together. When we were recording the last album, we were listening to this and The Who’s “Live At Leeds.” But it’s probably affected our next album more because since I’ve been listening to it, we’ve been recording a lot more of our stuff in the studio live. I don’t think “King King” ever got noticed because there was no massive push in the music industry for it. But since I got my hands on it, I’ve been getting loads of people into them. I handed a copy to Noel Gallagher, and he thought it was great.
What an image … Noel Gallagher listening to “King King”!
You can find the listing in the January 2011 issue of NME. For the record, “King King” comes in at No. 60, between Cardinal’s “Cardinal” and “Have Moicy” by Michael Hurley.