11 favorite moments on ‘King King’

Having lived with “King King” for the last 28 years, I believe I know this record better than any other I’ve heard. It gets at least one annual “I’m obsessed with this” turn in the car or earbuds, not to mention all of the other times it crops up on various playlists.

We all have our favorite songs from “King King,” but let’s get really specific. What are your favorite moments from The Red Devils’ album — those little details that make this record one of our favorites? Not necessarily musical moments, but all the elements that add up to a one-of-a-kind record.

Fortunately, “King King” is chock full of those moments. Here are some of my favorites (today):

Automatic (0:00): Yes, the very beginning of the record. The tuning check, the short snare roll … what other album begins like that? It’s a last-ammo inventory before Lester Butler’s harp lick, right in the pocket. Besides, how many cover versions of “Automatic” have you heard that start with this same (unnecessary) preamble?

She’s Dangerous (0:36): Let’s give a shoutout to piano man Gene Taylor, who is buried deep in the mix on “King King.” “Dangerous” is one of the key tracks where Taylor’s piano is audible and essential. His triplets elevate “Dangerous” from blooz-rock to the blues. You take it for granted, but you would miss it if it weren’t there. (And check that piano at 2:33, too, leading into Paul Size’s deep “Still A Fool” riff.)

Read more after the jump …

She’s Dangerous (1:09): Heard a beat, man, somebody screamed … whoever shouts in the background on that verse reminds us this is a live album.

I Wish You Would (3:05): This one’s a cheat because it’s the beginning to the next song, “Cross Your Heart.” Everything about this sounds like being on the bandstand: Random yelling, tuning, key check, and then another key check. Bottom line: “Sonny Boy, ‘Cross Your Heart,’ slow blues, from the five, a one, two, three, four …”. It’s 22 seconds of really being there.

Tail Dragger (3:11): Lester’s voice pierces the din as he grooves into the next verse, only to be beat back by Paul Size’s stinging guitar response before the song begins mellowing for its outro. And what an outro: Bill Bateman’s roll (5:08) is classic.

Devil Woman (0:09): I’d like to think that is Bruce Willis yelling “Go, Lester, go!”

Devil Woman (3:22): The start of a hard-grooving Paul Size solo, maybe my favorite of his on this album.

No Fightin’ (3:08): A round of applause (deservedly so) after a great Lester solo. Blues crowds, like jazz crowds, tend to applaud after damn near every solo. This is a rare example on “King King.”

Mr. Highway Man (1:01): “Tell everyBODY in the neighborhood!” Lester’s voice cracks like Peter Brady before he launches into a solo and turns up his harp mic (in that order).

Cut That Out (1:58): Somebody has a bad connection somewhere, but credit to Rick Rubin or whoever who thought, “It’s the wrong way of doing things, but we are leaving it in.”

Cut That Out (4:53): We know that this record was recorded over a few days at the King King, and that songs on the final album are presented in a new sequence and culled from different performances. But after those dozen songs, isn’t it thrilling to hear Lester say “Alright, thank you, we’re gonna take a short break and come on back” as the album fades out and everyone heads to the bar?

Now it’s your turn. What are you favorite moments from “King King”? Share them in the comments.

Published by J.J.

Drums and barbecue ribs. Blues music.

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