Inspired by the classic horn bands of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s Chris Daniels And The Kings (together with Freddi Gowdy) are celebrating their 33rd year by continuing their crusade to revive the formula with the release of the group’s 15th album, Blues With Horns Vol 1. The ten tracks include three new originals and seven reimagined covers of soul-drenched, horn-driven blues rock, featuring guest artists like Sonny Landreth, Subdudes keyboardist John Magnie, Hazel Miller (Big Head Todd & The Monsters), Clay Kirkland (Gary Morris, Robben Ford) and many more.
Daniels drew inspiration from one of his heroes Lowell George of Little Feat to pen the loving ode to the home of the blues, “Sweet Memphis,” and infused the opening track with the magic of Landreth’s guitar a slinky Tulsa shuffle from drummer Randy Amen and of course hot horns jabs. He then trades verses with Freddi Gowdy as they sing the praises of age-old juke joints and downhome blues on the greasy groove of “Fried Food/Hard Liquor.” The party continues with Gowdy doing his best James Brown on the dance floor anthem “Get Up Off The Funk,” then slipping easily into the swinging Sam Cooke sing along “Soothe Me Baby,” that also features Hazel Miller and Coco Brown joining in on the chorus. The ensemble adds some grit to Bobby Bland standard from 1974 “Wouldn’t Treat A Dog (The Way You Treated Me),” intertwining the soulful horns with hot blues harp from Clay Kirkland. The hard drive of Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Baby’s In Love With The Radio,” and Walter “Wolfman” Washington’s “You Can Stay But That Noise Must Go,” are celebrations of the funk rock and blues music they love. The band ventures down to the Ninth Ward of New Orleans to spin the yarn of hard luck and trouble, Elvin Bishop’s knee slapper “Can’t Even Do Wrong Right.” Everyone joins in on the signature riff of hard funk prototype from Buddy Miles “Them Changes” that churns and burns into a soul stew of boiling horns, blues harp, guitars and fatback drums.
Daniels closes the set by sitting down with an acoustic guitar alongside the piano of Magnie and more fine harmonica from Kirkland for a delightful ragtime ramble ‘Rain Check,’ spelling out his easy-going survival strategy as taught to him by his mama from Arkansas, who also beat cancer by “dancing every chance I get before I have to go.”
In the album notes for Blues With Horns Vol.1, Daniels and The Kings make a succinct dedication to “Mamie Smith, Albert King, Al Kooper, Bobby Blue Bland, Johnny Taylor, Koko Taylor and all those remarkable men and women, who recorded with killer horn sections that I listened to as a kid.” A legacy they have proudly taken up with fire and passion to keep these blues alive.
Blues With Horns Vol 1 is the band’s strongest album to date and the packaging by famed artist Greg Carr, who did all the packaging for Steve Martin and other artists, make this a “must have” recording for music lovers of all ages and interests.