The inevitability of a live album almost seems to be a given in any established band or artist's discography. Some acts might eschew such for a number of years, whereas others see fit to feed their "all too willing to part with their money" fanbase with a plethora of live releases. Sometimes released for between-studio-albums gap filling purposes to sustain band income and aficionado desires for further output, and occasionally for the purpose of posterity to mark the occasion of a landmark show or significant milestone, live albums are an indubitable certainty at some point in most band/artist careers.
It perhaps comes as no surprise that King King, the soulful blues rockers from Glasgow/Lincoln, are about to unleash their first ever live CD/DVD, given their ever-escalating fanbase and obscene number of awards they've won in their career to date, including 5 accolades at this year's British Blues Awards. There's evidently a ready and waiting audience for their inaugural excursion into the live audio/visual market and, given their reputation for solid and entertaining performances at a whole array of sold out shows in what seems to be a rigorous touring schedule, a live King King release is wholly warranted.
Unimaginatively titled 'Live', it comes in the form of a double CD package that features the audio from a performance at the ABC in Glasgow on 14th May this year. There's also a bonus DVD of a show filmed/recorded at the Picturedrome in the beautiful little Yorkshire town of Holmfirth. However, only the CDs have been provided for review, so it's the Glasgow audio that's under scrutiny here.
First off, on the technical aspect of the audio, this is a fantastic sounding live album. Recorded by Andy Banfield from Superfly Studios, and mixed by Wayne Proctor and Steve Wright from House of Tone at Y-Dream Studios, they've all done a rather marvellous job in capturing and conveying King King's performance. Whether it sounds authentic to the night would be up to the attendees of this particular gig to decide (and recorded live audio Vs. the lived experience are two different beasts, anyway), but it succeeds in conveying enough dynamics in the overall sound and mix, with a little crowd noise brought in here and there, to provide an engaging post-show listen.
Music-wise, songs have been drawn from King King's six year history and offer up a greatest 'hits' indulgence for their established fans, and a neat introduction into their aptitude for composing masterful soul-fuelled blues rock for everyone else. Sure, it might tread the ground of tried-and-tested stylistic genericism, but this bunch can certainly write a decent song, and it's this that helps elevate them above the generic foundations in which their sound is firmly rooted. That and frontman Alan Nimmo's archetypal, gruff soul/blues voice, along with his range of expressive licks and solos on guitar. And these two CDs are loaded with fine examples of the band's collective talents on the live stage; a reminder of just why they continue to scoop several prestigious awards each year.
While I'm generally not a big fan of live albums, as there's no substitute for the lived experience of a gig in the flesh, 'Live' is an enjoyable listen. King King's music might be unashamedly paradigmatic, and stylistically derivative in the most retro of ways, but they're an undeniably potent force in the current blues rock scene. This live release illustrates precisely the reason why.
2CD + DVD
Review by Mark Holmes
21st October 2016
CD1: 1) Lose Control; 2) Wait on Time; 3) Waking Up; 4) Rush Hour; 5) A Long History of Love; 6) More Than I Can Take
CD2: 1) You Stopped the Rain; 2) Jealousy; 3) Crazy; 4) All Your Life; 5) Stranger to Love; 6) Let Love In
DVD: 1) Lose Control; 2) Waking Up; 3) Rush Hour; 4) A Long History of Love; 5) More Than I Can Take; 6) You Stopped the Rain; 7) Jealousy; 8) Crazy; 9) All Your Life; 10) Strange to Love; 11) Old Love; 12) Let Love In
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"King King's music might be unashamedly paradigmatic, and stylistically derivative in the most retro of ways, but they're an undeniably a potent force in the current blues rock scene. This live release illustrates precisely the reason why."