‘KINGS’ is the first solo album from venerable English rock ‘n’ blues guitarist BERNIE MARSDEN in seven years.
It features ten classic blues songs, originally recorded by the legendary “Three Kings” i.e. Albert King, B.B. King & Freddie King; with two further Marsden-penned masterpieces — each inspired by the Kings — which are offered as bonus tracks.
melancholic & perfectly performed…
‘KINGS’ will be the first in a series of ‘Inspirations’. The next album in the series will be ‘CHESS’ — due later this year; a praiseful homage to the recordings released of the legendary Chicago-based label.
The album tips right into the old-time Tampa Red roller “Don’t You Lie to Me” with its sleek & dandy guitar jets, freewheel piano, and tidy rhythms.
B.B. King recorded this number (his version had a festival-hall magnificence about it) but you will also recall that Stevie Ray Vaughan participated in a session with Albert King on TV, with this (1983). Marsden’s version is unspoilt, refreshful and spirited.
Marsden’s presentation of “Key to the Highway” moves a little faster than B.B. King’s live version, so it’s a flowing twelve-bar blues number, played energetically… in other words, Little Walter-style, with a bit more sting and immediacy than King’s softly spoken suaveness (Marsden’s riffwork will attract the rock fans.)
Shortly after the songwriter Big Bill Broonzy’s death (1958) Little Walter recorded this number with a Chicago-based blues band that included (among others) Muddy Waters on slide guitar, Otis Spann on keys and Willie Dixon on bass (can you imagine?)
You might remember Leon Russell’s “Help Me Through The Day” from Lovehunter, the second Whitesnake album (1979) — which is the disc with the woman sat astride a snake — although Bernie’s inspiration is clearly Freddie King’s version, with all the squelch, pain and heart-yearning acidity the early rendering offered. In Marsden’s hands, this number is a smoothen-faced and (slightly sorrowed) squawk ‘n’ gurgle.
“Help The Poor” is chrome polished, like a damaged ’59 Skyliner, still proud of its elegant sunburst strakes and shiny metallic details, but not quite able to disguise the feeling of abandonment and grief that lies deep in its mechanical heart. Thus, this song is melancholic, and perfectly presented.
Beautiful melodies, magical performances, and impressive guitar work. A real pleasure… both for new fans of the blues and faithful traditionalists.
Words: @neilmach 2021 ©
Main image photo credit: Fabio Gianarda