The King Blues have been around for longer than I thought (2004 they first kicked out the jams), but once again, another decent album cover grabbed my eye, and off it was whisked for a good listen. If you find another band that successfully fuses reggae, punk, Jamie T, The Streets, Billy Bragg, ska and folk violins, let me know.
“My Boulder” opens with lots of big vocals, courtesy of the Denmark Street Punk Rock Choir and the even more ironic London Punk Folk Mob. A sense of humour is often missing in politics, but these boys have it in spades; name checking Asterix, bigging up “the beggars and the cheaters and the kings who rise at noon” (on “The Schemers, The Scroungers & The Rats”), Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox has produced a brilliant set of songs, satirising, sending up and examining the punk scene in London, the politics of poverty and the reality of music as force for social good (the poem/polemic of “What If Punk Never Happened” is a case in point.)
The melange of styles, chucking ska, indie, punk, reggae, folk and post-Mike-Skinner London rapping into the mixer certainly works, as Fox, Jazz, Fruitbag, Rich, Farmley and Gumbey are intelligent to realise that not all of their influences need to be referenced, all at once. “Underneath This Lamppost Light” is a Streets-eqsue production, with a longing, regretful lyric, followed by the ska-tastic title track. “The Streets Are Ours”, “Let’s Hang The Landlord” and “Schemers…” are the big punky folky shoutalongs, with slower tunes like “Hold on Tight” and “I Got Love” sprinkled around. You do feel that the whole thing is building to something epic, and “What If Punk…” certainly delivers on that sonic promise. Imagining a time travel trip to “an alternative reality just outside of Clapham” with Doc Brown of Back to the Future fame, where punk never happened, Fox hoarsely declaims about the fallacy of the hippy dream, and the necessity of all the punk bands he then lists as influence.
A madcap, frenetic, wonderfully parochial album, this really is a slice of London life. Give it a spin, feel inspired, and rise up.
Key Tracks: The Schemers, The Scroungers & The Rats/Let’s Hang The Landlord/What If Punk Never Happened