Preview Act Like You Know by King James & The Special Men.
Act Like You Know by King James & The Special Men
King James & The Special Men may be new to you and it’s no surprise unless you’re a New Orleans resident and have seen them lifting the roof, for some time, at local bars. This is their first album and as frontman and vocalist, Jimmy Horn, told daily.bandcamp.com, “I’ve always been a long-game guy, I knew for some time now that we needed a record, but I didn’t want to be the band that has eight CDs out before anyone hears a record, I wanted them to hear the first record, so I took my time.” Act Like You Know is an accomplished and polished debut that oozes class and sass.
What you get is something that is instantaneously recognizable as the New Orleans sound – loud, loose, lots of brass, bluesy, a slightly slurred vocal and not least driven by a thumping bass that connects to your pelvis. This is a fine album with its foundations seated in live rendition. You cannot side step the slight Dr John feel throughout although that isn’t something anyone in their right mind would complain about would they!
This is certainly true of “The End Is Near” - not least with the pounding piano. “Special Man Boogie” immediately hits the groove and the vocal is laid back whilst the horns come in on top of the percussion and piano beat to create the excitement.
“Tell Me (What You Want Me To Do)” takes it down to a slow blues with Scott Frock’s trumpet setting the mournful tone whilst Horn relays his pain and urgent demand for information from his lover. I loved the rock guitar break, from John Rodli, as this track plays out.
This six track release is to the point and the album highlight is the 14 minute long “9th Ward Blues” – a district of NOLA where the band originally plied its trade. This starts as a military cadence call and response tune on a pulsing bass and percussion. In the meanwhile a scratchy electric guitar makes intermittent appearances playing a funk riff. Eventually the brass turns up and Jason Jurzak’s stirring tuba drives the whole song to a conclusion whilst trumpet and saxes play jazz. To imagine a frenetic audience losing control as this belts out isn’t a stretch of anybody’s imagination.
This really is a solid 37 minutes of jazz inflected blues electric rock, all fabulously played, without a misstep throughout. Terrific.