Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Red Devils - King King

The Red Devils was an early 90's LA-based white-boy rockin' blues band, made up of cats from the LA punk scene, including brothers Dave Lee Bartel and Johnny Ray Bartel on guitar & bass (both had played in innumerable bands previously, including a different band with the same name - this band was previously called the Blue Shadows - yes, very confusing), Lester Butler on vocals & harp, Paul Size on lead guitar and, from the Blasters, Bill Bateman on drums and Gene Taylor on piano. This CD was recorded for Def American by Rick Rubin live at the King King Club in Hollywood - one of their mainstay gigs.

Opening with the harp-driven groover, "Automatic", they set the pace right away - swinging, r'n'r blues with everyone right in the pocket and everyone playing together as a band. Butler has a cool, gravely voice and is a heckua harp-player and the rest of the cats lock in behind him. Their own "Goin' to the Church" is a stomper that must've gotten the cats and kittens out of their seats and boppin'! Willie Dixon's "She's Dangerous" is a "Hootchie Kootchie Man" re-write but is a cool, smouldering blues. They give a great reading of "I Wish You Would" then slow it down for Sonny Boy Williamson's "Cross Your Heart".

Singer Butler added some lyrics to a Willie Dixon number and came up with "Tail Dragger" which lets Size cut loose with some great licks in this powerhouse soul/blues. They seem to be channeling Creedence Clearwater for "Devil Woman" - never a bad thing! - with its swampy, voodoo rhythm and Fogerty guitar tones. Butler's "No Fightin'" is a nice mid-tempo smoker that lets both Butler and Size bust out some riffs before pulling out a Howlin' Wolf tune that I hadn't heard before, "Mr. Highway Man" - a rockin' number. Funnily, they combine the music for "Scratch My Back" with the lyrics for "I'm Ready" then they really stretch out for a slow, slow take on Little Walter's "Quarter to Twelve" before rockin' out with the closer, Junior Wells' "Cut That Out".

These cats ended up gigging/jamming/recording with everyone from the Black Crowes to Mick Jagger! If you dig Blasters-inspired blues, this is one to get!