The Lucky Strikes - The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick
Forget the Medway Delta and hick the fuck up as these young four-ply posse-whippers filter out the Essex estuary, scarcely sniffing Thee Vicars' wine and having scant necessity to recognise Childish of Chatham. They may well be from the spiritual home of the blues in these bisles but this more than strides purposefully out of those harbours and along highways of their own hewing. In turning over their western-garage-country-blues to an epic soundtrack of southern harmony and rich, ribald and evocative tales they till a rich pile of soil indeeds and dust, and retire to multi-storey garages on vast estates in a country barely contained by their infectious confidence.
These chronicles comprise a concept loosely based on the fictional account of Robert Johnson's murder(er). Tis a sprawling but eloquently concise cut-up collection of luckless lustfilled fools and bullet-laden betrayals that conjure the civil war epoch's crossed swords of Jayhawkers, the James Gang, Josey Wales and juke-joints as much as crossroads and poison whiskey. It's not the turn thy aching hip to the southern sun you could charge 'em with either as it tallies up true. So, syllable-slurrer Jesse Vance (yass, ok, forgive 'em - Lefty, Reuben and, um, Jeffrey 'Buck' too - though if that be their given names then all the more reason for 'em claiming their birthright with this) may sound on the youthful side for such material, though, hey, pardner JUST BECAUSE YOU ADOPT A TOM WAITS GROWL INSTEAD OF YOUR WEEDY CHARACTERLESS WHINE DOES NOT CONVEY SAGACITY FROM A LIFETIME HOPPING RAILS so top hats off to Mr Vance and give him his own radio show.
So what's in this store? Well, a big store it be, too. No bullshit, boards of wood awaiting being made into coffins at Clint's instruction for your band. Startling Western adventures from the Mississippi burning dry Dixie-deluges such as the swirling Second Act (Funeral) to ecstatic Standells stomps on Eyes On You (which, incidentally, has tucked away down the inside pocket of it's longcoat just before the chorus, one of the best notes in recorded history, rated in my almanac of stuperfluous info alongside John Lee Hookers Dimples or the slide diinnng in The Stones' Jigsaw Puzzle) that they outweigh with the following epochalyptical caterwaul One Eyed Sam as it combines their eerie Gun Club cordite and charred calico bonnets as The Band rummage through crippled carriages. There's the frequent stench of the cinematic suicide raid from The Long Riders on Main Street as they lurch in outta the dust cloud storm leaving your soul at the door whence scenes stop as 45's ricochet round your freshly-lubricated neck as pounding garage glides to rustic Byrds beauty on last clinch crescendo One Way Down (this is particularly transcendently sublime) and Sweet December, and the Sweet Virginia-esque rival to Dead Flowers sunset waltz that is the reflective Going Out West which transcends it's creaky cliche with bleakly beautiful peaks and pitfalls. Quite ambitious, but ambidextrously so and almost chillingly preternatural in it's nigh-insouciantly authentic cataclysm - hell, they even manage to pull of the easily cringeworthy spoken word passages that intersect about every quarter of the appropriate thirteen track spread.
The Black Crowes were ladled with plaudits for The Southern Harmony & Musical Companion (deservedly, if my 16 year old dead cells recall adequately), a band from the almost geographically alike straits of these borders should be glorified. Oh, they just have been. This is stupendous such that I might go and shelter in my boots. Really great, came out last summer, sorry, you shoulda had it for Christmas, it's okay, you've got till Easter to avoid seven casks of fuckscuppery to descend in a smoky blast. Please allow The Lucky Strikes to shine a light your way.