Jimmy King,
Live at Monterey
(Bullseye, 2002)

The back cover of Jimmy King's album Live at Monterey has a more accurate description than I could think of: "Jimmy King's blues music is steeped in Southern soul, with plenty of Memphis grit and grease on the side." Ain't that the truth. Live at Monterey contains King's live set at the 1999 Monterey Bay Blues Festival, plus four studio tracks. The intensity of his live performance is well contained in this album.

The live set tracks capture a wonderful show. "Standing in the Rain" has an energetic pace mixed with the aforementioned grit. "It Ain't the Same No Mo" is a scratchy tune that evokes the sound and feel of a live performance more than any other track on the album. (If you close your eyes, you can smell the beer and sweat around you.) "Somebody" is flat-out fabulous, with King's guitar giving the song more flavor than your palate might be able to handle.

The tracks from the live performance are great, and the energy of King's guitar comes through loud and clear. His vocal abilities are pretty good, but his guitar is the star of the show. The studio tracks, on the other hand, should have been put on another album. Don't get me wrong, they're good songs (especially "Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven"). However, after listening to the electricity in the live set tracks, the studio tunes suffer in comparison as canned music. Bonus tracks are always appreciated, but they should have put in some other wonderful live performances.

[ by C. Nathan Coyle ]
Rambles: 27 July 2002

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