Straight out of the blocks it was clear that King King is a band which knows how to make an entrance. An exhilarating debut at the Monaghan Blues Festival created such a stir that it prompted organizer Somhairle MacConghail to remark: “King King aren’t just playing the festival. Word is that King King ARE the festival”. With a reception like this there’s little surprise that the phone has been ringing off the hook ever since, and the last year has seen them bring their inimitable brand of multi-faceted blues rock to the Great British Rhythm and Blues Festival, the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Abertillery Festival and even Glastonbury. This was in addition to a seemingly non-stop series of rousing live shows across the UK and Europe, much to the delight of the band’s burgeoning fan base.
In the midst of all this, a particular highlight of 2010 was King King’s invitation to perform within the hallowed walls of the BBC’s Maida Vale studios. The boys’ set went out on Radio 2 and won the approval of DJ and blues aficionado Paul Jones who was moved to remark: “Here at Radio 2, we think Alan Nimmo and King King are going to go all the way”.
Having signed to Manhaton Records, next came a return to Chapel Studios to record the eagerly anticipated debut album. King King are familiar faces having recorded their critically acclaimed EP Broken Heal at the studio, and again collaborated with the production team behind the Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and the Editors.
The resulting album, Take My Hand, is a bold and wildly enjoyable collection of songs showcasing King King’s unique sound, swaggering from Stones-tinged blues rock through throbbing funk to reflective ballad and back.
Ever present are Nimmo’s impassioned vocals and intricate guitar work, cohort Lindsay Coulson’s punchy bass, and the made-to-make-you-grin keyboard/piano work of Bennett Holland and Dale Storr. Craig Blundell and Wayne Proctor offer selfless vigour and expertise on drums, whilst Jacquie Williams joins the boys to bring gutsy, soulful backing vocals to several tracks. Intelligent and compelling, Take My Hand overflows with unexpected gems and reaches just the right balance of refinement and juke joint clout.
It’s all pretty impressive stuff for a band which didn’t exist a couple of years ago.
The driving force behind King King’s unstoppable charge is the aforementioned Nimmo, a fleet-fingered frontman imbued with almost impolite quantities of charisma and the talent to back it up. Widely known across the UK and Europe for his pivotal role with the award-winning Nimmo Brothers, his full-blooded style, technical brilliance and impassioned vocals are infectious and instantly recognisable. Accordingly, he surrounds himself with the hottest talent currently working the scene and this cherry-picking approach means that King King represents a melting pot of skills and influences. The result is a sound which is energetic, potent and irresistibly funky, branded with the stamp of a band intent on mapping out their own unique territory in blues.
So what next for King King? Demand for the album is already through the roof, and 2011 will see the band make a welcome return to Blues on the Farm (voted the best UK blues festival of last year) as part of an impressive schedule of appearances across the UK and European. A tour of Sweden in October is thrown in for good measure.
It’s a frenetic schedule, and further proof of a fact for which the British blues scene should be truly thankful: nobody on planet King King seems to know how to take their foot off the gas. And hearing the results, let’s hope nobody tells them.