To coincide with their (now delayed) UK Tour in October, King King release their fourth studio album 'Exile & Grace' on Friday 6th October, looking to increase their already burgeoning reputation as a live band with a collection of radio friendly Blues/Rock tunes that should see them get the airplay and recognition their performances on the road so richly deserve. Although still present, the more Bluesy numbers have been put slightly on the back burner, to make way for sing a long choruses and big guitars, which should appeal to fans of Thunder and FM to name but two.
No better example of this, than on the opening track and lead single '(She Don't) Gimme No Lovin'. An infectious riff and great chorus, it's already garnering much radio play on Planet Rock and if it wasn't for the vocals of Alan Nimmo, you could be forgiven for thinking you were listening to the latest offering from Thunder.
Slightly more in their usual style, track two 'Heed The Warning' introduces a more Bluesy feel, not that surprising when you read it was inspired by time in the studio spent with the Legend that is Mr. John Mayall. It has a hook that sticks in the brain long after the song is over. A crowd favourite in waiting, it's destined to be on the set list for a long time to come.
Keeping up with a very popular theme in Rock music at the moment, 'Broken' sees the boys tackle the state of the world, but unlike some, it's not as depressing as it sounds. Keeping the pace of the album ticking over nicely and with great vocals, along with an impressive mid-section guitar solo, this relatively short song (as they all are on this CD) never outstays its welcome. A personal favourite. Another sure fire crowd pleaser 'Find Your Way Home' and it's time to get those lighters (or phones, depending on your age) in the air. It's ballad time. A simple song which only takes one play to get you singing along with the big chorus, which is strange, as the song itself is rather understated, proof perfect that sometimes when music needs to be played loud - less is more. Again, great vocals and subtle guitar add to the genuine feeling in the song. A song for all ages, especially Mums - they will love it.
Possible second single (everyone knows the ballad is always third) is up next. 'Tear It All Up' and we are off and rocking again. A song apparently written on the road whilst touring with Thunder, it's another song that would perfectly suit either band. A great hook and riff, it's a song that not only refers to the 'Exile and Grace' of the album's title, but is also crying out to be played live. If there is one song where the Blues outweighs the rock. then 'Betrayed Me' is probably the one. Not as instantly catchy as most of the songs on here, it has a quite downbeat feel as the name would suggest. Being not as immediate as the other tracks, a few plays (nearly said spins) are required, but once that down tuned guitar sound gets under your skin, it becomes a firm favourite.
Time for another instantly memorable hook and with singing voices at the ready, 'Long Time Running' will probably do just that. It's the sound of the whole band having a great time - special mention for Bob Fridzema on the keys - who really is allowed to shine. Rocking enough for mainstream radio, but sadly lacking the proposed cowbell, another song that could see the band take it to the next level. All Right Now, (see what I did there) and on to track eight 'Nobody Knows Your Name' - sees a major influence from Paul Rodgers and Free. From the great opening riff through the story of the ups and downs of fame, and how it's not all black stockings and limo's. The song has a great groove, and shows how being inspired by the greats doesn't mean you have to copy them - this still has the King King sound all over it.
The final song 'I Don't Wanna Lie' is a strange arrangement. Sounding like a Stevie Wonder song, sung by Paul Carrack and played by King King, the song is a mixture of Pop, Groove and Funk with the lightest spattering of Rock in there as well. By no means my favourite song on the album, it cannot detract from the fact that this is a strong collection of commercial songs which, if they have the desired and deserved effect, should see King King cement their reputation as one of the best bands in the U.K.