Five consecutive UK Top 20 records is nothing to be sniffed at, and I suspect that the latest instalment, “Death of a King”, will be as much as a success if not more so. The band set up base in Thailand, taking a whole load of family and friends with them to provide various back-up vocals and on the album’s deluxe edition, there are two tracks that feature The Coral’s James Skelly, and renowned poet John Cooper Clarke.
Speaking about the latest adventure, Jon McClure had this to say: “We loved the recording abroad thing after the last album. Gives the albums a flavour of their own and so we thought we’d give Thailand a try, take the family and all that. I’ve been there before and Pete and Carl raved about Bang Saray so we took all the gang out there. Loads of us. It had finally got back to that big collective I’d always wanted to create. Having long since given up the notion of being number One, we resolved to just make tunes we liked. Ryan’s mrs played bass for a tune, the wives and kids sang backing vocals. Being so far away from home and my family (Laura couldn’t come as she was pregnant) meant I was starting to go a bit mental by the end. I kinda feel like some of that comes thru in the tunes a bit too. I’m kind of off trying to recreate ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’. I’m 35. I have a new set of concerns . I see the world in a different way now so I’m trying to be true to who I am today.”
“Death of a King” is a triumphant twisting turning ride with a surprise round every corner covering a terrific broad spectrum of sounds. Opening track “Miss Haversham” epitomises the split personality, with an eerie introduction before breaking into a beast of a track with one hell of a swagger to it. “Miss Haversham” is not to be trifled with! “Auld Reekie Blues” follows with an almost Lennon like fragility whilst keeping a nice atmospheric feel overall, however, third track “ Bang Seray” has to be my personal favourite on “Death of a King”. Typically when bands try to capture a different sound by dipping into another culture’s music the end result is cringe worthy, cliché and downright damned cheesy bordering on offensive. “Bang Seray” however avoids all of this and manages to conjure up images of rural Thailand with ease, before finishing the journey in a darker more worldly wise Bangkok.
Fourth track “Boomerang” is a slow tempo minimalist dream, but things are kicked up a notch with “Too Tough to Die”. If “Too Tough to Die” were brought into life, it would be a resplendent Gene Hunt from Life on Mars striding down the street with bags of attitude, taking no prisoners. Carlene is an absolute gem of a surprise, lasting only a minute long, there’s again something of “The Beatles” to it and never in a million years would I have expected this track to follow on from “Too Tough to Die”!
“Monkey See, Monkey Do” sounds like the secret love child of The Arctic Monkeys and Oasis with an abrupt end where they’ve been discovered in the cupboard together. I appreciate that’s not an image you particularly want to see, but bloody hell, it’s certainly a sound that works. Next up is “Blackcat” and where it really is a track that has me feline fine (aw c’mon! What!?), if Louis Prima were doing vocals we’d be swinging through the jungle. “Autumn Leaves” at points has a stonking guitar riff but the entire track is something of a magical funfair being gate crashed by James Bond in places. Then we come to “Time Machine”.
So far I’ve really enjoyed “Death of a King”, but “Time Machine” just left me little cold. I’m sure Rev fans will love it, but it’s not one for me, personal observation. “Juliet Knows” is another surprising gem of a track though, with a warm feel provided by the hubbub of a bar chattering away in the background. It really is a lovely acoustic track complete with almost nonchalant whistling cleverly done. The show is finally brought to a close with the epic “Black Flowers”. All of the tracks till now have ranged between one or two minutes long, “Black Flowers” however crashes in on the scene at nine minutes. A shift in vocals leaves us begging for more of an encore, but sadly it’s really the end of the album…
“Death of a King” is more a continuation of a Dynasty from Reverend and the Makers. Fantastic album.
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