Eastside Kings – Eastside Kings | Album Review

Eastside Kings – Eastside Kings

Dialtone Records

13 songs – 44 minutes

Founded in 1999, Dialtone Records exists to record Austin’s black blues artists, many of whom have been under-recorded or even unrecorded. Dialtone founder, Eddie Stout, has a keen understanding and appreciation of the historical importance in capturing the sounds of such musicians. On Eastside Kings, Dialtone honours artists from the east side of Austin, an area that is being gentrified and modernised to such an extent that many of the bars and juke joints of yesteryear no longer exist – with the consequential impact on the musicians who used to play at such places nightly.

From the opening a capella introduction to “Let The Good Times Roll” to the fade out of the raucously distorted “Boogie Chillen”, Eastside Kings is an album that is simply bursting with life and energy as well as a wholly authentic sense of rhythm and groove. This is the music that one dreams of hearing when walking into a hot, dirty and sweaty bar in a city like Austin.  It is powerful, dynamic and utterly uplifting, with a smart mix of well-known covers and some sparkling new songs.

The backing band features some seriously heavyweight players, with Stout himself on bass, Stevie Fulton on guitar, Nico Leophonte and Charles Shaw on drums, Nick Connolly on piano and Kaz Kazanoff on horns.  The band supports a variety great singers, many of whom will not be known to a wider blues audience.  Soul Man Sam lends his gravelly soul-soaked vocals to “Let The Good Times Roll” and “Cry To Me”, two of the better-known tracks on the CD. Bobby Gilmore sings on the Magic Sam-esque shuffle of “Tore Up From The Floor Up”, while blues shouter Mac McIntosh contributes the swinging “Kidney Stew” (the old Price Lloyd number) and Lou Donaldson’s “Whiskey Drinking Woman” with its still-hilarious couplet “She puts whiskey in her coffee. She puts whiskey in her tea. She puts whiskey in her whiskey, then she puts whiskey in me. ”

Ray Reed sings his own upbeat shuffle “Whisper In Your Ear” and a low-down and dirty interpretation of “Boogie Chillen”. Jabo (“First Name Is Jabo”) and Birdlegg (“Evil In The Morning”) provide the vocals on one track each, while organist Peewee Calvin also contributes two of his songs, the funky “Goodlie Ooglie” and the 60s-soul of “Untold Story”. Fulton rounds out the album with two guitar-led instrumentals, the Meters-esque “Stevie C” and the swinging “Skirt Chaser”.

With superb production by Stout and engineering by Lars Goransson at Sounds Outrageous in Austin, this is about as close as you can get to hearing a top drawer blues band giving it a lash on a Saturday night without leaving your own home.

Eastside Kings is a belting album of authentic, traditional urban blues, featuring a number of players who for whatever reason have not achieved the level of fame their talent deserves. Although originally released in 2017, this album deserves a far wider audience than it has found so far.

And, if that isn’t enough to make you hunt down a copy, all proceeds from the sales of the CD will be donated to the Eastside Kings Foundation, an organisation dedicated to preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of African American blues, jazz and gospel.

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