The Chicago Kingsnakes – South Side Soul | Album Review

chicagokingsnakescdThe Chicago Kingsnakes – South Side Soul

Music King Records 

10 tracks/42:24 minutes

When Jim “Ang” Anderson was twenty years old, he was on the road with Little Milton. “He walked the line between blues and R&B,” says Anderson, and on South Side Soul the Chicago Kingsnakes follow in Little Milton’s—as well as a number of other great R&B singers and groups—footsteps. The group delivers a soulful groove mixed in with some blues shouts on the ten songs on their new album, inviting us to get up and let our backbones slip as we make it to the dance floor.

Drummer Gus Gotsis and bassist Mike Bailey comprise the lean and mean sound of the Chicago Kingsnakes, but sax player Terry “Sonny Lee” Tritt, keyboardist Jeff “Wally” Walroth pump up the sound. Becky Walroth joins in on tambourine on “Right Where I Left Them.”

Anderson’s bright rhythm guitar opens the album on “Holdin’ On,” a tune that combines the repetitious lyrics of a blues shout with the crisp call-and-response of a soul tune; the song launches the record with a Muscle Shoals vibe that sets the tone for the rest of the album. “Coulda Shoulda Woulda” comes straight out of the Carolina Beach music scene, with the blaring horns and vocal harmonies. This tune would be at home on an album by The Embers; a fun little tune that encourages some us to get up and Shag.

“Right Where I Left Them” has the crunchy, funky vibe of a War song; Tritt’s sax solo and Anderson’s lead riff on the bridge recall some of the best of Chicago, the Al Kopper-led version of Blood, Sweat and Tears, and War. The slow burn blues ballad “Can You Leave Your Light On?” is perhaps the most disappointing cut on the album because the band doesn’t come across as one on the song; the spirit is missing from this one cut. Far more effective is the gospel-inflected “Tell Moses,” which features a chorus of voices that respond to the singer’s call, as well as a down-to-the-heart lead riff that mimics the plaintive and redemptive moan of the vocals. Finally, the title track opens with funky bass and guitar licks that are soon punctuated by Tritt’s down-and-dirty sax; Muscle Shoals, Stax, and Chicago’s South Side meet up in this stirring instrumental.

On the ten songs on South Side Soul, The Chicago Kingsnakes deliver a soulful groove mixed in with some blues shouts, inviting us to get up and let our backbones slip as we make it to the dance floor.

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