The Flaming Mudcats – Forever And A Day
I first got to hear New Zealand’s Flaming Mudcats in 2012 on their debut album and was totally impressed. When they told me they were coming to America in summer 2013 we added them to our first ballpark festival in June. 2014 saw their follow up album and we had them at Lyran Park in 2015 at our fest. 2018 saw their third release and here with their fourth album the guys add fourteen original songs that they wrote and arranged. It’s always a fun time to get and hear their new stuff!
The band is Craig Bracken on lead vocals, harp and tenor sax, Doug Bygrave on guitar, Johnny Yu on bass, backing vocals and acoustic guitar, and the venerable Ian Thompson on drums. Guest musicians abound here, mostly revolving around a horn section that plays a big role in the sound and feel of the album. Andrew Hall on sax, Mike Booth on trumpet, and Jono Tan on trombone make up the horn section. Ron Stevens adds the Hammond organ and on piano is Mike Walker. Steve Cournane is on congas and percussion.
“All Around the World” sets things in motion. It’s a funky cut with a nice groove. Hammond organ and horns help out here, with early solos on organ and trumpet. Bracken sings with emotion and Bygrave wails on his guitar. A sax solo is the last of the solo offerings. All in all, this is a great hook to get the ball rolling. “Shake It” follows, with more good vocal work by Bracken and Yu in support. A thoughtful guitar solo is followed by a tenor sax solo are sweet and the horn support throughout is nicely done. Bracken breaks out his harp on the jumping cut “Friday Night.” He and Bygrave trade licks and it’s a fun time with lots of harp to appreciate. Next is “On The Town,” a medium tempo-ed blues shuffle with more good harp and guitar. We get to swing and jump with “On The Up,” where harp, guitar and piano give us some pretty solos. “Good Behavior” follows, a track with some more funkiness and horn arrangements. The guitar solo rings out for the listener to take notice here. The tenor sax and horns interplay with the vocals a bit; it’s a fun ride. “I’ll Be Fine” is next and opens with some more swell horn work. Bracken croons and state’s how he’s a changed man to his woman. The horns blare and the organ supports then well, too.
“100 Days” kicks off the second half of the CD. It’s a somber blues ballad with vocals, organ and guitar driving the cut. The harp solo is sublimely cool. Bracken offers up another thoughtful guitar solo that’s special, too. Next is “C’mon Baby,” a slick cut with more horns to enjoy. Sax and guitar solos are also very fine, here. “My Baby’s Alright” turns things down tempo-wise in a jazzy feeling cut. The sax take s a turn first at a solo and later the guitar offers one up, too. “So Glad” opens with some more harp in another song with a nice, funky feel to it. The harp is featured throughout as Bracken blows some distorted and cool stuff as the backline helps drive the cut along. The guitar finishes things off and then the harp fills in with it for the outro. “Your Daddy” is a fun song with Bracken asking his girl why her daddy doesn’t like him. A medium tempo swing, it moves along well. The guitar solo and later harp solo help sell this one. Things finally start to break out with “Black Limousine,” a driving cut with honky tonk piano. Bracken adds some more cool harp to the mix as does Bygrave on his guitar; over all it’s well done! The album concludes with “Forever And A Day” with a down home feel. Lots of hand clapping and fun here as the boys have a good time and Bracken chugs on his harp.
I enjoyed the album and all the great original songs. If there is one, minor complaint it might be that I was waiting for one or two of the songs to cut loose and open up the pace a bit more- more dance numbers! But the stuff here is all good. Bracken excels on vocals and harp, Bygraves guitar shines and the horns play a big role in the over sound and feel of the album. It’s always an exciting thing to get a new album from these great New Zealand musicians and I was so happy to get and hear this new one. It’s too bad they live on the other side of our planet because The Flaming Mudcats always put on a great show and now have fourteen fine new tracks to add to their repertoire!