The Kentucky Headhunters – On Safari
The Kentucky Headhunters are a Southern Rock band with lots of blues influences. The album is predominantly rock but it’s a rocking good time. These guys have been around for a long time and this is their 12 album. Released after their first-ever European tour, the Grammy Award winning group features Richard Young on vocals and guitar, Doug Phelps on vocals and bass, Greg Martin on lead guitar and vocals, Fred K. Young on drums, percussion and vocals, and their Safari brother Kevin McKendree on keys and Hammond organ. Their promo stuff calls this post-tour CD, “another musical expedition…the Kentucky Headhunters return from the rock n’ roll jungle…” The tour must have been a wild time to call the results here as On Safari.
“Beaver Creek Mansion” opens things. A heavily country influences southern rocker, it’s a brash and driving tune with strong vocals and blistering guitar. “Deep South Blues Again” takes things into the stratosphere with howling vocals and a stinging guitar lead and solo. “I Am The Hunter” offers another heavy dose of guitar as they proclaim themselves atop the food chain. A slow rocker, it still blasts the listener off well into space. “Caught In A Dream” mixes heavy drums and percussion with piano and nasty guitar and turns it all into a frenzied sound. Things tone down for “Crazy Jim,” a story about a weird local guy with growling vocals and the Hammond organ filling things out. A couple of what in the Headhunters eyes would be thoughtful and introspective guitar solos are features. It’s still not for the faint of heart. “Big Time” ends the first half of the set. More growling vocals shouted out with another driving drum beat and bass line in a heavy and rocking mid tempo cut.
“Lowdown Memphis Blues” shows some blues influence in the slow to mid tempo ballad with a forthright lead guitar. “Rainbow Shine” starts to an almost reggae sort of beat and then becomes a slow bluesy rock song.. It reminds me a little of a Stones country blues rocker except the coolly off key vocals have a twang instead of Jagger’s English accent. “Way Down Yonder” is a Charlie Daniels song with attitude. It’s a gutsy Southern rocker with stratospheric guitar and strident vocals. High energy, honky-tonk fun is what “Jukebox Full of Blues” is all about. Piano, guitar and vocals let loose with reckless abandon. “God Loves A Rolling Stone” is a waltzing rock ballad that takes things down several notches but still gives us the feel of this band’s energy. Things conclude with “Governor’s Cup,” what I’d term an instrumental ditty in comparison to the flames and energy of the rest of the album. Thoughtful guitars trade licks and notes as the backline keeps a moderate but also thoughtful beat. It’s a stark contrast but a nice ending to the album.
Ok, so it’s not blues. Even the tunes that have blues in the title are not “real” blues songs. But it’s a darn good album of blues influenced Southern rock. The boys let it all hang out and it is a fun ride to accompany them on this CD. While not traditional blues, if you like Southern rock with its’ country flair and a big momentous sound, then this one’s for you! Lots of fun here!