Travellin’ Blue Kings – Bending The Rules
Naked – 2022
11 tracks; 42 minutes
The original incarnation of the band was a mix of Belgian and Dutch musicians who released their debut album Wired Up in 2019. However, restrictions during the pandemic made it impossible for the members of the band to meet up and play, so the band regrouped with an all Belgian line-up who have now produced a second album of entirely original material. The experienced line-up is now JB Biesmans on vocals, sax and harp, Jimmy Hontelé on guitar and backing vocals, Patrick Cuyvers on Hammond, piano and backing vocals, Winne Penninckx on bass and Marc Gijbels on drums; strings are added to one track by Dries de Haas. Writing credits are shared between JB, Jimmy and Patrick, JB presumably the lyricist as he is involved in every tune except an instrumental.
JB has the sort of gruff vocal style that will be familiar from many blues-rock bands. However, the TBKs have a more varied musical approach and the album has plenty of strong moments. Opener “Too Many People” was released as a single, not surprising as the band rocks out over a core riff that recalls Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips”, everyone on top form with sax, guitar and organ all prominently featured. JB’s sax leads into “Do It Baby” before the nagging guitar riff takes over and the Hammond solos expansively and JB comes back in for a short solo. “Never Never Land” is the track with strings, a ballad with a torrid guitar solo as JB emotes about “distress, despair and desolation”. “What Needed Doin’ Done” may have a grammatically dubious title but is a proper blues, JB frustrated by his relationship. The other track released ahead of the album was “Gotta Get Away”, a chugging blues-rocker with a rough and tough vocal, brooding backing vocals and a spiralling guitar solo.
“Hold Your Horses” has an old-school R&B feel as it races along, propelled by sax and swirling organ, a great song that definitely gets the toes tapping. “A Stiffer Drink” has a funky New Orleans edge, keys again prominent before the title track “Bending The Rules”, an instrumental which has a cool, jazzy vibe. The slow blues “If Only…” and “Shut Eye” both contain good guitar features before the album closes with a bright and soulful encouragement to “Live Your Life”.
Whilst it does not break any new ground, this is a solid release from The Travellin’ Blue Kings, no weak tracks and very listenable.