Victory Motel Sessions - King Mud (Alive Naturalsound Records) & The Power To Kill - Beyond the Stars (Beyond the Stars)
These two discs were each made (mostly) by a two-piece band, drums’n’guitar; and vox and guitars, respectively. They’re both something I wouldn’t have believed possible: successful two-person rock’n’roll that sounds fantastic. Each album does have a few other elements, but they’re precious few and … and again, I wouldn’t have believed it, but … you don’t really miss the others that much. Why?
In King Mud’s case, the songs and the delivery gain, hold and manipulate your attention; their two covers (you should be familiar with at least one) taken over by the Mudders to such an extent they may as well have written it themselves.
King Mud are Van Campbell from the Black Diamond Heavies and Freddy J IV from Left Lane Cruiser. They’re full-on rock’n’stuff, the kind of busy guitar which tells the story, shoves the song forward and devil the details. There’s a distinctive ‘70s American style to the Mudders, but you can clearly hear innumerable UK influences as well.
The clever thing about this album is that there’s no repetition, despite the style (kinda dirty r’n’b - no not that disco style thing). It’s damned hard to inhabit a genre and make each song original - the Ramones were never really able to achieve this (c’mon, do we all love every Ramones song? Of course we don’t); King Mud are strong, forward, energetic and fit right there in the car stereo, cracked up loud so you don’t hear the thuds and squeals as you plough right through that schoolyard fence and out the other side, eyes closed, hand banging the steering wheel.
As for Beyond The Stars, here are no covers on “The Power to Kill”. It’s all original material written, the sleeve notes tell me, by Dave Mutton (The Nice Folk) aka “Mong Star”. Performed by Mong and “Tin Star” (aka Stewie Cunningham of Leadfinger), this disc is so low-key they’ve forgotten the international standard bar code.
On the one hand I suppose you could say “The Power to Kill” tells an entire story, but on the other it seems like an intensely personal album. There’s grit and growl, but never remotely like Leadfinger; there’s quietness, solitude, and a roaring, laid back rage with glinting eyes and flickering shades in there. It’s kinda quiet, but there’s an intensity, and a thoughtfulness to “The Power To Kill” which you can either sit down and ponder or ignore as you let the songs waft you onto the Lazyboy recliner chair and that fourth tall glass of rum, pineapple and coconut.
Just thinking about it, I don’t feel much like telling you all why it’s so good. Nope. Discover it for yourselves. I can’t imagine it made it into too many shops. But it’s bloody brilliant.
A friend leaned over my shoulder while I was writing all this and observed that I hadn’t mentioned The White Stripes. That’s cos the King Mud are, in my opinion, better, and Beyond the Stars walk on their tedious corpse.
1/2 - King Mud
- Beyond The Stars