The Rocking Kings is a no-frills, instrumental blues rock band out of San Francisco. Their latest self-titled album is eight tracks of traditional rock and blues that pull the listener back to the roots of blues. This album is a studio brainchild from Victor Papa Productions. I was intrigued with a blues rock outfit coming from San Francisco, I admittedly was expecting a little experimentation but the The Rocking Kings actually kept it very straight faced.
When I say no frills, I mean they stuck to a formula that they know works. They themselves have even described the music as “straight to the point.” You get a sense there is a bit of traditionalism going on. For this album, the guitars and bass were Fender, the Keyboard was Yamaha. I appreciated their sort purist adherence to a certain sector of the genre as I'm sure others will as well. Very old school, very melodic, the music is always in motion, the groove never really stops.
As is tradition, the guitar work is great, taking you on little road trips around the base line, very cool. I think one thing that was missing for me musically was instrumental surprises. While a lot can be done with the basics, I feel like in this genre there’s always room for a little something extra. Considering the music is instrumental, I think a few added touches from added instruments would have helped make the music stand out and break up the tracks.
My biggest struggle with the album comes from the production end. I understand this was a studio project and they wanted to commit to a very specific sound which they certainly got, however I feel that sound is a bit dated. When it comes to this style of music I want to hear EVERYTHING. I want to hear the sweat coming off of you if I can. I want to be in the room and feel present in the moment of the performance. The treatment of this album made it feel like there was a lot of distance between me and the performer which didn't always showcase their talent.
For me this album could have benefitted from a modernized makeover. The music itself could use more of edge, a little more straying from the beaten path. Everything I heard felt safe but also like a very sincere homage to those that have inspired them, but I struggled to find something that was a true The Rocking Kings signature.
I feel like there is a different album ready and waiting if they want to go down that path. While I may have had my gripes with this album, their craftsmanship along with their talent is something I can appreciate and I think others could as well.
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