Album & Single Reviews

Published on October 6th, 2017 | by Mike Ainscoe


King King: Exile & Grace – album review



Manhaton Records

The Bandwagon offers its sincere apology for not introducing King King earlier

What were we thinking about? King King have been on our  radar a while and can often be found gracing the pages of various rock mags, usually accompanied by a photo of kilt wearing frontman Alan Nimmo. In fact it’s Alan’s throat condition that’s caused their biggest UK tour to date to be postponed till January. Plenty of time to catch up then for those new to the guys.

Having evolved from their roots as a blues band, today’s King King and ‘Exile & Grace’ is described as an album that has a rockier feel, by which counts  you ain’t gonna find no complaints here. Referencing some classic British hard and blues rock – the likes of Paul Rodgers, Free, Deep Purple all spring immediately to mind – the  Whitesnake track ‘Give Me All Your Love Tonight’ even graces the vinyl edition as a bonus track.

On the one hand, while ‘Exile & Grace’ doesn’t go so far as stretching the boundaries or creating an exciting new direction, but they do a grand job of playing quality and accessible blues based hard rock. The proverbial new soles on old shoes, back to basics but done properly with feeling and passion.

In vinyl terms it’s a great side one. Single ‘(She Don’t) Gimme No Lovin’ opens in a brief Townsendy/The Who combo of sequencer and block chording and with the stop/start swing of  ‘Heed The Warning’ comes the realisation that a healthy chorus always goes some way to making a great song/ A belter of an opening pairing.

‘Find Your Way Home’ and they’re gonna take things down a touch. Those keyboard stabs warm the cockles and take the feel more towards what the emulsion mixers would call an angst blue shade of pale. But the ante soon ups with the brooding riff driven licks on ‘Tear It All Up’. Want another catchy chorus? Easy – ‘Exile & Grace’ has more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.

With the working title of ‘Stonesy’ (think ‘Honky Tonk…’) you can guess the influences of ‘Long Time Running’ although the strong temptation to add the cowbell was fortunately resisted. Riffing along  a la Keef there’s a edgy strut and  swagger.

And so it goes on. Reverting to a timeless sound doesn’t do any harm at all, although having been  burned by some of the King King fire, album closer  ‘I Don’t Wanna Lie’ reverts to an undemanding conclusion.  The sort of  more  watered down pseudo blues that Clapton used to knock out with great success when he seemed more concerned with style than substance.  Could never see him in a kilt though.

You can see why some label King King as “the living, breathing, here and now of classic rock music.” Minor point as you shouldn’t judge a book…etc, but love the cover art.

The King King website is here


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About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.

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