Live At The Ramblin' Man Fair
Published February 2019
Blues Music Magazine
Get your Southern rock on, y’all.
The Kentucky Headhunters have put together a smack on the bulls-eye of an album and it’s sure to please lovers of the genre.
The Grammy-Award winning Southern foursome have been playing together a remarkable 50-years and show no sign of letting up, as this 2016 recording (their second live album,) proves.
The ten live tracks were recorded in concert (unbeknownst to the band at the time,) at The Ramblin’ Man Fair, held mid-summer in Maidstone, U.K. (an hour’s drive from London.) Playing to over 25,000 wildly-pumped fans, the Headhunters were on, surprisingly, their first trip overseas.
The record’s live cuts along with three “bonus” studio recordings clock in at 54-minutes and every one of them just sear with rockin’ blues and country-rock gusto.
They tackle several blues standards, among them “Rock Me Baby,” “High Heal Sneakers” and “Big Boss Man” (and even a Beatles’ medley,) with no fidelity to the originals, putting their growly original approach first.
Original member, Richard Young handles the lead vocals with a spirited, guttural attack, while lead guitarist Greg Martin (cousin to singer/rhythm guitarist Richard & Richard’s drumming brother Fred,) just shines throughout. The band also gives credit on the liners to Black Stone Cherry and Bad Touch.
“Big Boss Man” charges out of the gate with the fervor of a hyped-up metal band, and races right to the Kentucky Headhunters’ foremost strength, blistering rock and roll.
Drummer Fred Young takes a nice solo turn in a Headhunter original, “My Daddy Was A Milkman” showing he’s more than a blues-beating time-keeper. Bassist Doug Phelps is a bottom-solid player, mightily attuned to the free-wheeling rambunction of the band.
A Headhunter original number, “Shufflin’ Back To Memphis” is one of the standout tracks on the recording, containing wonderful lyrics (“Going to point my ragged shoes to the city of the blues,” all wrapped in a greasy-blues stew.
All three bonus studio cuts are delightful. Recorded in their beloved home state, the tracks feature superb pianist, the late Johnnie Johnson along with guest bassist Anthony Kenney.
Another studio track, Arthur Crudup’s “Rock Me Baby” (as close to a slow-blues as the album contains,) has lead guitarist Martin and pianist Johnson playing achingly beautiful solos. The other slow burner is Billy Myles’ “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” with a terrific solo by Martin.
The recording makes the most of the stereo mix and is remarkably clear for all the sonic noise the band produces on stage.
So all said, look out… The South rises.