The Fat Possum label has for years been unearthing underappreciated bluesmen and bringing them back into the spotlight (see, among others, R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough). And, praise be to Allah, they’ve done it again with Little Freddie King.
You could call this garage rock — mainly because King works in a real-life garage. He gets up every morning and rides his bicycle to work — ulcers, headaches and bullets lodged next to his spine notwithstanding.
The title comes from the record’s lead track, a cautionary tale called “Crack Head Joe.” The “Chicken Dance” isn’t the one your drunken aunt does at weddings; no, in this version, the guitar and harp mimic a clucking chicken over a weird, nearly Afro-Cuban beat. It’s a song so twisted that Captain Beefheart probably wishes he’d stolen it. “You Rascal You” is a lilting and whooping revenge tale, featuring such charming lines as, “When you’re dead and six feet, you’ll eat no more of my chicken meat, you rascal you.”
“Looking for My Woman” and a remix of “Chicken Dance” were produced by Tino Gross of Detroit’s Howling Diablos; both feature his trademark mash-up of hip-hop beats and turntables with bluesy guitars and vocals.
King has been recording and touring since the ’60s and plays annually at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. This is raw, serious blues from someone who has lived it. It bursts with depravity, but also real joy.
Brian J. Bowe writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].