British harpist and vocalist Paul Lamb & the King Snakes is a highly regarded band led by the leader’s harp and vocals, but their new SRV Blue disc, Snakes & Ladders, was my first exposure to their music. This is a live recording from September 2006 which captures them in front of a receptive, enthusiastic audience on a variety of material which has parallels to the music of The Thunderbirds or Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers.
Lamp is joined by guitarist/vocalist Chad Strentz which the booklet notes is influenced by some of the bluesy jazz guitarists like Tiny Grimes; Lamb’s son Ryan on much of this; Raul de Pedro Marinero on lead guitar, Rod Demick on bass and Sonny Below on drums. Its a tight ensemble and get a rocking groove going on the opening Crazy For Me, with its Bo Diddley/Not Fade Away groove. Adopted Child is the lengthiest performance with some terrific harp while son Ryan takes lead on the Guitar Slim classic, The Things I Used to Do.
The excited audience is quite into the performances here, including when Paul Lamb does several numbers in tribute to the legendary Sonny Terry such as Your Better Mind and Easy Rider. This was recorded in a theater although I suspect the ideal place would be a crowded bar with a packed dance floor as they certainly work I Got My Mojo Workin’ in fine form.
The various singers are all capable ones, if not exceptional singers. They bring the songs to life and the band plays wonderfully if at times a bit hyped up tempo. Fans of strong blues bar bands and blues harp will certainly find many delights on Snakes & Ladders.
I believe my review copy was provided by Jazz & Blues Report but am not sure if the review was ever published.