Act Like You Know
Special Man Industries
Having moved from Seattle to New Orleans in 1993, James Horn went from busking on the streets, playing in dozens of different bands and genres before forming King james & The Special Men who play their own raucous, second-line rooted music, rooted in the classic New Orleans R&B and rock of the fifties and sixties. The sound was honed playing residencies at various New Orleans music halls and drinking establishments, the most recent being the Saturn Bar in the Bywater. Horn's vocals and guitar is supported by: Ben Polcer on piano, bassist Robert Snow, guitarist John "Porkchop" Rodli, Chris "Showtime" Davis on drums, Scott Frock on trumpet and the sax section - Jason Mingledorff and Travis Blotzky on tenor with baritone man Dominick Grillo.
And he six tunes on this are originals that evoke the sound of some Crescent City classics such as the rollicking rump and roll, Professor Longhair styled groove of the opening "Special Man Baby," while the playing on the slow blues "Baby Girl," conjures up Guitar Slim's "The Things I Used To Do." "Eat That Chicken" was inspired by Jessie Hill, with the horns riffing a simplified "Fannie Mae" horn riff against a Fats Domino styled backing. "Tell Me (What You Want Me to Do)," is another classic blues performance with more than a slight hint of the early, bluesy Ray Charles (think of "A Fool For You").
"The End is Near" is a medium tempoed blues with some emphatic playing from the horns and rhythm with a Huey 'Piano' Smith flavor (Polcer is especially fine here) that leads into the disc's closing, and longest performance, "9th Ward Blues," a funky jam that recalls some of the Dr. John & the Night Tripper jams. It is a rowdy close to a joyous celebration and original take on classic postwar New Orleans rhythm and blues and rock and roll.
I received a review copy from a publicist. Here they cover a Lee Dorsey recording.