Review: The Radio Kings – The Radio Kings

Posted on: Friday, May 29, 2009


(CoraZong Records: 255 117)

After some 10 years apart, The Radio Kings return, with this self-titled album, as ever fronted by the Boston-based duo of Brian Templeton (vocals and harmonica) and Michael Dinallo (guitars) – with the 11 tracks on offer crossing into all spheres of ‘American music’ – from blues to summery pop, with soul and funk leanings.

The two main men are accompanied by Steve Sadler (lap steel), Dean Cassell (bass), Andy Plaisted (drums & percussion) and Ducky Carlisle (percussion and clavinet), and together the seven new songs on offer, with four covers, are all very agreeable, but maybe not reaching their 1990s’ peak, when they started out as a straight blues band before diversifying into more rootsy material.

The Memphis-flavoured soul groove of “Can’t Keep A Good Man Down”, with Dinallo’s slide guitar prominent, gets things off to a lively start, followed by the poppy “Donna” – with Templeton’s sweet harmonica, some lovely harmony vocals and a nice summery feel. Magic Sam’s “She Belongs To Me” is one of the album highlights, with its nice rolling tempo and fine playing again from the whole band.

Michael Dinallo’s “Watch The Trains Roll By” again features his impressive slide guitar work and tasty solo, with Steve Sadler’s lap steel giving it a very grand ‘Americana’ feel. The acoustic country blues of “The Moanin’ Blues sees a shift in direction, with Templeton’s amplified harmonica on top of Dinallo’s acoustic guitar – definitely another standout track!

Elsewhere, “Everything’s Gonna Be All Light” sees them in heavy funk mode, with a blues edge; the standard “Pallet On The Floor” is turned into a uptempo shuffle, and the ballad “I’m Not Dreamin’ “ again shows the variety of music on offer. The traditional “You Got To Die” sees the band in a country blues mode, more nice lap steel.

Proceedings end with Don Robey’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry” – a hit for Southern soul man O.V. Wright – covered in fine style here and a fitting end to a most enjoyable comeback – with Brian Templeton’s aching vocal, and Michael Dinallo’s sparse tremolo guitar pouring on the heartache! Good to have you back guys!


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