Review: Paul Lamb & The King Snakes – Hole In The Wall

Posted on: Thursday, Sep 18, 2014


Paul Lamb & The King Snakes – Hole In The Wall

(Secret Records: SECCD097)

A new release from the superb Paul Lamb & The King Snakes is always something to look forward too, and it is a pleasure to report that “Hole In The Wall” is a joy from start to finish, from the UK’s premier harmonica player and his top, top band – and the album celebrates nearly 40 years on the music scene for Mr. Lamb!

Over the years The King Snakes have always contained some of the finest players around and the current, settled line-up is no exception, featuring – apart from Paul Lamb on trademark brilliant harmonica and occasional vocal – Chad Strentz (lead vocals and guitar), Ryan Lamb (guitar), Rod Demick (bass and vocals) and Dino Coccia (drums). The very generous 15-track is without doubt one of the finest in the band’s extensive back catalogue.

The beauty of “Hole In The Wall” for me is the pure blend of styles – taking the first five tracks as a ‘snapshot’ we have the lovely traditional title cut, which Paul first heard in a Blyth folk club; it is followed by a tune penned by his son Ryan and drummer Dino Coccia, the uptempo soul groove of “Sometime Tomorrow”, with its lovely clipped guitar motif and sweet vocal from Chad Strentz; the low down blues groove of another traditional tune, “Preaching The Blues”; the swinging Paul Lamb song “Jumpin’ Little Judy, which fairly rattles along with some blinding harmonica; and the sweet gospel feel of “A Better Place To Be”, with gorgeous acoustic harmonica and Chad Strentz showing his soul and gospel roots.

That still leaves ten more belters, highlights of which are a return to one of my favourite band songs, Chad’s rockabilly-flavoured “The Pillow” . . . here re-titled with “Part 2” in the name . . . with some nice guitar leads from Lamb junior and his dads masterful Sonny Terry-inspired harmonica; that is followed by another standout in the form of Smokey Robinson’s masterpiece, “You Really Got A Hold On Me” . . . a glorious song for sure and beautifully covered here.

Elsewhere Rod Demick’s “Way Down Low” rides on another great guitar groove; the next track is a co-write from Dino Coccia and Bob Haddrell, of The Barcodes – the swinging “Consultation Man”. The pace is taken down for the self-explanatory harmonica showcase, “Mr Lamb’s Groove Walk”, where over 5:15 the man himself shows just why he is right up there at the top of the harmonica tree, with some quite exceptional playing.

This much recommended release ends with perhaps a surprise in a cover of the late Gary Moore’s “Still Got The Blues For You” – given an almost jazzy, and certainly swinging, makeover, with smooth vocal from Chad and delightful chromatic harmonica, over the top rhythm section of Rod Demick and Dino Coccia, and Ryan Lamb showing what a fine player he has developed into.

It’s a pleasure to have this super band on our shores . . . that’s when they are not gigging around most of Europe . . . and long may they flourish with music of this high quality.


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