The Keno Kings are a frisky foursome from the southeast of England. The good people of East Anglia refer to the Kings’ style of music as "Thames Delta R&B,"but to these ears it evokes Texas blues legends The Fabulous Thunderbirds. In fact, the Kings’ guitar-harmonica-bass-drums configuration parallels the ‘79 T’birds.
Granted, Mick Sprick isn’t quite as charismatic a singer or harp player as Kim Wilson, and guitarist Phil Bouquet doesn’t belong on so high a pedestal as Jimmie Vaughan. But the Keno Kings are a tight outfit just the same, and Careless contains some fetching original songs.
The title track is a relaxed shuffle about a lovesick bloke who pines after a cold-hearted bird. "One Step Behind" has a jump beat, while "All Over Again" is a slow number with some fancy harmonica blowing by Sprick. The band tries its hand at zydeco on Mark IV, a catchy tune about a car that’s falling apart. Also nice is "Jim’s Gym," a clap-along instrumental tribute to Jimmie Vaughan.
Fast-rocking tracks "P45," "Nothing You Can Do" and "Calling You Mine" showcase some fine flaming guitar work by Mr. Bouquet. (A note to ignorant Yanks: a P45 is the British equivalent of a pink slip. "To give someone a P45" is to terminate a relationship further proof that the English don’t speak English. )
The Keno Kings generate a good-time party vibe on Careless, their third release overall. Must say the instrumentation and songwriting are superior to the vocals (by Bouquet and Sprick). But the tunes display good diversity, and the production sounds crisper than most American blues releases.
If you find yourself in East Anglia with some time on your hands, you’d do well to catch the Keno Kings and their brand of Anglo-Texas blues. And while you’re at it, quaff a pint or two of bitter from a straight glass. The Keno Kings and some dark British brew : there's a sure-fire recipe for fun.