The Times’ music critics’ choice - the best CDs of 2004 (Saturday Dec 18th 2004)
(in alphabetical order!!)
The Cadillac Kings; Highway 17 (33)
Charles Caldwell; Remember Me (Fat Possum)
The Cure; Three Imaginary Boys (Polydor)
Dizzee Rascal; Showtime (XL)
Bebel Gilberto; Bebel Gilberto (East West/Crammed)
Go! Team; Thunder, Lightning, Strike (Memphis Industries)
Goldie Lookin’ Chain; Greatest Hits (Atlantic)
Interpol; Antics (Matador)
Keane; Hopes and Fears (Island)
The Killers; Hot Fuss (Lizard King)
Brad Mehldau; Live in Tokyo (Nonesuch)
Morrissey; You Are The Quarry (Attack)
Youssou N’Dour; Egypt (East West)
Madeline Peyroux; Careless Love (Universal Jazz)
The Pogues; Remastered albums with extra tracks (WSM)
Razorlight; Up All Night (Vertigo)
Scissor Sisters; Scissor Sisters (Polydor)
Gwen Stefani; Love Angel Music Baby (Polydor)
The Streets; A Grand Don’t Come For Free (679)
U2; How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (Island)
Velvet Revolver; Contraband (RCA)
Brian Wilson; Smile (Nonesuch)
Chosen by Paul Connolly, John Clarke, Nigel Williamson, John Bungey & Ivan Hewitt
THE CADILLAC KINGS - HIGHWAY 17 33 Records 33WM131
The Cadillac Kings have got it all - A guitar player whose T-Bone Walker licks and cranky chordings sound as natural as his piercing slashing south Louisiana sound. A harp player who can make it bark and yelp and still get soulful in the solos. A rhythm section that adds a rich lushness to the whole thing. A piano player whose main aim in life is to shorten the gap between New Orleans and Los Angeles, and a vocalist who sounds like he's having a natural ball on each and every tune.
So he should, Mike Thomas had a hand in writing almost every song except Jack Dupree's "Shake Baby Shake" and Gary Potts' two stonkin' harp instrumentals. Thomas writes some good stuff - from the laid back growl and easy rolling beat of "Trick of The Blues" to the hard drivin' R&B of "Watch Yourself Brother" and the sly Louis Jordan-ish "Who's Bin Lickin' My Chicken?" And who could resist the wry observational humour of the unconvinced partner of someone on a keep fit kick on "Exercisin' Baby"?
I don't know where "Highway 17" is and I've no intention of going there. The lyrics describe it as a pretty mean, evil and scary place and Gary Pott's harmonica, laced with those snakey Rice Miller wahwah patterns, adds to the menacing atmosphere. "Throwing A Dragnet is the ideal vehicle for pianist Mike Adcock to let rip with some New Orleans rhumboogie patterns and for drummer Roy Webber to kick in with some dangerously accurate drumming while Gary Potts turns into Slim Harpo on the harp solo.
Yes, these boys know how to do it right - they know how to design a good sleeve and they're even pretty snazzy dressers too. The Cadillac Kings are deservedly one of the biggest bands on the British blues scene. You loved their previous release 'Lou-Ann' on Flathead Records (FRCDV8). You're gonna love this one too!
Ken Smith/ Red Lick Magazine's recommended new release/ Autumn 2004
The Guisborough Blues Festival 2/05/04
The Cadillac Kings were given the unenviable task of following Connie Lush & band onto the stage, and proceeded to give a master class in jumping, swinging blues. "Tiger Man", "Highway 17', "Shake Baby Shake” and "Bombshell Blonde followed in rapid succession, and kept the happy dancers on their toes. Latest recruit to the band is young guitarist Kid Oliver, who has added a fresh dimension to this already well-seasoned band. Songs of especial note include "Money Talks", for which keyboard player Mike Adcock dons an accordion to bring a real Cajun feel to the proceedings, and “Ice Pick's Confession" for which Mike Thomas reserves his best 'gritty' vocals. Especial mention must go to one of Europe's finest harp players, Gary Potts. He just continues to improve. The well-deserved encore was the self-penned "Lou-Ann", the title track of their CD. Jump, Jive and Swing - this band has it all!
Mike Mager, Blues in Britain Magazine July 2004
The Cadillac Kings Highway 17 33 Records 33WM131
The Cadillac Kings have had a few line up changes since their fantastic 2001 debut, ‘Lou Ann’, but their grip on big swinging early-Fifties R'n'B remains as tight. From the first couple of bars it becomes clear that this steaming gumbo of Blues harmonica, boogie woogie piano and thumping drums will be the perfect accompaniment for shaking the fat ass of your chrome bedecked Fifties showboat all over the highway. Not since the wild days of the Balham Alligators has a British Rock'n'Roll band sounded so righteous - and although the Balhams were Cajun-flavoured and the Kings lean towards the Blues, there are strong musical similarities between the bands. Partly it's the gruff vocal of MikeThomas who reminds me of Geraint Watkins. Partly it's the flashes of Mike Adcock's accordion. Mostly it's the way the guys pile into irresistible grooves with such total abandon.
If you want to Rock'n' Roll, call 33 Records for a copy on 01582 419584.
Douglas McPherson, Classic American Magazine Jan 2005
They’re a luxury car! They’re royalty! Wait …you’re both right. They’re The Cadillac Kings, straight out of Pendulum-like England. Highway 17 (33 Records WM131) is packed with smoothly swinging tunes and plenty of hot playing - bandleader Mike Thomas belts ‘em out with gusto, and this band can really play; Mike Adcock's piano is especially pleasurable.
Song title of note: "Who's Been Lickin' My Chicken?"
Jeff Calvin Blues Revue Magazine, USA Feb 2005
The Cadillac Kings - Highway 17 (33 Records 33WM131)
The Cadillac Kings are as good as any current British band as exponents of both the West Coast and New Orleans blues styles. Their stage performances are unfailingly vibrant and entertaining, and their energy and virtuosity is very well demonstrated on this brilliant album. The marvellous vocal delivery of Mike Thomas receives excellent support and embellishment from Mike Adcock on piano, Gary Potts on harmonica, Oliver Darling on guitar and the excellent rhythm section of Orlando Shearer on double bass and Roy Webber on drums.
The album contains fourteen tracks, all but two of which are written by members of the band - ten of them by Mike Thomas, whose humorous lyrics are a delight. The selection sets off at a cracking pace with the fast rocking "Bombshell Blonde", followed by the West Coast-influenced "Exercising Baby" and the title track, "Highway 17”, a medium-paced shuffle. "Hilde's Hop" is the first of two instrumental numbers, a swinging boogie that features the wonderful harp playing of Gary Potts. The second instrumental, "Hard-top Boogie", showcases the considerable skills of Mike Adcock on piano, who switches to the accordion on "Money Talks" and "Lovinest Girl".
The two covers on the album are T-Bone Walker/Charlie Glenn's "She's Gonna Ruin Me" and a superb version of Champion Jack Dupree's "Shake Baby Shake". There are another two shuffles, "You Never Know” and “Trick of the Blues", the latter enhanced by more magic from Gary Potts. Contrast is provided by "Throwing a Dragnet”, with its rhumba beat and the Louis Jordan styled "Who's Bin Lickin' My Chicken?", before the boogie beat is restored by “Watch Yourself Brother”, the final listed number. The album is then unexpectedly extended with a splendid, unannounced bonus track to round off the excellent set.
Lionel Ross, Blues in Britain recommended best of 2004 CDs
The 2nd 'Bluezy' Blues-Rock Festival, Ridderkerk, Holland 2/04/05
For me, personally, the best part of the festival took place earlier in the evening with the arrival onstage of The Cadillac Kings who had travelled all the way from England specifically to play at Bluezy.
The blues, jump and swing which these 'royals' served up set the room on fire by the second number! Led by the extremely animated Mike Thomas and the fantastic harmonica of Gary Potts, The Cadillac Kings served up music which could have come straight out of the '40s & '50s, yet sounded fresh and completely up to date.
Playing mainly their own numbers with a few covers (T-Bone Walker etc) they soon gave the Bluezy festival crowd the urge to dance. Festival organiser Nico Bravenboer was rightly proud of the fact that the band had come over to the Netherlands just to play his festival, and getting The Cadillac Kings on the bill was a real feather in his cap.
Thanks to Nico and the people at Bluezy and De Gooth. Here's to next year!
Steven Verhoeven, Bobtje's Blues Pages, Belgium
Highway 17 The Cadillac Kings 33WM131
Already heralded as one of the best blues releases of the year, this quality mixture of blues, boogie & swing is full of a thumping double bass, deep toned harp, rolling piano and a rockabilly sensibility.
These guys effortlessly shift from one genre to the next, whether it be the swinging boogie and humorous lyrics of "Exercisin' Baby", the swing blues of "Hilde's Hop", or the impressive harp driven shuffle "You never know", there is a rare quality at the centre of the whole band akin to the centre of a stick of rock.
Had this album been recorded by say the Fab T Birds, or say Junior Watson, everyone would be jumping. As it is, a lot of rockabilly dancers are jumping along to this band, but The Cadillac Kings deserve a wider audience, which this album will surely bring them.
From Gary Potts' earthy harp to Mike Adcock's rolling piano, The Cadillacs drip with blues intensity, and probably for the first time in my life I agree with The Times music critics.
Pete Feenstra/ March '05 playlist
The Swamprock Club, Finchley 12/03/05
Many bands on the circuit end up being categorised in some way, usually as blues, swing, rock 'n' roll or r 'n' b, some deservedly so. The Cadillac Kings, however, excel at all of the above and more besides.
This gig in an intimate and welcoming venue, was a belated celebration of Mardi Gras, following the cancellation of the original date when the Torrington unexpectedly closed.
Consequently the Cadillac Kings gave us a fine slice of their trademark danceable mix of rhythm and blues, plus an extra helping of swinging Cajun, Zydeco and New Orleans-influenced tunes from the pen of lead singer Mike Thomas and the likes of Professor Longhair.
From the first bars of Joe Hill Louis' Tiger Man, set in motion by a solid back beat from 'Uncle' Roy Webber and Tim Copp on percussion and double bass respectively, and driven by Mike's rich vocals, the dance floor quickly became crowded, and remained so for the rest of the evening.
The first set featured the band's own interpretations of numbers by Jimmy Reed, T-Bone Walker and Louis Jordan as well as a selection of originals from their latest and excellent CD 'Highway 17', including the title track and a rocking 'Bombshell Blonde'. Terrific harp from Gary Potts was heavily featured during 'You never know' and, in Mike's words, their 'tribute to Hilda Baker' - Hilde's Hop. A helter-skelter 'Lollipop Mama' closed the first set and gave the dancers a much needed breather.
The second set took us to the southern states, with Mike Adcock either evoking memories of classic pianists during 'Big Chief' and 'Throwing a dragnet', or stirring up an authentic Cajun feel with his accordion during Belton Richard's 'Oh Lucille'. Del Van Dee's ringing guitar grabbed the baton for 'The Promised Land' and, all too soon, Champion Jack's 'Shake Baby Shake' brought the set to a close.
A well-deserved encore in the form of a storming version of the Cadets' 'Stranded in the Jungle' upped the percussion level another notch, before leaving everyone cooling down in a queue to buy CDs. Whatever you're celebrating, you'd be hard pushed to have better musical guests than the Cadillac Kings!
Darrell Parsons, Blues in Britain, May 2005