As promised Blackie and The Rodeo Kings deliver the companion to their 2011 collaboration album King And Queens. While Kings And Queens featured guest appearances from some of the band’s favourite female singers, this album, titled Kings And Kings features some of the band’s best “guy” friends from the world of roots, blues and country. Each one of them an accomplished KING in their realm of creative endeavours and in many cases absolute king legends in the entertainment industry.
The album kicks off with the “Live By The Song”, which is simply the autobiography of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. A rarity in the fact that it was written by all three-principal members, Colin Linden, Tom Wilson, and Stephen Fearing, “Live By The Song” is really the biography of every working musician/songwriter committed to the ‘life’. Perfectly featuring the voice of Grammy Award winner Rodney Crowell and Fearing on the lead vocal, the song conjures the winding path of uncertainty faced by all the players who really had no other choice but to follow it.
Is there really more of songwriter’s songwriter than the incomparable Nick Lowe? Lowe brings elegance to “Secret of A Long Lasting Love” taking the lead throughout the song.
The spirit of the late Roy Orbison can be detected in the gorgeous rendition of Fearing’s “High Wire” featuring the impeccable voice of Raul Malo (The Mavericks).
“A Woman Gets More Beautiful” situates long time friends and collaborators Linden and Bruce Cockburn. Linden produced a number of Cockburn’s albums. On this track the pair philosophize on the appreciation of timeless beauty, slipping from English to French to English. Cockburn’s masterful guitar interplay is abundant.
On every Blackie and The Rodeo Kings album there is a song penned by their namesake, the late great Willie P. Bennett. “This Lonesome Feeling” is a classic cowboy lament. Multi Grammy award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame legend Vince Gill takes it to the Mountain with his contribution.
“Long Walk To Freedom” is Fearing with the iconic Kevin Moore (aka Keb Mo), long time friend and collaborator of Linden’s.
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Groove and melody reign under fantastic manipulations by Oakland’s Fantastic Negrito on Wilson’s “Bitter and Low”. The track locks in trance like vibe reminding us of Lee Harvey Osmond’s Beautiful Scars album, which brings us to the track “Beautiful Scars”. Wilson jokes that he wrote the title track of his album after it’s release. The song inspired by novelist Miriam Toews benefits from the amazing vocal performance by Dallas Green (City And Colour).
As a technical supervisor on the TV show “Nashville”, Linden has spent hours with the cast helping the actors and musicians bring their best to the screen and live stage. “For Where The River Rolls”, he gathered the crew at the day job around the microphone to bring their vocal skills to the track. The result is an upbeat and fun celebration with Linden, Sam Palladio, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten, and Jonathan Jackson all sharing verses and harmonies.
Eric Church on “Bury My Heart” and Jason Isbell on “Land Of The Living” (Hamilton Ontario 2016) bring a real contemporary country music voice and feel to Blackie and The Rodeo Kings. Like every King on the album, these guys can sing the lights out and they do.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings originally formed in 1996 when Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing, and Tom Wilson came together to record what was suppose to be a one-off tribute album to the great Canadian songwriter Willie P. Bennett. At the time, all three members were deeply committed to burgeoning solo careers that they had no intentions of putting on hold, and had no plans to turn Blackie into an ongoing concern.
Now twenty years later, 8 albums, one Juno Award, and several Juno Award nominations under their belts, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings have organically evolved into one of the finest roots-oriented bands in North America. Blackie and the Rodeo Kings remains one of Canada’s greatest musical treasures.
KINGS AND KINGS TRACKLIST
01 Live By The Song ft. Rodney Crowell
02 Bury My Heart ft. Eric Church
03 Beautiful Scars ft. City and Colour
04 High Wire ft. Raul Malo
05 Playing By Heart ft. Buddy Miller
06 Bitter and Low ft. Fantastic Negrito
07 Secret of a Long Lasting Love ft. Nick Lowe
08 A Woman Gets More Beautiful ft. Bruce Cockburn
09 Land of The Living (Hamilton Ontario 2016) ft. Jason Isbell
10 Long Walk To Freedom ft. Keb Mo
11 This Lonesome Feeling ft. Vince Gill
12 Where The River Rolls ft. The Men of Nashville
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