Atomic Radio Kings review…March 20, 2019….

ATOMIC ROAD KINGS

CLEAN UP THE BLOOD

BIGTONE RECORDS

I’VE GOT TIME–RUMORS–IN ARMS REACH–HAVE YOUR WAY–MY WAY BACK HOME–CLEAN UP THE BLOOD–CANDY MAN–AIN’T FOR ME–YOU GOT TO CHANGE–TWO SIDED STORY–VIBRATIONS–BACK DOWN SOUTH

The Atomic Road Kings combine the talents of guitarist/vocalist/composer/producer Big Jon Atkinson and Eric Von Herzen on the harp.  Along with a smokin’ cadre’ of backing musicians, the band laid down the tracks for their latest album, “Clean Up The Blood,” at Big Jon’s Bigtone Studios, all done on vintage analog equipment, giving this set a cool, old-school vibe.  Natch’l fact is, if it weren’t for the contemporary message in the lyrics of these ten originals and one cover, you’d swear they were tracked in ’54 at 2120 Michigan Avenue.

The party starts with a stop-time groove, finding Big Jon in a pensive mood, reflecting on the four walls that hold him in, and now, “I Got Time to be alone.”  “Have Your Way” plays out over a rhumba-fied beat, while the influence of the Delta is all over “that train down South, goin’ My Way Back Home.”  The set closes in a similar manner, as our hero calls out a lover for “all my troubles, I got you to thank,” “Back Down South.”

We had three favorites, too.  Jon’s grungy, stinging lead lines over Eric’s muted harp make a huge statement in the title cut, while both the fellows get down ‘n’ dirty on the tale of lusty lovers, “I’m your Candy Man, and I like to get lowdown!”  And, a veiled shot at the going’s on in social media and society’s penchant for believing what they hear over what they see, Jon’s distortion-driven guitar “gon’ bring the Devil outta me,” in “Rumors.”

Don’t know which part of the Atomic Road Kings and “Clean Up The Blood” was the most fun—the throwback, Chess-styled sound, or the way Big Jon and Eric play out as a modern-day Muddy and Walter on a cool set of tunes with topical themes that fans of vintage or more contemporary blues will enjoy!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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