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Kris Heaton Blues Band - R-Me Strong

R-Me Strong

Kris Heaton Blues Band

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker
(progdawg@hotmail.com).

You may or may not have heard of Kris Heaton, but the heavies certainly have. He used to play in a band, Control Camp, that opened for Stevie Ray, Gregg Allman, Leon Russell, and Huey Lewis before forming his own combo and releasing a couple of well-regarded discs in 2005 and 2007. Hard-driving, rambunctious, firing on all six, it's not hard to see why this CD has been anticipated by those in the know.

R-Me Strong goes back to the masculinist vibe of the blues foundation while rocking the living bejeezus out of the mode. There's more than a little Bachman-Turner Overdrive here as well, delivering simple messages in iron-firm tones, gale force bluster and furrowed brow intact. The "group" is actually a duo (Heaton on guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and vocals alongside Ace Foster playing harmonica and percussion while providing backing vox) backed by a sextet of sit-ins on various cuts. The title cut is basically steeped in a Ted Nugent / Charlie Daniels conservative attitude re: America's occupationist ventures abroad via armed forces that shouldn't be employed thusly—at least Constitutionally, if that means anything to anyone any more. However, those selfsame troops are defending his right to feel as he does, right?, so that's as may be.

Following that track, Shut Up isn't exactly an anthem to N.O.W., advising the narrator's girlfriend (or wife) that she has a big mouth so "Shut up please! Shut your mouth!", which begs the question why he's allied to her, but what the hell, this is the blues! Whatever one may think of such things, however, is not the point, the music is, and this, a high octane nitro-charged affair that also knows how to lay back down for the spookily hushed Night Train, an eerie lament perfectly captured in anguished vocals and a guitar lead that would do Robin Trower himself proud. Several other cuts echo this milieu just as well.

R-Me Strong is a powerful bluesrock release stated in Heaton's unique terms and forceful musicianship. The guy's 110% faithful to the dirty white blues mode and carries it muscularly a mile further into the rock camp, erecting a singularity that's almost iconic. This growling gent wrings the neck of his guitar with passion and fury while playing everydamnthing else with ironclad authority. Foster's harmonica usually remains recessed but adds smoke and grit to the already dark atmospheres. Say what you might about some of the lyrics, this is ass-kicking music spreading out in a specialized genre and doing so with no remorse, zero regrets, and a kerosene fire that makes converts even out of the most resistant.

Track List:

  • Sugar
  • I'm Your Man
  • R-Me Strong
  • Shut Up
  • Night Train
  • And She Said
  • Weatherman
  • Dirty Mind
  • Blood & Alcohol
  • Evil
  • Loser
  • Long Time Ago
  • When Men Cry
All songs written by Kris Heaton.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

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Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
 

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