The Red Devils were a Los Angeles-based blues rock band who were active from 1988 to 1994. With their no-frills approach and singer Lester Butler‘s convincing Chicago-style blues harp, they were a popular fixture on the Los Angeles club scene and toured the U.S. and Europe.
King King is their debut album. It was recorded live at King King Club in Los Angeles during three or four of their regular Monday-night performances in 1991. The album captures the immediacy and informality of a small club performance. It features the band’s interpretation of blues songs originally recorded by Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Howlin’ Wolf, and Willie Dixon as well as some band originals.
Fans of tough white boy blues should check out this album by the Red Devils. It’s from way back in the 90’s, produced by Rick Rubin for his own label. The live recording is excitingly down and dirty.
Why this visceral sounding album hasn’t been reissued is one of life’s little mysteries. It’s only available from Amazon as “used” or very expensive “new”, but is worth the effort to track down. I still own the original album from the 90’s, before it disappeared from sight. Recently I came across a magazine article about albums that were never released. One of those albums was by Mick Jagger, who went into the studio and laid down some blistering vocals on some old blues tunes, using the Red Devils as his backing band. But Jagger felt the scorching performances were too rough and edgy. So he decided not to release the 13 or so tracks, recorded in one 14 hour session–deciding instead to hire high priced studio musicians–and released a much smoother, commercial sounding album. Hmmm. That album sold bucket loads, but Jagger’s credibility slipped some because of it. Apparently the entire session can be found on You Tube. But that magazine article prompted me to (hopefully even at this very late date) bring more attention to the original band’s album of raw, mean blues.
The harp player (who also handles vocals) is as close to authentic Chicago-style harp playing as anyone. The rhythm section is tough and dirty. The rhythm guitar player fills in any holes left in the music. And the lead guitar player is steeped in that real deal electrified sound and feel that others wish they had–where the spaces between his live-wire, electrified lead notes are just as important.
1. “Automatic” (Willie Love) – 3:26
2. “Goin’ To The Church” (Lester Butler) – 4:07
3. “She’s Dangerous” (Willie Dixon) – 5:02
4. “I Wish You Would” (Billy Boy Arnold) – 3:01
5. “Cross Your Heart” (Rice Miller aka Sonny Boy Williamson II) – 4:28
6. “Tail Dragger” (Dixon) – 5:24
7. “Devil Woman” (The Red Devils) – 6:57
8. “No Fightin'” (Butler) – 5:56
9. “Mr. Highway Man” (Chester Burnett aka Howlin’ Wolf) – 3:35
10. “I’m Ready” (Dixon) – 3:46
11. “Quarter to Twelve” (Marion Jacobs aka Little Walter) – 7:03
12. “Cut That Out” (Junior Wells) – 4:59
13. “Blackwater Roll (Bonus Track) – 4:21
- Art Direction, Design – Janet Levinson
- Drums – Bill Bateman
- Electric Bass – Johnny Ray Bartel
- Engineer – Brendan O’Brien
- Engineer [Mix Assistant] – Martin Schmelze
- Engineer [Recording Assistant] – Andrew Warwick, David Roberts
- Lead Guitar – Paul “The Kid” Size
- Photography By – Michael Wilson
- Piano – Gene Taylor
- Producer – Rick Rubin
- Vocals, Blues Harp – Lester Butler
Released: 28 July 1992
Recorded at: King King Club, Los Angeles
Genre: Blues rock
Label – Def American Records