Blackie & the Rodeo Kings
For the uninitiated, the band was conceived when Linden and Fearing, almost simultaneously, decided to record the songs of one of Canada�s greatest unsung musical talents � Willie P. Bennett. Following one quick call to Tom Wilson (a known Willie P. fan) the group was formed and the debut album High or Hurtin� was recorded between December �95 and January �96, with Linden assuming the producer�s role.
After a JUNO nomination, cross-Canada tour dates, and a wave of critical acclaim for High or Hurtin� the members carried on with their respective careers; Linden released Raised by Wolves and garnered a Grammy nomination for his work on A Tribute To Howlin� Wolf�; Fearing released his JUNO nominated Industrial Lullaby and secured a US deal for the record that has yielded great reviews and substantial American tour date; Wilson and Junkhouse released Fuzz, and had a hit with the song Shine. Last but not least, Willie P. Bennett bagged his first-ever JUNO for Heartstrings at the �99 awards show.
Unlike High or Hurtin�, the new recording features a mix of band member originals, written specifically for Kings of Love and a diverse collection of covers from others including Fred J. Eaglesmith, Willie P. Bennett, Jules Shear, Janice Powers, Bruce Cockburn, John Martyn, David Wiffen and Murray McLauchlan.
"The three of us had such a good time making and touring High or Hurtin�, we all knew we had to take the �Blackie� thing even further," says Kings of Love producer Linden. "It was the same feeling again this time, and before we knew it we�d laid down 26 tracks! Each of us had brought an abundance of ideas about what would work for �Blackie� to the session."
One of the songs on the album is a version of Remedy, which was a hit for The Band a few hears ago. Linden had co-written the piece with The Band�s guitarist Jimmy Weider for the group�s Jericho album. "The song never made it onto one of my albums, but we came up with a unique arrangement that really worked for �Blackie�, " reflects Linden.
Fearing and Wilson also contributed original material, as well as co-writes they had been working on since the last record. Of the song Nickels & Dimes Fearing recounts, "Tom and I wrote this song specifically for a movie about a brother and sister who escape the drudgery and homophobia of a small town for the glitter of the city and the music business. This movie was also supposed to be my debut on the silver screen, but the script never made it past the boardroom. The song is typical of anything Tom and I have written together in that I can�t remember who wrote what line, although Tom assures me that I wrote the lines that don�t make sense."
Of his song Lean on Your Peers Wilson states: "I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, and over the years have written and recorded many songs about this city. Lean on Your Peers is definitely the most important and heartfelt of all those songs. Hamilton is an endless inspiration for me and my writing. It�s a hard-ass town full of beautiful souls and bad attitude. I dedicate this to the late great Scott Pollock and for him I say with all my heart, Argos suck!"
The story behind each of the songs on Kings of Love is included in the liner notes of the album, giving the listener a revealing snapshot of the thinking that each musician brings to the group. Fearing explains: "There�s a definite chemistry happening between us in the studio, we seem to be able to naturally pick up on whose voice or guitar part is going to make a track work. There is a sound to this band which has developed way past the point of just picking a song and playing it because we can."
The enthusiasm, creativity and experience this group brings to this album is a testament to their inspired musical commitment. Whether it�s the street-smart Lean on Your Peers, the raucous frat-house rendering of the album�s title track King of Love, or the emotive, tender beauty of The Lucky Ones, the band�s reached deep and the results are simply magic.
Guest players on the record include: Richard Bell, Bruce Cockburn, Gary Craig, John Dymond, Janice Powers, Colin Cripps and Willie P. Bennett.