The Lucky Strikes “The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick” (Stovepony, 2009)
We’ll meet again at the Crossroads
The death of Robert Johnson is mired in mystery. A number of myths exist, but most seem to point to his death being the result of a supposedly jealous husband, who poisoned him. Legends abound about his life and death and testimonies from people who reportedly knew him tend to conflict and contradict each other.
So why not make up a fictional account about his demise? It’s probably not that far from the supposed truth, and that’s what The Lucky Strikes have done. ‘The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick’ is an ambitious concept album that tells the story of a fictional character responsible for sending the greatest blues player we’ve seen off to meet his maker. Whether it was at the infamous Crossroads is still a matter of conjecture.
Gothic Americana, fused with garage bar room blues is the mainstay of this album. Sounding, and looking like, they’ve emerged from the Mississippi delta, The Lucky Strikes are actually from somewhere nearer home, but the Thames delta in Essex doesn’t quite have the same cachet.
Opening with the title track, it sets the tone for the rest of the album; swirling organ interplaying with the raucous guitar and venomously spat out lyrics. The bar room blues of ‘Morning Light’ follows, ably demonstrating a mix of light and shade, with its funky piano. ‘Second Act (Funeral)’ builds and builds into a monumental guitar crescendo with Tom Keenan (aka Jesse Vance) doing his best impression of Paul Rodgers.
The old timey swing of ‘Going Out West’ reinforces these guys supposed history with its effective use of some plucking banjo and violin and its prevalent 1930’s sepia tones. The spoken narrative outlines the admiration Quick’s wife Angelina has toward Johnson, and fuels Solomon’s subsequent jealousy with his response culminating in his murderous threats toward him, whilst in ‘Franklin’s’. The unanswered phone in ‘Revelations’ seems to indicate that Quick did what he threatened.
‘One Way Down’ takes Johnson to the angels, when surely he should be sat next to the devil practicing his guitar licks? The final track ‘Sweet December’ is a final ode to Angelina that brings the album to a close with it’s uplifting tones but solemn lyrics.
If you like your music to tell a story whilst howling, wailing and screaming out of your speakers, then “The Chronicles Of Solomon Quick” is for you. But we never find out if Johnson really did sell his soul to the devil at the Crossroads; seems like that particular legend is going to run and run.
Date review added: Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Reviewer: Phil Edwards
Related web link: The Lucky Strikes website