Share DONKEY JACKET - Henry's Funeral Shoe (Alive Natural Sound)
What if two-man blues took on a funny name and moved to the valleys of Wales? Henry's Funeral Shoe might come from a country better-known for coal miners and massed male choruses singing rugby union songs, but they rock regally.

Wales? Who gives a shit if the local dialect is impenetrable. It's actually a nice place if green's your favourite colour and Henry's Funeral Shoe sing in English. I once watched a rockabilly band in a Cardiff bar, so geographical origins are the last thing that matters. Get past the name and the fact the band members are called Brennig and Aled and listen to the music.

"Donkey Jacket" is mostly dirty rocking blues. On the boogie-based blues front and a track like "Be Your Own Invention", Henry's Funeral Shoe would give early ZZ Top a run for their money. Theirs' is a driving, full guitar sound and a powerful bluesy vocal (that's Aled) with nimble, behind-the-beat drumming (great work, Brennig.)

"Love Is A Fever" would be a single if such things existed outside iTunes these days, a brusque, rippling rocker punctuated by slide guitar. On the other hand, "Bottom To Top" is a breather, a sparse "Sticky Fingers" country blues with mandolin. "The Walking Crawl" is a plodding tribal tune with searing bottleneck guitar while "Dog Scratched Ear" is a hard-edged Zeppelin rocker with a fine sense of dynamics.

Ignore necessity. Being a duo is the real mother of invention. The lads call in some guests for the occasional embellishment but the songs are all their own work - and they're mostly goodies.

The oddity is "Set My Heart On Fire", a country-flavoured ballad that sounds more Springsteen than The Black Keys. It's heartland rock. This one would have been better left on the side of an interstate insome nameless town in the Midwest for someone AOR to pick up. "Gimme Back My Morphine" puts us back on more rocking territory but "Donkey Jacket" ends on a whimsical note with the Kinks-inspired "Across The Sky".

As is Alive's bent, the record was recorded offshore but mixed at Ghetto Recorders and mastered in LA. Works for me. The sound is punchy with balls that cast aside any unsteady preconceptions about duos not being ballsy. - The Barman


 

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