COOKIN' UP A PARTY - King Salami & The Cumberland 3 (Dirty Water Records)
CAN YOUR MONKEY DO THE WURST? - King Salami & The Cumberland 3 (Off The Hip)
A West Indian, a Frenchman, a Japanese, a Welshman and a Mexican walk into a bar…it might sound like the opening of an old joke but it's more likely just King Salami & The Cumberland 3 turning up for a pre-gig soundcheck. The London-based five-piece (names can be deceptive) are are a frat band version of the United Nations - only not useless - with enough recycling going on to start a chain of environmentally-friendly chain stores.
This review covers not one, but two, long-players, issued at different ends of the world within a few months of each other. King Salami are a singles band. Prior to this, they had one LP to name but boasted more singles than a Saturday night Parents Without Partners meeting advertising free grog and condoms. The good news for you is that there's bravely any cross over between the tracks on each album and it all fairly smokes - in that garage/frat band sort of way.
Singles used to be THE medium for a garage combo looking to make a name. There's something very pure about the format. In the old days ('60s) it used to be about getting one shot to make a recording - so give it your best. These days it's more about getting something onto iTunes in the belief that nobody who downloads could have a long enough attention span to devote to more than two songs by the same band. In the instance of the Cumberland 3 and other acts like them, it just makes more sense to drop a tune in the fans' lap and move into the next one.
With song titles like "Yosemite Sam", "The Monkey Beat" and "Prissy Missy" you know "Cookin' Up A Party" is not going to be "Dark Side Of The Moon." It's not trite, just a bunch of good fun. Only one track breaks the three-minute mark, most are punctuated by wailing sax and all owe equal debts to Bo Diddley and a million rockabilly bands.
"Can You Monkey Do The Wurst?" pre-dates the sax player and is a punchier effort, with Pepe Ronnie's guitar more prominent. Instrumental "Hang Off" finds piano thrown into the mix and barely clocks the minute-and-a-half mark. The title track simply cooks but "Funky Walk" breaks the garage mould with Kamikaze U.T. Vincent's burbling bass showing the way and sax making an appearance. It also bobs up on "Black Santa", a song that owes as much to "Fortune Teller" as it does to the Festive season.
Bands like these live and die by the mania of their frontman and King Salmi himself is up to the task, strutting through these songs like he owns them and channeling James Brown on more than the odd occasion.
Pushed to make a choice, I'd pump for "Can Your Monkey…" on the strength of its slightly higher energy quotient but there's really a split match between the two albums. If trashy frat rock is your poison, you have no option but to plunge on both. Google Maps will show that Party Central is located in whichever postcode King Salami & The Cumberland 3 use to collect their mail. - The Barman
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