King James & the Special Men
Act Like You Know
Special Man Industries
It’s almost summer, and that means you need some party music, and well, ain’t nobody got party music like New Orleans. Take the debut album from King James & the Special Men Act Like You Know. The Special Men have been NOLA favorites for years (Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs is a fan, and Robert Plant has been known to sit in when in the Big Easy), and the six cuts found here add some gritty rock n’ roll to the trad New Orleans horn sound, and the result will part your hair.
Opening with “Special Man Boogie”, the stride piano of Ben Polcer lays the foundation while guitars skitter atop, and leader Jimmy Horn rides the horns with a welcome swagger. “Baby Girl” sounds as if it was recorded 60 years ago by Fats Domino, a slow bluesy stomp, while “Eat That Chicken” wouldn’t sound out of place in a Professor Longhair set.
The album bristles with a kind of nervous, liquored up energy that is infectious, and I bet sounds tremendous live. (Everything in New Orleans sounds better live…it’s the sazeracs). By the sixth cut, the epic “9th Ward Blues” (which features Jason Jurzak on tuba), you’ll be worn out from dancing, ready for another Abita beer…and the next set. King James & the Special Men, you rock. We’ll catch a show the next time we’re down on Frenchmen Street.