The Chesterfield Kings: Live Onstage


Dear Mr. B:

The release of the Rolling Stones’ Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out box set a couple of months ago got me jonesing for some new Stones. Well, some new old Stones, you know? The old dirty, greasy, smoky sound they used to have – that’s what I’m after. These days, with Ronnie Wood trying to get straightened out enough to hang out with Keith Richards (wow – that’s bad, isn’t it?), I don’t know when we’re ever gonna hear them play anything again, let alone the kind of stuff I’m talking about. I figured if anybody knew what I ought to do, it would be you, Mr. B. You’re the smartest guy I know. Thanks for listening.

Desperate in Des Moines.

Dear Desperate –

This one’s so simple, I’m almost embarrassed.

You say you’re looking for the old Stones sound? How about a big ol’ dollop of that combined with some Animals swagger and the occasional trip-the-breaker-panel Yardbirds rave-up? Yeah? Yeah? YEAH?

Then, Desperate, let me present to you the Chesterfield Kings. They’ll deliver all of the above and then some. Led by vocalist Greg Prevost (who sounds like a cross between Mick Jagger and David Johannsen and looks like a cross between Chris Robinson and the late Johnny Thunders back in his New York Dolls’ days), the Chesterfield Kings are all about the rock ‘n’ roll and aren’t afraid to show their influences. Throw on their latest, Live Onstage … If You Want It and see if you don’t spend the next 44 minutes and 39 seconds going, “Wait – doesn’t that sound like …” Of course, in the end, it’s all the Kings (the only cover on the album is the old Merle Haggard classic “Sing Me back Home”) – that’s who they are and that’s what they sound like.

Face it, Desperate: you have to love anybody who hits the stage after being introduced as “The second-greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in the world!” And if Paul Morabito’s opening Tele riff on “Flashback” wasn’t enough to make you think “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, then Prevost’s growled “Watch it!” just before they slam into the first verse will seal the deal; I mean, it’s a direct you-and-I-both-know-I’m-doing-this-imitation-of-Jagger from the opening seconds of Ya-Ya’s, but … who cares? And when the Kings go apeshit at the end of “Non-Entity”, you know that it’s a textbook pilled-to-the-eyes Yardbirds noise squall (complete with blow-your-guts-out blues harp by Prevost). But it’s so goddamn cool and raucous and fun that it doesn’t matter.

A short “unplugged” set in the middle of Live Onstage …. If You Want It (including the previously-mentioned “Sing Me Back Home”) proves the Kings to be perfectly capable of pulling it off without the roar and crunch. (“Gone” in particular, will stick to your brainpan after the first listen – imagine the Black Crowes doing a version of Dylan’s “Isis”.)

Sure, there’s humor here, but the Chesterfield Kings are deadly serious about what they do, too. They want to sound like the bands we’ve mentioned … I really think they see themselves as being on a crusade of sorts. And in the end, it’s just good rock ‘n’ roll, Desperate. For Chrissakes, man, what more can you ask for? (A DVD? Yeah, well, there’s one included. Don’t thank me – thank the Kings.)

Your pal,
Mr. B

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