Ter­rell’s Tune-Up

New al­bums from Black Joe Lewis & the Honey­bears, King Salami & The Cum­ber­land 3, and Sleater-Kin­ney

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Black Joe Lewis is back with a funky vengeance. More than three years had passed since his pre­vi­ous al­bum, the un­der­rated Elec­tric Slave, when the Austin-based rock ’n’ souler and his band the Honey­bears this month re­leased a groove-in­fused col­lec­tion of tunes called Back­lash. It had been so long since the last one, I was be­gin­ning to won­der whether Lewis — who just a few years ago was driv­ing a de­liv­ery truck for a seafood busi­ness — had gone back to the fish biz. For­tu­nately not.

The first dif­fer­ence be­tween this record and his last one that Black Joe fans are bound to no­tice is that while

Elec­tric Slave leaned heavy on hard rock and blues, Back­lash shows the band’s funkier side. His horn sec­tion, which al­ways been present, is more prom­i­nent than ever. In fact, I’m not the first to no­tice cer­tain sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the Honey­bears and the DapKings, the late Sharon Jones’ band. In fact, Lewis’ song “Sex­ual Ten­sion” would have made for a won­der­ful duet be­tween Jones and neo-soul gi­ant Lee Fields. “Na­ture’s Nat­u­ral” could al­most pass as a Charles Bradley tune, while the slow-burn­ing “Wasted” is a mi­norkey howl from the dark night of the soul. A flute that ap­pears about half­way through the song adds a jazzy touch.

But don’t think that any­one’s try­ing to hide Lewis’ rock chops. There are plenty of gui­tar-centric rock­ers here, such as “Prison” (in which Lewis shouts, “I don’t mind be­ing locked up!”). Like­wise, “Shadow Peo­ple” and the fran­tic “Freakin’ Out” show that Lewis and crew haven’t turned their backs on those punk in­flu­ences that marked their early work. And speak­ing of freak­ing out, Lewis flirts with psychedelia with the spacey six-minute al­bum closer, “Ma­roon,” fea­tur­ing a tasty trum­pet solo and some fine gui­tar from Lewis. But the most im­pres­sive song here is the other six-minute song on the al­bum, “Lips of a Loser.” In this one, the horns in­ter­weave with ’70s-style strings to dom­i­nate the first half of the track. But then, Lewis comes in with a fiery gui­tar solo that’s down­right jaw-drop­ping. It’s heart­en­ing to know that mu­si­cians like these are out there blur­ring lines be­tween mu­si­cal bor­ders and mak­ing good-time mu­sic that thrills.

Black Joe Lewis & the Honey­bears are sched­uled to play The Launch­pad in Al­bu­querque on March 29. Learn more about young Black Joe at www.black joelewis.com. Also rec­om­mended:

Goin’ Back to Wurstville by King Salami & The Cum­ber­land 3. In terms of the wurst, these guys are the best. This hopped-up, high-en­ergy Lon­don-based band has been around for more than a decade, but de­spite my overly op­ti­mistic pre­dic­tion a few years ago when re­view­ing their pre­vi­ous al­bum, they never re­ally have made a huge splash in the good old U.S.A. That’ s our loss, my fel­low Amer­i­cans. With Salami and the Cum­ber­lands’ seam­less bend of garage-rock, ’50s and ’60s R&B, and oc­ca­sion­ally a lit­tle in­stru­men­tal surf mu­sic, few bands match their sound in terms of pure fun.

Wurstville is only their third ac­tual al­bum in all these years — the pre­vi­ous ones be­ing Cook­ing

Up a Party in 2013 and Four­teen Blazin’ Bangers in 2010. But be­tween al­bums, Salami and the boys are a sin­gles-pro­duc­ing ma­chine. And just like the days of yes­ter­year in rock ’n’ roll his­tory, most of the songs from the sin­gles end up on the al­bums. Some of the best songs on are in that cat­e­gory, in­clud­ing “Tiger in My Tank” (a hard thumper that sounds like some miss­ing Flesh­tones song). “Camel Hop,” with its ap­pro­pri­ately tacky faux Mideast­ern gui­tar riffs, is only slightly less po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect than the tacky pseudo-Ja­panese gui­tar riff and gong in the in­stru­men­tal “King Ghi­do­rah.” And speak­ing of po­lit­i­cally in­cor­rect, my fa­vorite

Wurstville song at the mo­ment is “She Was a Mau Mau.” The ti­tle char­ac­ter sounds more re­lated to the car­toon­ish can­ni­bals of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “Feast of the Mau Mau” than the ac­tual anti-colo­nial­ist Kenyan rebels from the 1950s. And de­spite the his­tor­i­cal in­ac­cu­ra­cies, this is a crazy lit­tle stom­per com­plete with jun­gle noises and an ir­re­sistibly nasty gui­tar hook. Bow to the King at www.dirty­wa­ter­records.co.uk/ kingsalami.

Live in Paris by Sleater-Kin­ney. One of the most suc­cess­ful and sat­is­fy­ing rock ’n’ roll come­back sto­ries in re­cent years was the 2015 re­turn of Sleater-Kin­ney. Their al­bum No Ci­ties

to Love was noth­ing short of a tri­umph, and their show in Al­bu­querque that year was even bet­ter. And, judg­ing from this new al­bum, their con­cert in Paris was dadgum good as well.

To be hon­est, I was hop­ing that the group’s fol­low-up to No Ci­ties would have been a stu­dio al­bum of new ma­te­rial. These trou­bled times de­mand in­tel­li­gent and ex­cit­ing mu­sic. But I guess the come­back re­union wasn’t a per­ma­nent thing. Oh well, no com­plaints here. I guess this is the next best thing. The song se­lec­tion leans heavy on

No Ci­ties, kick­ing off with a fully charged ver­sion of “Price Tag” and equally strong ver­sions of the bouncy but in­tense “A New Wave,” “Sur­face Envy,” and the ti­tle song. They per­form sev­eral tracks from The Woods, the group’s last al­bum be­fore the decade-long hia­tus, and there also are some clas­sic S-K tunes like “Dig Me Out,” “Start To­gether,” and “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ra­mone.” But there is only one tune, “Oh!,” from my fa­vorite Sleater-Kin­ney al­bum, 2002’s One Beat. I wish they would have done “Step Aside,” the best song from that al­bum, in­stead.

But that’s just the grous­ing of a picky critic. Those who are al­ready fans will ap­pre­ci­ate this live al­bum. And new­com­ers will have a use­ful start­ing point. Sleater-Kin­ney’s web­site is www .sleater-kin­ney.com.

In “Lips of a Loser,” Black Joe Lewis comes in with a fiery gui­tar solo that’s down­right jaw-drop­ping. It’s heart­en­ing to know that mu­si­cians like these are out there blur­ring lines be­tween mu­si­cal bor­ders and mak­ing good-time mu­sic that thrills.

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