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Under the Fog

The King Blues

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Album Review

Perhaps deliberately, the blues is just about the only musical style London collective the King Blues don't tackle on Under the Fog. Originally released in 2006 on the Household Names indie but reissued by Island Records in early 2008, Under the Fog is a clattering collision of Billy Bragg-style folk-punk (many songs are based not on electric guitar, but a forcefully strummed ukulele!), dub reggae, Joe Strummer's post-Clash experiments in world music, and whatever else strikes their musical fancy, including the Beach Boys-meet-Mighty Diamonds vocal harmonies of the a cappella "If I Had a Coin." A collective of East London squatters with an affinity for band photos with bandanas covering their faces, pirated soundbites from news programs, and artwork that evokes contemporary graffiti artists, the King Blues are clearly shooting for a Clash-like mythology of rock group as urban outlaws, and indeed, antiwar reggae-rockers like "Blood on My Hands" are probably a good indication of what the Clash would sound like if they were a young band in the post-millennial age, or at least they're closer to the mark than the Libertines ever got. The targets are perhaps a little broad — the King Blues are hardly the first to notice that George W. Bush both looks and acts like a "Chimp in a 3 Piece Suit" — and the agitprop lyrics of songs like "Coming Fi Di Youth" have a certain sense of preaching to the converted, but smart, wry songs like the sardonic scene report "Mr. Music Man" and the impassioned "Getting Out of Here" broaden the themes and emotional impact of the album. Occasionally frustrating but never dull, Under the Fog is as much a snapshot of its troubling, divisive times as the first Clash album had been three decades before.

Biography

Formed: London, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Influenced by the Specials, Public Enemy, and the Clash, London collective the King Blues combine folk-punk, Two-Tone, and dub reggae with overtly political lyrical themes on a sound self-described as "conscious rude boy ska." The band originally formed as a duo in 2004 before vocalist/ukulele player Jonny "Itch" Fox, and guitarist Jamie Jazz decided to expand their sound, recording with a number of various musicians before settling on the permanent lineup of guitarist Dean Ashton, bassist Kat Marsh,...
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Under the Fog, The King Blues
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