As his main band, Fun Lovin' Criminals was taking free time during 2012, frontman Huey Morgan decided to use that hiatus to get goin' on a Blues-inspired side-project of his. Morgan, a New York City native, was apparently inspired to recording this album after having been given a 1920's Morgan acoustic guitar by his wife Rebecca, with whom he's been living in the UK since the middle of the last decade, and where he became a celebrated deejay filling programs on both BBC 6 Music and Radio 2. In the garage-turned-to-studio of his North London home, he'd been toiling over a set of songs for the last year.
Needing instrumental help, he turned to a couple of life-long buddies he'd played with for years in the occasional band of booze-brothers Tangiers Blues Band, namely guitarist Chris Scianni and bassist King, with Fun Lovin' Criminals' Frank Bendini playing drums. Other participants were Pete Levin (from Grammy award winning Blind Boys Of Alabama) on keyboards, Naim Cortazzi (along with Bendini also a member of the group New Yorkers) on ukelele, and Danny Clinch (famed Grammy award winning camera man, and the guy behind Huey's artwork) on harmonica. In part, he actually made the album for the love of his friends. Them all living in New York, and him needing to be in London most of the time to do his radio programs, he doesn't get to hang out with them as much as he wold like...so making them part of the band was a way to celebrate their friendship. A band augmented by the guesting collaboration of BJ Cole on slide guitar, and the services of longtime Fun Lovin' Criminals collaborator Tim Latham, whom co-produced the album alongside Huey (for even more details on the family affair the album turned out to be, consult the “Biography” section at (www.) hueyandthenewyorkers.com).
The end result is a Blues Rock album with Pop allures, the likes of which puts my mind back to the middle of the '80s, when albums like this came abundantly from all over the USA. There's somewhat of a central theme on the album, lyrically. It all started with Huey writing a novel on a fictional soldier by the name of Tommy Pace, whom after returning from Vietnam met Jimi Hendrix. Following the gift of the aforementioned acoustic guitar, Huey felt inspired to start writing songs the way Tommy might have...and then he started writing songs which didn't fit that. In the bio sheet provided by the label, it is said that Huey's “...baritone croon...” is “...now giving Tom Waits a considerable run for his tobacco-flavoured money,” but while there is sóme truth in the fat that Huey's voice doés have some of that dept in it, I'd say he's a long way still from Waits' grotto-like growls. At any rate, for an all-round music lover like myself, this 12-track album was certainly a joy to listen to. It's an adult album, but I'm sure youngsters will find something in it as well. After all, plenty of them enjoy Huey's radio shows too, don't they?
To find out how you feel about this album, check out the “Media” section of the aforementioned band's website, or check the “news” section for the many “videos” posted there. In the meantime, Naim Edge Records also released an EP entitled The After Hours EP, which became part of the Deluxe edition of the album. It features recordings from the early days of the New Yorkers, when Tim Latham sat in on a jam with the band.