Hot Thumb in a Funky Groove

John King

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Hot Thumb in a Funky Groove Review

by Brian Olewnick

Guitarist John King performed as a sideman with numerous downtown New York City groups through the '80s and '90s, notably Guy Klucevsek's Ain't Nothin' but a Polka band, as well as in ensembles led by Rhys Chatham, David Moss, and Marc Ribot. His style walked the thin line between a traditional rock/blues player and one with affinities for the avant-garde. Here, with his Electric World group, King attempts a post-Prime Time experiment in free funk but runs into two problems: the free aspects are muted and uninspired, and the band just isn't that funky. They appear to try very hard and sometimes, as on the title track, they partially succeed, but there's the rub: They're trying instead of simply playing in an unforced manner. Many of the pieces have a stiffness and even a brittleness that acts against any funk feeling. David Moss' vocals are amusingly wacky the first time one hears them but become more irritating on each subsequent exposure. A disappointing release.

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