Less than a year after delivering his superlative Been in the Pen Too Long debut album, Paul King was back at the head of the King Earl Boogie Band and armed with a second clutch of songs that is as much a direct follow-up to the earlier set as it is the birth of what should have been a far more successful band than it actually became. That the King Earl Boogie Band were ultimately scuppered by the failure of the surefire Christmas hit "Plastic Jesus" is a matter of record; it is indeed an indictment of the prevailing super-morality of the era that so lighthearted a poke at junk-store piety could "offend" anyone at all, least of all the program controllers of the BBC. Today, it wouldn't merit a second glance. But, while "Plastic Jesus" inevitably dominates Trouble at Mill, the remainder of the album has a warm, folky bluegrass feel that is just as captivating. The neo-Cockney "Bovver Blues" boogie, one of four songs composed by guitarist Dave Lambert (soon to become such a force within the Strawbs), has a charm that completely predicts such mid-'90s excursions as Blur's "Parklife," while "Keep Your Hands off My Woman" is the sound of Slade if they were forced to dress up as Steeleye Span. But the other must-hear highlight is the beautiful, near-a cappella version of Ewan MacColl's "Go Down Your Murderers" that wraps up the album -- and, sadly, the band's career -- with haunted finality.
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