Live at the Ramblin’ Man Fair
The Young brothers and their cousin Greg Martin were playing in bands together since 1968. They formed The Kentucky Headhunters with Doug Phelps in 1986 and released their debut recording “Pickin’ On Nashville” in 1989. The album sold over two million copies and garnered the band a Grammy Award; and three Country Music Awards for the four consecutive hit singles from the album.
Johnnie Johnson, Chuck Berry’s piano player, recorded his own debut solo album “Johnnie B. Bad” in 1991 and it included the single “Tangueray”. In 1993 Johnson recorded his follow up album “That’ll Work” with The Kentucky Headhunters. Ten years later in January of 2003 after Johnson appeared on stage with The Rolling Stones he took a plane to Kentucky and joined his old friends The Headhunters to record another session. Johnson passed away in 2005 and the tapes remained un-issued until they were released on Alligator as “Meet Me in Bluesland” in 2015. “No Depression” magazine called the session “A raucous, rockin’ romp that’ll put a big ole grin on your face.”
Richard Young’s son, John Fred Young, the drummer in the band “Black Stone Cherry”, talked his father into bringing The Kentucky Headhunters to Europe in 2016 where this live set was recorded. The four piece lineup has remained unchanged: Richard Young, rhythm guitar and vocals; Phelps, bass and vocals; Martin, lead and slide guitar and vocals; and Fred Young, drums, percussion and vocals.
The Kentucky Headhunters open with “Big Boss Man” written by Luther Dixon and Al Smith and first recorded by Jimmy Reed in 1960; this is blues rock in overdrive.
“Ragtop”, written by Doug and Ricky Lee Phelps, first appeared on the album “Brother Phelps” in 1995. “Wishing Well” another original appeared on 1991’s “Electric Barnyard” the follow-up album to “Pickin’ On Nashville”. “My Daddy Was A Milkman” is from “The Authorized Bootleg: Live – Agara Ballroom – Cleveland Ohio” recorded in 1990.
Three songs were written by the band when they were with Johnson. Both “Stumblin’” and “Shufflin’ Back To Memphis” were included on “That’ll Work”. “Walking With The Wolf” is from the session that became “Meet Me in Bluesland”.
Included is a cover of Lennon and McCartney’s “Don’t Let Me Down”. The album closes with three bonus tracks recorded at the “Bluesland” session. Two blues standards, Arthur Crudup’s “Rock Me Baby” recorded in 1944; and “Hi-Heel Sneakers” written and recorded by Tommy Tucker in 1963. The third bonus track is another original “Rock N’ Roller”. These three bonus tracks feature Johnson on piano.
If you’ve seen these guys once, then you know what all the enthusiasm is about. This is the exciting new album from The Kentucky Headhunters.