Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Act Like You Know is New Orleans personified. Elements of blues, jazz, and old time rock and roll create something that is incredibly creative and fresh. How about this for a fun fact: this music is full of horns and the front man is named Jimmy Horn. Jimmy Horn is King James. He is worthy of a title of royalty based on this regal music. It is music worthy of kings, queens, and dukes. Also, the music of every man, woman, and child worldwide. Sometimes you have to take a step back to take two steps forward and that is what Jimmy did. He reached into the well of yesteryear to forge a new genre of music.
This is what I always wanted the blues to sound like. I love the blues, but sometimes blues can be repetitive and a bit on the mundane side. Not here. No sir. King James’ style of blues is extremely vibrant and nothing even close to boring. This music is full of twists and turns and extremely exciting. Just listening causes my heart rate to increase. Maybe I can listen to King James instead of exercising. This is cardio that I can get into.
Act Like You Know is an ironic title because King James & The Special Men don’t have to act. They know a lot. There are no thespians here. There is an old expression, “fake it ’till you make it”. Luckily for Jimmy and the boys, they do not have to fake anything. They are genuine musicians that deliver the goods. These songs are not your standard two and a half to three minute blues songs. No, these songs are stretched out masterpieces that go from just over 3 minutes (Eat That Chicken – Track 3) to a 14 minute rave up (9th Ward Blues – Track 6).
Let’s go back to Eat That Chicken for a moment. I have a sneaking suspicion that chicken is a metaphor for something else. It is just a hunch but I think I am on to something. All of the great bluesmen used metaphors to describe their “attributes”. Think of Little Red Rooster and Smokestack Lightning. Eat That Chicken is in the same vein.
I can’t say or write enough good things about Act Like You Know by King James & The Special Men. They are special and this album is special as well. These guys have successfully elevated a genre that I didn’t think could be elevated any further. Well my mistake can be every one’s gain. Buy this while supplies last!