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DWC #866: King Salami & Cumberland Three + James & Ultrasounds

Mirth, Marvel & Maud
186 Hoe Street, Walthamstow
E17 4QH London

King Salami & the Cumberland Three are London’s greatest rhythm’n’blues-punk band – one that truly represents London, being a mongrel mix of Caribbean, France, Japan, and Wales (plus Canadian Spencer Evoy from MFC Chicken playing sax on many of this album’s songs).

Their repertoire, while hugely influenced by many of the great though obscure tunes of the ’50s and ’60s, are made to sound fresh and new to modern ears. You won’t be able to help but move your feet when the Cumberland Three are blasting out of your speakers. The King howls like Screaming Jay Hawkins with Bo Diddley chasing his coat-tail whilst Andre Williams tries to offer up some of his bacon fat, and the Trashmen do the Surfin’ Bird behind him, shakin’ and twistin’ and groovin’ non-stop. The Cumberland Three rock up a storm with their own branded mix of vintage rockabilly, desperate rock’n’roll and stomping soul, with fire, energy, gusto and, above all, fun!

Their more than a dozen vinyl singles and their first three albums have sold like the proverbial hot cakes. Because this is an old fashioned singles band – one that puts out one seven inch after another, all designed, and guaranteed, to get you dancing like a madman. And their long playing platters do exactly the same, with a surefire hit dance floor filling record coming – zing! zing! zing! – one after another.

The band has played pretty much everywhere in Europe (with more trips to the continent coming very soon) where they fill venues in every town, plus Australia, Israel, Turkey, the USA, even in China (from big cities to rural villages, from Beijing to Shanghai and all points between), and of course Japan (where they performed at the World Sumo Wrestling Championship in front of Emperor Akihito, who was unable to stop himself from tapping his toes along to the band’s up-tempo tunes). Indeed, the band’s super fun new video for the title track of this album was filmed during a recent tour of Japan in which local people, young and old, readily jumped in front of the camera to join in with the shenanigans.

The four piece James and the Ultrasounds is the brainchild of James Godwin, a familiar face in the Memphis music scene, having been raised in the Bluff City, playing bass in a number of bands since his teens. His time in experimental rock outfit The New Mary Jane offered him an opportunity to develop what now seems like a telepathic understanding with current UltraSounds drummer John Argroves as well as to collaborate with influential Grifters duo David Shouse and Scott Taylor. In the ensuing years Godwin again teamed with Argroves to form a powerful rhythm section for Goner Records legend Jack Oblivian as well as Memphis by way of Knoxville roots rock singer/guitarist John Paul Keith, whose 2013 Roland Janes-produced release Memphis, Circa 3 A.M. has been lauded as an instant classic. After touring with Jack O and JPK across the US and Europe, Godwin made time to do some songwriting of his own, and in 2012 recorded his solo debut EP, Lovers and Ghosts, playing all the instruments himself to a 4 track recorder. Soon thereafter he put together a band to perform the EP material, bringing in Argroves on drums, Luke White on guitar and David Johnson on bass. The group began to play regionally and have strung together tours up the east coast to New York, returning to Memphis energized and ready to record new material that Godwin had been writing.

DJ Scratchy will keep the party going until late.

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