Daddy Long Legs “Street Sermons”

Yep Roc Records, 2023

Riotous harmonica-driven rhythm and blues.

Cover art for the Daddy Long Legs album "Street Sermons"This is the fourth studio album from Daddy Long Legs who describe themselves as “New York City’s most diabolical Rhythm and Blues street gang” and say that the album “represents a wellspring of bottled-up feelings and emotions that need to be taken to the streets”.

After seeing the grainy black and white photo on the cover of the album, with singer Brian Hurd wearing a jacket and a tie, thoughts of Dr Feelgood and particularly frontman Lee Brilleaux come flooding into your mind. This connection is heard throughout the record which is full of energetic harmonica-driven rock n’roll. The band have played alongside Wilko Johnson, who is a great hero to them. The word “raw” is often used in reviews, but this album really is raw – it is hard to think AUK will review a more primal record this year.

When Hurd moved to New York, he started playing harmonica on the streets and at house parties. He met guitarist Murat Acturk in the famous New York club CGBGs which was at the heart of the New York punk explosion years earlier. They met drummer Josh Styles when he was DJing at another club and the trio bonded over a love of “unhinged rock n’ roll and rural rhythm and blues music”.

The best track on the album is the excellent ‘Nightmare’ with a B52s vibe and a fantastic chant-along chorus that sticks in the memory. New wave legend Wreckless Eric adds backing vocal on this and another track, ‘Silver Satin’. If there were still a Top Thirty, ‘Nightmare’ would definitely smash through into it. In a similar vein is the catchy ‘Been a Fool Once’.

Other notable tracks are the poppier ‘Star’, and ‘Silver Satin’ with its jungle beat and reverb guitar. ‘Stop What You’re Doing’ includes bluesy slide-guitar and ‘Electro-motive Blues’ has a Johnny Cash shuffle and a train whistle. ‘Ding-Ding Man’, with Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian contributing, has a ragtime feel and a banjo playing.

The lyrics are generally in a straightforward rock n’roll style, but that’s okay on this good-time record. Hurd does show his idealistic side on ‘Street Sermon’ where he writes “Work with one another/ not against each other” and ‘Nightmare’ was written after Hurd woke up sweating in the middle of the night in lockdown, despairing at the state of the world.

The band has a reputation for being brilliant live and have toured with groups such as Hurray For The Riff Raff, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and The Damned. It is easy to see why they might be kindred spirits with The Damned and Hurd sounds like The Damned’s Dave Vanian at times.

No Depression said that their previous album was ‘clearly made by people who live for rock n’roll’ and the band’s great passion for it shines through here, too.


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