Buzzin Album of the Month

King Cobra - The Senior Service

King Cobra is the second album from the Medway instrumentalists, The Senior Service.

The opening track starts with a chugging guitar, reminiscent of The Stranglers’ Jean-Jacques Burnel bass sound. The techicolor is restored to the familiar surroundings of the debut album – The Girl in The Glass Case, when the Hammond organ enters the room. Though the added horn section gives a taste of things to come. ‘The Contender ‘ works as a passive entrance  to the second album, setting the mood like the opening scenes of a film.  In fact, there’s nothing to say as much.  But the album plays like a film soundtrack; as do some of the titles.

‘Sophia’ takes a slightly different path – somewhere between Pulp Fiction and Once Upon A Time in a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western trip.

The album has a distinct Latin-feel and spaghetti western vibe going on, most notably on ‘Cuban Eels’ and the ‘Night Of The Knives’, especially with Day’s guitar twang and the perfect accompaniment of the horns on the latter.

From The Girl in The Glass Case to King Cobra isn’t a giant step.  But with it, The Senior Service have strayed further afield from the path that leads directly to all things John Barry, onto something more akin to Ennio Morricone. Though this new path is kept on a tight leash.  ‘Good Morning Mr Phelps’ brings the album back once again to more of a sixties theme tune comfort zone – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The recent single ‘Slingshot’ picks up the tempo halfway through the album, and will have hips swinging, feet tapping; and do wonders for keeping the Medway Sound flag flying high. ‘Slingshot’ is pretty much perfect.

The Senior Service sound is defined by the interplay between Graham Day’s guitar and Jonathan Barker’s Hammond organ and how they work together and at times vie for attention.  There is tension in the guitar. Like a Rottweiler on a leash, wanting to turn up to 11 and rock out.  But being kept in check by the Hammond; and as with every great soundclash comes a tightly woven rhythm section, giving the sound a perfect foundation.

‘Slingshot’ perfectly demonstrates this, setting the scene as Day and Barker square off.  Poised, instruments in hand, staring each other down the neck of a Gretsch, as the on-looking crowd are struck with tension – Gunfight at the Medway Sound Corral!

With King Cobra, The Senior Service jump the sometimes ‘difficult’ second album hurdle in flying Panoramic CinemaScope Technicolor by producing, what I believe to be, an even stronger album than what was an exceptional debut.

For those who enjoyed  The Girl in The Glass Case, King Cobra will sound familiar but not only or simply ‘more of the same’.  King Cobra is more than a sequel. It works on the same level , but adds its own qualities and features stronger material, that takes the original idea onwards and upwards.  As far as sequels go, think The Godfather 2 rather than Fast & Furious 7.

King Cobra by The Senior Service will be offically released on 27th April on CD, LP and digital download on Damaged Goods Records.

The Senior Service – King Cobra Album Launch Gig 

The Senior Service will be performing live at The Billbong Club in Rochester, Medway on Friday 20th April.

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