A lot of the rock and roll I really dig tends to be raucous, ugly, greasy and attitudinal. (There is a time and place for introspection, but I think we can agree that Friday night at the Buccaneer ain’t it.) Luckily, Richard James embodies all of these attributes, and then some.
I first remember seeing Richard play in Memphis about eight years ago; at the time he was living in Nashville, which considering his roots in Brooklyn and his love for primal raunch seemed to make as much sense as an angus bedding down in a high-rise. Since he’s moved here he and his band (which includes his lovely and talented wife Anne – for once the cliché fits) have distilled their vision even further, disposing of any elements which would not directly lead to spirited ass-shaking. If you can hear in your head where Gene Vincent, R.L. Burnside and the Cramps intersect, you’ve pretty close to putting your finger on what this music sounds and feels like.
As an entertainer, Richard believes in value for money. Any given show will find him playing on top of the bar or on his back, busting a solo or a kneecap or both. Hell, I saw him play at Le Chardonnay last weekend and at one point he delivered a mid-song sermon over my head, from atop the booth I was perched in at the time. One day he may indeed wind up with his ass in a sling, but for now it’s all fun and games, with the audience deriving the full benefit.
It is my hope that Richard will eventually put out a record which reflects even half the experience of seeing him in a live setting. In the meantime, that gives me an excuse to heartily recommend your catching a live set from Richard and his gang. You will be assured of a rowdy and rambunctious good time; in a city which calls itself “Home of the Blues, Birthplace of Rock and Roll,” you should expect nothing less.
Jeremy Scott is an original member of the Reigning Sound; he has also played with Harlan T. Bobo, Jack O & the Tennessee Tearjerkers and Jim Dickinson, among others. His new band, the Burning Sands, is in the process of recording its first album. He has hosted the Out On the Side program on Memphis volunteer radio station WEVL for nine years. He spends his spare time terrorizing his wife with his impression of 80s TV icon Alf.