When I asked Chicken Diamond what’s the name of his upcoming record, he replied, “This is simply named: ‘My Name is Charles ‘Chicken’ Diamond’. Albert Ayler style.” As someone who is into whack jazz as much as Diamond’s brand of punk blues, that last three-word sentence spoke volumes to me about how he sees his music and what he aims to do with it.
Ayler’s first record from 1963 was modestly called My Name Is Albert Ayler; in fact, he meekly uttered those words at the beginning of the album. What followed launched the career of on of jazz’s most guttural, clamorous saxophonists.
Diamond’s own album with the self-introduction in the title is actually his third, but that matters little; the one-man band from France is guttural and vociferous, and it’s time people across the ocean and elsewhere know about it. I put an ear on Chicken Diamond II, his prior long player from 2012, and came away impressed with the music that’s Left Lane Cruiser, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and vintage ZZ Top rolled into one, and then made dirtier and louder. What’s not to like about that? We didn’t see any reason not to, and it wound up on our list of top albums for that year.
My Name is more of the same, brutal no-bullshit blues that begs to be played LOUD. It’s still a little startling to hear so much noise created by one person (and yes, he can do this all at once). And that’s even before he start letting out growls and snarls.
His shredded throat doesn’t emerge until about a minute and a half into the hard stomp “Undercover” and following this is the Screamin’ Jay meets Led Zeppelin of “Wild Blood Confusion.” Even those songs aren’t as thick ‘n’ crunchy as “(Don’t Wanna Be A) Reptile,” where he throws in primitive electronic noises just for kicks. And then there’s the obligatory ballad. Oh wait, no there isn’t. If anything, if gets faster and rowdier by the time we reach “Motorcycle.” What, you want a breather song? Cue up some Air Supply, you wuss.
So whether Chicken Diamond really is the Albert Ayler of punk blues or not, the message is the same for both: what goes behind that name is defined by the swagger and daring of that name’s music. Diamond’s new record — like the one before it — has got about as much of those things as Ayler’s music did.
My Name is Charles ‘Chicken’ Diamond goes on sale April 14, 2014. Preorder/purchase My Name is Charles ‘Chicken’ Diamond here.
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