* Prices may differ from that shown
I wrote a review back in 2012 for another of The King Blues albums Save The World, Get The Girl which actually was around the time that this last album Long Live The Struggle was released and the band split. They remain one of my favourite bands despite their split.
***Who are The King Blues?***
The King Blues were a punk rock band from London fronted by Jonny "Itch" Fox. Their music uses influences from hardcore and ska among other genres and the lyrics are quite often political. The King Blues officially split in April 2012 after 8 years of working together stating that they had "Taken things as far as they could go".
Since The King Blues parted ways former front man Itch has gone on to form a solo career, whilst former guitarist and vocalist Jamie Jazz is now a member of the dance punk band Bleach Blood.
You might find that you like The King Blues if you have a fondness for acts such as:
*Pulled apart by horses
It can be tricky to advise of similar bands because of the way in which The King Blues changed and evolved during their time together, there can be large differences between albums. There is also the consideration of the unique sound of the band. However, I feel that the above are a good suggestion list based on the feel of the Long Live The Struggle album.
***Price and availability***
The album can currently be found on Amazon for £8.45 for a physical copy and if you spend over £10 on the site then the delivery for this particular item is free. A used copy will cost you slightly less. You can also download a digital copy of the album for £6.99 or purchase individual tracks for £0.79.
HMV also have the album available for digital download at £6.99 but buying individual tracks from them will cost you the higher price of £0.99
You can also find Long Live The Struggle on spotify
These prices are around average for an album and I think they are certainly fair, but there are better albums you could spend your money on. I would recommend purchasing some of the better tracks individually rather than waste money on the whole album.
Although reasonably attention grabbing with it's red and white font on a black background, this album cover is not exactly inspiring. As the picture on Ciao shows, the cover simply features bold writing with the band name and the album name, some of which is underlined. I far prefer the pictures and artwork featured on previous albums to this cover. Perhaps having already split when this album was released it was difficult to organise a photo shoot or get the band to all agree on artwork but I still feel a little let down.
***The album track by track***
* We are what we own is the first track and the music has a fairly easy laid back, joyful feel with it's acoustic guitar (or perhaps ukulele?) and many voiced chorus, but the lyrics have Itch's usual cleverly worded, angry, political stance. Proclaiming that politics doesn't care about the youth of today and that they should wise up and rise up. "Saying they don't care about politics when it's politics that don't care about the kids". All in all I like this song quite a bit.
* We are the future has a very upbeat feel and is quite fast paced with a lot of synth sounds going on with Itch rapping over the top. The chorus is quite catchy and I like how the music builds and breaks in different places, but overall it's quite a difficult song to get into and even the lyrics don't save it due to the fact that much of it is too fast paced to catch the words (and thus the meaning behind them) and some of it is screamed (I'm quite a fan of a lot of loud shouty screamy music, but in this case it just sounds like he's a bit too angry and about to lose his voice) which I guess may add to the overall passion but doesn't make for a great sound. "We are the future, we are the future". If I'm being honest (and this is difficult considering how much I love the band) this song is quite awful.
* Modern life has let me down begins with some office type sounds, including a phone ringing which combine to make the backbone beat of this song. The lyrics speak of feeling cheated by modern life, one where you are conditioned to believe that you are free and doing what you wish but all the while in fact living up to society's dreams rather than your own. This is completely amazing after the last disaster of a track, it's a good solid song with a catchy chorus, brilliant lyrics and cleverly used sounds. The lyrics are a bit shouty again, but it lends to the overall feel and doesn't sound quite as bad as the voice straining in the previous track. "Freedom is not a coffee break with your boss" I do like this song and often find myself singing it as I go about my day.
* Wasted words sounds like it would be good for radio, it's a pleasant enough song (I might even stretch to call it pretty) and the lryics are ones that many people could relate to (they speak of a messed up relationship that doesn't seem to have been working for a while coming to an end) but I just feel it's a little lacking compared to past work from The King Blues, as if their heart wasn't in it. "Cos the currency that we spent was time, our hopes and our dreams, fell down the line"
* Can't bring me down features a similar sound to the second track, but it's done much better this time around. This track really shows the different direction that the band took with this album as it leans much more towards post hardcore sounds than previous work from the band. It seems to mainly be about Itch doing things his own way despite what anyone else thinks, the lyrics are clever but overall a little self absorbed. "Written in the stars that I can do anything". Not amazing, but ok.
* Tear us apart is a beautiful song, with melodic guitar sounds and Itch singing rather than screaming. Far more ska inspired than the rest of the album and a track that I image would please the majority of fans. I can't decide quite how to interpret the lyrics of this one but it's a nice song none the less. "Where beginnings are born and every end is a start".
* This is my home starts off with some spoken narrative from Itch as though he's speaking to a partner on the phone before it cuts into female vocals and the song continues in this manner with some news story style clips thrown in the middle and end. The lyrics tell a story of a family living in a rough area but they are not particularly clever ones. The song is quite slow and pretty sounding which contrasts nicely with the lyrics of chaos on the streets. "Now I'm leaning out my window and I'm screaming this is my home". Certainly not one of my favourite tracks.
* Booted out of hell is truly brilliant. Clever political lyrics teamed with a cheery feeling ska vibe make this one of my favourite tracks on the album. The lyrics could easily be written about Itch's youth as a homeless punk. "I live my life like a wandering ermine, floating on the edges of the brink of going mad, following a star, chasing the sun, taking a map of my heart, forever on the run"
* Power to the people is one that really gets your feet moving. Lyrically it is a general protest song, and ode to the power held by the masses. Musically it has some nice guitars and some strange dub step stuff thrown in. "My message is marching and every single time I'm taking out the beacons with my protest sign". This song is good enough, but it's not anything new or exciting.
* Walking away is a slow, sad song which seems to be another one about breaking up, I find myself wondering if this has anything to do with Itch's personal life whilst thinking that one break up song per album is more than enough. Not one of my favourites but a nice change of pace after the last track. "I suck in the scent of her perfume, anything that I can take" Bit of a disappointment really.
* When the revolution comes is another upbeat track with a heavy ska vibe. I love the lyrics on this track and the song of Itch's vocals (there is a bit near the start where he's speaks about being drunk on rum where he actually sounds like he might be...it strangely makes me smile every time). Another general protest song, nothing new, but nicely done. "You're damn right I'm a history writer, freedom fighter, flame igniter"
* Keep the faith is a nice enough note to end on, nothing new or ground breaking, but a nice, slow easy to listen to track. The lyrics urge you to keep faith in your beliefs despite struggles and are mostly sung rather than the usual rapping speech style of Itch (though he manages to fit in some of this) or the screaming seen in a few of the tracks. It seems to be sung with a reasonable amount of passion but overall it fails to inspire much feeling in me. "They say we don't believe in nothing at all, but I believe and I ain't gonna fall".
It took me a while to decide how many stars to award this album because when compared with other albums from The King Blues this one doesn't stand out as anything special and many fans saw it as an anti climax for a final album, however if you disregard the other albums and judge this on it's own merits alone then I feel it is slightly better despite a few tracks that I wouldn't have chosen myself. Overall though it's difficult to not be disappointed with this album as a whole.
The tracks on Long Live The Struggle are quite a mixed bag. In my opinion where the other albums have all featured songs which fit together nicely this one is a combination of tracks that would have slotted nicely into The King Blues past albums and tracks which showcase the musical path which Itch has decided to follow for himself in the future. This is an album that I like to pick and choose tracks from rather than one that benefits from being played in it's entirety.
Three of the tracks feature swearing which is fairly easy to pick out of the rest of the lyrics and so this isn't something to play when small ears are about.
I feel that in this album a few of the lyrics begin to point to Itch's arrogance which is further expressed in his solo work following this album. Going back and listening to this after hearing some of the solo work I feel that some tracks are more Itch's influence than the band working together as a whole. While I suppose this is to some extent to be expected for a band who have decided they have reached the end of their journey and with a front man keen to go his own way, it does make me wonder why they bothered with this.
After much deliberation I decided to award this album with 3 stars. There are a few weak links and it may not been quite what some fans expected, but Long Live The Struggle is still worth a listen despite this not being The King Blues at their absolute best. However, I would not recommend this album, I would rather point people in the direction of some of the bands better work!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 We Are What We Own
2 We Are The Future
3 Modern Life Has Let Me Down
4 Wasted Words
5 Cant Bring Me Down
6 Tear Us Apart
7 This Is My Home
8 Booted Out Of Hell
9 Power To The People
10 Walking Away
11 When The Revolution Comes
12 Keep The Faith