Morgan is a rock ‘n’ roll Renaissance Man, the half Puerto Rican / Irish ex-Marine who, since moving to London in the mid-2000s, has become a charismatic presence across the UK’s cultural spectrum – one of Britain’s’ best loved radio DJs (on both BBC 6 Music and the mighty Radio 2), winner of a Sony Radio Award too and already multi-million selling as part of the legendary – Fun Lovin’ Criminals, a unique ground breaking rock and soul band that found influences in hip hop, swing, blues and funk. Huey Morgan, force of nature, a man with a paid-for Scottish Lordship (possibly fake), is a long way, now, from the Ladies Man who twinkled his wise-guy way through his incorrigibly Fun Lovin’ 90s.
Say It To My Face is drenched with the same omnipresent effortless cool of Morgan’s famous gritty vocal style and deft blues licks. Morgan abundantly explores the roots and soul influences on his solo material that he’s become celebrated for sharing on his BBC Radio show.
Missing his native New York yet inspired by the gift of a re-issued 1920‘s Martin acoustic guitar, Morgan set to work on Say It To My Face enlisting help from his life-long musician buddies he’d played with for years in an occasional band of booze-brothers called the Tangiers Blues Band: Chris Scianni (strings), King (bass), while Frank Benbini (Fun Lovin’ Criminals) chipped-in with drums. Pete Levin, a member of Grammy winning Blind Boys of Alabama (keyboards), Naim Cortazzi (ukulele) – also a member of the group New Yorkers along with Frank Benbini, plus harmonica from Grammy-award winning lensman Danny Clinch (a favourite of Springsteen and taker of the famed Tupac Shakur ‘Thug Life’ shot, now the man behind Morgan’s new art-work). A gang augmented by legendary class: steel-pedal from BJ Cole and production from Morgan, along with Grammy-award-winning Tim Latham (Fun Lovin’ Criminals, De La Soul, Lou Reed).
Morgan’s disarmingly candid storytelling recalls the bluesmen of old, but with a unique twist befitting the post hip-hop generation. Say It To My Face is a bold, beautiful, poignant, funny, profoundly authentic old-school rock ‘n’ roll blast, his baritone croon now giving Tom Waits a considerable run for his tobacco-flavoured money. It’s a New York Blues bonanza packed full with songs about the human condition: from the grooved-out, hilarious ‘Stick It To The Man’ (like a New York Happy Mondays, indirectly inspired by 70s U.S baseball player Dock Ellis who took LSD on the pitch) to the woozy, country ‘n’ western opus ‘Fall Into Me’. There’s the funkadelic squelch of ‘Dirty Bird’, the honky-tonk holler of ‘New York Bluez’ and the early-Rolling Stones reminiscent serenade to ‘Shaniqua’ (shady goings-on between lovers). Wise words follow in the languorous stoner-blues of ‘The Ripple’ (a rumination on action, consequence and regret), the boisterous profanity of ‘The Way It Was Before’ and the country-hoe-down ‘Christmas By The Side Of The Road’ (a soldier doesn’t make it home for Christmas). The closer is simply stunning. A multi-layered dreamscape of a song, ‘The White Guard’ is an epic paean to sorrow and time’s arrow, named after Mikhail Bulgakov’s Russian Civil War novel with lyrics adapted from the opening page: ‘In the days of blood as in the days of peace, the years fly by.’
Huey Morgan, 44, has made a grown up album about other grown-ups, for other grown ups. “The kids will find something in it,” Morgan assures. “I know that because a lotta kids listen to my radio shows. But my music is for people my age. And I tried to stay away from everything that’s normal. Because normal is not me.”
Tickets priced £15.00 are available from Midland Box Office: 0870 320 7000 or online at www.wolvescivic.co.uk