A worthy outing
"Fulmination," the new album from legendary San Diego band The Farmers, starts off in a similar vein to 2005's "Loaded": With a strong Jerry Raney-penned rocker, "East County Woman" in this case. And while it's every bit as good a song as "Lost In My Car," the opener to "Loaded," fans of the band already know that "Fulmination" won't be another "Loaded" for the very simple reason that the late Buddy "Blue" Seigal is no longer around to contribute half the songs on The Farmers' latest.
In addition, longtime bassist (and, like Raney and Blue, a founding member of The Farmers' predecessor, The Beat Farmers) Rolle Love left the band last year, to be replaced by Chris Sullivan, former member of The Penetrators and The Jacks (and who is reunited with former Penetrators drummer Joel Kmak here). The band has also added singer Corbin Turner, who adds a Country Dick Montana-like bass vocal to several of the songs.
But with the loss of Blue to a bad ticker three years ago, the band is now Raney's vehicle. He wrote or co-wrote all the songs here, is the only guitarist, and is the featured singer on most tracks. Which isn't a bad thing by any stretch of imagination. Raney is true San Diego rock royalty, having led the local bands Glory, Shine and the Shames from the 1960s through early '80s, before being recruited to the Beat Farmers. He is a top-rank guitarist, hearkening back to the glory days of the true guitar hero. Most of his solos here are vintage early '70s hard rock/heavy blues: Think early James Gang, Humble Pie or Wishbone Ash.
If Raney mostly gives in to his hard rock impulses, no longer leavened by Blue's country and blues influences, there's still quite a bit of variety. "Flyin' Man" is the hardest-rocking song here, and borders on early metal. "It's Coming" is a radio-friendly mainstream rocker, with more than a passing resemblance to the late '70s Kinks catalogue. "Cantaloupe Moon" is a rootsy, bluesy workout, like something from Ronnie Earl or the Tailgators, with Raney bending and twisting notes all over his solo.
While Raney may be a rocker at heart, he couldn't help but be influenced by all his years playing with Blue and Montana, the late founder of the Beat Farmers who sang their novelty numbers like "Lakeside Trailer Park" and "Happy Boy" in that deep bass of his, an octave or so below Johnny Cash. "Mexicali Nights" is a definite nod to Montana, and hearing Turner sing the twisted lyrics ... well, it sounds as if the man is channeling Montana. The song is in a country vein, with a strong streak of Mexican norteño running through it and the story it tells has absolutely no place whatsoever in print. "Walkin' Back to Lakeside" is the other novelty number here, and, like the opening track, has tons of local references.
"Fulmination" is different than what The Farmers were with Blue on board, no doubt about it. But it's a spirited rock 'n' roll album with plenty of great playing and a solid set of songs. What it is is a worthy successor to the heritage of the Beat Farmers, Montana and Blue.
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