# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Hey Negrita - You Can Kick

  by John Clarkson

published: 24 / 8 / 2008

Hey Negrita - You Can Kick
Label: Fat Fox
Format: CD


Superb third album from London-based country/blues band Hey Negrita, which, despite its often bleak subject matter and recorded at the end of a particularly turbulent time in the group’s career, proves to be ultimately an album of fun and defiant hope

Hey Negrita’s front man and songwriter Felix Bechtolsheimer has described his band’s third and latest album, ‘You Can Kick’, as “being a lot more fun” than its two predecessors. The London-based blues/country outfit’s debut album, ‘We Are Catfish’ (2005) told of Bechtolsheimer’s shaky recovery from heroin addiction, and ‘The Buzz Above’(2006),the group’s sophomore record, of the harrowing break-up of a long-term love affair. A quick glance at the lyric sheet that accompanies ‘You Can Kick’, however, finds Bechtolsheimer on dark, but familiar turf. “Room service/help me please/it’s a quarter to three/I’m down on my knees/Won’t You send me a bottle to get through the night ?” are the opening lines of the first song, ‘Room Service’. And it doesn’t on the surface seem to get much more cheerful than this with the other eleven songs on the album either. “You’re way too cold for me to lean on and I’m way too tired to satisfy your mind” is the chorus of the next song, ‘Cold’, which is about the final burn out of relationship gone rotten. Later on ‘Lies’ Bechtolsheimer is dumped “for the fellow down the road.” Yet he is absolutely right. ‘You Can Kick’ is a lot more fun. It was recorded at the end of a particularly turbulent time in the group’s history, which saw Hugo Heimann (Keyboards, other instruments) and Gus Glen (Guitars) both leave Hey Negrita just as it had begun to crack America, and Bechtolsheimer, after a brief period in which he thought too of giving it all up, recruit three newcomers, Matthew Ord (Guitars, backing vocals),“Captain Bliss” (Harmonica, backing vocals), and Paul Sandy (Upright and electric bass), into the band. The new line-up of Hey Negrita had only played together collectively five times, twice at gigs and three times at rehearsals, when it began work on ‘You Can Kick’. Recorded live in just ten days of studio time, ‘You Can Kick’ is ultimately a record of hope, the sound of a band playing with a renewed joie de vivre and both re-connecting with itself and its members discovering each other. The new members, who join on Bechtolsheimer on vocals and acoustic guitar, and Neil Findlay, the original band’s only other surviving member, on drums, bring much to the recording, helping to create Hey Negrita’s most eclectic record to date. Matthew Ord, who is also a solo bluegrass musician, is a consistently inventive guitarist. Bliss with his trilling explosions of harmonica and whooping backing vocals lifts every tune, and Paul Sandy with his upright bass work is a sturdy, yet razor sharp presence. As well as being a record of hope, deeper examination of the lyric sheet shows that ‘You Can Kick’ is too a record of against-the-odds defiance. ‘Room Service’, for all the bleakness of its lyrics, as Bechtolsheimer becomes increasingly drunk and disorientated, winks mocking black humour at itself (“Operator hold the line/I’ve got trouble here weighing on my mind/Won’t you put me through to the folly of my heart ?”).It is also energetic, merging honking licks of guitar from Ord and Sandy’s shuffling bass line with throaty wails of harmonica from Bliss. ‘Cold’ is similarly upbeat in tone, a swaggering blast of a country number. “Alright, last chance”, Bechtolsheimer yells at his band mates as its tune surges upwards for a final time at the end, and one knows at that point whatever has been thrown at him emotionally, as long as he has his music and his band, he will be able to carry on. “I swear I’m not done yet”, Bechtolsheimer then rasps seconds later as if to confirm this on the first line of vinyl-only single and other tale of love-on-the-slide, the almost equally rumbustious third track, ‘Rope’. Lies’ too is also breezy in sound, but ‘You Can Kick’ is not all, however, rollicking country tunes. ‘Chained’, which pushes Matt Ord’s rippling slides of bluegrass guitar to the fore, is the most tender of ballads, and finds Bechtolsheimer throwing his lot in with a woman who he knows is probably no good for him, but whom he is going to stay with anyway (“Quiet now, can you hear them when they call ?/ They’re calling you to walk you away/But I’m chained, I’m chained to you by the shackles in my mind.”). The redemptive ‘Fishin’ is meanwhile a slow-burning Delta-style calypso number, which pushes Bechtolsheimer’s gritty vocals up against surging backing harmonies from Ord and Bliss (I’m going, yeah I’m going fishin’ with my Lord/Oh, I ain’t ever coming home, but I ain’t fishin’ on my own”). The title track, which appears near the end of the album, sums up perfectly the night/day, down-but-not-out nature of the album,with grinding twists of guitar, rumbling clicks of double bass and its thunderously arbitrary lyrics (“You can’t keep me down/You can’t keep me down/You can kick but you can’t keep me down.”). It is all brought to a magnificent close with some swinging Dixie jazz on the final track, ‘The Last Thing I Do’, which features guest appearances from Paul Tkachenko on horns and Viarosa’s Rob McHardy on mandolin ("I'm gonna drink this bottle down if it's the last thing that I do/But if he shines his light one me I'll get down on my knees and start to pray/If he shines his light on me it'll be the last thing I do"). Hey Negrita’s obvious studio excitement on this potentially difficult album has transferred well onto CD. They have with ‘You Can Kick’ convincingly, not just survived, but also found new voice.

Track Listing:-
1 Room Service
2 Cold
3 Rope
4 Chained
5 Lay Me Down
6 Go Again
7 Pass You By
8 Lies
9 Here I Come
10 You Can Kick
11 Fishin'
12 The Last Thing That I Do

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Interview (2008)
Hey Negrita - Interview
At a show in Glasgow, John Clarkson speaks to acclaimed country/blues outfit Hey Negrita about their third album 'You Can Kick', line-up changes and renewed sense of energy and creativity
Interview (2006)
Interview (2005)

live reviews

Oran Mor, Glasgow, 17/6/2008
Hey Negrita - Oran Mor, Glasgow, 17/6/2008
After a difficult year in which two of its principal members quit, John Clarkson at Oran Mor in Glasgow watches the new line-up of previously melancholic London-based blues/country rockers Hey Negrita play a blistering set fused with a new found spirit of optimism
Academy, Manchester, 28/10/2006


Burn the Whole Place Down (2009)
Energetic and fresh-sounding acoustic reworkings of old material on latest album from London-based country/blues outfit, Hey Negrita
Rope (2008)
Nine To Five (2006)
Abandon Ship (2006)
The Buzz Above (2006)
Can't Walk Away (2006)
Old Britannia (2005)
Devil In My Shoes (2005)

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