Once upon a time recording was a fairly expensive proposition. And without the convenience of digital distribution systems, a band pretty well had to be ‘signed’ to cut a record.
Those days are long gone, and now almost anyone can produce a more-or-less credible recording. Trouble is, not every band should.
Melissa Martin is a reasonably good singer, with enough sass and personality to, presumably, put on an entertaining show. And her Mighty Rhythm Kings are a competent if rather workmanlike outfit, with a few musical surprises up their sleeve.
But with so much music out there – so many top-notch discs from genuinely great artists – and only so many listening hours in a day, one simply can’t recommend a mediocre product such as this.
That’s not to say there’s anything really wrong with “Lucky Girl,” though there are a few production issues that a bigger budget or more experience at the engineering level might have fixed up. (Okay, there’s one more thing – we’ll get to that). But while collective performances are adequate enough for an evening’s entertainment, they’re simply not worthy of posterity.
Martin seems likeable, with flashes of genuine grit and hints of a delightfully coy playfulness to her delivery. The band is a little turgid when they tackle straight-ahead blues, but they toss in a couple of acoustic tunes that feature mandolin, with guests contributing fiddle, harmonica, sax, and tuba here and there - the playlist is imaginative and avoids the overdone, and the originals are quite good, several with an authentic ‘old-timey’ feel with genuine appeal.
But there isn’t a single cover here that comes close to either the original or subsequent and more definitive versions, and there’s a monumental lapse in taste with the disc’s closer, a reprise (musically only) of the opener, “As Long As I’m Movin’,” with a truly execrable spoken word ‘outro’ by the band’s drummer that definitely should have been left to live performances – it, more than anything else, marks Ms. Martin and her Rhythm Kings as a bar band of no particular distinction.
The truth is there are many recordings similar to this, but better. If cutting a record was still limited to bands and singers of exceptional ability and musical accomplishment – if it were still a serious undertaking limited to the genuinely deserving – then this platter probably wouldn’t exist at all. And unless you’re a friend or a fan, there are simply better ways to spend limited listening time.