My Name is Charles 'Chicken' Diamond - Chicken Diamond (Beast Records)
It’s the third album for one-man bent bluesman Chicken Diamond and it marks another point on his descent into sonic hell. Ten songs of dirt-flecked distortion with a rusty sawtooth edge.
The Chicken’s coop is France where anything that has the odour of being musically underground is driven so far below the surface you’d need a miner’s helmet and a canary in a cage to find it. Thankfully, brave labels like Beast are around to facilitate tours of the aural subterranean catacombs and cast some light.
Chicken (Charles to his close friends) plumbs the depths that Junior Kimborough neglected to explore. It’s a familiar take on Mississippi Blues that’s rendered a little more weird thanks to the occasional use of lo-fi technology (analog syth and programmed drums) that’s more a help than a hindrance. Diamond plays almost all of it himself and it sounds dirtier than going three rounds with a titty bar mud wrestler.
Diamond’s vocal stylings are a cross between a man having his tonsils removed without anaesthesia and a bullfrog on heat. His dirty guitar dominates these 10 songs like a Mack truck sitting and revving its engine in the driveway of the Brady Bunch’s home.
Opener “Undercover” pretty well writes the template with an opening blurt off squawling guitar and an ominous rhythmic undertow. The other songs fall into line. The only (mild) surprise is a cover of “Maggie’s Farm” that bears little relation to the clunky one Dylan gave us on “Hard Rain” or in any other guise. Metronomic rhythms (no doubt symbolising the trap of being a wage slave) rub up against an acrid vocal like they were made for each other.
“Don’t wanna be a reptile,” Chicken Diamond implores on the jaunty song of the same name before overlaying ’50s style short-wave radio noise in lieu of a lead break. If you think that sounds more than a little weird you’re not on your own. The unhinged “My Name Is Charles ‘Chicken’ Diamond” dishes up an introductory diet of warped guitar and snarl.
One-man bands might be the new-ish black in all those little European cafes and clubs. I could imagine Chicken Diamond either clearing or delighting rooms all over the Continent as punters pour Kronenbergs down their throats like they haven’t tasted booze in six months. Buy the LP and imbibe. The links are below.