Blues Review – James Leg & Left Lane Cruiser “Painkillers”

June 26, 2012 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  16 Comments

Holy shitballs.

Listen to me folks, GET THIS ALBUM! I know it’s my job as some high fallutin’ music writer to come up with a bunch of stuff to say about music. But after listening to Painkillers, if I were you, I’d skip all the gabbing and just go get it. And then find the biggest, loudest audio player you can procure and crank it to 10. If you want to flatter me, come back and read the rest at some other point.

The merging of Black Diamond Heavies keys player James Leg with the dirty punk blues duo Left Lane Cruiser known as Painkillers is not a cover album. No, it’s a concept album. Yes, it is made of all covers, songs like “Come to Poppa” made popular by Bob Seger, “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zepplin, but this is a concept album in the truest sense. Concept is what so many albums are lacking these days, and how this album takes a rag tag of recognizable songs from the rock and blues worlds and makes them into a remarkable collection that marks the most viscerally-satisfying album I have heard so far this year. Wanton, ribald, reckless, and uninhibited, Painkillers will have you slam dancing and pissing off the neighbors.

Painkillers isn’t just a catchy idea to sketch some cover art around, it is the idea this album is built from, to take a bunch of timeless, kick ass songs, give them the dirty, heavy-handed Left Lane Cruiser/James leg punk blues treatment, with the result being an album that is perfectly concocted to kill pain. That’s what’s so genius about it. If they had released a batch of original songs under this concept, the painkilling would just be a placebo. By taking songs we all know and love already, songs that mean something to us, the medicine is potent, fast-acting, striking right at your gut.

How’s the instrumentation on the album? The approach? Dirty. Real dirty. Nasty, filthy. All the songs are awash in a mess of gritty reverb and distortion. Don’t come here looking for any lightning-fast chicken-picking licks to tinkling of keys, this is about immersing you in a wall of sound. And though the nasty, dirty punk blues approach may not be for everyone, the song selections are. Pure genius went into picking these songs. For me personally, I didn’t care for some of the blues standards, but “Chevrolet” made famous by Taj Mahal, and The Rolling Stones’ “Sway” are two of my favorite songs of all time, and to hear the James Leg/Left Lane Cruiser tandem do their worst with them was a gift tantamount to a pull of nectar from a goddesses nipple.

One word of caution: Yes, Painkillers is habit forming. (Come on, did you think I was going to make it all the way through this review without some drug cliches?) And just like many albums that pull you right in on the first play, Painkillers can lose its potency rather quickly. But after you set it down for a few days, you will find it calling you back once again.

No joke, if you’re depressed, lonely, angry, sad, whatever, as prescribed, Painkillers will get you to feeling right.

Two guns up!

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Purchase Painkillers from Alive Naturalsound Records

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16 Comments to “Blues Review – James Leg & Left Lane Cruiser “Painkillers””

  • Im a big LLC fan that thinks they get better with every album. But i had a lot of trouble getin into any of these tunes. I was bummed. Maybe i went in expexcting something different. I’ll have to give it another shot. I was at work tday when listening, so i wasnt able to crank it to 10!


  • i still can’t get past the vocals, for the same reason i’ve stated previously. no sale here.


  • I could see where they could be fun if I was there in person with a bottle of cheap wine and friends, but at home I think I will just find my old ZZ Top CD!


  • I think it kicks ass!


  • Of course I’m “depressed, lonely, angry, sad, whatever” otherwise I wouldn’t be such an avid SCM reader. However, this is not the cure for what ails me. Sorry but this is an example of something just has no reason to be. Two guns down. Way down.


  • I’m a little surprised at some of the negative takes on this album, though I can completely understand them if you go into it hoping for what you’re used to getting from a Left Lane Cruiser / Black Diamond Heavies album. I am a fan of both bands, but I come to the blues from the outside looking in, so maybe it was easier for me to approach this album without expectations. I really think to enjoy it, you have to understand the concept and approach the artists went into it with. That is why I wrote my review the way I did.

    I usually hate cover albums, especially when the covers are so well-recognized, and I have no doubt seeing names like Led Zepplin and Bob Seger probably freaked some folks out. Some of the songs I can’t get into at all, so I can understand that sentiment. I think you have to look at this album from the artists’ perspective. They didn’t want to make just another LLC or James Leg album, they wanted to do something fun, for themselves, and I think that fun approach translates through the music.


  • I can’t believe all the negativity either! I’m still waiting for it to come in the mail but I can’t imagine I will have any other response to it than “FUCK YEAH!!!!” To each their own I suppose though.


    • I know Muller, maybe cause it’s a “country” based site. The Legster is a badass, and the guys we know like to listen to him, the ladies think he’s a badass. Now for Left Lane Cruiser…. they bring it, and to me, are supa-stars, and didnt disappoint one bit. “Chevrolet” absolutley will never wear out, ever…. “Sad Days and Lonely Nights” is mean, and couldnt have been done better. “Shake It” shakes ass, and ladies that wanna shake it, will shake it to that song. “Ramblin On My Man” will have playtime as long as my lungs have airtime. I like my taste in music, and this album is worth having for the songs I mentioned alone. If you don’t believe me…. just ask me, I’ll tell ya.


      • I’m not sure a country-based site has a lot to do with it. Maybe a little. Jamminre is a big LLC fan. I think it’s important people understand the approach. And even then, it may not be for everyone.


      • Yep it’s awesome! I am going to wear this thing out!!!!!!


  • This album is absolutely incredible. Every word you spoke was correct, Trig. I’d recommend this to anyone. To be able to improve upon Zeppelin and Hendrix is impossible and I think they’ve done it.


  • The Black Keys should be opening for this shit.


    • I couldn’t agree more!


    • exactamundo.


  • i must chime in one more time only because of the sheer enjoyment associated with this album. even though i could say many bands of this nature, especially with covers, repeat play factor could decrease, but i’ve listened to it in it’s entirety every day since i heard it. hasn’t lost an inch of power or perspective. keep hearing more that i like. top of the heap in my opinion.


  • Great record indeed. I’m a big fan of LLC and I saw them last year in France. it was a f*cking great moment. And James Legs was drank most the time :D

    PS : By the way this website is great. I’m a huge fan of country music (hank 3, shack shakers, the gallows) and I discovered a lot of artists here thanks !


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