Edge of the City
Back in the mid 1980s, The Kinsey
Report, out of Gary, Indiana, was poised to be
the “next big thing” in the blues world. Their mix
of modern funk and rock (and even reggae) with the
traditional Chicago blues they learned at the feet
of their father and mentor, Lester “Big Daddy”
Kinsey, gave the genre a much-needed shot in the
arm. Guitarist Donald Kinsey played with Albert King
and reggae legends Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, and
brought both sensibilities to his playing.
Previously, the group, along with guitarist Ron
Prince, had also backed their father on one of his
releases on Rooster Blues, Bad Situation
(which Donald Kinsey produced).
efforts attracted the attention of Alligator Records head Bruce Iglauer,
who gave them the opening cut on his anthology release from 1987, The
New Bluebloods. Iglauer liked what he heard enough to produce a
couple of later releases for the group on Alligator, the first of which
was Edge of the City, which captured perfectly the group’s sound.
The band wrote most of the tunes on the album, and they really shine on
high energy tracks like “Poor Man’s Relief,” “Give Me What I Want,” and
“Got To Pay Someday,” but they are also capable of slowing things down
and getting funky as well on tracks like “Can’t Let You Go,” “Answering
Machine,” the old Gerry and the Pacemaker’s (!) hit, “The Game of Love,”
transformed by the group into a slow blues with churchy organ provided
by St. James Bryant. Two tracks were later added to the disc upon its
initial CD release (the alternate track, “No Stranger To The Blues,” and
“Corner of The Blanket,” their contribution to The New Bluebloods).
Donald Kinsey’s serpentine leads are stunning, especially on “Full Moon
On Main Street.” Prince takes the occasional lead (notably on “Poor
Man’s Relief”) and provides stalwart rhythm support. Ralph and Kenneth
Kinsey are simply one of the best rhythm sections out there. Everyone is
firing on all cylinders throughout. This is one of those discs where
everything just comes together and meshes perfectly.
Future efforts at recapturing that magic proved to be unsuccessful.
Though the band sounded great on their Alligator follow-up, Midnight
Drive paled in comparison to its predecessor. The band moved to
Pointblank Records in the early ’90s, where they released a couple of
unsuccessful, largely forgotten albums that veered more heavily toward
rock. Prince left the group to play with James Cotton and eventually
front his own band. Now a trio, the Kinseys returned to Alligator in
1998 and released Smoke and Steel, their best effort in years.
They’ve been absent from the studio since, but are still in high demand
at concerts and festivals.