Fat Knuckle Freddy
Fat Knuckle Freddy & The Vintage Heathen
No Holds Barred
Damn, but Fat Knuckle Freddy ripped it up at Geno’s earlier this summer! Opening for heavy-hitters Pigboat and Johnny Cremains, guitarist and shouter FKF and drummer Timothy “BB Webber” set up right on the floor and tore through a torrid set of gut-bucket electric punk-blues at top volume that sure got those metal heads bangin’. After the set, Fat Knuckle, a.k.a. Al Giusto, packed up his axes and went to work the late shift— as a ranking officer of the South Portland Police Department.
Friends, we all know cops will be abolished as true justice and equality gradually make their oppressive mission unnecessary, but we’ll always need Fat Knuckle Freddy, because everyone needs to have a good time. That’s all it’s about on Trash Blues, the prolific musician’s latest release: indulgence. Freddy’s indulging what I suspect is every guitarist’s secret urge: to get up there and just wail the fuck away on that thing! It’s seven workouts comprised of simple boogie rhythms interspersed at predictable intervals with searing slide solos and hollered lyrics about death and debauchery, as BB Webber indulges his own sweat-soaked fantasies on the skins.
It’s satisfying for the listener, too — all the swamp-rock riffs you want, played over and over; choruses you can shout along to between swigs; and if you’re in the Old Port some summer night at, say, Amigos’ back patio, Freddy pealing off ragged high-frequency notes on a fretless guitar right in your gobsmacked face!
After numerous releases of a more mannered persuasion, like 2020’s impressive Corruption, Deceit, Murder, a Faheyian solo acoustic album, Freddy’s clearly having a ball returning to the messy stuff he mined years ago under the moniker Meantone. On No Holds Barred, a recent three-track release, he, BB, and rapper The Vintage Heathen (a.k.a. the indomitable Saiyid Brent) take the trash blues thing to another level — a lower level: leaner, meaner, more street, more fun.
The Heathen, who’s improvised with the duo for years at Amigos shows, attacks these tracks with gleeful malice, growling with anticipation at the start of “Balls On Stage” before (hilariously) yelling, “Five-O, let’s go!” and taking off on a guttural rant over a whining guitar tone that breaks into just the metal riff you’ve been waiting for. The funkier “Howl At The Moon” likewise crushes, and the ferocious “All Fades Away” stomps what’s left to dust.
Fewer cops and more of this, please ’n’ thank you.