Review: Daddy Long Legs’ ‘Street Sermons’ Preaches Unhinged Rock ‘N Roll with Rural Rhythm and Blues

Daddy Long Legs
Street Sermons
(Yep Roc)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

You don’t need to traverse the rough side of New York City to understand what living there is like. Just push play on this, the fourth studio release (there was also a roaring live set), from the Big Apple’s Daddy Long Legs, the area’s most driving, intimidating, and rambunctious blues/garage/punk outfit.

The longtime trio has recently expanded to a quartet for live shows, although these performances are stripped to the bone as just a three-piece. Frontman/singer/harmonica playing Brian “Daddy Long Legs” Hurd sings like Jim Morrison after a particularly debauched night. He also blows with category four hurricane force, taking cues from amplified harp legends like Little Walter, adding the rocking thrust of Paul Butterfield, and slathering the dust of the J Geils Band’s Magic Dick over these dozen corkers. You can almost see the audio board pegging into the red when he gets musically juiced up.  

The threesome craft a tough, leathery set of a dozen generally rowdy numbers, each bathed with a “mutual love of wild and unhinged rock ‘n’ roll and rural rhythm and blues music,” as Hurd states in the publicity notes. Producer Oakley Munson, who also works with the similarly woolly The Nude Party, captures Daddy Long Legs’ plucky, somewhat ramshackle thrust, adding occasional organ, piano, and sax, without diluting the band’s raw meat and potatoes approach.

There aren’t many acts with a lone guitarist that take fewer solos than Murat Aktürk. He’s content to grind rugged rhythm lines highlighting the songs’ grimy, urban vibe without needing to steal the spotlight from Hurd’s explosive harp work. This is also the only album in existence that includes both The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian (playing barely there baritone guitar on the suggestive “Walk Right In”-styled “Ding-Ding Man”) and punk rocker turned singer/songwriter Wreckless Eric (on backing vocals). While neither brings much to the sound, their appearance displays the range of Daddy Long Legs’ swath.            

The opening title track introduces us to a swampy chain-gang rhythm as the band sings Work with one another/Not against each other in the album’s most socio-political lyrics. Alternately, the closing “Electro-Motive Blues” chugs along like the titular train reference ready to derail as Hurd huffs and puffs over bluesy chords and a gutsy double time beat singing Got nowhere to go but I got someplace to be with punky abandon.

A murky, unkempt city-styled sensibility flows through this music. The group runs boisterous blues and raucous rock into a grinder, spitting out a tumultuous concoction and creating an uneasy feeling of walking down the street late at night in a dangerous neighborhood.

Keep moving….don’t look back, and play Daddy Long Legs as you hustle down the block.


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