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The Soledad Brothers The Hardest Walk The Soledad Brothers The Hardest Walk
  • The Hardest Walk (cd)-1 The Hardest Walk (cd)-2
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"This new record is about being stuck in the ninth circle of hell with all the people who have ever knowingly betrayed you. It's about looking them in the eye and saying, 'I know what you did and I'm never going to forget it…'" This is the voice of Johnny Walker, doctor, anarchist and chief spokesman for Detroit's most radical blues collective, The Soledad Brothers. The record he's talking about is 'The Hardest Walk' - the band's latest and greatest studio record on Munster. A brutal break-up letter, detailing the collapse of Walker's long-term relationship, it ranks alongside such similarly-themed albums as Marvin Gaye's 'Here, My Dear' and Spiritualized's 'Ladies And Gentlemen, We're Floating In Space'. If previously the politics the band have been dealing with have emanated from the radical roots of the Black Panthers (the band use that organization's logo as their own), then this time it's a much more personalized affair. One listen to the raw emotion of tracks like 'Crooked Crown' and 'Truth Or Consequences' (sample lyric: "You're going to go so thirsty little girl/ You're going to choke down on your shame") is more than enough to confirm that. "Thematically this album deals with every single stage of grieving you get when a relationship goes south," laughs Walker drily. 'The Hardest Walk' arrives a full two years after the release of the band's massively-acclaimed third album 'Voice Of Treason'. Its title - as well as alluding to the themes mentioned above - also refers to the record's difficult gestation. Recorded during a punishing month in the south of France, it saw the band (Walker is flanked by Ben Swank on drums and Oliver Henry on guitar and saxophone) almost come apart due to the intensity of their working methods. "There were no distractions where we were," explains Walker. "There were no bars, no shows, no girls, no foolishness. Just us and our music. We recorded and played for 14 hours every day for 28 days.” The result is a wonderful record - without question their best to date. Taking in a diverse range of influences from Dr John and Albert Ayler to Syd Barrett and Neil Young, it completely transcends the rampant garage blues that had so characterized the band's previous records ever since their formation in 1995 (the band come from the same Detroit scene that spawned the likes of the White Stripes, Brendan Benson and the Greenhornes). "This record is an exhibit in master craftsmanship and pride," smiles Walker. "There's a paucity of both these things in music today and we wanted to do something about it. We're really pleased with how it turned out. I suppose it's the kind of record we always wanted to make…" For the Soledads, there's a sense that this record will be the one to lift them out of the shadows of their more celebrated peers. Certainly there are few bands revered as much by their contemporaries as they are. The reason? Well, they've got the spirit and the soul. Soon everyone will know it…

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