FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

MonkeyJunk – To Behold

Stony Plain Records

10 tracks; 43.50 minutes

I had heard lots about Canadian band Monkeyjunk, but had not heard their music until I listened to this CD. It would have been difficult not to have heard of the band as they came third in the IBC in 2009 and their debut CD “Tiger In Your Tank” won a Blues Music Award for Best New Artist Debut in 2010 – an impressive start for a band that only formed in 2008. Moreover if you have any connections to the LRBC you will certainly have heard of them because whenever there is a poll for who should come on the cruise lots of loyal Canadians immediately put MonkeyJunk forward!

The name apparently comes from Son House who was quoted as saying “I’m talkin’ about the blues. I ain’t talkin’ about monkeyjunk.” Originally formed in Ottawa, the band consists of Steve Marriner on lead vocals, harp and keyboards, Tony D on guitar and Matt Sobb on drums. Both Tony and Matt contribute backing vocals and there are additional background vocalists on a couple of tracks, but there is no bass (remember Hound Dog Taylor?). The CD was recorded in Ontario and produced by Steve Marriner and Ken Friesen and is out on Stony Plain, whereas the debut CD was an independent release. Four of the ten tracks come from the whole band with producer Friesen contributing to a further three. Tony and Steve offer one solo composition each and there is one cover of a Hank Williams Sr. tune.

With no bass and just three players you might be forgiven for expecting something quiet and acoustic, but you would be wrong, as the first track on the CD “Mother’s Crying” rips out of the speakers, driven by a frantic drum beat and snarling slide, with a dramatic harp solo as the main instrumental feature. This is a dark song, as demonstrated by the opening line: “Mother, she’s crying, she can’t be the only one who got blood on her hands for what the children done.” Steve Marriner has a good voice which gets the message of the song across well. Second song is the Hank Williams cover, "You're Gonna Change (Or I’m Gonna Leave)” which leads off with harp and slide, the drums setting the pace on a jaunty version of a country classic.

“Right Now” offers a further change of pace with wah-wah guitar and something of a reggae beat but this one is more of a rock tune, especially on the chorus where additional backing vocals assist Steve. “Let Her Down” opens with piano and organ before Steve’s vocal comes in on a slow, moody piece: “I’m so far away, looking out on some lonely town. I can’t forget the day I let that good woman down”. The middle section provides an opportunity for Tony to demonstrate his precise guitar playing on a well measured solo.

So, after four tracks we have had upbeat blues, country, rock and slow blues. But MonkeyJunk has not finished demonstrating their repertoire as Steve Marriner’s solo composition “With These Hands” gives us a piece of soul with a really catchy chorus. I had already been impressed by Steve’s singing but on this track he excels, aided by a chorus of backing vocalists. Tony plays as if he was a Memphis session player and the whole piece is a standout cut on the CD.

After that “You Don’t Know” brings a sharper edge to proceedings: “In your little world there’s no need for truth, so go on thinking you’re a star.” Menacing harp adds to the atmosphere of the song which coasts along on the guitar riff. “While You Are Mine” is a lengthy slow piece with nicely accented guitar, organ and harp embellishing the tune: “If you think you’ve got me tamed, you better think again” is an example of the lyrics on this song about a relationship coming to an end. “Running In The Rain” is a bright upbeat rocker with strong guitar and harp performances which recalls songs like Delbert McClinton’s “Leap Of Faith”.

Tony D’s solo composition “All About You” follows and is another soulful piece and contains some interesting lyrics about the strength of love: “You speak of the Almighty and if it’s God you answer to, I will get next to God if it means I can get closer to you”. Some gentle slide guitar over keyboards gives this tune a warm feel. Final cut “The Marrinator” is an instrumental for Steve to demonstrate his considerable harp skills.

MonkeyJunk has produced a CD with plenty of variety and I was impressed throughout by the fullness of the sound they manage to produce as a trio. I can easily recommend the CD and look forward to having an opportunity to see MonkeyJunk live at some point in the future.

Reviewer John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music and is currently planning his trip to the Blues Blast Awards in October.

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design