Marcus King demands more cowbell in his new song “Hard Working Man,” and he gets it. On his next album Young Blood, the soulful Southern guitarist delves headfirst into the Seventies rock of Free and Bad Company.
When Marcus King was penning his new song “Hard Working Man,” he claims he was tormented by the Seventies rock band Free. King isn’t a liar. With an FM radio chorus, a meaty guitar riff, and enough cowbell to please Christopher Walken, the high-octane music bursts. “Hard Working Man,” which King recorded earlier this year with producer Dan Auerbach for his new album Young Blood, sounds as though it arrived in the year 2022 through a slick, time-traveling 1970 Camaro.
“I was listening to a lot of Free music. “At the time, Paul Kossoff and Paul Rodgers were huge influences,” King says Rolling Stone, referring to the band’s failed guitarist and eventual Bad Company singer. “I couldn’t get away from Paul Kossoff riffs no matter where I went.” It was buried deep within my skull. It was delightful, yet it was also unsettling.”
The eerie feeling stemmed from King’s observations of unsettling parallels between himself and Kossoff, who died in 1976 from a pulmonary embolism while flying cross-country. He was 25 when he wrote and recorded “Hard Working Man” in 2021, the same age as King.
King, now 26, says Rolling Stone, “I was living fairly hard at the time” (in a statement, he adds, “overindulging in everything”). “I believed it was some type of premonition or something along those lines when Paul Kossoff died from drug and alcohol-related troubles.”
Young Blood, a collection of 11 songs recorded with the Black Keys’ Auerbach at Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville, goes further into King’s sojourn in the bush than his 2020 solo debut El Dorado. Young Blood, which will be released on August 26 by Rick Rubin’s American Records/Republic Records, features King on guitar, Chris St. Hilaire on drums, and Nick Movshon on bass. It has the sound of the most muscular of power trios, similar to “Hard Working Man.”
“Everything we do at Easy Eye happens so easily and without any glitches,” says King. “I usually talk about what Dan did in terms of productivity, but in this case, I believe it’s what he didn’t do. He didn’t muck things up. He basically pressed’record,’ and we just did it live. And that was the most effective treatment for this track.”
Young Blood track list:
“It’s Too Late”
“Lie Lie Lie”
“Good and Gone”
“Blood on the Tracks”
“Hard Working Man”
“Blues Worse Than I Ever Had”