Despite the title, I Used to Have Fun by Jackson Price and the Blues Rockets is an endlessly lively record. Perhaps the title is reflective on the process — an observation made after the fact — or a statement on moving forward. But in a world that is seeing a surplus of anxiety, a little fun is much overdue.
The New Mexico group were brought together by Jackson Price — a blues guitarist with a Los Angeles acting past. I Used to Have Fun is the group’s debut record, and showcases so much of what the blues have to offer.
“Threshold” opens the record with a jaunty, rollicking vibe. Moody vocals and a fiery guitar line permeate with longing and joviality. “Evil by the Plenty” widens into celebratory with a saxophone flourish — actually, flourish puts the riveting solo much too lightly — and the bounce will have you moving. “So Much Time” matches this energy and revs it up with a chasing, noisy wash of guitar against lyrics of freedom.
But there is another side to the album’s title: the process of ageing comes up as a motif throughout. “You gotta beat me to be with me,” Price sings in a clever blackjack double entendre. “I am not 21.” Meanwhile, “Bald. Fat. And 45” is all mellow self-deprecation, and the seven minute “Bones Get Old” is a meandering exercise in atmosphere. The album closes with “Amerika”, a pulled-back little gem wrapped up in food imagery … and perhaps a critique of American culture.
Whether the title is a nod to ageing, or a reflection of the fun that can be had while creating music: this is a record that blues-lovers will want to live inside. Here is nostalgia and energy sealed in an envelope with a guitar-lick.