Detroit's self-styled “ugliest band” THE MUGGS weighed in with a seriously impressive eponymous debut album in 2005. Sure, their case-hardened brand of supercharged, blues-inflected rock'n'roll has long ceased to be fashionable in most of the style mags purporting to be music publications these days, but that's irrelevant. What mattered was that it was a great record and remains so. End of story.
Besides, in Detroit they do things differently and invariably rock harder than virtually anywhere else on the planet at the best of times, so it's no great surprise when The Muggs' sophomore release - the defiantly-titled 'On With The Show' - ups the ante again, showcasing the sound of a blistering power trio on top of their game.
'On With The Show' opens with the languid, mantra-like presence of the home town homage of 'Motown Blues'. It's more of a scene-setting overture than anything and soon segues directly into 'Slow Curve': more typical, swerving and hard-driving Muggs fare, delivered in typical, damn-the-torpedoes fashion. It stretches out beautifully, with Danny Methric's lethal lead guitar feeding off Tony De Nardo's lithe, supple Fender Rhodes bass lines and drummer Matt Rost riding the lightning from the back.
It also sets an early high watermark, but it's one The Muggs maintain courtesy of a slew of hi-octane piledrivers like 'Down Below', the cocksure boogie of 'Somewhere Down The Line' and smokin' versions of long-established live favourites such as 'Just Another Fool' and the mean'n'abrasive 'Get It On'. And no, this latter has no relation to Marc Bolan whatsoever.
There's room for lengthier explorations, too and surely 'Never Know Why' is the equivalent of 'Doc Mode' from the first album, with languid, Hendrix-y blues colliding headlong with early Black Sabbath heaviosity. It features a great, straight-from-the-gut holler from Methric and really takes off in a roar around the 4 minute 30 mark. It's a great example of intuitive ensemble playing and still seems too short at 8 minutes plus. Elsewhere, the one place they could come off the rails is the piano-enhanced power ballad 'Curbside Constellation Blues', but even if it does resemble Supertramp a little more than I'd normally condone, they wear it well enough and seal the deal courtesy of some gorgeously soulful lead guitar from Methric.
They close by returning to the source courtesy of the venom and volume of a reprised 'Motown Blues', but really it's a simple lyric from the album's title track that somehow sums up The Muggs. On this tale of rising above hard knocks, Danny Methric sings “it's all that we know...on with the show.” Somehow, it speaks volumes for the Muggs' commitment and work ethic and – when allied to their scorching rock'roll – it makes you all the more grateful they stick so gloriously to their guns.