The late Robert Palmer didn't say it first, but he probably said it best; some guys have all the luck. Huey Morgan must wake up feeling like he has a back garden full of four leaf clovers for just as the Fun Lovin' Criminals seem less and less likely to recapture their former glories, his solo career as a DJ has conveniently picked up most of the slack. Now more in demand on both sides of the Atlantic than at any time since the band's heyday at the end of the last century, the man who has the likes of Bono and Kevin Spacey on his Facebook page has apparently felt the urge, after becoming a dad for the first time, to take some stock.
It helps too that the Crims are on a temporary hiatus following the release of 2010's Classic Fantastic, so, whilst that vehicle sleeps, the opportunity for starting a new gang, it appears, was too hard to resist. Staring out from the cover of Say It To My Face, he looks for all the world like Mickey Rourke in his pomp, and whilst this is obviously a contrivance, for once the chewy sense of Noo-Yoikness baggage which comes with him feels a little more authentic.
Given that the selection policy for his shows is about as eclectic as they come - Toots & The Maytals rubbing shoulders with The Misfits and Run-DMC - the most obvious pitfall to avoid was making a record that sounded like a misguided stab at one of his own playlists. Here, gladly, his mission is accomplished, and also dispensed with are some of the more louche Vegas show band excesses of the FLC's back catalogue, a balance which may attract back some of those who called it quits and bowed out at Loco.
What we get instead is a smorgasbord of influences ranging from Hank Williams to the pub rock of Doctor Feelgood, Morgan pick-pocketing genre after genre and delivering everything vocally in a growl that suits late nights, shot glasses and tall stories. Unable not to play the raconteur even if under oath, the songs, as ever, each have the quality of a grubby vignette; opener Stick It To The Man centres around the story of maverick baseball legend Dock Ellis who claimed to have thrown a no-hitter whilst on LSD, whilst Christmas By The Side Of The Road is slide-tinged festive hooey about a retuning soldier who fails to make it home in time for Santa.
Some of the supporting press around Say It To My Face was talking alarmingly about Morgan having made a 'Grown up record, for grown-ups'. In most cases, this means that the results are self-absorbed musings on a performer's sense of mortality, but the adult switch is only genuinely flicked here once on closer The White Guard; Morgan's self-confessed Pink Floyd effigy, named after Mikhail Bulgakov's book about the Russian Civil War. Historians will be disappointed to learn that, otherwise, our cast of characters are relentlessly messed up by modern world problems, like the bong-addled frustrated lover of The Ripple, or the sedentary couple sharing a careless lie on the gospel soaked Shaniqua.
More than anything, it's the sense of perspective that helps ensure Say It To My Face is such a neat and self-contained outing. Now in his mid-40's, the former Marine is donating his song writing royalties to the Help For Heroes and Wounded Warrior charities, and confesses to shedding a tear whilst watching Kung Fu Panda 2 with his daughter. Moving seamlessly from front man to family man? It really does seem like some guys have all the luck.