Keyboard player and howler John Wesley Myers, aka James Leg, (Black Diamond Heavies, The Immortal Lee County Killers, Cut In The Hill Gang) is back with a new brew of punk-ass blues.
The son of a Texas preacher, raised in the South on gospel music, James Leg has cut his new album in Chattanooga, Cincinnati, and Detroit, with a little help from his friends (Andy Jody, Johnny Walker, Left Lane Cruiser, Jim Diamond and others). “Below The Belt” is a record that hits where it matters : Straight to your heart, and down to your pelvis. It’s the kind of music that ain’t pretty but makes you feel good.
Rock and Soul all night long.
The greatest feature of Below the Belt is the overriding spirit of wildness that can’t be tamed and that James Leg exudes with his very breath. Part Howlin’ Wolf, part Iggy Pop, he’s the new standard-bearer for the rebels, the new punk in a land of posers. – N. Neal Paradise / ELMORE MAGAZINE
Leg makes a case for the continuing relevance of styles and trends that have sadly fallen out of favor: blues, gospel, and feedback. More than that, it’s the most invigorating and outright best rock album in years — and he did it all in 36 minutes. – Travis Johnson / THE DAY
Leg steers a beautifully distorted, heavily chorused Rhodes progression backed by a crafty drumbeat with a lyrical delivery reminiscent of the dark lord himself. Add in some choice piano fills and you just started off the purest rock record of 2015. – NO DEPRESSION
Really, who needs a guitar when a distorted Fender Rhodes sounds so devilish! His Tom Waitsian voice adds more to the shambolic nature. A close listen will reveal just how excellent an instrumentalist he is. Check out the infectious southern rock/mariachi Casa de Fuego. It will make you hit the repeat button until you run out of fingerprints! – DARK SIDE OF THE HUMAN MIND
Below the Belt delivers some genuine surprises and proves Leg knows more than one way to strut his stuff, a talent he’d be well advised to keep exploring. – ALL MUSIC
There’s a place where dirty blues, soul and gospel intersect that many aim for but few get near. That James Leg lands in the middle drop-zone with the precision of a BASE jumper on a million dollar bet says you most of what you need to know about his latest solo record. – I-94 BAR
James Leg is the latest wracked carrier of the ruined distillery gargle and, from his first emission over the rusty chain boogie of Dirty South, is the real deal, backing up his roaring swagger with an innate grasp of life-soiled rudiments. – CLASSIC ROCK
CLASSIC ROCK REVIEW
Some of the filthiest, most driving soul/jazz/blues-powered rock 'n' roll since T-Model Ford's debut. - NO DEPRESSION (Solitary Pleasure review)
Leg howls and growls, as he describes his vocal approach in the liner notes, through the hard luck “Nobody’s Fault” (“I blew all my dough / I ain’t got no place to go”), the haunted, smoky (ha) “Drowning in Fire” and the album’s emotional centerpiece, “Drinking Too Much”, which feels especially torn from Small Change‘s tales of booze, denial and regret: “Go on and pack your bags and leave / You tell me that I’m drinking too much. . . / Don’t you think that I know it myself?” With Leg’s desperate, sozzled delivery, the tune is truly heartbreaking. Long live rock and soul and pianos and devil horns. - POPMATTERS
(PAINKILLERS review) Muddy but not sloppy, fierce but somewhat respectful of its sources, its subtleties are loud and lived-in as they exceed the speed limit on the expressway to your heart. Blues as attitude more than ritual, this one off provides the relief its title promises. – ROCK & RAP CONFIDENTIAL
For any fan of The Black Diamond Heavies there is no need to “try before you buy”. You’re gonna love the album. For anyone who’s ever felt BDH was a tad too lo-fi/in your face for your musical tastes it’s time to give James Leg a chance cause, for ninebullets, it’s Essential Listening. - NINE BULLETS
(PAINKILLERS review) A combination of reverence toward the progenitors of the blues and a spirit of pure enjoyment that is rare to find. This is a fun record for anybody with a taste for the blues. – WYMA
Solitary Pleasure gives Leg the opportunity to tap the breaks. As tempos grind down, melodies long held underground rub their tired eyes in the light of day, and Leg seems to revel in the freedom afforded by this, showing greater emotion and ambition than one might believe based solely on his output with BDH. Nobody’s Fault is an almost disturbingly poignant number that pert near finds Leg sniffing radio fare, and could have easily slipped onto Waits’ Closing Time or Warren Zevon’s self-titled record without drawing fire. – MOKB
Leg establishes himself in the style of an early era Leon Russell merged with some acute punk sensibilities. His keyboard work is both raw and multi-textured bringing a force of sound that clears the dust off your speakers. Like Russell, Leg also brings in a healthy dose of gospel fire that delivers another fervent level to the proceedings. – Jim Markel / SWAMPLAND
(PAINKILLERS review) It is a pretty great trip. Part of the reason why Painkillers works so well is that the players clearly have a reverence for the material they’re taking on, but not so much that they’re out to merely give rote readings of the songs. – POPMATTERS
Solitary Pleasure is ingrained with James Leg’s extensive knowledge of the rock and roll canon and the album displays his passion and originality to full effect. Granted, Leg’s gargled-with-goat vocal style could be an acquired taste, but it’s also a quality instrument that, like his keyboard work, will prove powerful, yet supple and dextrous over the course of the album. Imagine Tom Waits doing Bobby "Blue" Bland covers. – DEEP BLUES
Though the first two songs are heavy numbers—”Do How You Wanna” even adds a guitar—Leg is exploring other rootsy styles for the rest of the album, mostly with self written tunes. From the saloon lament of “Nobody’s Fault” accompanied by only a slightly out of tune piano to the heavily amped romp of Link Wray’s “Fire And Brimstone” that rivals the Neville Brothers’ version, Solitary Pleasure has more soul. – S. Victor Aaron / SOMETHING ELSE!
If James Leg’s record sounds uncannily like the guy who sings for the Black Diamond Heavies it’s because he’s John Wesley Myers of that same band. Solitary Pleasure dips into common musical paint pots (bluesy keyboards, greasy soul and raucous garage), mixes in a bit more pop and splatters the lot over a wide canvas. – The Barman / I-94 BAR
As the inside cover photo shows, James Leg is the pseudonym for John Wesley Myers, lead singer, keyboardist, and head maniac for the Black Diamond Heavies, a band on my short list of “Bands the World Needs to Get Its Head out Of Its Ass and Hear.” – Jim Sells / VIVOGIG
Working outside the confines of his regular band [Black Diamond Heavies] finds Leg tapping into his extraordinary talent in ways that will leave listeners wondering why the hell he isn’t already on constant iPod rotation. Solitary Pleasure is a solid, great album. In fact, whether or not you’ve ever heard Black Diamond Heavies, this new CD is a must for local music enthusiasts—or even those who didn’t know that a talent like James Leg walks our streets. – Chuck Crowder / CHATTANOOGA PULSE
The sound, solidified by Myers’ other bands The Black Diamond Heavies and The Immortal Lee County Killers, is now clearly its own musical movement. This generation is reinterpreting its roots, and the musical world is a better place for this fresh take on the blues. – Tanya Rezak / WE HEARD THAT
It’s a record that recreates the in-your-face feel of being in a hot, sweaty, crowded club while Leg and his drummer Andrew Jody pound out some hot, rockin’ blues and soul stylings (…) A great soundtrack to the party, whether it’s the one going down in your living room or the one going on inside your head. – GUTTERCANDY