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The Duke & The King – Nothing Gold Can Stay


This rootsy debut from The Duke & The King takes its own sweet time in ruminating on the past, which I suppose is only right and proper.

Named after the pair of grifter conmen in The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn, The Duke & The King are, respectively, Felice Brothers drummer/ singer Simone Felice and former George Clinton accomplice Robert “Chicken” Burke, who clearly harbour a lingering affection for an earlier era when, as they put it in “One More American Song”, “our jeans were torn… and the music sewed us together”. It’s an album obsessed with memory, from the admonition to remember old friends in “If You Ever Get Famous”, to the recollections in “Union Street” of being “a regular boy in the Reagan time”. And with memory comes guilt and recrimination, tackled head-on in tracks like “I’ve Been Bad” and “The Morning I Get To Hell”. Save for the haunting, country-soul-styled “Suzanne”, Felice takes most lead vocals, while the duo swaddle their songs in subdued arrangements that would have sat well among the Laurel Canyon balladeers of Asylum Records: acoustic guitars, pianos, and restrained rhythms, sewn together with subtle detailing, warm harmonies, and a peaceful easy feeling.

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AllMusic Review by J. Poet

The Felice Brothers have been building a legion of fanatical fans with their enthusiastic stage show and rough-hewn songs that combine roots rock with poetic lyrics. Last year, the drumming Felice brother Simone left the band to get married and reconsider his place in the musical universe. When he and his wife lost the child they were expecting, Felice holed up in a cabin with his friend drummer/songwriter Robert “Chicken” Burke and created the burnished pop that graces the grooves of Nothing Gold Can Stay. The album’s ten songs are mostly taken at a somnambulant tempo, marked by gorgeous harmonies and subtle instrumentation. But unlike your average folk/pop singer/songwriter of the early 21st century, the Duke & the King don’t proffer bland reassuring clichĂ©s. The lyrics, mostly by Simone, a noted novelist and short story writer, are sharply etched and full of witty wordplay. “Lose My Self” is a good example. An electric piano hangs shimmering chords in the air while a radio in the background drifts between stations filling the air with static and garbled words. Felice sings the simple lyric, “It makes me want to lose myself” over and over while random voices drift in and out of the mix wailing, testifying, and lamenting. It’s a puzzling song, but full of emotion and ambiguity. The rest of the songs are more traditional in form, but just as compelling. “If You Ever Get Famous” explores the hazards of celebrity, but it’s not a sour grapes portrait of show biz life, or a jealous lament. Felice just lays out the facts, letting the shimmering sadness of the music — mostly vibraphone and drums — carry the emotional weight. “Water Spider” is another achingly beautiful melody with the duo’s celestial harmonies delivering an impressionistic lyric that combines profound and mundane images of nature, religion, and politics for an unsettling effect. “Still Remember Love” is a lilting love song that suggests the Beach Boys without being an obvious knockoff, “Summer Morning Rain” is a poetic, folky, protest song that could have been written by Fred Neil. The whispered tragedy of “One More American Song” addresses war, love, religion, economic collapse, and the spirit of music and friendship that can make the trials of life worth living through. It’s a quiet anthem for our times that’s as moving and timely as anything that came out of the ’60s. The singing may be subdued and the playing quiet, but everything here packs an emotional wallop.


1. If You Ever Get Famous
2. The Morning I Get To Hell
3. Still Remember Love
4. Union Street
5. Lose My Self
1. Suzanne
2. Summer Morning Rain
3. Water Spider
4. I’ve Been Bad
5. One More American Song


Additional information

Weight 0.480 kg
Dimensions 32.0 × 32.0 × 2.0 cm