Complete studio albums (and more!), part 4
KING’S X – Faith Hope Love by King’s X (1990 Atlantic)
This is where I hopped on board the King’s X train. It was the quirky video for the irresistible pop rocker “It’s Love”. It wasn’t the first accessible King’s X single, but it was the first I ever had the chance to hear. And it was instant. It was an immediate, “Ah! So this is King’s X! I have to get this.” And I did. Before then, I had only read about them in magazines. Their cool cover art, striking album titles, and brilliant reviews had them on my radar.
“It’s Love”, written and vocalized by Ty Tabor, emphasizes the melodic aspects of the band. They always utilized Beatles-like harmonies over chunky guitars. This mixture was perfected for the charts on “It’s Love”, and it did make a minor dent.
Although “It’s Love” might be the most instantaneous song on the album Faith Hope Love (the band’s third), it’s not the most impressive. Not even close. And that’s saying something!
With Faith Hope Love, there was a downshift in intensity but not in quality. The album is overall a little less edged, but just as challenging. Indeed, the title track is almost 10 minutes of swirling rock, with dual lead vocalists and startling instrumental integrity. There is also a song called “We Were Born to Be Loved” with smoking playing, false endings, and enough technical chops to satisfy the most ardent fan.
King’s X have never taken the easy road, lyrically or musically. “Legal Kill” is abstract but can be interpreted to be about a few sensitive issues in today’s society. It’s not preachy: “I only know what I believe, the rest is so absurd to me.” It’s a beautiful song, a peaceful acoustic ballad. A song like this could have been a hit for anyone, except King’s X it seems.
Other accessible rock songs include the love song “I’ll Never Get Tired of You”, a beautiful sentiment. The “Fine Art of Friendship” combines the vocals of Doug Pinnick and Ty Tabor in that patented blend, always so tasty. Then there is the slow, dark ballad “Everywhere I Go” by Doug. There aren’t any weak songs on Faith Hope Love, although I find the softies “Mr. Wilson” and “Six Broken Soldiers” (vocal debut of drummer Jerry Gaskill) to be not quite as amazing as the rest of this stunning album.
The centerpiece is “Moanjam”. By the opening rumble of Doug’s bass and the intense tempo, you might think it’s a Motorhead song. Proving their diversity, “Moanjam” combines smoking metal riffing, lush harmonies, and Doug’s unmistakable soul singing. You could put “Moanjam” on an album 10 times and it would still be a hell of an album! With subtle Christian lyrics (“I sing this song because of You, You’re the glory”), you can headbang to it without thinking too much about the words. In fact, doing so is quite an enjoyable experience. It’s also a blast to air-drum to Jerry’s speedy parts; just be sure to catch your breath!
Although Faith Hope Love was their most accessible album yet, in many ways it really wasn’t. It was over an hour long, containing two long-bombers. The arrangements are still challenging, and still uniquely King’s X. There is nobody out there who plays guitar like Ty Tabor does, and nobody who can sing like Doug Pinnick. Faith Hope Love is a completely unafraid album. Unfortunately it might also have been their last chance to grab the brass ring. With grunge around the corner, bands like King’s X were hastily pushed aside. What a shame. This record could have been their Revolver.
KING’S X review series: