REVIEW: King’s X – Best of King’s X (1997)

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Complete studio albums (and more!), part 9


Scan_20151021KING’S X – Best of King’s X (1997 Atlantic)

Alas, it was inevitable.  After six stunningly good albums, but none of them gold, in 1997 Atlantic dropped King’s X.  In the mid-90’s it’s amazing that King’s X hung around as long as they did.  Many labelmates has long since been dumped, or broke up.  King’s X did not break up, but instead continued to work on their own, self-producing a new album.  Atlantic meanwhile prepared the calculable “best of” package for release.  Whenever a band gets dropped from a label, a “best of” is bound to follow.  It’s a law of science.

It’s a pretty straightforward release.  Chronologically, you get most of the major singles and hits from all six albums.  Then you get the three requisite unreleased songs.  Finally, a 10 minute live blowout from Woodstock ’94, previously unreleased.  In an unusual touch of quality for a release like this, Ty Tabor himself remastered all the tracks for the album.

We already took a close look at most of these songs earlier in the series, and there are no real duds.  The CD is weighted too heavily to the later albums, leaving Silent Planet and Gretchen under-represented with only four songs between them.  Hearing “King” opening the album is perfect, and the inclusion of “Pleiades” earns respect.  The other two tunes, “Summerland” and “Goldilox” are awesome but predictable inclusions.  The self-titled album and Dogman are represented by two tracks each.  We could have done with more Dogman.  “Shoes”, for example, or “Pretend”.  Three songs from this set come from the more commercial Ear Candy.  Again, you can’t really criticize the choices too much, because all the songs are great.  How do you squeeze more in?

Well, one way would be not including the unreleased songs, but these are record company bait to entice fans to shell out for it.  The three studio cuts are self-produced demos from 1996.  Appropriate to that era of the band, these are more commercial sounding than typical King’s X.  The production is not lush, but they have a lively quality.  “Sally” is nothing to write home about, but it’s a concise King’s X pop rocker with plenty of cool noodling by Ty.  Both “Sally” and the next song, “April Showers” feature fuzzy wah-wah guitar, always a treat.  Doug Pinnick sings the funky “April Showers”, which sounds a bit more King’s X.  Possibly the best song is the sparse ballad “Lover”, also sung by Doug.  It just depends on whether you prefer the mellow hippie sounds of “Lover” or the funk of “April Showers”!

The closing piece of the album was a surprising but important inclusion, and that is the live version of “Over My Head” from their opening set at Woodstock ’94.  This 10-minute track features a passionate singing rant by Doug Pinnick. He has often spoken about his difficult upbringing, and how he never heard the words “I love you” as a child. “This is a song about my grandma…she raised me from a child…she was a very religious lady…she went to church every night…she read her Bible all the time…” begins the painful rant. It still gives me chills, but it has a positive note.  If you have kids, make sure they know that you love them, more than anything in the whole wide world.

Yes it’s an odd way to take up 10 minutes of a “best of” CD, but it had to be on here. It was a historic moment for this band. Anybody in the crowd that day who wasn’t completely blasted on drugs would remember that moment forever.

Opening up Woodstock ’94 should have propelled King’s X into the stratosphere. They just couldn’t catch a damn break.  They couldn’t even be given a decent album cover for their own damned Best Of!

4/5 stars

Part 1 – Out of the Silent Planet (1988)
Part 2 – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska (1989)
Part 3 – Kings of the Absurd (split bootleg with Faith No More)
Part 4 – Faith Hope Love by King’s X (1990)
Part 5 – “Junior’s Gone Wild” (from 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack)
Part 6 – King’s X (1992)
Part 7 – Dogman (1994) + bonus “Pillow” promo single review
Part 8 – Ear Candy (1996)

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4 comments

  1. This is the only King’s X album I own. I have tried to get into this band since their debut album but even though I can hear that this is a good band, great musicians and all, the songs just won’t stick. There are a few I really dig so I thought this album might just be enough for me. And I really like it, I listen to it quite a lot because it contains the songs that did stick.

    See, I have all of their albums up until this one on CDs that I burned myself, but I hardly listen to them ever. I found one called Black Like Sunday the other day, it wasn’t bad, but it was forgettable.

    This one has Dogman – my favorite King’s X track – it has Over My Head, King, It’s Love, Goldilox, Summerland… I love those songs. So I’d give this album 9/10. Great album.

    The closest thing I ever came really liking a whole King’s X record back to back was with Faith Hope Love.

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  2. Typical Ol record comp Move….i recall seeing this but Nope I passed….but for someone who had only say one or two albums this would be good or a good starting point if u had nothing of there’s….
    Great call on there recorded output with no gold albums but lasting longer than others…so true and as life goes sometimes not fair….
    But these guys still slug on……impressive….

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  3. I know another way to make a better Hits set for these guys: 2CD!

    Man, every one of these discs you’ve reviewed, it feels like they shoulda been huge but didn’t make it… and for no discernible reason. And seriously, there are enough numbnuts and dipshits making supremely stank albums and getting huge contracts for doing so, out there. Make more space for the real musicians!

    Also, totally agreed on telling the kids you love ’em. Man, that’s all kinds of greatness.

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    1. Yes, two CDs would have been the shit. There are a bunch of songs missing, of course. Especially from the Faith Hope Love record.

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