Complete studio albums (and more!), part 12
Starting with 1998’s Tape Head, King’s X would write and self-record new material in the studio. The following album Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous was done the same way, in a quick time frame of under two months. On Tape Head they captured tremendous energy and groove with that method. Perhaps the drawback to this approach is that you have less time to live with and tighten up the songwriting. On the other hand, on Mr. Bulbous it sounds like songwriting was a minor concern next to instrumental experimentation.
Songs like the opener “Fish Bowl Man” sound like several loose ideas floating together. It is a chorus without a song, unfortunately, because that chorus is a King’s X winner. The beat poetry section of the song is very interesting indeed, but it’s not among King’s X’s finer moments. Darkly simmering is the next song “Julia”, but its soft pulse is not enough. Two important ingredients are missing, and they are Doug’s soul singin’, and the patented King’s X groove machine. “She’s Gone Away” also fails to lift from the runway (although it sounded better live). This is more like King’s X for the dreamtimes.
This band is always been interesting instrumentally, and that holds true on Mr. Bulbous. Exploring laid-back musical landscapes while only blasting occasionally is more than fine. “Marsh Mellow Field” for example has a rock-heavy chorus featuring Doug in full lungs. The issue is that the songs are loose and sparsely arranged affairs that don’t sound coherent. It’s a challenging listen, and there are moments of riff and solo brilliance, but one must be patient.
- Jerry Gaskill’s drums on “When You’re Scared”. This guy is such an underrated drummer. “He plays with his whole body,” said my friend Uncle Meat. You can hear that, too.
- “Charlie Sheen”. No idea what the words are about, but this is about the only true “song” on the album. It’s really good, with one of those Ty Tabor choruses that you remember for days. “Kill the king, strip the queen, are you my friend dear Charlie Sheen”? Who cares, it sounds good and that’s what works. The song also has a very twangy Morse-like guitar part that makes this the catchiest track of the bunch.
- “Move Me” parts 1 and 2. Although Doug’s vocals are mixed in a nasal John Lennon fashion, this rocker has some movement to it. It’s one of the most constructed songs on the album, with the light and shade finally making sense within the structure of a song. An epic triumph almost worthy of the classic period of the band.
It’s a mixed affair but because it’s King’s X there is always going to be quality to it.
Next in this series: a previously published review of a Ty Tabor side project named Platypus. Platypus are a band consisting of Ty Tabor – Guitars & vocals. John Myung (Dream Theater) – Bass. Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Kiss) – Keys. Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, Winger) – Drums. Their second album, Ice Cycles, was loaded with fun time progressive hard rock. Ty gets a chance to shred jazzily and in other different contexts, and it is just delightful. You can check out that review now by clicking here.
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)
Part 9 – Best of King’s X (1997)
Part 10 – Tape Head (1998)
Part 11 – POUNDHOUND – Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Doug Pinnick/Jerry Gaskill)