faith hope love

VHS Archives #89: Doug! Ty! Jerry! It’s King’s X with some Faith Hope Love! (1991)

The late, amicable Dan Gallagher was always enthusiastic about every band he interviewed.  He drew a good interview out of King’s X, and asked some deeper questions that got the band thinking.  You’ll also see some live footage from the Faith Hope Love tour.

Subjects covered:

  • What is King’s X?
  • What does Faith Hope Love mean?
  • How much does Ty hate making music videos?
  • Spirituality in music — does it belong?

I really love Jerry’s answer on that question.

 

 

 

Thanks for hanging this week for a whole lot of old VHS clips.  Winter is the perfect time to work on projects like this!

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)

REVIEW: King’s X – Faith Hope Love (1990)

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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.

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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.

5/5 stars


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KING’S X review series:

Part 1 – Out of the Silent Planet
Part 2 – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
Part 3 – Kings of the Absurd (split bootleg with Faith No More)

Part 198 / REVIEW: Promos II (King’s X – “Pillow” CD single)

RECORD STORE TALES Part 198:  Promos II

In Part 117, we talked about promo CDs:  How to identify them, what they were, what they’re worth.  A short while ago, Statham and I were having a conversation about promo discs.  The conversation began in regards to one of my treasured rarities, a King’s X promo CD for their 1994 single, “Pillow”, from the Dogman CD.

Even though eBay (supposedly) have strict policies against selling promo discs, I just found one as I was writing this, identical to mine, on sale for $46.99 USD.  It even says “Promo Copy – Not For Sale” in clear writing on the back cover, in the eBay photo!  Somebody at eBay is asleep at the wheel.

I got mine for free, a decade ago!

This one found its way into our warehouse, probably via a liquidation.  The warehouse manager knew we couldn’t sell it, not with that big inscription on the back, so he gave it to me, knowing I was a huge fan.  As I explained to Statham:

LeBrain:  We weren’t legally allowed to sell promos, at least ones that were obviously identifiable as promos, in the store.  We’d been caught once when one hit the shelves .Even if I bought this CD from you for $5, I technically couldn’t sell it in store.  We could have asked $20 for it easily, because of the unreleased tracks.  Those weren’t on anything else.

Statham:  So even on the dark days, the ones you HATED about being there, there were then moments like your getting this CD that made it OK again!

LeBrain:  Yes! Although I had to keep them secret…Our warehouse manager would slide them my way, on the condition that I don’t tell. Don’t know what they would have done with them otherwise, besides throw them out.  That would have been a shame.  [I think the statute of limitations has expired on my promise not to tell!]  We paid money for these promos though, we got nothing for free.  Everything we sold was purchased from somebody else, be it a wholesaler or an individual.

Statham:  Right, but all of that is pre-killed by the writing all over the promos prohibiting their sale. So there never was a [legal] leg to stand on, with those.  But nobody ever reads those warnings anymore. The Interpol warning at the start of a DVD? Just something else to skip. Part of the scenery. Surely we can ignore that, right?

LeBrain:  Yeah exactly.  Every other store in town had promos on their shelves too.  And they weren’t as discerning as we were, they’d sell anything.  [But] you’re right, we didn’t have a leg to stand on.   I guess in the long run it meant that I could get stuff like this for free.

Statham:  Even as recently as last year, I bought a promo single from there [LeBrain’s old workplace]. So apparently things still slip through the cracks!

LeBrain:  I’m sure they do.  After all, it was over 10 years ago that we received a warning about selling promos.  I don’t know who tattled on us, but it always struck me as unfair.  We PAID for those promos.  We got NOTHING for free!  And I would never buy or sell a promo in the store that didn’t have something worthwhile on it, like bonus tracks of some kind.  It had to have some kind of value.

And so it goes.  I have a lot of promo discs from those days, stuff that you technically couldn’t buy in stores, stuff that guys at record shows routinely ask $20 for.  eBay prices?  Double that.  Some of them are worthless, one track promo singles with no cover and no real value.  Others have exclusive live tracks, like this King’s X single we’re about to discuss.

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KING’S X  – “Pillow” (promotional CD single, 1994 WEA)

“Pillow” was released as a single in mid-1994, and promptly went nowhere.  That’s too bad, as it’s a great song, heavy and slow, fitting right in with the grunge movement that was still dominating the charts.  King’s X trademark harmony vocals by Ty Tabor can be heard during the chorus, under Doug Pinnick’s soulful lead.  Doug’s 8-string bass chimes while drummer Jerry Gaskill sets the groove.  This track, one of the standouts from the Dogman album, simply crushes.

The two B-sides are live, recorded in Dallas on May 8, 1994.  “Shoes” is another great Dogman track.  What is especially cool is how great King’s X harmonies sound live!  This track proves they have the goods, but the Texas crowd is more than happy to take over the vocal chores.  They clearly knew the new songs backwards and forwards.

The second B-side is the complex “We Were Born To Be Loved” from the landmark Faith Hope Love album.  “I like a crowd that makes a lot of noise,” says Doug, before the band tear into the intricate rhythms and harmonies involved with this rocker.   It’s another Doug lead vocal, with Ty and Jerry on the harmonies.  Knowing how great King’s X are, I’m sure this truly is live — no backing tapes or overdubs.

There’s not much in the way of artwork; just a sticker on the front of the case and a pretty plain white back cover.  Stickers don’t age too well, as the gooey sticky stuff starts to seep through the paper.  Plus if you crack that front cover, you’re screwed.

Since this single was released, both these recordings have seen the light of day on an album, called Live & Live Some More, from 2007.   While that sort of destroys the collector’s value for a single such as this, it doesn’t change the fact that these songs are awesome!

5/5 stars

Next time on Record Store Tales…

Hooray for Stock Transfer Day!