king’s x

#700: How Are You Doing?

GETTING MORE TALE #700: How Are You Doing?

It’s been a week since we lost Mum…and we are doing OK.  Jen’s been focused like an electron microscope on getting things done for the funeral.  My job is scanning photos and preparing music…and catching up on laundry.  Attempting to put a dent into the pile of clothes I call “Sock Mountain”.  I’m assuming reality will hit us later.

For music, Mum would have liked if we used something by my sister Dr. Kathryn.  I hope I can find something appropriate, perhaps from her Stealth CD.  At least one track.  For the reception after, I’m using Mike Slayen’s awesome acoustic guitar album DUDE.  Don’t let the title fool you!  If Mum was well enough, I know she would have been enjoying this album with us.  Probably in the car on the way to the cottage.  She would have loved it.  Me, I would have loved just having Mum with us.

This has been a very hard year for us, and I know the power of music is such that you always associate certain tracks or albums with periods in your life.  Music also has the power to raise the spirits, and it did that for me quite a few times this summer.  On every shitty drive to Toronto on the 401, to every dismal hospital parking lot, my stereo was on.  A lot of albums were repeat listens, and I worry:  “Will I always associate the Bosstones or Blotto with this shitty summer?”

I might.  And that might make the Bosstones or Blotto hard to listen to, down the road.  I think we have to try and make more memories of those bands later on.  Maybe when we finally do return to the cottage.

That aside, we sure did devour a lot of music on the road.  Just last week, between Toronto and the work commute, I polished off Marillion’s The Singles ’82-’88 (12 discs), its followup Singles Box Vol 2 ’89 – ’95 (12 more discs), and a third “box set” of eight more singles. A whopping 1.5 gig of music.  Basically all their singles and B-sides in one massive weeklong stretch.  Meanwhile, back at the office, I had my Kiss flash drive.  Basically, everything I own by Kiss in one place.  I’ve been focused on the studio albums, and each one has been spun more than once.  I realised this:  I never seem to get tired of Kiss!

Whether it was Lick it Up, Hotter Than Hell, Dressed to Kill, Love Gun, Rock and Roll OverDynasty, Unmasked, Creatures…even Asylum got multiple plays in the last couple weeks.  When a band has been your favourite for over 30 years and you can’t explain why, I guess you can just keep playing those albums in rotation.  The later albums…admittedly less so.  The emotional attachment isn’t quite there.

Get this!  While I was bopping to Kiss Unmasked one afternoon, the guy in the office next to me put on “Summerland” by King’s X!  How cool is that?  When was the last time you heard King’s X in the office?  The guy even knew the names of the members.  Said a friend recently turned him onto King’s X, but all he had was the Best Of.  Gotta start somewhere!

Thanks for checking in.  We’ll be OK.  I think we’ll manage to make it through this, but not without the support of friends and loved ones.

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#689.5: A Tribute to Superdekes [VIDEO BLOG]

A Coda to #689:  Fuck iTunes

 

superdekes.wordpress.com

RE-REVIEW: KISS – “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” (1991 single)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 40:

 – “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” (1991 Interscope single)

Kiss’ Hot in the Shade tour wasn’t a sellout, but it was well received by fans who appreciated that a bunch of older songs were back in the set.  The tour was unfortunately highlighted by the June 15, 1990 date in Toronto, igniting a feud with Whitesnake.  Kiss were third on a four-band bill, with David Coverdale, Steve Vai and company in the headlining slot.  Paul Stanley used his stage raps to complain that Whitesnake wouldn’t let them use their full setup, including a giant sphinx.  When Whitesnake hit the stage, it was to a chorus of boos.  Steve Vai later stated that it was the first time he had ever been booed.  Vai once even walked onstage to the sound of people chanting “Yngwie! Yngwie! Yngwie!”, but he had never been booed until the incident with Kiss in Toronto.

When the tour wrapped up in November, Kiss took a few months off before gearing up again in the new year.  It was to be another album, another tour, but suddenly real life interfered.

Eric Carr hadn’t been feeling well.  Flu-like symptoms turned out to be heart cancer.  Simultaneously, Kiss received an offer to record a song for the sequel to Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.  Carr underwent surgery in April, with chemotherapy following.  Having little choice, Kiss recorded without him.  Eric Singer, who had performed so well on Paul Stanley’s solo tour, filled in on drums.  Eric Carr, in a wig, was able to play for the music video taping.  He gave his all, and did a full day’s shoot, with excellent (pun intended) results.

Unfortunately a rift was developing, with Eric Carr feeling shunned and excluded from Kiss.  He was afraid he was going to be replaced, permanently, and his relationship with the band was strained.  Although everybody hoped Eric would make a full recovery, he passed away from a brain haemorrhage on November 24, 1991.  Eric Carr was 41.

On the same date, Freddie Mercury of Queen succumbed to AIDS.  Carr’s death was barely mentioned in the news, including Rolling Stone magazine who missed it completely, prompting a harsh reply from Kiss:

If anything positive came from Eric Carr’s death, it was that Kiss were going to put all that anger and frustration back into the music.  The music was to be their Revenge.

It started with “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II”, a re-imagining of an old Argent song for the Bill & Ted movie.  Eric Carr may not have been well enough to play drums, but that didn’t stop him from singing.  His vocals on “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” were his last.  The song wouldn’t be the same without Carr, as he can be heard sweetly harmonising with Paul Stanley.   Eric Singer wasn’t credited on the single, or the final soundtrack for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey.  It simply says “performed by Kiss”.

“God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” was important for two more reasons.  First, and very significantly, it was produced by Bob Ezrin.  Ezrin was responsible for the two albums that some consider Kiss’ best, and Kiss’ worst.  It had been 10 years.  A Kiss-Ezrin reunion was very big news for fans.  It indicated that Kiss meant business this time.  Secondly, “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” was the first Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons (with Bob Ezrin and Russ Ballard) co-writing credit since 1985, and their first shared vocals in ages upon ages.

Although it didn’t make waves in 1991, “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” has become enough of a favourite to make it onto 2015’s Kiss 40 compilation, and continue to be played live.  It shows off what Kiss can really do.  Yes, they can sing!  Yes, they can play!   This lineup could do it particularly well.  It’s appropriate that Eric Carr went out on a good Kiss track.  And Eric Singer was the right guy to continue.

There are three released versions of “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II”:  The single edit (3:57), the soundtrack version (5:23) and the final 1992 version that was later released on the next Kiss album (5:19).  The single edit cuts out too much of the grand, pompous arrangement, including the epic opening.

In an ironic twist, the version of “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” that is in the movie has a guitar intro solo by Steve Vai.  The same guy whose band got booed in Toronto thanks to Kiss.

The CD single is rounded out by two more songs from the Bill & Ted soundtrack, by Slaughter and King’s X.  The King’s X track, “Junior’s Gone Wild” (previously reviewed in our mega King’s X series) has never been one of their better tunes, but as a non-album rarity, a nice one to have.  Just don’t judge King’s X by this one track.  Slaughter turned in something better, a fun party tune called “Shout It Out”, also a non-album recording.  Slaughter, of course, were one of Kiss’ well-received opening acts on the Hot in the Shade tour.  And what was their Kiss connection?  Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum were in a band with Kiss’ old guitar player, called the Vinnie Vincent Invasion!

As work proceeded on the next LP, the world suddenly changed.  Hard rock was out, and grunge took over MTV.  This single bought Kiss a little bit of time, but it was going to be the longest gap between Kiss albums yet — three years.  Revenge had to wait a little longer.

Today’s rating:

3.5/5 stars

 

Original mikeladano.com review:  2012/08/08

 

 

REVIEW: King’s X – XV (2008)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 17 – the Final Chapter!


KING’X – XV (2008 InsideOut)

King’s X faced many setbacks over their long 30+ year career. Their last obstacle has been the hardest and most serious of all, and because of that, 2008’s XV album remains their most recent. That’s a tough pill to swallow, because for many fans XV was largely considered a return to form.

“Pray” immediately starts things right: face-crushing bass, a groove you can’t get out of, and a funky melody. You are transported back in time to the late 80’s and early 90’s, but with modern slants and production…and funk! The song boasts a soulful, powerful chorus just like the classics King’s X built their foundation on. What a satisfying opener. Peel yourself off the floor though, because it’s over before you know it and the next song “Blue” has launched. King’s X have always been successful at balancing their sound with soft songs, while maintaining their integrity.  It’s a great track sonically, though missing a killer chorus.  XV strikes me as the best produced King’s X album since the mighty Dogman.

Better than “Blue” is the gentle “Repeating Myself”, Ty Tabor’s first vocal outing on XV.  Everything is in its right place:  Ty’s delicate picking, the patented King’s X harmonies, and just a touch of Beatles-y psychedelia.  “Repeating Myself” is possibly the most perfect song King’s X had done in many years.  It melds perfectly right into “Rocket Ship”, a mid-tempo heavy rocker with “single” written all over it.  The 60’s psychedelia remains, but wrapped up in a heavy stomping riff. “Society-sanctioned brain-washing tries to wrap its arms around me,” sings Dug Pinnick, still unafraid to tackle issues in his words. Jerry Gaskill takes his first XV lead vocal on the lovely “Julia”. Another perfect song. It’s a ballad that reminds me of everybody from the Beatles to Shaw-Blades and Motley Crue, of all people. Then it’s foot to the gas on the irresistible “Alright”. This is a classic King’s X rocker, but this time with gang vocals on the chorus. It’s gangbusters. One of the catchiest King’s X songs yet.

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Greasy blues rock guitar kicks off “Free” with an unusually simple Gaskill beat behind it. This transforms into possibly the most soul-infused King’s X song ever, with it’s inescapable “Na na na na, yeah!” backing vocals. For the first time since Ear Candy in ’96, it seems King’s X just wanted to write and record some catchy songs. Of course this is done with all of their diverse influences and talents, but it does not mean the band stopped progressing in order to write some pop rock. “Free” is catchy indeed, and easily could have been on the radio, but it also has lyrical integrity. “The debt is rising, and you overload, because you’re broke, is this a joke? So go buy something, that you can’t afford, because you’re broke, is this a joke?” Musically, by turning the soul knob right up to 11, King’s X have progressed again.

Ty Tabor takes his turn on a mournful ballad called “I Just Want to Live”. A fine song, “I Just Want to Live” won’t be remembered as well as the previous tracks. Then the aptly titled “Move” has a pulse that you won’t believe. It’s Dug Pinnick’s bass that drives this thing, in a very 80’s kind of sparse arrangement. The awesome chorus seals the deal: it’s killer. Ty once again provides the soft side on “I Don’t Know”, another simply beautiful King’s X ballad, much like his Ear Candy material. His guitar solo here is a work of pure magic, and I swear to you that I did actually feel a chill go up my spine. Honest truth.

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Winding it down, Dug makes “Stuck” stick to your brain with some unusual melodies. It’s an unorthodox song and in that way it reminds us of early King’s X, though it sounds little like it. The return of the massive grooves on “Go Tell Somebody” turns this church singalong into a groove metal classic. “If you like what you hear, go tell somebody!” Yeah Dug, you said it! Word of mouth, baby. That’s kept King’s X alive through some difficult decades. They must have known, recording this song, that it was going to be awesome.

I’ve never seen a version of XV without bonus tracks, but my import digipack has ’em too. “Love and Rockets (Hell’s Screaming)” is an interesting song with a good riff. Dug sings the vocal with a calmness, as opposed to the wailing of “Go Tell Somebody”. Then “No Lie” is a jokey blues. “I’ve never sung this song before,” says Dug at the start. This one truly is a bonus track; although it has instrumental integrity, it doesn’t feel like a sincere part of the album. Another version of the album (probably Japanese) has a demo version of “Rocket Ship” as a bonus track. (Add to “Holy Grail” list)

XV is a solidly entertaining album with only a few moments that drag. For all the complaints about albums like Manic Moonlight or Black Like Sunday, XV sounds like redemption.

4.5/5 stars

Scan_20151201 (2)Jerry Gaskill suffered his first heart attack on February 25 2012. He required surgery but was feeling strong. King’s X had a tour booked to start only one month later, which had to be cancelled. Then in October of that year, his home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Fans rallied and donated money to help the Gaskill family rebuild. As if all of this was not enough to deal with, Gaskill had a second heart attack two years later. This required a double bypass. Once again, King’s X cancelled all gigs. They released special live albums to benefit the drummer, and only now in 2015 have they managed to get back on the road and start work on a new album.

We have waited a long time, but we will continue to wait as long as we need. King’s X will return!

This series is dedicated to Dug, Jerry and Ty.  Long may they reign.

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 Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Doug Pinnick/Jerry Gaskill)
Part 12 – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000)
Part 13 – PLATYPUS – Ice Cycles (2000 Ty Tabor)
Part 14 – Manic Moonlight (2001)
Part 15 – Black Like Sunday (2003)
Part 16 – Ogre Tones (2005)
Part 17 – XV (2008)

REVIEW: King’s X – Ogre Tones (2005)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 16


Scan_20151123KING’S X – Ogre Tones (2005 Inside Out)

The previous few albums split fandom.  Many found it hard to grab onto the loose structures of Mr. Bulbous, and the drum loops of Manic Moonlight.  For this review, we are trying an experiment.  I have never  heard Ogre Tones before (in fact I’ve never heard any of these 14 tracks), so this will be a first-listen review.  Does King’s X have the same impact on first listen as they do on 21st?  Probably not, but let’s find out.  In a sense this is a “live” review, so please join me as I listen!

“Alone” could have alienated fans again, starting as it does with distorted alt-rock screaming.  This introduces a short pop-rock duet with Doug Pinnick and Ty Tabor, not a bad little song.  Even though it’s only three minutes, it still boasts multiple sections and lush harmonies, as well as the trademark King’s X groove that only they can play.  Ty dumbs-down the guitar solo for the 2000’s, as it mostly consists of one note.  It’s over quick and then it’s into the even shorter “Stay”, a Doug pop ballad with balls.  Some of those balls come from the heavy detuned guitar, some of it is purely in the ragged soul of Doug’s voice.

Pleasant sailing is “Hurricane”, not too challenging.  The trademark Beatles-meet-King’s X backing vocals lend it a psychedelic feel.  Thankfully, the kind of massive grooves you crave return on “Fly”, the first King’s X Klassic on Ogre Tones.  Biting bass licks nicely accent a catchy rock tune, old-school style meets new-school production.  “If” is another good song, kind of similar to the pop rock delicacy Ear Candy.  Onto the jazz-metal of “Bebop”, Doug throws a very different song into the mix but the album is the better for it.  Just before the halfway point of the album, “Bebop” becomes a highlight.

I like Ty’s acoustic numbers, and “Honesty” is a bare, emotion-filled Tabor classic.  Sounding a lot like Faith Hope Love-era King’s X, “Honesty” is hit-worthy.  You need some heavy riffing after that, and “Open My Eyes” has a big, phat Sabbathy riff behind it.  The song is a bit disjointed though, at least on first listen.  Just a riff without a song.  “Freedom” goes in one ear and out the other (albeit with a great guitar outro).  Unfortunately like many albums with so many tracks on them, Ogre Tones starts to sag in the middle.  “Get Away” is another one.  The lyrics don’t hit the spot anymore:  “Hey God, I watched the news tonight, why are your people so fuckin’ mean?”

The only long song on Ogre Tones is “Sooner or Later”, at 7:00.  It’s a decent slow dirge that I suspect will require a few more listens to appreciate, and even if it doesn’t, there’s plenty of Ty Tabor noodling to go around.  Then there is another decent ballad in the oddly-titled “Mudd”.  I was hoping this was a song about the classic Star Trek character, Harcourt Fenton Mudd.  Sadly, it is not.  The strangest song of all might be a remake of “Goldilox” (from Gretchen Goes to Nebraska).  True to the original, but of course not as timeless and perfect, it is nonetheless a welcome inclusion.  After all, can you really fault King’s X for putting one of their best songs out for a second time?  Considering they tried, and tried, and tried to catch a break, why give up?  Of course I don’t need to tell you that “Goldilox (Reprise)” was not a hit in 2005, but maybe they should try again in 2020!  The album then closes with “Bam” which is exactly what it sounds like.  Bam!  A crash of instruments…followed by almost three minutes of feedback, noise, and the bizarre.

There is a video included on the first run of the CD, which you can still buy.  “Alone” has girls shaking their hair for no reason.  This video is now on Youtube, of course.

Ogre Tones strikes me as a good album, one that should deliver more on further listens.  However I wonder if the sluggish middle section will be a difficult obstacle.

3.25/5 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)
Part 9 – Best of King’s X (1997)
Part 10 – Tape Head (1998)
Part 11 – POUNDHOUND – Massive Grooves from the Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Doug Pinnick/Jerry Gaskill)
Part 12 – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000)
Part 13 – PLATYPUS – Ice Cycles (2000 Ty Tabor)
Part 14 – Manic Moonlight (2001)
Part 15 – Black Like Sunday (2003)

REVIEW: King’s X – Black Like Sunday (2003)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 15


 

KING’S X – Black Like Sunday (2003 Metal Blade)

After a couple albums that were…well, they were pretty far out, man…King’s X may have needed to get back to basics a little bit.  Mr. Bulbous was undoubtedly a very experimental beast, and then Manic Moonlight introduced the drum loops.  A number of fans had dropped off the train, this one included.  It is only now that I have purchased 2003’s Black Like Sunday.

The concept of the album was pretty simple.  Fans had been begging for Jerry Gaskill, Doug Pinnick, and Ty Tabor to re-release their very first indi album when they were still known as Sneak Preview.  It is estimated that fewer than 500 copies of this album exist, but the band have never been eager to release it again.  Indeed, rumour has it that the band destroyed over half of the original 1000 themselves.  What they chose to do instead was re-write and re-record some of the old Sneak Preview songs, and release them as King’s X.  There is no explanation of this inside the CD, so unless you were paying attention to the press, you might just think this was an ordinary everyday King’s X album.*  Armed with 14 mostly shorter songs, they once again switched gears.

Laying it down right from the start, “Black Like Sunday” kicks rumps and gets ’em shakin’.  Without having a clue what these songs might have originally sounded like, “Black Like Sunday” is admirable for its stock solid rock groove.  Nobody in rock can groove like King’s X, but this is more straight than they normally play it.  Jerry Gaskill is uncharacteristically laying down simple 4/4 drums and Ty has a nice rockin’ riff to hammer out.

“Rock Pile” is…different…takes some getting used to…but once you do?  It’s in your head.  It’s like two songs jammed together.  A weird Van-Halen-esque unmelodic spoken word chunk, welded to a chorus from a corny Beatles song.  On first impression, I thought “This is awful”.  On third listen, it was, “Oh yes, this song!  The heavy one with the catchy chorus…” and I was hooked.  “Danger Zone” is also on the weird side, melding an oddly melodic vocal with a hair metal ballady electric chug.  Much like “Rock Pile”, initial impressions are not good.  Further listenings reveal that these songs stick in the memory, and that Ty’s rich guitar sounds are an absolutely highlight.  His solo on “Danger Zone” is right out of the Neil Young book of awesome.

It has nothing to do with Rush, but “Working Man” rocks at mid-pace with many shades of the 80’s.  “Dreams” has an odd reggae vibe, but grafted onto a heavy detuned King’s X riff.  It’s not the greatest tune and probably the first that really fails to make an impact.  Up next is “Finished” which is a pleasant pop rock tune.  Nothing special once again, but instrumentally King’s X always have something to offer, and this time it’s Doug’s busy bass runs.  Then things do get black like Sunday, on “Screamer”, an exotic vintage-Sabbathy stormer.  Deep Iommi string bends meet tribal drumming meets Doug Pinnick.  It’s a challenging listen but it has plenty to offer.  “Bad Luck” is more down the alley of traditional King’s X, and it kills with its heavy groove.

King’s X have always been capable of tender ballads, so though unremarkable, “Down” will appeal to fans of that side.  In contrast, “Won’t Turn Back” is stuttery chunky heavy metal.  All of these songs have some strangely melodic vocal parts, and “Won’t Turn Back” is like that.  It often feels like a chorus from a pop song has been  transplanted onto a heavy metal song on this album.  It’s one of the factors that makes Black Like Sunday hard to digest on first listen.  At times it’s hard not to ask, “What the hell were they thinking?”

Steering the ship back on course once again, the song “Two” could have been on Tape Head since it has that bass-heavy stripped back kind of sound.  “You’re the Only One” does not sound much like King’s X, but it does sound like quality hard rock.  Maybe even pop punk.  The Beatles harmonies work well here overtop a song that could have been written by Weezer.  I wouldn’t doubt that Rivers wishes he wrote this song!

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The only long song on the album is the incendiary, 11-minute-plus “Johnny”.  Very Rush-like, “Johnny” is smouldering King’s X goodness with a big fat bow on top, so get ready to get down.  Most of the 11 minutes is a long jam, a laid-back one in fact, but just listen to the interplay.  Fantastic stuff.  After an exhausting listen like that, what you really need next is the pop-punk-country-funk of “Save Us”.  Ending the album with a short pop rocker really snaps you back to attention, and then it’s all over.

Assigning a rating to a King’s X album is difficult when you haven’t had years to absorb them and grow into them.  Having said that, Black Like Sunday” makes a good impression.  The songs are adventurous if a bit awkward, and there are enough gems here to warrant a purchase.  Added bonus:  the booklet doubles as a 2003 calendar!  An amusing touch.

3.5/5 stars

*There’s no such thing as an ordinary everyday King’s X album.

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 Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Doug Pinnick/Jerry Gaskill)
Part 12 – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000)
Part 13 – PLATYPUS – Ice Cycles (2000 Ty Tabor)
Part 14 – Manic Moonlight (2001)

REVIEW: King’s X – Manic Moonlight (2001)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 14


Scan_20151107KING’S X – Manic Moonlight (2001 Metal Blade)

Around this time, I stepped off the King’s X train.

A while after this album came out, a friend of mine from London (Ontario) named Edith-Rose came to help paint the new condo and hang out.  As part of the deal I was to take her record shopping in all our decent stores.  She bought a shit-ton of CDs.  From the HMV up in Waterloo that doesn’t exist anymore, to Encore Records, to our own stores, she spent a lot of money that day.  I came home with a few discs as well.  Among them was Manic Moonlight by King’s X.

I bought it because it was used and it was the first time I’d seen it used.  Truthfully, Mr. Bulbous lost me.  Buying their next album didn’t seem a priority.  We took the CD back to my place and gave it a spin.  Edith-Rose liked it, especially the track “Static”.  As for me, “Static” was the only song that stuck out.  I have not listened to the CD in well over a decade.  All I can really remember is that this is when Jerry Gaskill and the band started experimenting with drum loops.  That is not a bad thing, but that is all I can remember about this album.  Reviewing it with fresh ears, let’s have a listen, shall we?

The drum loops opening “Believe” are unlike anything on prior King’s X albums.  Fortunately, the steam-powered real-life Jerry Gaskill comes in soon enough for this funky slam-dunk.  The funk is emphasized by clavinet, and of course Doug Pinnick’s perpetually soulful voice.  This slow funkster is bass-heavy and melodic, with just enough of those heavenly King’s X harmonies.  There ain’t nothin’ wrong with this song, no!  Computer-ish loops open the title track, “Manic Moonlight”, which aside from the modern production isn’t a far stretch from the classic King’s X sound.  The psychedelic side of King’s X is out to play; lush 1960’s hippie vocals over a heavy 2001 rhythm.

There seems to be a theme playing out.  Songs seems to open with loops, every time, and this is becoming a predictable drag.  Fuzzy electronics open “Yeah” which basically a chorus without a song.  It’s a great chorus, and if only it had some more meat on that bass heavy skeleton, it could have been a King’s X classic of the ages.  It is cool to hear King’s X digging deep into the funk; Doug slappin’ da bass as best he can.  The soft sounds of tabla are the loop of choice on the dreamy “False Alarm”.  The production of the day seemed to be to distort Doug’s deep voice, which is a shame.  Anyway, “False Alarm” is a King’s-Beatles-X strawberry field in the sky with diamonds, and it’s just shy of being great.  Very close to the mark but not quite there.

“Static” is just as intense as I remember.  You can hear why it jumped out to Edith-Rose and I years ago.  For the first time on the album, the loops (tabla again) seem to be an integral part of the song rather than just an intro.  Tense and direct, “Static” is bare-bones and absolutely nothing like King’s X of old, and good on them.  Music is not about standing still.  Music is about emotion, and “Static” is not short of those.  Without a doubt, “Static” is the centerpiece of Manic Moonlight, and coincidentally (?) this is at precisely the point where an album would be split between side A and side B….

Down with the funk again on “Skeptical Winds”, plenty of new ground was being broken with this band.  Strangely this song has a vibe similar to a 1994 Kim Mitchell rap-rock song called “Acrimony”; coincidental I’m certain but if you know the song then you can imagine “Skeptical Winds”.  Doug’s spoken word vocals (distorted again, but that’s OK this time) are reminiscent of Kim’s, but the sparse and uber-funky bassline is 100% Doug.  It’s a very different song, but cool.  Although it isn’t loaded to the gills with time changes and riffs like King’s X of yore, it is still a long bomber jam session at almost seven minutes.

Having a knack for ballads, “The Other Side” has some beautiful moments built into it.  It doesn’t hit the ball out of the park, but it has quality and ambition to spare.  “Vegetable” has more cool funk, and importantly a soulful chorus that kills.  “Jenna” has one of the heaviest riffs on the album, but doesn’t stand out…which is a shame as it is the last song.  The final track, “Water Ceremony” is a joke track, closing the album on a burp!  That’s…odd!

Of note: the always lucky Japanese fans got two bonus tracks.  These were longer versions of “Believe” and “Vegetable”.

Manic Moonlight was a surpise to revisit, and with only a few sluggish moments (“Jenna” among them), it’s certainly a lot better than I remember.

3.5/5 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)
Part 9 – Best of King’s X (1997)
Part 10 – Tape Head (1998)
Part 11 – POUNDHOUND – Massive Grooves from the Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Doug Pinnick/Jerry Gaskill)
Part 12 – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000)
Part 13 – PLATYPUS – Ice Cycles (2000 Ty Tabor)

REVIEW: King’s X – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 12


Scan_20151017KING’S X – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000 Metal Blade)

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.

Album highlights:

  • 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.

3/5 stars

Scan_20151017 (2)

PLATYPUS_0001Next 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)

REVIEW: PoundHound – Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 11


Scan_20151022 (2)POUNDHOUND – Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Metal Blade)

You have to give Doug Pinnick credit for many things, and one of them is his prolific musical output.  The same year as King’s X Tape Head album, Doug released this solo project under the band name PoundHound.   Massive Grooves (the shortened title) featured Doug playing all instruments except drums.  His King’s X bandmate Jerry Gaskill, and Shannon Larkin of Ugly Kid Joe helped out in the percussion department.  The result isn’t that dissimilar from Tape Head itself.  As the title suggests, these are indeed massive grooves.

The Reverend Hershall Happiness is your host for this heavy celebration.  “Jangle”, the opening song, isn’t that much different from the groovy side of King’s X at all, and just listen to that bass!  Doug lets it ring low, and boy oh boy does it sound good.  “Jangle” is as catchy as it is groovy.  “Shake” puts the emphasis strictly on groove.  “Everybody, shake your thing,” sings the Reverend.  It probably surprises nobody that Doug is a good enough guitar player to nail some cool solos too.  Is there anything he can’t do?  (Just the drums, apparently!)

The songs are mostly short and to the point.  Don’t expect the progressive metal of King’s X.  Do not think you’re getting simply good time party groovers either.  A great song called “Friends” for example is pretty blunt.  “Kevin is a razorhead, he says the cutting numbs the pain.”  Just like King’s X, Doug is not afraid to paint a stark picture of some parts of real life that we often want to bury.  “My world just got darker,” he sings on “Darker”.  If you were expecting an entire album of good times, this is not it.  But good rock and roll?  Absolutely.   The direction is more or less the same from track to track.  It’s heavy groove based rock with the best soul singer in metal.  The variety that you get from King’s X (and their multiple singers) is not present here, but if you like Doug then you will love PoundHound.

Doug’s bass and guitar sound amazing (you will rarely hear such a full bass sound), but the drums are fairly dry and a little thin (compared to the last few King’s X discs).  This does not hamper enjoyment of the disc.  The songs and sound are consistent enough.

Best tracks:  “Jangle”, “Shake”, “PsychoLove”, “Friends”, “Hey”.  Only semi-stinker in the bunch:  “Supersalad” (too much grungy grunting vocalizing).

Doug released a second album as PoundHound, before shortening his name to Dug and putting out proper solo albums under his own name.  For all intents and purposes though, Massive Grooves is the first Doug Pinnick solo album and a damn good one it is.

3.5/5 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)
Part 9 – Best of King’s X (1997)
Part 10 – Tape Head (1998)

REVIEW: King’s X – Tape Head (1998)

quiz

Complete studio albums (and more!), part 10


Scan_20151016KING’S X – Tape Head (1998 Metal Blade)

You never knew what you’d get with a new King’s X album.  Monstrous musicianship, intelligent lyrics, and integrity certainly; but they like to fly in all sorts of directions.  Tape Head, following the sweet pop rock of Ear Candy, was a monolithic slab compared to that earlier album.  In many regards Tape Head is a brother record to Doug Pinnick’s solo project PoundHound (more on them later).  The focus here is the groove.

Witness, the first song “Groove Machine”.  “Welcome to the groove machine,” sings Doug, letting his bass lay it down.  “Music oh music, such a funky thing. The closer you get, the deeper it means.”  He’s right.  Ty Tabor lays on a heavy wah-wah for his guitar solo, but not to be left out drummer Jerry Gaskill gets a bit of a solo too.  It’s simple, straightforward and unpretentious.  “Groove Machine” has but one purpose.

“Fade” continues the heavy groove direction, slower now, and with Ty Tabor taking the vocals in the chorus.  From the ultra-heavy bass to Jerry Gaskill’s beats, everything hits you exactly in the right spot.  A break in the groove occurs on “Over and Over”, a Doug ballad with sincere soul.  When Ty joins him in the chorus, the song becomes timeless.  Heavy again again but with the same kind of powerful chorus is “Ono”.  When you have an album as single-minded as Tape Head, you tend to grasp onto standout melodies like this even more.  King’s X let their 1960’s flag fly a little bit on “Cupid”, which doesn’t let up in the groove department, but does have shades of their hippie melodic bent.  That’s an appropriate way to lead into “Ocean”, a mellow Ty Tabor song that sounds like Ear Candy, but turned up to 11.  Doug’s hella-sonic bass just crushes, even though you could fairly call this song a ballad!  The difference between this and Ear Candy is all in the production.  Tape Head is self-produced and you can tell they just wanted to hear everything heavier and lower!

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Pure ear candy is “Little Bit of Soul” which sounds like it should.  Heavy rock knows no singer with as much soul as Doug Pinnick.  He even brings soul into “Hate You”, which is pretty straightforward in the lyric department!  Then “Higher Than God” is one of the mightiest choruses on the album, thanks again to Doug, with Ty and Jerry backing him.  Only King’s X can infuse R&B with their rock the way that they do.  Listen to Doug’s low vocal crooning on “Happy”.  Then he turns it up, lets it loose.  There is only one Doug Pinnick and he is a rock and soul treasure.

You might not expect the slight twang that starts off “Mr. Evil” but like most King’s X songs, it mutates into different forms.  (Nice steel guitar solo by Ty.)  If you were craving just one more killer chorus before it’s all over, then “World” delivers that and some heavy-ass grooves too.  The highlight here is a blazing rock n’ roll guitar solo, very different for Ty.  That’s not the last song though; there’s a surprise at the end that defies description except to say it’s pretty funny!

Tape Head is an impressive monument of rock indeed.  It bleeds pure gobs of soul, and it rocks the brain really, really hard.  It’s slimmer in the catchy melodies stockpile, but the relentlessness of direction draws you back in for another listen.  Some may lament that with Tape Head, their progressive metal past seems long behind them.  I think that was road they already turned from, with 1994’s Dogman.  They transformed into a heavier band, with echoes of their past but a sound that blends it all up.  The songs are not as distinct, but the groove is king on Tape Head.

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)
Part 9 – Best of King’s X (1997)