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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

(the) Fabulous Fondas - Kingpins of Love

Name: (the) Fabulous Fondas
Album: Kingpins of Love (EP)
Year: 1987
Style: New Wave Indie-Rock
Similar Bands: A's, Dead Milkmen, Ween, Oingo Boingo, Mr. Bungle, Madness
"One Word" Review: Silly Neurotic Pop
Based Out Of: Philadelphia, Pa
Label: LunchBeat Records
Kingpins of Love: Cover & Record
Kingpins of Love: Back & Record

Kingpins of Love (1987)
  1. Precious Love Boat 3:06
  2. Nervous 2:28
  3. Motzart (Thrashed on Classics) 1:59
  4. True Confessions 3:17
Album Rating (1-10): 9.5

Members & Other Bands:
Brian McGillin - Guitar, Backing Vox
Peter McCoubrey - Bass, Backing Vox (Hooligans, Erinn Flynn)
Rocco Sacco - Vox, Front & Back Covers (Ambush Bugs)
William Blake Fergusson - Lead Guitar, Backing Vox (Burn Witch Burn)
Larry Povlow - Drums
Kurt Schaffenberger - Cover Image
Michael McGettigan - Back Images
John Wicks - Recorded, Mixed, Engineered
Dan McCay - Recorded, Mixed, Engineered

Unknown-ness: I had never heard of these guys when I got the record. It must have been 15 years ago now, that my dad gave me this record. In my mind, I made up the story that people were cleaning out the storage area at his work here in Philly, and they found this record...or perhaps one of the guys from the band actually worked at the Mutual Funds company. Or there was a guy at his office who knew I liked music, and would give my dad tapes of odd music (Half Japanese, Butt Trumpet) for me to check out...perhaps it was from him. Anyway, it seemed interesting with the "silk screened" looking print job, and the collage artwork with words everywhere. The pictures on the back look make them look like a silly punk band, so I was excited to hear this slice of Philly history.

Album Review: I have to say that it feels like I've been listening to these 4 songs since I began liking music, so I love them for what they are, and as a complete whole. This is why I had to post them all as “stand out tracks.” I cannot pick one. They all show a different great aspect of the music, with True Confessions being the most straightforward song. I've read a little about them, all from other band web sites, (like their often partners, the Dead Milkmen) but there is not much about them on-line. This is another band that I cry for your help, especially since they were local to me. Were there other albums? Either way, here it goes.

The album starts off with a bit of a western feel, mixed with Adam & The Ants sound in “Precious Love Boat” After the intro, it picks up with very carnival esq guitars. There are many, many breaks in the tempo and the styles overlap like crazy. The vocals range from deep and weird to nasally and high, and still cartoony weird. The middle section is a great marching bit, and it reminds me of something along the lines of Mr. Bungle to Oingo Boingo, if at least for the theatrical vibe. The surf guitar breakdown is great and plays along so well with the bass that it is impossible to not enjoy. The song ends with a crazy laugh you might expect to hear from Madness. “Nervous” contains exactly that sense of urgency. The building guitars and bass create a dark and pulsating rhythm. It is a quick song, and the guitar work is perfectly placed. The vocals are again weird and cartoonish, but they do carry the nervous energy and tension that the song conveys.

“Mozart (Thrashed on Classics)” is cartoonish from start to finish, which is fitting, because most of the great cartoons featured classical music over the action sequences. The lyrics over it are fast and all over the place like good punk should be. It reminds me of “The Famous Polka” by They Might Be Giants; where it feels like they just put words to an instrumental song. Finishing up is the “mainstream” song of the quartet, “True Confessions.” The beginning sounds like it is going to launch into Nervous again, but the song becomes upbeat with the guitars and bass, and has a bouncy surf-guitar ska beat. The vocals are steadier, which is not necessarily a great thing, but it works because the song is not all over the place. There are many tempo sections, but these meld together very cohesively, and follow a natural order.

Stand Out Track:
Precious Love Boat
True Confessions

Hooligans - site


  1. Larry Povlow11/11/08, 1:45 PM

    Hello there and thanks for the nice review of this record. I'm Larry Povlow, the drummer on this pre-historic disc. Not dead yet, though 21 years older now. I was in the band from 1986 - 1989 and there were no other records during that time, though I remember the guys planning to do another one at the time I left. Lost touch with the other folks in the band years ago, but I'd welcome all comments. I can be reached at povpic@msn.com - thanks, Larry.

  2. Hi. Rocco Sacco, here. The band had one previous recording, a 10-song demo tape called "Sex Picnic" after the instrumental of the same name. I don't have a copy. Interestingly, the master for "SP" is in the hands of Jonny Earthshoe (Superchunk)and Mickey Melchiondo (Ween). Subsequent to "Kingpins", we did an eight-song tape called, boringly enough, "Eight Original Hits" {Original title? "Five Fondas, No Waiting"}. I have a box or two of this one, if I can just find it. Thanks for all the good words. It's about time someone remembered what was once "Philadelphia's Best-Known Least-Heard Band".

    1. Rocco ! I remember you & the fantastic music! I was looking around on line to see if your 10 song cassette got converted to digital format. Think the ex took it. Did I miss a gig in January? Bmheston@gmail.

  3. Hello there this is Todd Yoder, the drummer who replaced Larry Povlow. Rocco, if you are out there I think it is time for a reunion. All of the other members are still out there playing except for Brian McGillin. Shoot me an e-mail if interested. TYoder4@yahoo.com

  4. Hey Larry/Todd/Rocco, thanks for checking this review out! I would so love to see you guys get together in some incarnation and play out in Philly. Just saw the Dead Milkmen play at that Human BBQ frat party thing a few weeks ago, and they still put on an amazing show. Your turn! - ShepRitz

  5. Hey Rocco! Get in touch with me...your presence is sought at an upcoming Temple News reunion.

    Your pal,
    Jay Schwartz

  6. I had a copy of Sex Picnic back in my HH days...lent it to a friend and never saw it again. I have been searching for it ever since. Let me know if anyone digs up a copy!!!!!

  7. Gimme, gimme Sex Picnic...found a copy of the liner notes in an otherwise empty box. Cool graphic, if I do say so, myself...which I do. So, there.

  8. I have Sex Picnic somewhere but wow this one is got me back to the 80's tonight...

    Sigh.... I love me some Fonda's

  9. Awesome, Jo-Ann! Dig out that tape and dub the heck out of it, pah-leeze? ~Diane

  10. Phrumpster is a Fanda forever !

  11. I have the tape.

  12. Great show at the Ardmore Cabaret opening up for Phish! Got that tape somewhere!

  13. Rocco Sacco6/8/12, 2:31 AM

    You can hear "Sex Picnic" here:
    You can hear "Kingpins of Love" here:
    You can hear "5ive Fondas, No Waiting! {formerly known as '8 Original Hits'}" here:
    There's even a crude live tape called "Live From Jeff's Garage" here:

    I want to thank the guy who wrote this blog for getting the ball rolling.
    I am Rocco Sacco and I thank you. I have spoken.

  14. Rocco, Thanks for posting all the links. I've been a fan of "kingpins" for a while, and I'm real excited to hear more. The music style is one of my favorites. I only wish I could have seen a show from you guys, I imagine the energy was amazing...any chance in the future?

    1. Rocco Sacco8/30/12, 8:12 PM

      Man, I hope so.

    2. So, tha A's put on one heck-of-a reunion show last weekend...perhaps you guys could be next?...Seriously, what needs to happen for this to happen?

  15. so, so pleased to hear this again. i got my copy from a tampa dollar bin on my first record buying trip once i had a car at college. listened to 'mozart' over and over. the chicken intro cracks me up as much as it did then. thanks LOTS!

  16. Somewhere I have a homespun demo tape of The AVant-Cool Ambush bugs. It was a tape of a tape. If I find it, I'll try to digitize it.

  17. GOIN to Hawaii Hawaii !!!

  18. Goin to HAWAII hawaii Hawaii! !!!

  19. Ohhhhhhh I will forever be a Fanda......