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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

(the) Kingbees - s/t~ & The Big Rock*

Name: (the) Kingbees
Albums: s/t~, The Big Rock*
Years: 1980~, 1981*
Style: Rockabilly, Oldies, Roots Rock
Similar Bands: The Blasters, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Stray Cats, Buddy Holly, Beatles, Elvis Presley & Chuck Berry, etc. The Wonders, Squeeze*
"One-Word" Review: upright bass pompadour
Based Out Of: Southern California
Label: RSO, Polygram
s/t~ - cover & record
s/t~ - back & record
The Big Rock* - Cover & Record
The Big Rock* - Back & Record

S/T (1980)~
  1. Sweet, Sweet Girl to Me 2:21
  2. My Mistake 2:49
  3. Man Made for Love 3:52
  4. No Respect 3:35
  5. Fast Girls 1:58/
  6. Shake-Bop 2:31
  7. Once is Not Enough 2:27
  8. Ting-A-Ling 2:28
  9. Follow Your Heart 2:15
  10. Everybody's Gone 5:13
The Big Rock (1981)*
  1. The Big Rock 3:33
  2. She Ain't My Baby 2:16
  3. She Can't "Make-Up" Her Mind 2:39
  4. How Can I Love You 3:27
  5. Let Myself Go 2:13
  6. Stick It Out! 2:30 /
  7. Right Behind You Baby 2:22
  8. Wishing 1:54
  9. Boppin' The Blues 2:43
  10. Burnin' The Town Tonight 2:11
  11. The Ugly Truth 2:50
  12. Rockin' My Life Away 3:52
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0~*

Members & Other Bands:
Mark Ettle - Engineer~*
Rich Fitzgerald - Producer~*
David J Holman - Engineer & Producer~*
Rex Roberts - Drums, Vox~*
Michael Rummans - Bass, Vox~*
Jamie James - Vox, Guitar~* (Bob Seger, DQ & The Sharks, Steppenwolf,
Bernie Grundman - Mastering~*
Glenn Ross - Art Direction & Design~*
Peter Martin - Cover Photo~*
Craig Dietz - Back Photo~
Ron Slenzak - Back Photos*
Tim Owens - Art Direction*

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of them. But from the big bold titles and black and white new wave / pop cover phots, I'd assume they were a garage revival of sorts, reminding me of the MC5 or even the A's. It is a blatent style of a band that carries with it a minimal but experienced image of not just playing the music, but being the music too, and knowing all about how to put on a show. The photos on the back of both albums only further support this image and idea.

Album Review: So this singer has also played with Steppenwolf as well as two actor/band projects with first Harry Dean Stanton and later, Dennis Quaid. The band The Kingbees were in the Dick Clark movie "The Idolmaker."

“Sweet, Sweet Girl to Me” begins exactly like any Wesley Willis song with the country-style bass. But the style over all is Buddy Holly / Roy Orbison country rock. Basically, rockabilly with a Beatles back beat drum section.
“My Mistake” begins with a bass line that reminds me of the B-52’s first album (as well as Midnight Oil “Beds are Burning” which also sounds just like Weezer’s “hashpipe” song). The singing has a simple songwriter vibe, but it is funneled through Chuck Berry guitar style.
“Man Made for Love” has an introduction section that is slow and building, like the foreword of a novel. Then the song launches into a basic honky tonk pub rock song with a fast bass line and dramatic breaks in the music to emphasize and punctuate each verse. This song for some reason reminded me of Soul Asylum, but I can’t really figure out why. It ends with a nice slowed down version of the main hook.
“No Respect” has the first few bass notes that make me think that the song “On Broadway” is going to start next. Then the rockabilly guitar is added and it is definitely not the same song, although the bass line never wavers, and the guitar even mimics the familiar hook. The vocals are given a little more leniency and waver more nervously than before, which is a nice touch. The end of the song is a repetition of the title that reminds me of Elvis Costello, specifically “Accidents Will Happen’s” ending.
“Fast Girls” borders on punk with its speed and nervousness of lyrics. But the instrumentation and tone of the vocals is decidedly rockabilly. And there is more vocal play in the repetitive uttering of the title, similar to “No Respect”, but done much better.

“Shake-Bop” feels like an early Beatles song done in a country western style thanks to its the guitar and bass production. It is a solid song with time changes, two or three sections tied together seamlessly. But it makes the weakest of the hooks the most repetitive. This was a popular style where a nonsense word phrase becomes a title only meaningful in the energy it generates.
“Once is Not Enough” is another simple song that feels like it is composed of two sections from songs we’ve already visited on this album. The one difference is that the main guitar is tuned to a Beach Boys style, even if the vocals are more nervous and jittery, something akin to rockabilly.
“Ting-A-Ling” is a slow Elvis Presley style song (mixed with Buddy Holly, who is the song's author) with wavering vocals and the theme of how love affects the heart. For the most part this is a slow country rock song
“Follow Your Heart” starts with a near perfect parody of early Beatles, then the song simplifies itself and the song becomes much more like a Chuck Berry song, thinking “Maybellene” or “Sweet Little 16.” That is not trying ignore the similarities in the two mentioned artists.
“Everybody's Gone” ends the album nicely with one final dance/jumping number, which is also themed with an empty party. This has a real good “My Aim Is True” - Elvis Costello feel to it, but lacks the refine nature Elvis has with his singing style and meaningful, emotional lyrics. There is a long drum instrumental section in the song around the 2 min marker, which extends into a jam section with each instrument taking a turn. It comes back in about 2 minutes later with vocals declaring that he wants to rock & roll. Now this is something I never quite grew attached to: songs that reference the style of music they are trying to portray. It just seems too obvious.

“The Big Rock” starts off the second album with a surf rock bass line. It is more of the same Rockabilly and Roots rock mixed with a little surf and all oldies rock and roll influenced. Again, the singer is asking for a little rock and roll, which still seems like he’s out of ideas of what to sing about. But maybe it is OK here, because this whole song is about big rock songs.
“She Ain't My Baby” picks up more of a surf rock feel at the outset. And in this song, he says about rocking away blues. More music genre dropping. I like the chorus of this song. It breaks the mold that the verse sets, and quiets it down a little while bringing a nervous attention.
“She Can't "Make-Up" Her Mind” is a quick sung skiffle song that has the momentum and rhythm of a train. It is minimal, and a little quiet, but it prepares the listener that it might explode at any moment. The musical break is highlighted with the rockabilly guitar that quiets down for the lyrics to return.
“How Can I Love You” reminds me of a slow Squeeze song. In fact, the songwriting here reminds me a lot of Glenn Tillbrook. This is generally a slower song, not a dance number, but definitely not a slow dance either.
"Let Myself Go” feels like a second Squeeze song, but this one is much more fun and rooted more in the classic rock and roll. The rockabilly guitar is discarded for a much more mainstream pop rock guitar. And the end of the song features a chorus of echoing voices in the background and hand claps.
“Stick It Out!” begins with a rolling drum and a surf bass beat, with a return to the rockabilly style. This song has too short of a repetitive hook for my taste, and I am not a fan of the way he plays with the vocals when he gets room to let loose. It sounds tired and a little forced

“Right Behind You Baby” is straight up oldies rock with a lot of accented breaks in the verse, and a rolling melodic bridge right into the chorus. The production gives it a little more oomph than the original style, but the genre is represented very authentically here.
“Wishing” continues with the authentic oldies style of a love ballad (written by Buddy Holly). This song reminds me of the Beatles “Michelle”, especially with the way they say “wishing,” it almost mimics “Michelle” exactly.
“Boppin' The Blues” could only be defined as pub rockabilly. It is a straight up bar song, talking about the music genre and how people dance to it. The end of the song sings “rhythm and blues,” kinda ironically, to the exact rhytm and blues style it sings about.
“Burnin' The Town Tonight” follows up very well carrying authentic pub rockabilly through on this album. It features an all over the place, rollercoaster bass line and the specific style of rockabilly electric guitar both of which drive the song on.
“The Ugly Truth” strays away from pub rock with harmonized vocals in the chorus and a less grimy and more poppy beat. The way he sings the title in the chorus reminds me of Matthew Sweet’s song of the same name. It is a song that has three distinct sections that could repeat interlocking ad infinitum.
“Rockin' My Life Away” is the perfect ending song, summarizing what the band is about. It is not too much in any one genre, but it displays characteristics of each. Its not a pub rock song, but it could be. It is not a rockabilly song, but it could be. It is not a surf song, but…etc. It is a straightforward, driving pop song with a variety of influences and production elements to cover all the bases.

Stand Out Tracks: "Fast Girls" ~

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