Saturday, September 25, 2010

At War With Chuck Eddy: aka: Kix's 1st album

I'm gonna start posting a few reviews of records here. Just to look at some things I've missed out on over the years. The good, the bad and the awful. Here's a record that at times covers (mostly) the latter 2. However, I need to first cover where I first heard about this album.

Kix - Kix (Atlantic, 1981)
I first read about Kix in Hit Parader in some small article about "upcoming hot rockers" or another equally dumb feature. At least it wasn't another piece on Motley Crue, Ratt or main writer Andy Secher whining about "the speed metal sweepstakes". A few months later I saw the video around 11pm on Headbanger's Ball for the song "Midnight Dynamite" and thought it was pretty good. In recent years, I've heard it every so often on his show on my friend Big Chief's show on KZSU .

The Kix album show above was recommended to me by another KZSU DJ who (like me), loves to hate the "so dumb it's almost good" book Stairway to Hell: The 500 Best Heavy Metal Albums in the Universe. The author Chuck Eddy is a hack that was wrote for "cool critic" places like Creem, Creem Metal (their short-lived/sometimes decent 80's spin off mag), and the Village Voice. Eddy's book is chock full of insane ideas on what he thinks is "heavy metal".

Specifically, Eddy's elastic definition includes everything from the pop of Teena Marie the party rap of the Beastie Boys - License to Ill  to Bryan Fucking Adams'- Reckless to the experimental guitar works of Glen Branca  to the WTFery of Celtic Frost's Cold Lake. Yet, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and every NWOBHM band is excluded! His take on NWOBHM is simply: "Seems those fickle Brits traded in their porkpie hats for leather and chains, and there was suddenly this 'New Wave' of metal overseas, all the bands (Saxon, Samson [spelled Sampson in the book], Marseille, Girl, Diamondhead) that everybody forgot about real quick, plus Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, who either inexplicably or explicably (depends on your point of view) would thrive forever."

A lot of this is lazy journalism making some odd-ball claim that, oh, 2nd wave ska musicians suddenly traded in their Desmond Dekker for UFO and started playing riffs? Sure, no one ever cared about "Diamondhead" ['cause Diamond Head's 2 words, duder] in the "big picture". Yet some bands called Metallica and Megadeth (who DH opened for on the 2004 UK tour) always did. They're even in his book (Metallica, 5 times and Megadeth...huh? Nope not at all. Saaaad!).

The book is filled with other insanities. This album I'm about to get into was in the Top 500 -  at Number Five! Just behind #2 Gn'R's - Appetite of Destruction  and #1 Fred Zep's - Bozo record at #1 (*kack*). A small consolation, from Eddy who says that GN'R: "owes more to Janis Joplin and Bo Diddley than to Deep Purple. 'Metal's where records stores filed it." True but, "owes more to Hanoi Rocks/Rose Tattoo and Nazereth and then waters it down" would be be more apt.

Anyway, on to KIX.  These Baltimore cornballs jump around a lot. "Atomic Bomb" would've been at home on the first Ratt EP complete with Stephen Pearcy/Robyn Crosby-like harmonies. So far, so good. Then it's the utter wanky stadium rock  of "Love At First Sight" so clich├ęd that even Ted Nugent would take a step back.

The weird skinny-tie new wave of "Heartache" is just confusing. Then they go back to the awful Sunset Strip by way of B'more tunes: "Poison" and "Contrary Mary" are iffy at best. The AC/DC worship: "The Itch" is pretty pointless. "Kix Are For Kids" is fast but chee-zee. I can do without choruses used as crutches - which is essentially the bulk of 80's pop. The Cheap Trick-like "The Kid" is pretty choice but it soon falls over into cock-rock right before it hits the chorus. Then it turns into a mess of slick harmonies and fluff that becomes the hair farmer gold standard (ex: Jackyl, Trixter, etc). The playing on the final track "Yeah Yeah Yeah" is OK. But really do we NEED another tune about "woman hunting"? Much less one that invokes even more Led Zep/Aerosmith ball-stroking AND mentions puking 'ludes?

Overall, it has a few sparks but no dynamite even for being ahead of their time. Although "ahead of it's time" isn't always stands the test of time like G.I.S.M. or Cromagon. Alright, you just read an entire Kix review now go listen to Master's Hammer, Beyond Dawn or Electric Wizard or...