Sunday, November 20, 2005

Kix-Midnight Dynamite

Okay, I chose this one because they are a local band. Whether you loved them or hated them, you still knew who Kix were if you lived in the mid-Atlantic area during the mid to late 1980's. The local radio station played them as much as say Motley Crue or Ratt and plenty of people wondered why they didn't get more popular. I would guess that most large cities had a metal band or two back in the 80's that people around the area liked, but they never made it outside of that area. Kix were on a major label (Atlantic) throughout the 80's so they certainly had a better opportunity than many others to get big, but it never happened. I will also touch briefly on that issue here today as well. Kix released their debut in 1981 and I still think it is their best album, it's nothing great however it is fun. Their second album Cool Kids came out in 1983 and it could best be described as bizarre. It's sounds like middle schoolers doing something, but not really music more like just filling space and time. I believe Beavis and Butt-head showed a clip from the title track and said something like "If these are the cool kids then I would hate to see the un-cool kids". I think that about sums up that album. Then around late 1984 Kix had an ad in the back Hit Parader every month and they were working on a new album. So Summer of 1985 rolls around and Midnight Dynamite is released. The local radio station played the entire album the week it came out and that's where I first heard it. My initial reaction was that it was decent, but nothing great. There was a lot more fire behind Whiteman's vocals then there was behind the music and the vocals still had some real problems. I think my opinion of this album did drop over the next year or so just due to being turned off by people who overrated the album. I have not heard this one in it's entirety since at least 1988. So it's time to take a listen and see if this one explodes or just fizzles like some cheap sparklers.

The title track comes on and it's fairly standard hard rock fare, but the music has enough of an edge to make it stand out a little. The chorus is a little stale, but not so much that it's a real problem. Overall not a bad opener. The next song title sounds like the band were desperate to squeeze as many colors as possible into one title as it's Red Hot (Black & Blue) . Anyway we hear first, but not the last example of Steve Whiteman's ability to be an annoying vocalist. When Whiteman sings straight then he is normally okay, but too often he does what I call the "robot voice" and often times this in done as a group chorus as well. Just a very deliberate monotone that sounds well, like a a robot. Bang Bang (Balls Of Fire) comes on and the music seems to take a back seat to the vocals and that's not necessarily a good thing here. It's not a bad song, but overall it's just kind of there and there is no real effort to make it anything else. Layin' Rubber comes on at a good medium fast pace and you can just tell that the band is very comfortable with this song. Everything just seems to click here and it's a good, fun song. The next song is Walkin' Away and it's very different from anything they have done here so far. It overall has a pop sound, but it just kind of sits there for a while and by the time the pace picks up, it just doesn't do enough to be very interesting. Not a bad song, but just nothing great going on either.
Scarlet Fever comes on and it's one of those songs where the vocals have some energy, but the music is a little too far in the background. Certainly not boring, but just one of those where you think that it's not bad, but it's hardly something new. Then Cry Baby is next and Steve Whiteman has his voice close to the robot mode again. It's an okay song, the main riff is decent and the song doesn't overstay it's welcome. Next up is the big single Cold Shower. Well, big around here anyway, they actually still play this on 98 Rock out of Baltimore. At this point in the album, I do think that wasn't a bad choice for a single. It rocks a little and it is catchy enough. Steve Whiteman shows some enthusiasm here that I wish he showed more often because it's a plus when done right. Lie Like A Rug comes on and right away I can tell that Kix are completely playing to their strengths here. The music is simple, but moves along and the title and lyrics are silly, but not overly annoying. It's a fun song and doesn't try to be anything else so it works. The last is called Sex and when I was 15, this was the song that all of the other 15 year boys would talk about. They would talk about how cool it was, well it wasn't cool then and it hasn't aged well either. I think the album would better off without this song as it's just lame and very hard to get through.

My verdict is that it's a decent album, but that doesn't completely sum up how I feel. It is far from spectacular, but it is probably their second best album. I think it is slightly better than I gave it credit for back in 85 and I mean just slightly. The reason isn't that I now like the music more, but it's more due to the fact that I respect them for sticking to their sound. It would have been easy for the band or the label to push towards changing their sound to something that was more popular. I know a number of other bands at the time received urging from their label to become more accessible, but Kix stuck to the overall sound they had created and I applaud them for it. However, I think their sound didn't appeal to a lot of people and that is why they never got that big. I have heard and read a lot of comments about people who can't seem to understand why Kix didn't get more popular. I think it had to do the music not being heavy enough and the vocals being a bit odd at times. Kix went on to do two more albums on Atlantic and they got some radio airplay in 1988. Then they were off Atlantic and they did a live album and eventually one more studio album. Today they get together to do a few shows a year between their other projects.
There you have it and I cannot beleive that I only get to do one more 1985 review then it will be a new year and I will start dusting off those 1986 albums.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievably good album... not quite as good as Blow My Fuse, as you said, but outstanding all the same. The title track kicks ass!

7:00 AM  

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