Rockin Roll Dynamite - Kevin K (Full Breach Kicks)
Mr Prolific is back - and for the last time with his French band The Real Kool Kats. It seems the demands of incessant touring and putting out four albums a year (without any diminution of quality) convinced everyone it was time to de-convene. While that’s a pity, this album is a fine postscript that stays true to their collective Kool Kats creed of dirty street punk rock delivered with the precision of a well-oiled switchblade.
Mr K hisself slips behind the kit for almost half the tunes but the core of this is a return to the familiar line-up of twin guitars, bass and drums, with the band leader handling vocals in his own distinctive style. If you don’t know what the deal is, this is as good as anywhere to start. Kevin K sits firmly at the place where punk-glam meets street punk-sleaze. Mostly straight-up and occasionally on the rocks, it packs a wallop that’s on a par with anyone else staking this turf.
While the focus was on working in Europe, I reckon Kevin K’s music became more abrasive. The melodic touches of his past records with his ‘80s crew, the Road Vultures, are played down on “Rockin Roll Dynamite” is a musical world away from the solo “Magic Touch” album of the early ‘90s. The grit’s most evident on the title track "Lie in a Ditch", where a grinding rhythm locks in with the savage meshing of six string gears.
"Life in a Ditch" does its level best to simulate same with stun-volume sustain guitars and abjectly simple lyrics. On others, like “Going Nowhere Fast”, there’s a renewed commitment to a Ramonesian wall-of-sound with a light dusting of vocal harmonies – although without da Bruddas’ latter-day speedcore pacings. Now, what’s the saying about taking the boy out of New York…?
Native New Yorker that he is, it’s no surprise then that Mr K and (US) band recently hosted a Johnny Thunders tribute night at a venue in his current home state of Florida. The Thunders association is a blessing or a curse, but the message here is that the guy holds up in his own right, while still carrying a musical torch for J. Genzales.
For you, "I was a Teenage Pig" is a cute song title, but for Kevin K it's a rocking throwback to Staten Island. "Hillbilly Man" incorporates scarifying slide guitar to drop a hint that Kevin's been borrowing country records from his mate Brian "Trash Brats" Oblivion's collection. "Old School" takes it away from the backroads and back to the streets with a driving metal feel and a declaration of proud rock dog curmudgeon 'tood.
Ya gets 10 originals and two covers for your money (one of the latter a sprawling but still potent regurgitation of “Death Trip”, the Stooges’ ode to shuffling off this mortal coil). I'm not counting "She", a co-write with his late brother Alan K reprised from Road Vultures days. There’s also a hidden extra that veers into shockabilly territory. Like Johnny T, Kevin K knows from what side of the ditch his musical inspirations sprang, and launches into a roughhouse cover of 1950s Louisiana rock and roll pioneer Paul Gayten’s “For You My Love”. Rockin'!