Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Ear Candy: Kix

Maryland's Kix (no relation to the cereal) weren't the most popular band in the 80's hair metal revolution, but they certainly deserved to be up there with the likes of Motley Crue, Poison, Tesla, Ratt, Cinderella and the other big names. But the music business is fickle and if the stars don't align perfectly, then even the most talented musicians can go unnoticed. [Fun aside: Kix spent a lot of time touring relentlessly up and down the East Coast early in their career. Rumor has it that Poison used to go see Kix play live all the time when Poison was still located in PA (before they moved out to LA and hit it big) and actually completely ripped off Kix's stage act, specifically Poison singer Bret Michaels stole many of his moves from Kix singer Steve Whiteman.]

Kix wasn't entirely unrecognized though as most hardcore metal fans who came of age in the 80's at least know of (if not totally love) them. Also, they did have a minor breakthrough hit in 1988/89 with the anti-suicide ballad "Don't Close Your Eyes" off their excellent fourth album, Blow My Fuse.

Kix released five quality albums in a row. Two of them, Midnite Dynamite and Blow My Fuse, are "essential" if you are a fan of the 80's hair metal scene. I'll spare you all the boring bio information about who produced the records, who they toured with, blah, blah, blah....all you need to know is that if you are a fan of bands like Cinderella and Tesla and lesser known (but still great) bands from the era like Badlands (someday I'll do a post about Badlands criminally overlooked self-titled debut) and Dangerous Toys and hard rock titans Aerosmith and AC/DC, then this band is for you. Their first two albums, Kix and Cool Kids, have a different sound from the albums that followed them....there is a hint of 80's new wave/alternative incorporated into the hard rock, but they are still infectious, catchy albums with some of the best songs from the band's catalog. [Fun fact: Brad Divens of Wrathchild America (another underrated band I'll do a post about someday) was one of the guitarists on Cool Kids before the original guitarist Ronnie "10/10" Younkins" returned to the fold.] Their fifth album, Hotwire, hit right when grunge was exploding, so it sounded a bit dated at the time of its release, but in retrospect it is a nice continuation of the sound started on Midnite Dynamite and Blow My Fuse.

So, start with Blow My Fuse and Midnite Dynamite and then take it from there. You won't be disappointed. And the band is currently out touring as part of the overwhelming onslaught of "reunions" of bands from the 80's era, so you might even be able to catch them live (I spent one New Year's Eve at a Kix concert in Fairfax, VA and it is still one of the best NYE celebrations I've ever had....fantastic live band).

"Don't Close Your Eyes" from Blow My Fuse:

"Cold Shower" from Midnite Dynamite:

"Get It While It's Hot" from Blow My Fuse:

"Cool Kids" from "Cool Kids":

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