Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Life Is Not a Nightmare But It Doesn't Match My Dreams

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My brain might tell me otherwise, but there was still plenty of interesting hardcore to listen to in the mid-80's, especially when the straight edge bands started pumping life back into the scene around '85/'86 (until the whole Youth Crew thing got really dumb a few years later, but that's a whole 'nother story). But if you were a kid who every so often wanted to ROCK and still stay "hardcore", there was almost nothing but junk out there. The Boston bands, primarly DYS and SSD, had turned "going metal" into a joke; whenever one of the California punk bands, like Channel 3 or Bad Religion, slowed the tempos down they just ended up sounding like pussies; Decry's "rock" album, "Japanese", was one of the worst pieces of crap I'd ever heard; and when 7 Seconds brought their "New Wind" shit to Connecticut at the Anthrax and tried to "rock out", it was like someone took an awful dump on stage. Then-- holy shit, man-- I saw Kingface for the first time, and it was ROCK. Kingface brought something above and beyond what I was used to seeing at your average all-ages hardcore show, and I was definitely impressed.

I ended up seeing Kingface twice around '87 or so; once at the Anthrax and once at a place in Naugatuck called the Night Shift. I don't think they had a record out by then, but that didn't seem to bother them, because they played like they'd been together for years and had a stage presence like no other "punk" band I knew at the time. Some of the NYHC bands, like Underdog and Gorilla Biscuits, were starting to mix classic rock grooves into their hardcore, but Kingface beat them all to the punch and were just full-on hard rock-- heck, they even used to do a Van Halen cover. I'm pretty sure I had a conversation with Mark Ryan back then where he mentioned Kingface a few times, but even if it didn't happen, you can almost draw a direct line between "Like a King" and a lot of the stuff that Supertouch (the best band to ever come out of that mid-to-late 80's NYHC scene, in my opinion) started doing a year or so later.

"Crawl Into Tomorrow" has a 20-second harmonica intro (no shit!) which was a pain in the ass to try to rip cleanly and had me wishing that I could trim it out, but instead you'll find it here in all its glory. Kingface had some really hippy-dippy lyrics, too, something I think they were aware of, which might be why you can hear someone yelling for the singer to shut up twice in one of the songs. In any case, I put the three songs I'm posting here on my mp3 player so I could listen to them while I was driving around for the past couple of days, and back-to-back-to-back they make up one quality piece of rock, I can tell you that much.

One of the other things I remember about Kingface was that they used to open their shows with a song that sounded like Mark Sullivan was singing "dirty white car"; I didn't know the real words, of course, so sometimes I'd hum "dirty white car" to myself as I was walking around and stuff. Then their record came out, and the song wasn't on it! It wasn't until later (I think when they were interviewed in Suburban Voice, maybe) that I found out the song was called "Dirty Water" or something. I guess sometimes I'm not as smart as I think I am.




Kingface -

"Crawl Into Tomorrow"

"I Don't Want To Be Anything"

"Like a King"

(these files are now listen-only)


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15 comments:

gsdgsd13 said...

Wow, excellent. I would see this band referenced, but by the time I was paying attention all the stuff was long outta print, so I'm pretty sure this is the first time I'm actually hearing them. Good stuff once again -- thanks for posting!

Jersey Beat said...

You get 10 extra punk points for being too cool to mention the familial tie to Soulside.

Brushback said...

I almost mentioned Soulside, and some of the other bands like Lunchmeat and Mission Impossible who were part of the whole "Revolution Summer" thing, but then I cut that part out because, y'know, I'm just too cool for that.

Brushback said...

Greg, there was a CD that came out of all the Kingface vinyl, though I'm sure that's out of print now, too.

Then there's this gem-- WFMU has a live soundboard tape from an '88 show that's available for easy downloading:

WFMU - Kingface

Anonymous said...

This is a fantastic record. I saw these guys a few times in Boston around '87/'88 -- one time opening for none other than Slapshot. Kingface definitely made it okay for dorky SXE kids like me to rock out. The HC band Bane actually borrow a line from "Like a King" for one of their songs (reasons not rules make us strong). In addition to all the bands you mentioned who cheezed out in the mid '80s, let's not forget Uniform Choice. In my humble opinion, "Staring into the Sun" is 100x more offensive than anything 7 Seconds released.

Very cool blog; definitely appreciate the baseball theme.

Brushback said...

I also forgot to mention the Justice League LP; I mean, they kinda sucked to begin with, but once they went Dischord emo on everybody it was over.

I once heard this Kevin Seconds/Ian MacKaye demo that was horrendous-- the two of them trying to do some reggae-funk-dub thing in the studio. I actually was laughing, listening to it.

A bunch of left coast SxEx bands besides 7Seconds went "rock" and completely sucked out, though, you're right.

Anonymous said...

just stumbled across this... what a great post. thanks for putting into words the way we all felt in the late 80's.....

Brushback said...

Wow, thanks!

Brushback said...

The mp3 files on this post are now listen-only (non-downloadable) files. I've also added to my Vox account one other song ("Anyone") that wasn't included in the original blog post. (Click on any of the listen-only links to access the Vox files.)

For those of you who missed the boat, I will do my best to respond to any e-mailed requests for the original files.

Mr. HCI said...

Just to give things some historical perspective: Scream were doing the "ROCK" thing in the DC area two years prior and much better. Their second album, 1985's This Side Up, and their debut, Still Screaming, which is more hardcore oriented, are available on a single CD which you should buy and get your ass kicked by. Don't bother with the later stuff, though.

:'-(

IMO, the best thing about King Face was the singer's younger brother Bobby (of Lunchmeat at that time) was fucking cute as Hell.

Brushback said...

John, you're right-- Scream did kick ass, but I never bought "This Side Up" so I didn't think they'd turned "rock" until "No More Censorship" came out around '88 or so (and which I thought was a great record at the time, by the way-- at least the first two songs on it).

Mr. HCI said...

Sounds like you have some shopping to do!

Brushback said...

Back then I ate up everything that Government Issue ever put out. I think that totalled me, as far as shopping goes.

Mr. HCI said...

Funny you should mention G.I. I saw both bands about 30 times each and both kicked ass just about every time. I think I saw one G.I. set that was just OK (and 29 that killed) and around 25 great sets (and five or so not so hot) from Scream, before they went too far into the mainstream sound. I was supposed to see Goatsnake (Pete post-Scream along with Greg Anderson, ex-Burning Witch/pre-Sunn O))), on guitar) once but one of them got injured and they canceled.

:'-(

Anonymous said...

Just snagged a copy off DISCOGS. I am going to upload the tracks individually to you-tube (hope nobody minds). If the record ever gets re-released I will take them down. It's like next to impossible to find the L.P. and/or the discography CD these days.