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.
"Crawl Into Tomorrow"
"I Don't Want To Be Anything"
"Like a King"
(these files are now listen-only)