Kix – Rock Your Face Off – Album Review

KixPix

So, those of you that know me fairly well will already know that I am not perhaps the World’s biggest Kix fan, haha!… And indeed I have been less than complimentary in some of my live reviews of the M3 Festival. Unfortunately it seems M3 will yet again, for the yawningth time (yes, I know that isn’t a real word), have to suffer through another Friday night Kix-off set for 2015. Hopefully they close the night, so we can hit the bar early. That aside Kix have recently released their latest studio album after a hiatus of some 19 years.

Those with an elephantine memory may just recall the prior album, “$how Bu$ine$$” from 1995, which was basically a “flop” and led to the band disbanding that same year until 2003, when they reformed without their primary song writer, Donnie Purnell. Despite this, Kix got back on the road and have essentially flogged the same set drawn from the first five decently successful albums, covering the era 1981 through 1991, and it is this lack of creativity that has driven me to my stance on them live – well, that and the silly jokes between songs and rather childish stage show (please don’t mention popping balloons!).

While Kix do indeed have a decent catalog of songs from their early material, it all becomes a bit “tribute band-like” without at least some attempt to come up with some new material. So, I guess I have to shut-up moaning about that aspect at least now with the release of “Rock Your Face Off”, which delivers 12 new tracks.

Firstly, credit where credit is due – some people were surprised I spent $10 on this band, especially given my prior comments. Ah ha! Fooled you… Well, no, this doesn’t indicate any great change in my opinion, but I DO want to support all bands who are prepared to get their finger out and bring us, rock and metal fans, new material. So, enjoy the $10 Kix (or at least the share you finally get after all the blood-suckers have a slice of the pie).

So, my first curiosity was who the heck had written the songs on the record? Well, new bass player, Mark Schenker (no, not related to THE one and only Michael Schenker I believe), gets a co-writing credit on 10 of the tracks, along with another name from outside the band who also appears listed (I don’t have the CD in front of me right now to get the exact details), with a mix of other members of the band listed as co-writers on various tracks. Mark Schenker is also listed as engineering the record, and that is definitely one aspect I have absolutely no compliant about – the production is top notch.

OK, deep breath, how about the record itself? Well, let me be clear it’s not a bad record at all. Phew! In the grand scheme of things it’s better than I expected, but it is let down by a few tracks. The CD opens with “Wheels in Motion” and this immediately brings a recognizable vibe, that I’d be hard pushed to say was anything other than Kix. I will note one thing – Steve Whiteman seems to have adopted a different style from the earlier material and if you play some of the new material back-to-back with the old, you will see what I mean. It’s by no means a criticism, just something anyone paying attention should spot. I guess we’re all getting older, perhaps? So, the opening track cranks along at a pretty decent pace and at times it may be seems as if the lyrics are a bit of a squeeze to fit, but in the end the track works.

The next track up, “You’re Gone” is a straightforward rock’n’roll song and perhaps where the current-day Kix excel best. This track works very well, as does “Can’t Stop The Show” which follows. May be the teen boys in the audience will gravitate to the next track, which has the teasing title “Rollin’ in Honey” which is slathered in sexual innuendo, however in this case Steve Whiteman’s voice just gets a shade to thin and whiney in the chorus. Also the guitars here seem just a shade to thin for my liking and closer to the Rolling Stones and a touch to much from AC/DC. Too much Telecaster and not a whiff of a Gibson SG or Les Paul. Or more simply too much twang and not enough overdrive for my liking. However, my real beef with this track is that I think I can sing “Bump The La La” from the 1991 Kix “Hot Wire” album. Come on guys, you thought no one would notice?

So, skipping over a couple more perfectly adequate tracks, we land on track number 8, “Inside Outside Inn” which takes the pace down with an acoustic guitar intro and leads us to the ballad. OK, so now I let loose… this is a HORRIBLE song. From the rather wavering lead vocal, to the horrid backing vocals… “yeah, yeah, yeah”. Uhhhg! The lyrics are wrapped in a painfully convoluted way around the title of the song and clearly this is sole reason the song is here. I have already deleted this from my iTunes library.

Following this we have “Mean Miss Adventure” which is another perfectly competent rock’n’roll song. The next track is another overloaded with sexual references, but in this case it actually works, “Love Me with Your Top Down”. This song almost made me smile…

But…then we get to “Tail on the Wag” which unfortunately I find has an uncanny resemblance to the main riff of “Same Jane” from Hot Wire. Wait it IS the same riff, but not quite as good. If you like try interchanging the lyrics. Yep….

The album closes with another perfectly acceptable rock’n’roll track, but when I put my super critical ears on this track just doesn’t seem as tightly executed as the rest of the album, and I might venture it comes across as rushed a little.

So, how was my $10 investment? Well, I think there are eight tracks here that are perfectly fine. Nothing exceptional, and not better than some of the earlier material, but in the same ballpark. Then we have one track that to my ears is just a little loose. I’ll give that one a concession since it is probably just personal perspective. Now we turn to the two re-cycled tracks. Sure, this happens sometimes, especially with a band that hasn’t been song writing for such a long time, but it is a little too blatant. Finally that horrid ballad – sorry, but that song just sucks. So I think I got about $7 value, which to be fair isn’t a complete loss is it? I’m sure if these tracks cycle through my iTunes library on shuffle I won’t be reaching for the ‘skip’ button, so they pass that test. But will I ever be pulling the CD from the shelf to give it a dedicated listen on the home hi-fi system? I doubt that very much.

If you believe you are a Kix fan and would drive a 100+ miles to see them, then by all means buy this, but for anyone else you will live a very happy life without ever hearing the record. I’ll score this the same as the $ value = 7/10, but only if you delete that ballad from the play list.

 

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One Response to “Kix – Rock Your Face Off – Album Review”

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