Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Little Kings

It is easy to think of the music scene in LA in the 80’s only in terms of the dreadful, talentless hair metal bands that rec’d all of the press at the time. But there was an amazing, exciting, and thriving underground scene that was packed with incredible bands all throughout that decade.

Besides some of the best 60’s influenced bands in the country (Unclaimed, Untold Fables, Beguiled, Miracle Workers, etc), there were tons of fantastic r’n’r bands – Redd Kross, Celebrity Skin, Tex and the Horseheads, Screamin’ Sirens, Blood on the Saddle, X, the Blasters, Hangmen and many more, including this group, the Little Kings.

These cats popped out of nowhere, blazed their way through LA, recorded an album for Sympathy and then disappeared! I know that the drummer also played with – the also excellent, though very different – Phast Phreddie and Thee Precisions, but otherwise, I don’t believe that I ever saw anyone from this band before or after.

And that is a shame, because this is one red-hot rockin’ slab of vinyl (and yes, it is just vinyl – this was before the CD revolution)! They leap out of the starting gate with “Head First”, which tells you immediately what this band is all about – machine-gun drums, loud guitar riffs, great leads, and songs about the proverbial sex, drugs, and r’n’r. This sound would be right at home with the current punk’n’roll crowd, tho the Kings leaned a little more on the “roll” than the “punk”, I’d say. Bernie, the singer, was seriously one of the oddest leaders of a r’n’r band ever. Goofy-looking, wearing big plastic-framed glasses, super tall and so skinny that I honestly wondered how he was able to get all the tattoos that he had on his arms – they looked so thin that it seems like the tat needles would go right through them!

But they could write real songs! Great sing-a-long/chant-a-long tunes with titles like “Dirty Pool”, “Choke on It” and “I Wanna Die Like Elvis Did” (“don’t wanna be a bald old man, wanna live as fast as I can, I wanna die like elvis did, with my face on the floor and a girl in my bed”), and they weren’t afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, as with the Sex Pistols steals in “I Confess”.

I tend to think of these guys are a consummate LA band of the time - hedonistic r’n’r with style! Most of the real r’n’r scene was made up of people who dressed like rockers (in one fashion or another), partied together, often lived together, sometimes slept together. We were all just hanging on, living in crappy neighborhoods, and surviving just for the music. This album basically sounds like the best and the worst of the times!


Blogger Robo said...

The Little Kings were great. I used to have the Dudes soundtrack, but I never found "Dirty Pool" anywhere, in any format.

The Hangmen were great too. "Rotten Sunday" used to be my anthem.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Little said...

Thanks for the rave. The Little Kings finally managed to get a myspace page together. we liked your rave so much, we used it!

9:52 PM  

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