The Big Rock
Omnivore Recordings / RSO
Not all the 1980s New Wave bands wore big hair or hid behind drum machines. Take the Kingbees; they donned the slicked back hair and tight jeans look and brought back the rockabilly sound. Their style recalled dimly remembered ’50s guitar and drum sound and infused it with the same energy the B52’s applied to the pop tune. Think of this as old guy rock for the young generation; this collection first saw the light of the jukebox in 1981. Jamie James led this dance party but it was the swan song for the band, after this release his label RSA collapsed and he drifted on to other projects.
We blast open with “Mr. Big Rock;” it’s the blood-boiling sort of anthem that gets the swing dancers our on the floor. The drums and bass keep a steady urgent back beat; there an aroma of Spanish guitar, and a fast-paced lyric that means nothing yet sounds so compelling. “She Ain’t My Baby” and “Stick It Out” are the sorts of high-energy numbers that drew the English punks in to the world of American roots music, “How Can I Love You” and “Wishing” are the slow dance numbers you need to make it past first base. It’s an old sound on a record that might have remaindered before you were born, but it’s a records that holds up as well as anything else you can hear in the modern crop of post modernists.