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Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The King Blues - Punk & Poetry

I've got a problem with The King Blues.
They were the band who walked the walk and didn't just talk the talk.
I've lost count of how many times I have seen them play live, and with each gig I was more and more impressed with them.....and then something happened.
They signed with Island Records.
Not that I have a problem with bands signing to a major.
I don't subscribe to that sell out bollocks.
The problem was that for me the band then lost their way.
Some of them looked into the abyss, and greed, or the lust for fame, grabbed them by the throat and dragged them deep into the pit.
My girlfriend went to see them while I was in Manchester and told me that the recent raised profile that the band were enjoying through Kerrang covers and such had changed the crowd and how the band interacted with them.
In her opinion the social conscious crowds of all ages that the band had previously attracted had been muscled out to an extent by a younger crowd who idolize the magazine cover stars.
The sort who do a hit and run on who is popular at that given time.
For the first time ever she had to move to the side of a King Blues crowd as the screams of 'I love you Itch' ringing in her ears from two teenage girls was really just too much to deal with.
This wasn't what she had grown to expect from a King Blues gig at all.
A few months down the line and we went to see them play again for what would be the last time.
From the moment we arrived at the venue we could tell something was wrong.
The poor turn out was just one factor, but more disappointing was that the band arrived on stage late, played a very short set and then fucked off.
Hardly a smile was raised and the interaction with the crowd was stilted and could have been read absent mindedly from a script.
I would struggle to think of another gig that I have ever been to where the band have so obviously not given a toss about their audience.
Shortly after that the news tricked down that the majority of the band had been kicked to the kerb leaving just the two original members.
I wasn't surprise.
The message of unity, solidarity, call it what you will, sounded hollow in the aftermath of the personnel change.
To make matters worse I had a short conversation with one of the ex members a couple of months later and nothing that was said about the break up really shocked me.
It was a story as old as time itself.
The seeds of corruption were sown when the dotted line was signed on and respect and friendship became nothing more than collateral damage.
The person made it very clear that there was a pre and post signing band dynamic involved.
An all for one and one for all stance was exchanged for closed door meetings and people being left out of the loop.
Why am I mentioning all this as part of a review of the bands latest release though?
Well I mention it because no matter how good this release is I can't help but hear a niggling voice whispering to me that no matter how right on, liberal, and socially conscious the lyrics are that they are nothing more than a punk protest by numbers exercise.
Everything seems in place, but it doesn't sound genuine any more.
It probably does to anyone being introduced to the band for the first time, but the past history keeps intruding on my thoughts and I feel I'm being sold a line.
I could argue that lyrically not much has changed and Itch still sounds like he means it, but sounds like and being able to carry of sounding like are two different things.
Musically it's all over the place and that's maybe more telling in outing the band as protest charlatans than the lyrical content.
Sometimes it sounds like The King Blues.
At other times it sounds like a poor man's Plan B, and then there is the nod to the post grunge alternative rock fans.
This is an album that has been crafted to appeal to a very wide demographic.
No longer are the band wanting to draw you in, they don't even want to meet anyone halfway.
Instead they want to be everything to everyone and in doing so have royally fucked it up.
Should I say royally.
I suspect the King Blues would be good republicans calling for the heads of a parasitic nobility, but while I would have believed that before now I'm no longer sure.
The King Blues sound like damaged good to me.
They've been around the block a bit and while forgiveness for past sins is a worthy attribute to have I'm still working on a once bitten twice shy premise with them.
Apart from that trying to look like Dappy from N'Dubz on the way to a riot on the cover of the CD just doesn't do it for me.
You get it bro?

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