Category: Tommy James

King’s X – King’s X

ARTIST: King’s X                       220px-kings_x_self_titled

TITLE:  King’s X

YEAR RELEASED: 1992

CHART ACTION: #138 US, #46 UK

SINGLES: Black Flag (#17 Mainstream Rock), Dream in My Life, World Around Me

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lost in German, Prisoner.

LINEUP: Doug Pinnick, Ty Tabor, Jerry Gaskill

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: King’s X eschews the longer concept album with a more direct song-oriented approach, and succeeds but still get little but cult attention.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For their fourth album as King’s X, the trio decided to can the album long themes and stories, and concentrate on more direct songwriting. It’s a definite success, as tracks like “Prisoner” and “Lost in Germany’ show. Those two tracks weren’t released to single or radio, for some damn reason.

There’s a bit more aggression in some tracks, which are sweetened by their natural harmonies, and of course, plenty of great playing – utilizing fancy schmancy chords and structures without being ponderous or flashy.

This was probably the pinnacle of King’s X as a commercial entity, and it still was criminally underheard. They weren’t fitting into grunge much like they didn’t fit into hair metal. Alas. But they still had the songs and the chops.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was their last album with Sam Taylor as their producer.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A:  Yes, I’m a King’s X fan, but this is just a darn good record, and they definitely show versatility here.

Tommy James & the Shondells – Anthology

ARTIST: Tommy James & the Shondells   51Y3DP3JY1L

TITLE:  Anthology

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 10: Hanky Panky (#1 US, #39 R&B, #38 UK), I Think We’re Alone Now (#4 US), Mirage (#10 US), Mony Mony (#3 US, #1 UK), Crimson & Clover (#1 US), Sweet Cherry Wine (#7 US), Crystal Blue Persuasion (#2 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you have a Tommy James compilation, probably

LINEUP: Mostly Tommy James, Eddie Gray, Peter Lucia, Ron Rosman, Mike Vale.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Quintessential teenage pop / rock from the 60’s.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It took almost two years for the first Shondells song to become a national hit (that’s a story on its own), but once James got a working band and hooked up with songwriter Ritchie Cordell, the hits just kept coming.

James rebelled a bit at being a bubblegum singer, and that’s when he veered into psychedelia with “Crimson & Clover” (The band released two interesting late albums that I’ll review separately). Still, the hits didn’t stop until James had to quit due to a medical scare in 1970.

Most every one of these songs, major or minor hit, brings a smile to your face. Bubblegum or not, it’s a good collection from a major 60’s hitmaker.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: James’ involvement with Roulette Records and its boss Morris Levin is the subject of a book James wrote. It basically was a mob front.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B+: It’s fun music, and well-made, too.