Hard Reviews 5
by Martin Popoff

King's X - Please Come Home...Mr. Bulbous
(Metal Blade)

Man, I got more emails about my Ty Tabor interview recently, most along the "say it ain't so" lines. Well, the surface facts are definitely so: there isn't much Doug on here, nor many power chords, nor many luminous King's X hooks. But it's really quite sick how King's X can turn in such a droopy, bluesy, casual, thumping yet awkward rock tortoise and still vanquish 3/4 of all the CDs flooding my poor mailbox on a daily basis. Much of the album is about relationship disintegration or other soul-searching topics, due to Ty's marital problems as well as Doug's emergence from spiritual turmoil with his religion erased but his happiness enhanced, and the backing track the band picks to power this strange but sour swirl of despair, contentment and ennui is often absurdist or jam-loitered or stomach-unsettlingly, both at once. The absurdist ethic serves as a smokescreen so you see more than Ty in all of this. The title of the record could name something from The Fall or Sonic Youth, even if it's most reminiscent of The Horse That Bud Bought or Gospel Cola, seemingly all of the Houston sounders finding insanity in their hapless lots in lives. And that feel continues through the cover art, into the songtitles and finally into the music, much of the album finding King's X doing to their old singular sound what Captain Beefheart did to the blues on his first two albums in the late '60s. But of course, that precisely, along with very old ZZ Top and very new ZZ Top, is my favourite baby chick chewy worm way to receive the blues. Ergo, if King's X want to pre-chew their own sound, and squish the wet mash covertly into the K section in your favourite soon-to-be-extinct retail outlet, then that's their pre-op prerogative. I doubt the old sound is stone dead forever, and I actually applaud the fact that the band has made this red-headed left-handed peg-legger, a record that is by quite a distance, the anomaly of the catalogue, even if all of the tracks on here could fit, measuredly, one at a time, on either of the band's last two albums. I could tell you that the record grows on you, and it does, if only like a rash maybe the size of an avocado, but more than anything I'd have to say that it only slightly less than immediately takes you to the point of guarded acceptance, where you stand confused and shaken down by something you suspect is a ragged collection of experiments or a unified batch of b-sides.
Rating 7.5

Vollmer - When Pigs Fly

You can consider this the next half Helix record, following reunion gesture Half-Alive which was just that, a mix of live and studio proposals. Combine 'em both, and there's one full record of prime, new studio, Canuck party metal done up the Helix way, thick and hard like lumbered Ratt with a humourous edge to the lyrics which brings otherwise ponderous rockers into the six pack zone. Vollmer is of course the lead vocalist from Helix (working on a new album, but not out until Spring 2001!) and he's also got the band's drummer Brian Doerner along for these homespun rockers. Much of this short album reminds me of an amalgam of Alice Cooper's thought processes and productions from Raise Your Fist And Yell right up to Brutal Planet, hard hair metal thumping below cautionary moral tales, Vollmer lightly looking at his rock 'n' roll past and those of friends fallen, or worse, deceased. As me and buddy Tim agreed, it's a ãfun little recordä, quite indie in feel and likely intent, highlights being the enormously catchy glam driver F.U.G.L.Y. and campfire closer Good Times Don't Get Better Than This, which marries Vollmer's warm and inviting hard rock howl with a reflective lyric which again, deals lessons with a gentle chiding prod and wink. See helixrockband.on.ca for more info.
Rating 7.5

Hard Reviews Page 6