Kiss of Death - Kevin K (Lollipop Records)
Things have been quiet on the Kevin K front in this part of the world (Australia) since the demise of Vicious Kitten, the Canberra label that was single-handedly instrumental in bringing his music Down Under. French label Lollipop looks to have picked up the slack with "Kiss of Death".
Not sure how Lollipop go for distribution outside of Europe but this is worth going out of your way to track down. It's a typical Kevin K album: Gritty street rock with lots of New York reference points and the omnipresent shadow of Johnny Thunders looming in the background.
For this album, the ex-New York-now-Florida-based, globetrotting Mr K teams with a bunch of French players (he seems to be a bigger deal on the Continent and in Japan than in his homeland). No sign of Parisian Freddy Lynxx - France's pre-eminent Thunders authority - and my fave K backing band remains the engine room from New York's Sour Jazz, but these Frenchies sound (and look) the part.
While I'm over tunes like the opening "Kiss of Death" that compare smack to a femme fatale (and to be honest, the toy syringe keyrings Kevin sells via his website induce a cringe), props have to be grudgingly given after a few listens as the song is a grower. "Ain't It Fun" isn't the expected Dead Boys cover but a vaguely optimistic love song, replete with overt Ramones-style pizza parlour setting. Speaking of the Bruddas, the chugging "Road to Ruin" is an overt trib to NYC's finest and its Burroghsian cut-up of some of their finest lyrics works a treat.
"Do You Wanna Kiss" recalls Kevin's ‘90s stab at commercial success, the fab and (not overly) polished "Magic Touch", and his poppier moments in the Road Vultures, who came across as a trashy Beatles mutant. It's criminal that the aforementioned "Magic Touch" went nowhere and it's hoped that someone in some musical domain where AOR and high rotation program doesn't rule the roost will give this tune a decent airing. We live in hope.
There's more often than not a defining cover song on a Kevin K album to expose his influences and the selection here is a fine swinging take on "These Boots Are made for Walking". It teams Kevin with someone called Bea Superstar who contributes suitably Nancy Sinatra-like vocals and closes the album with some squawling Thunderesque guitar. Cool.