"Can't Stop the Show: The Return of Kix" (Loud & Proud; 2016)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Kix has always been one of the most respected bands that many people have never heard of. That isn't meant as a diss. The band did have a big hit with their "Don't Close Your Eyes," but they never hit the big time like other bands such as Motley Crue, Ratt and Warrant did. My friend David, who's a huge Kix fan and whom you may have read about in my review of "Blow My Fuse," says they're the kind of band that are more respected by other musicians than by civilian fans, and he may have a point there. Regardless, the band has enjoyed a nice comeback recently, which led to the release of this CD and documentary film.

"Can't Stop the Show" is a two disc set. The first disc is a DVD of the film "Can't Stop the Show: The Return of Kix," which features interviews with the band, and live concert footage, all of which revolves the return of the band to record their 2014 album, "Rock Your Face Off," their first studio album in nearly 20 years.  It's especially fascinating viewing, with the band offering all kinds of interesting insight to their return to the recording studio, and the live footage gives you a solid idea of why Kix is still so popular today.

The second disc is a bonus CD, a collection of classic Kix songs performed and recorded live in recent years. Again, like the previously mentioned documentary, this CD will give you an idea as to why Kix is so well-respected. The performances herein are tight, performed with energy, and the songs (for the most part) have held up well over the years.

I can't imagine any Kix fan being disappointed with this two-disc set. It's got the music, it's got the interviews, it's got the band performing live. The only thing I can imagine missing here is the inclusion of new material ... but I have a hunch that will be coming soon.

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"Blow My Fuse" (Atlantic; 1988)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

So, even though he has nothing to with Rough Edge (except maybe read a review here and there), my boss at my day job gave me an assignment. He loves Kix, and he was shocked when I told him, yeah, I've heard of them, but I've never really paid any attention to them. So he told me to go home this weekend, and listen to the following albums, in this order: "Kix" from 1981, "Blow My Fuse" from 1988, "Cool Kids" from 1983, and finally some of the band's live stuff. So, because he's my boss -- and because he has good taste in music -- I decided to take the assignment.

So I listened to "Kix," which -- to my ear at least -- sounded less like Christopher J. Kelter's review below indicated and more like a (barely) meatier and less quirky version of Devo's classic album, "Freedom of Choice." I know, weird, huh? And now I'm on my second run-through of "Blow My Fuse." "Blow My Fuse" hasn't been reviewed here on, so I thought I'd take a break and jot down some notes.

Okay, so this is where Kix starts to sound like Kelter's review of their first album. I love the bluesy riffs, the harmonica, the energy level and the fast-paced rhythms (with the exception, of course, of the band's big hit, "Don't Close Your Eyes," a ballad that is even better than I remember it despite the fact it was played ad nauseum back in the good old days). It's almost impossible not to get caught up in this album. The guitars stick in your mind as though with a fork and they ingrain themselves in you so you can't help but let the music take over.

"Blow My Fuse" is hard rock, but it isn't heavy. David (my boss) tells me that the band puts the "heavy" in when they play live (I haven't got to the live albums yet).  He also tells me that he agrees with Kelter that "Cool Kids," which Kelter calls the band's "sophomore slump," is just that -- although David believes it was more of the record company's fault than the band's.

Regardless, I'm enjoying discovering Kix. As I said, I'd heard of the band, of course, but never really paid attention to them. I certainly will now.

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"Cool Kids" (Atlantic; 1983)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Kix contract a touch of the "sophomore slump" with this follow-up to their 1981 self-titled debut.

With bass lines and drum beats more like a heartbeat than a rapid fire machine gun, Kix get to the core of a pulse and keep the musical activity pumping. Many of the guitar riffs are played on the up-beat rather than the down-beat which allows the drums to take clear shot at the core of the songs existence. Acting more like a party band than tough strutting acts like AC/DC or rambling blues like Aerosmith, Kix are the perfect band for a summer soundtrack for your backyard party.

"Love Pollution" is a toe-tappin' rocker with an Angus Young guitar tone that is to die for. "Cool Kids" and "Nice On Ice" are pop-oriented tunes designed for radio; "Mighty Mouth" and "Get Your Monkeys Out" are solid rave-up numbers.  "For Shame" marks the first appearance of a ballad for Kix on record; "For Shame" hints at the band's eventual success with their national radio hit "Don't Close Your Eyes." However, where "Don't Close Your Eyes" is a stereotypical power-ballad, "For Shame" is a relaxed acoustic number that laments the end of a relationship with the hope of rekindling the flame of unfinished love.

However, there are some very low points on the disc. "Body Talk" and "Loco-Emotion" are weak tracks which sound more like bass romps with '80s New Wave influences not fitting for a blues-based rockin' bar band.

The line-up for the sophomore album consisted of the charismatic Steve Whiteman on vocals, Brian Forsythe and newcomer Brad Divens on guitar, Donnie Purnell on bass, and Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant on drums.

Pete Solley was the producer for "Cool Kids"; Pete Solley has worked with Ted Nugent and Motorhead. The production on this sophomore effort was much the same as the debut; the vocals could have been more upfront in the mix and the tone of the music still failed to capture the band's live dynamics.

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"Kix" (Atlantic; 1981)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

With the recent interest in blues based rock bands (i.e. Buckcherry and New American Shame) it was high time to introduce Rough Edge readers to the Baltimore-based Kix which had some measure of national success when the monster ballad "Don't Close Your Eyes" ruled the airwaves back in 1988.

"Kix," the 1981 self-titled debut album, showed that Kix fit squarely in the blues-based rock mold of AC/DC. Kix were always regarded in a better light than most pop-metal bands of the '80s due to their simplicity and unpretentiousness.

As a debut album, "Kix" clearly demonstrates the band's ability to keep things simple and "in the pocket." Kix were always viewed as a barroom party band that played from the gut. Kix weren't out to change people's opinions on politics and other news, yet connected with their fans by celebrating the emotion of the moment.

The high point on the album is "The Itch" which is a hard rock classic and is a staple of mid-Atlantic rock radio to this day. "The Itch" is a stompin' tribute to the emotion of infatuation and how it affects all of us.

Quick tempo rave-ups are plentiful on the debut disc. "Atomic Bombs" handles the issue of sex-at-the-end-of-the-world while the double-time stomp of "Kix Are For Kids" never fails to disappoint. "Contrary Mary" with its sing-along chants and "The Kid" which handles the topic of 'the third wheel' are natural compliments to each other. "Kix Are For Kids" is a particular reminder that AC/DC's "Let There Be Rock" had a lasting affect on many hard rock bands through the late '70s and early '80s. A slower, bluesier number included on the album, "Heartache," burns with an intensity that showcases the band's sense of pace and musical chops. The sexual innuendo of "Love At First Sight" and the party-ready "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" each serve as a substantial reminder that blues based hard rock should have a place in everyone's CD collection.

The line-up for the debut album consisted of Steve Whiteman on vocals, the guitar duo of Ronnie Younkins and Brian Forsythe, Donnie Purnell on bass, and Jimmy "Chocolate" Chalfant on drums.

Tom Allom produced the disc; Allom has worked with Judas Priest, Def Leppard, and Loverboy as a producer and also worked with Black Sabbath as an engineer. The vocals are buried in the mix which hurts the disc's overall impact. The production of the music is average as it was difficult to capture the band's live energy in a studio setting.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2017 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03 Apr 2022 15:56:16 -0400.