Kevin K - Rule the Heart

Never heard of the Road Vultures? I wouldn't be surprised. They were an indie trash rock act that kept the tradition of Johnny Thunders and Stiv Bators alive in the New York underground during the early 90s. Kevin K was the bratty kid brother of frontman Alan K, who passed away in 1996. Together, Kevin and Alan had played in Lone Cowboys during the 80s before forming the Road Vultures in the early 90s. The band borrowed its name from a notorious biker gang in the 60s and recorded "Fire It Up," which featured Cheetah Chrome of Dead Boys fame laying down some guitar solo tracks. The brothers were not quite as tough as they aspired to be. They had a heart and they were more willing to show it than their trash rock precursors. This band was special because of the brotherly harmony that is only made possible by two characters created of the same blood. Their vocals cords were almost identical. Alan should be a rock n roll legend remembered by millions, at least by virtue of his antics and fashion statements. His ghost still haunts the subsequent solo recordings made by Kevin. When he sings lyrics like "I found your tracks down St. Marks Place," it's unquestionably a reference to Alan. A part of Kevin is missing and it shows in his songs.

Kevin's solo career has been a bit unstable with musicians leaving his band and New York clubs being closed down courtesy of the city's mayor, Rudy Guiliani. Fortunately, he's been able to tour Japan with members of the Trash Brats backing him. Japanese fans are hungry for American rock n roll and Kevin's shows enjoy an enthusiastic response over there. This record isn't too bad either. Sure, it's eclipsed by the brilliance of the Road Vulture's first CD but isn't that expected? The best tracks are "Scene of the Crime" and "Gang War." The subject matter of Kevin's songs on this CD are basically narrated descriptions of city life and all the villians and junkies that come with it.

Ratboy, the former guitar slinger of Motorcycle Boy guests on a few of the tunes. The bonus tracks at the end are some home demos made by Alan K before his demise. They sound rough but they were released solely for the purpose of making some Alan memorabilia available to the fans. Kevin' music is the usual sloppy three chord rock affair with a good vocal hook on most (but not all) of the songs on this disc. I would describe Kevin's singing as a power pop sort of voice, more similar to Flamin' Groovies and The Records than Stiv Bators or Johnny Thunders. I've heard him described as "sounding like the boy next door." Actually, I'm reminded of Mott the Hoople tracks featuring the vocals of Mick Ralphs. You've heard music like this before. It isn't breaking new ground but it's still worthy of a casual spin on a Saturday afternoon and you'll probably find yourself singing these songs in the laundry room.

Kevin K Band
c/o 13th Street Entertainment
338 East 13th Street, #4-D
New York, NY 10003

Visit Kevin K's  Website
Visit a nice memorial for Alan K in Vicious Kitten Funhouse

Review written by Jay Smith