Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Now Hear This: Best Kissers In The World


     Best Kissers In The World formed in Arizona in the late eighties. The lengthy name they chose to give themselves doesn't bother me but it might be difficult for some hard rock fans to take seriously. Who cares, they rocked. The band moved to Seattle in 1991 and released an EP on Sub Pop just before Sub Pop and the Seattle scene exploded. So they were in the right place at the right time but the thing is, Best Kissers In The World were anything but grunge and while they did score a major label deal just like every other band that could be remotely labelled "alternative" at the time they were not the kind of band that was going to get a massive push from MTV's "televised revolution" or the new "modern rock" radio format, they were just too good for that. Too rock and roll.

     I guess the band was considered punk or pop punk at the time but their first release, the 1991 Sub Pop EP, is really just heavy, seventies-inspired rock. At the time "alternative" seemed to mean the alternative to Winger and Warrant, but Best Kissers In The World, soundwise, were not that far removed from the pre-grunge nineties rock scene. "Goldfish Bowl" is the stand-out track on the EP.

     The band's next release was an awesome single on Seattle's Lucky Records, a label that also released singles by two of my other favorite "pop punk" bands of the time, Flop and Supersuckers. "Start All Over" is a killer song, raw and raucous .

     The band put out two more incredible singles, "Broke My Knee" b/w "Split In Two" and "Sweet Pea" b/w "Ohio." Both songs on the former are loud, up tempo pop punk with crunchy guitars, just great great stuff. The a-side of the latter is a Tommy Roe cover, decent enough but the b-side, "Ohio," is my favorite song by the band, although it's hard to describe. Folky punk-metal? The chorus, "Stole a car in Ohio," is beyond catchy. Trust me, you'll be singing it for days. You can buy a CD of all three singles and the Sub Pop EP here for five bucks. What are you waiting for?

     Best Kissers In The World signed with MCA in the feeding frenzy of the 1992-1993 and took advantage of the opportunity by releasing an absolutely killer five song EP called Puddin'. Every song is great. The single "Pickin' Flowers For" got played once or twice on 120 Minutes, MTV's Sunday night "alternative" show. It's an insanely good song, riffs out the wazoo and choruses galore. What made anyone think it was "alternative" I'll never know. If it had been played on Headbanger's Ball it might have gotten more attention. Check it out:

     Later that year MCA released the band's full length debut, Been There. The album is a lot poppier and more produced than the band's previous work but almost every song is good, songs like "Kick Between the Knees" and "Four Letter Name For Lame" are as awesome as their titles. The two ballads "Waltzing" and "You Love Sleepin'" are also amazing. "Bleeder" is another of my favorites.

     Puddin' and Been There can be had online for pennies. It's an injustice but one that you, dear reader, should take advantage of. Speaking of injustices, the band recorded another album for MCA, to be called Yellow Brick Roadkill. It was a raw record, heavier and darker than Been There. MCA refused to release it but it must have been a close call because some advance promo copies with a generic black and white cover (meant for radio stations and record stores) made it into circulation. I have one. The album was reissued last year as a double disc set. I'm not a huge fan of the record, it's very different, much less poppy, virtually unproduced, a lot less overdubs, just stripped down and angry. After hearing the album you can almost see where MCA was coming from.
     Singer Gerald Collier went on to release a couple of solo albums, the first of which, I Had To Laugh Like Hell, is dark and mostly acoustic. I like it. Ignore the mislabelling of the video below, his name is definitely Gerald, not George.

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