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King's X - "Live Love In London" (2-CD Set)

King's X - "Live Love In London" 2-CD Set cover image

"Live Love In London" track listing:

1. Groove Machine
2. Alright
3. Pleiades
4. Move
5. What Is This?
6. Lost In Germany
7. Black Flag
8. Pray
9. Dogman
10. Go Tell Somebody
11. Julie
12. Looking For Love
13. Summerland
14. Over My Head
15. It's Love
16. We Were Born To Be Loved
17. Goldilox
18. Visions
19. Moanjam

Reviewed by on December 31, 2010

"The thing that sets apart King’s X from other bands is that the fans know the material so well that they can sing for a minute without the band playing, drunk on the energy the band gives them."

When you have twelve studio albums out and you’ve only cracked the US top 100 charts twice, your next thoughts should be on how to convince people that your live shows are righteous despite your sales figures. King’s X has decided that the right course of action is to release a live DVD and 2CD set, recorded in London. The lovechild of this threesome’s live performance, entitled "Live Love In London," is a very true-to-form example of the band’s sound over its twenty-two year career. Bassist/vocalist Doug Pinnick brings a whole lot of soulful vocals and solid bass playing, guitarist Ty Tabor sports an immaculate tone, and drummer Jerry Gaskill makes the King’s X groove complete.

For the live CD, the band opted for a true "live" feel to the recording, using a lot of the room sound and crowd rather than using only the microphones in front of the amps and tight on the drums. This is an old school sound for an old school band, and it does just the trick. Sometimes credited with starting the grunge movement back around 1990, the King’s X live sound is raw and free of much editing. The set list includes songs from the band’s pivotal first two records from 1988-1990, including "Moanjam," "What Is This?," "Visions," "Over My Head," "Pleiades," and "We Were Born to Be Loved." With a good selection from the later albums as well, the notable songs are all there, with "Pray" and "Dogman" being two big high points at the middle of the show.

The thing that sets apart King’s X from other bands is that the fans know the material so well that they can sing for a minute without the band playing, drunk on the energy the band gives them. They actually do this for an entire minute on "Over My Head," clapping and singing, "Music, music, I hear music, music, I hear music, music, oh, oh, oh, ohhh." On "Goldilox," they also sing the entire song (with harmonies) without vocal assistance from the band. The crowd is definitely a part of what makes this King’s X recording special. Doug Pinnick calls London his favorite crowd during the show, and you can hear the reason why.

After twenty-two years, Ty Tabor’s guitar skills have grown into a beastly locked-in blend of the psychedelic, the funky, and the bluesy with a full-bodied progressive metal sound. His tone is as wild as the tie-dyed t-shirt he wears on stage for the show. Jerry Gaskill’s trademark drumming, which blends the technical elements of the progressive genre with massive groove elements, will get any head banging and body moving. Doug Pinnick’s bass sound is notoriously dirty and thick on this record, as well. All in all, they're as unusual as they were on day one, two decades ago.

The band has done something very right with this recording, although some might still be reluctant to listen to a heavy band with funk and blues leanings led by a soulful vocalist. Then again, the progressive genre has never been about purists. Metalheads seeking regular metal can go listen to Metallica, same as soul fans can just join a Baptist choir. But if you want to mix things together, you can come to the "First Church of Rock And Roll," as Doug Pinnick calls the King’s X live show, and feel like you’re one of the crowd with this record.

Highs: Lots of heavy grooves, blistering guitar solos, crowd participation, and Doug Pinnick’s iconic voice.

Lows: The mixing could use a bit of tweaking.

Bottom line: A stellar live recording from an unusual, heavy, and long-running progressive soul metal band, and one where the crowd actually makes it better.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)