Posts Tagged ‘Vicious Kitten Records’

kevin13I only recently heard about the sad passing in January this year of Ohio’s Kevin Junior (real name Kevin Bain Gerber). According to Billboard magazine, singer-songwriter Kevin Junior—who spent his most prolific and fruitful years in Chicago—died at age 46. The story says “the cause of death is not clear,” but as Gossip Wolf reported in 2011, he’d suffered from the life threatening heart disease endocarditis, which required open-heart surgery. He moved back to his native Akron, Ohio, a couple years ago, putting together a new version of his band Chamber Strings. Junior’s troubles over the years with heroin were well-documented, and this addiction impeded his music from ever reaching the audience it deserved. As Ray Borchers wrote in the Chicago reader, “ Junior’s sartorial sensibility and roosterlike hairdo telegraphed the kinship he felt with Johnny Thunders, and he eventually worked closely with Nikki Sudden and Epic Soundtracks. He first led a trashy glam band called Mystery Girls, which morphed into the Rosehips; then he blossomed as a pop auteur with Chamber Strings in the mid-90s. The group made two terrific albums of delicate, soul-streaked orchestral pop, but not long after the 2002 release of the second, Month of Sundays, Junior’s life disintegrated. He spent much of the rest of his years fighting drug addiction and health problems, trying to get back on his feet. “ I first became aware of Kevin Junior’s band The Rosehips via a newsletter from either Jeff Dahl or Nikki Sudden. He played a style of rock n roll I always dug. Stones swagger, Thunders styled, the Jacobites, blue eyed soul, Nikki Sudden, blues, early 70s outlaw country- here was a guy who could also write memorable rock with a truck load of melody, hook, harmony and chorus’.  Hell, he even looked like Ron Wood or Thunders. The Chambers Strings album, ‘Gospel Morning’, was just about pop perfection. Not dissimilar in many ways to the musical hooks that the Jayhawks were scoring big with around the mid to late 90s.  Nikki Sudden released an album in 1999 called ‘Red Brocade’, an album I licenced and subsequently released into Australia on my old label Vicious Kitten Records. The album was recorded in Chicago and was very much the result of a musical collaboration between Kevin Junior and Sudden. I exchanged some emails with Kevin around this time and told him how much I dug Month Of Sundays. I still love a tune like ‘Dead Man’s Poise’.  Kevin was complimentary of both Vicious Kitten fanzine and also what Vicious Kitten records was trying to achieve. In 2001, the second Chamber Strings album, ‘Month of Sundays’ was released, and was critically well received. Blue eyed soul, pure pop, strikingly original. 15 years later this album shows what a high calibre song writer Kevin Junior was. I had lost track of Kevin Junior until around 2007, when I read he was back making music. I didn’t know about his 5 years of heroin hell, which explained why he dropped off the radar. In January, 2007, Journalist Bob Mehr wrote an eye opening article about Junior’s descent into heroin and homelessness in an extremely articulate article in The Chicago Reader that I implore you to read. There is also an insightful interview with Kevin from 2010 on  Sugar Buzz magazine that is also worth reading.   I would rather not think about his drug issues. Rather, he should be remembered and celebrated for his music – superbly crafted rock ‘n’ roll that will endure. If you are not aware of any of Kevin Junior’s music, start with either of the Chamber Strings’ albums, ‘Gospel Mornings’ or ‘Month Of Sundays.  Kevin Junior was born on December 26, 1969 – and passed away January 16, 2016. He is survived by his mother, Gloria Gerber; father, Roger Gerber; and sister Kimberly Edgemon. Rest In Peace.

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We are indeed – blessed. 2013, and the great Kevin K is still releasing original, new rock n roll of the highest quality.  If you are a young’un reading this, dissatisfied by inferior, bland bands from your own peer group – Kevin K rock n roll is what you are looking for. Kevin’s music has enriched my life for 20 years, and in my opinion, there is none better. Kevin K is the definitive rock n roller – and is my favourite artist – past, present, and future. Why ? His songs are memorable, his songs are durable. No one has a better penchant for melody, no one writes songs with a better hook, and as ‘Allies’, his twentieth something album attests, his song writing / story telling have strong, instant appeal that engage the listener. Thematically, ‘Allies’ continues on from other recent Kevin K albums (Deutschland, Firestorm etc), which focus on the impact of World War 2, including key battles, the D-Day landings, the bombing of both England and Germany. ‘Allies’ is dedicated to the heroes of WW II, (including Kevin’s father, who was with General MacArthur when he famously returned to the Philippines). ‘Allies’ also refers to the various nationalities of the various band members who made this album – all Allies of rock n roll in the war against the jive. The album contains a whopping 23 tunes, 11 of which are new ones. A bunch of these were recorded with his Euro band line-up (Ricky Rat on guitar, stalwart Ritchie Buzz on bass and Laur Bomb on drums), a couple of the others were recorded with Duane Rollick and Billy Summer in Florida. The album opens with the call to arms anthem that is “Allies Of Rockin Roll” – a salute to the rock ‘n’ roll brethren across the globe that actually get what Kevin K rock ‘n’ roll is all about.  “This Time Around” follows up next – heavy on the melody, super catchy chorus, great hook – the Kevin K formulae for crafting archetypal power pop/punk – and after having written hundreds and hundreds of songs over the years, he is indeed, a master of his craft. The ruminating “Lost My Marbles” is a superbly crafted tune, menacingly melodic and hard to beat – another Alan K tune that is pure gold. “Red White and Blue” is another tell-tale tune about the courage of a Flying Fortress pilot – with a stunning solo and catchy riff. “Meet Me At The Party” is pure pop punk excess with likeable lead vocals by Ritchie Buzz. There’s a reworking of Kevin’s tribute to Jerry Nolan, “Countdown For a Doll” that originally appeared on his “From The Delta To The Bowery” acoustic CD, and sounds killer with a band behind it. I forgot how good this tune was. ‘Give Me Back My Girl’ is fantastic power pop, an ode to a former love resplendent with strings on the chorus. There is no one, repeat, no one on the planet who can pen catchy pop songs as consistently well as Kevin K.  Yes he should have been mega successful in the world of rock n roll, (go buy his book and read all about his life in rock ‘n’ roll here), but he just keeps keeping on, writing and playing his music to anyone who cares to listen – and listen you should. “Hell’s Kitchen” is all 77 style punk, before ‘Crazy For You’, the obligatory ode to Jennifer Love Hewitt comes blasting outta my speakers. Catchy, melodic and draped in pop sensibilities. This should justly be top ten ! How many songs has KK penned about JLH now ? Enough for a double CD release me thinks! ‘Cool Fools’ with its sing-along chorus rounds out proceedings. As a bonus, you also get the ‘13th Street’ album, (originally released back in 2001 on my old label Vicious Kitten Records) with all 12 tunes remastered with new sonic appeal, so crank ‘em up nice and loud! If you are a fan of Kevin K, you will dig this CD, if not, become an ally of rock n roll and discover what I have known for a long time now – Kevin K rock n roll is the best there is. If you buy only one album this year – you should make it this one. ‘Allies’ scores 10 out of 10. Buy it here.

Kevin K – The Successful Loser DVD – Buy here

Kevin K – How To Become A Successful Loser Book Buy here

Rick Blaze passed away on the evening on August 9, 2011. He was 52 years of age. Rick Blaze had been active on the East Coast scene, in particular the NYC and Massachusetts club scenes since the late 70s. Rick played in several bands throughout his career, but his most prominent outfit was The Ballbusters. To honour his memory, in this special show, former owner of Vicious Kitten Records Colin Gray talks about Rick and will play nothing but Rick Blaze rock ‘n’ roll – released on Vicious Kitten from 1999-2002. If you didn’t have the chance to listen to the current episode of Rockbrat Radio, you can download or listen to it now. Click on the Blog Talk Radio play button. 

Rock n Roll War promo poster, Volume 1 and Volume 2

It’s hard to believe that 10 years have gone since the release of the Rock n Roll War compilation CD’s. Prior to Rockbrat, back then, Cowboy Col was operating Vicious Kitten Records, an independent record label whose mission was to fight the war against the jive. I had the idea of releasing a compilation album and did a short list of bands I wanted and things just took off from there. Vicious Kitten Records, and the Vicious Kitten Zine before that, developed a good reputation, and most bands were happy to be involved. The idea was to make it a solid balls-to-the-wall comp, and it achieved that. I wanted to show case some of the best Australian bands to an international market – and similarly get some of those international bands some exposure in Australia.   The first volume of ‘Rock n Roll War’ had such quality bands on it as the Dictators, Sylvain Sylvain from the New York  Dolls, the Hitmen DTK,  Deniz Tek and Chris Masuak of Radio Birdman, Jeff Dahl, Pete Wells of Rose Tattoo, Nikki Sudden, The Trash Brats, Asteroid B-612, Brother Brick etc.  This first volume of Rock n Roll War sold well, and following its success I decided to branch out into the USA and try and develop greater inroads there. Vicious Kitten USA was born and was co ordinated by Rick Blaze out of Boston. The second volume of Rock ‘n’ Roll War was the only release on Vicious Kitten USA and it came out in October, 2001. A CD release party was held for this album in Boston, and artists who appeared included Mike Thimren (who used to play with Johnny Thunders for five years, on and off, between 83-88) the Ballbusters and Kevin K.  Rock n roll War volume 2 was dedicated to Johnny Heff of The Bullys, a New York City firefighter who lost his life on September 11. There is a great Bully’s track on the comp called ‘New York City Man’. Johnny Thunders and the Ballbusters also do a live version of ‘In Cold Blood’. There are songs by Nikki Sudden, Dave Kusworth from the Jacobites, Walter Lure, the Streetwalkin Cheetahs, Kevin K, Freddy Lynxx, The Golden Arms, Dave Cuneo and Jeff Crane from the Ballbusters, Mike Thimren, the Detox Darlings. Cheetah Chrome of The Dead Boys was gracious enough to provide a tune called ‘The Morning’s Gonna Come, which he recorded specifically for Rock n Roll War 2. Other artists on this 2nd volume included the Cartridge Family from NYC who featured Donna from the Cycle Sluts From Hell, two Italian bands, one called The Valentines and the other called Loose. It was a very strong and impressive line up. The intent was to do release a third compilation CD, but the funds were not there.  These were a lot of work to put together, but looking back, some killer bands were released on these two comps.  These compilations occasionally turn up on eBay. Go discover.

Queen of punk before Joan Larkin....

Many of you will know that in a former life, Rockbrat and Cowboy Col ran Vicious Kitten Records – the coolest label for all folks wanting the best underground rock n roll around. Vicious Kitten released two albums with a band from Worcester, Mass called The Ballbusters, (also known as Rick Blaze & The Ballbusters). The albums were 1999’s ‘Manhattan Babylon’ and 2001’s ‘People’s Republic Of Rock n Roll’. The amazing bass player and the lady with the golden voice was the super talented  Cathy Peters. Here’s an old article that appeared in the Worcester Phoenix newspaper back in 2001. It gives you a great introduction to Worcester’s own queen of punk. The newspaper article was penned by Charlene Arsenault.

22.95 US…GREAT Price for a GREAT ALBUM!

VARIOUS: Rock ‘n’ Roll War (MINT/OOP/OZ/24 TRACKS)

Issued in Australia by Vicious Kitten Records in 2000. Prefix and catalog number are VK008. Complete title as follows, VARIOUS ARTISTS ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll War – A Compilation of International Rock Action’. Track listing: THE DICTATORS – “Who Will Save Rock ‘n’ Roll?” / SYLVAIN SYLVAIN – “Trash” / HITMEN D.T.K. – “Something Wicked” / KEVIN K BAND – “Losing Hurts” / Z-28 – “Yeah Yeah” / RICK BLAZE & THE BALLBUSTERS – “Born To Die” / ASTEROID B-612 – “September Crush” / JEFF DAHL – “Caught In A Dream” / ROAD VULTURES – “Stranded in L.A.” / BROTHER BRICK – “See You Tonight” / SOUR JAZZ – “I Live On A Street Called Rock ‘n’ Roll” / THE BOTSWANAS – “Jennifer” / THE GOLDEN ARMS – “Diamond Head” / FREDDY LYNXX & THE CORNER GANG – “No Room For You” / CHRIS MASUAK – “Stone Cold Pity” / NIKKI SUDDEN – “Looking At You” / SHEEK THE SHAYK – “Mary Lee” / TEXAS TERRI & THE STIFF ONES – “Women Should Be Wilder” / TRASH BRATS – “Nice Girl To Visit” / DENIZ TEK – “Out Of The Mood” / B-MOVIE RATS – “1000 Miles” / REPO – “Fistful Of Redbacks” / PIRATE LOVE – “Midnight Song” / PETE WELLS BAND – “Nothing Wrong With Money” (Live). An international collection of rock ‘n’ roll action featuring 24 tracks from some of the best band’s on the planet. This title is out of print. Condition is Mint (new & unplayed). Here’s the deal: Winning bid pays shipping & handling charges, USA, your choice, shipped either first class mail/delivery confirmation for $3.00 or priority mail/delivery confirmation for $5.75. CANADA, EUROPE, AUSTRALIA and JAPAN shipped First Class Mail International, check with us for rates. We must receive payment no later than 7 days from date of purchase. To All Overseas Buyers Please Read The Following Disclaimer: We Will Not Mark Shipments As Gifts Or Devalue Them In Anyway.Overseas Buyers Are Responsible For All Tariffs/Duty Imposed. We Will Not Be Responsible For Uninsured Lost/Missing Shipments. Any questions, give us a shout. Thanx for looking & good luck!