Band members Related acts
- Kim Fowley (RIP) -- vocals
supporting musicians (1973)
- Ron Burns -- percussion
- Justin Cheen -- percussion
- John Elstar -- harmonica
- Scott Kerry -- rhythm guitar, percussion
- Tony Mac -- drums, percussion
- Tony Marsh -- keyboards
- Charlie McCracken -- bass
- Peter Moss -- banjo, autoharp, keyboards, mandolin,
recorder, vibes, etc.
- Glen Turner - lead guitar, rhythm guitar, percussion
supporting musicians (1991)
- David Carr (RIP) -- keyboards
- Peter Radszuhn -- guitar
- Dave Rimmer -- bass
- Chris Wilson -- lead guiatr
- Kim and the Skippers
- Skip and Flip
- Ron Scuderi
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: International Heroes
Country/State: Los Angeles, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: includes original inner sleeve with lyrics
Catalog ID: 5940
By my count 1973's "International Heroes" was Kim Fowley's eighth studio set in six years. Not a bad catalog for a guy better known as a tireless schemer, manager, songwriter, and producer rather than as a singer. Anyhow, in case you somehow managed to overlook it, the album photos (complete with lipstick, eye shadow (spotlighting his red, glazed-over eyes) and then-stylish hi-heeled shoes) made it clear that Fowley was interested in pursuing his newest musical interests - namely glam and new wave moves. 'Course that probably shouldn't have come as a major surprise given his recent work which included co-producing Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers debut album. Produced by Jeffrey Cheen, tracks like 'King of Love', 'I Hate You', and 'Dancing All Night' certainly had a distinctive glam edge, but Fowley made certain that nothing was too far out there, ensuring that virtually every one of these ten originals had at least some commercial characteristics. The other big surprise was that his voice was so well matched to tougher numbers like the title track and 'King of Love'. On earlier, more pop-oriented releases his raspy voice was simply out of place. Not the case here. Simply a lost pleasure from start to stop. The album was also interesting for including brief comments about the songs (which I've included below).
One of my favorite recent discoveries and if there is truly such a creature, deserves to be labeled as a 'lost classic'. Shame Capitol had no idea how to market the collection. Bowie, Ian Hunter, and scores of other mid-1970s glam acts should be sending royalty checks to Fowley.
Heroes" track listing:
1.) International Heroes (Kerry Scott - Kim Fowley) - 3:19 rating: **** stars
The lead off title track was one of five songs co-written with rhythm guitarist Kerry Scott. Very nice slice of teenage angst that aptly served to showcase Fowley's growling voice and knack for penning commercial material. Easy to picture Bowie, or Mott the Hoople having take a shot at this one. Fowley described 'International Heroes' as: "A song written in the London Borough of Kensington by myself and Kerry Scott. You will note upon hearing this splendid composition, that it is indeed an anthem as well as a plea for :International Heroes" to save us from the "Teenage Blues". An employee of the British Vogue Magazine yelled "hit!" when this work of art was sung in my loving room by me." Capitol seemingly agreed, tapping it as an instantly obscure single though I've only seen promo copies:
- 1973's 'International Heroes' (stereo) b/w 'International Heroes' (mono) (Capitol catalog number ) (did not chart in the States)
2.) E.S.P. Reader (Skip Battin - Kim Fowley) - 2:47 rating: **** stars
Over his career Fowley wrote material for an unlikely list of acts ranging from Helen Reddy to Kiss. Another act that he collaborated with were the early 1970s Byrds. For a couple of years Byrds guitarist Skip Battin was a regular collaborator (if you doubt me simply check out The Byrds albums "Unititled" and "Byrdmaniax"). 'E.S.P. Reader' continued the Fowley-Battin partnership. Musically, thanks to Peter Moss's contributions, this was easily the album's prettiest composition. The song also had kind of an ominous lyrical undertone. Here's what Fowley had to say about the song: "I am an E.S.P. practitioner. It is fitting that I write a song about my interpretation of E.S.P. Mott the Hoople can attest to this as I predicted my own car crash before their Northampton gig. This epic was co-written by Skip Battin of the Byrds in his Topanga Canyon home the afternoon of the Strawberry Festival. The song had a devastatng effect on the Byrds' roadies, Al and Carlos who upon the completion of the writing of "E.S.P. Reader" drove a Porsche over a cliff in Malibu Canyon. All the wonderful acoustic noises on this cut are provided by Peter Moss who is taller than I am (if that's possible). The virtuoso bass pattern is laid down by Irish Charlie McCracken, Kerry's friend from Ireland and an ex member of Taste."
3.) King of Love (Glen Turner - Kim Fowley) - 3:18
Opening up with a great Beatles-styled guitar chord (courtesy of guitarist Glen Turner), 'King of Love' quickly exploded into a galloping rocker that should have provided Fowley with a massive commercial hit. Simply a great song with Turner pulling out a solo that would have made Chuck Berry proud. Fowley's comments on the song: "King of Love" is written by boy genius Glen Turner and Kim. Glen is 1 and comes from Sheffield, England. His Melbourne friend Ron Charles provides the eerie howls at the beginning of each verse. Glen and I wrote the song for Silverhead in Kensington where "King of Love" was conceived. In "King" I announce that I am normal and straight. I hope you are too."
4.) Ugly Stories About Rock Stars and the War (Kerry Scott - Kim Fowley) - 3:00 rating: **** stars
In spite of the cumbersome title, 'Ugly Stories About Rock Stars and the War' was one of the album's catchier songs. Kicked along by a Peter Moss banjo pattern, the song actually sounded like a late-inning Byrds composition. Quite catchy. "Another Kerry Scott/Kim Fowley song that deals on a West Coast revelation level with the distastes of yellow dog journalism. As we live in an oral literature subculture it is rather useless to comment on the printed word, but then again magazines have always been a source of information for me, as well as a source of knowledge and amusement, since I choose to spend most of my time alone. You might even interpret this work as a shrewd machine, and if you choose to believe this you're absolutely right."
5.) I Hate You (Lynn DeWolfe - Kim Fowley) - 3:17 rating: ***** stars
Along with the title, 'I Hate You' was one of the most glam-influenced tracks on the album. Supported by some wonderful chiming lead guitar from Glen Turner, this was the song Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople were always looking for. Fowley's commernts: "A musical event of subtle, frightening brilliance it was written and composed by Lynn de Wolfe and Kim Fowley in Vaxholm, Sweden. The song is directed towards the negative aspects of being intimidated by the mechanical - military - industrial complex. After listening on stunned surprise, you will surely come to the conclusion that I am a most ingenious villian; if you gave grasped anything at all. You will also note that I an truly the leader of the darker side of glamour. Ask Angela, the Montana Mining Magnate's daughter; she's a fan of Mae West just like me, as is Johnny Duncan whose instrumental subtlties add a razor edge to this and other cuts."
The album's first mild disappointment, 'Something New' was catchy enough in a jangly Byrds way, but sounded like Fowley doing a Byrds trying to mimic a Bob Dylan song. See Fowley's own comments about the influences: "A Kerry Scott and Kim musical extravaganza that is the favorite of our engineer Mike Ross, written in Chelsea off the Kinds Road, not less, even though it sounds like it was written at Ciro's on Sunset Strip in 1965. In 1965 at Ciro's on Sunset Strip I was a featured dancer with "Vito and the Hands", who performed nightly at all the Byrds gigs. Perhaps this influence rubs off years later. It was after one of those Ciro ggs that I jammed across the street with Bob Dylan on guitar and me on vocals, His influences are here too. Incidently, if you have any doubts about Dylan and I jamming together, Danny Hutton of Three Dog Night will verify the story as he was there and smiling."
-2.) Born Dancer (Skip Battin - Kim Fowley) - 2:36 rating: **** stars
eah, it sounded like The Byrds doing a sea shanty, but that may have been part of the song's appeal. Perhaps the album's most commercial track, the song also sported another great Glen Turner solo. "Another Skip Battin/Kim Fowley son gwritten in Honolulu and Topanga Canyon. The song is for She-Wolf and should alleviate the fears of anyone who considers me a male chauvinist pig. Speaking of She-Wolf, Walter Samuel at the 16 track would like to meet her if she promises to ballet dance during overdubs. Madeline Bell is her vocal alter-ego at the end of the record."
3.) So Good, Wish You Would (Ralph Schuckett - Kim Fowley) - 4:09 rating: **** stars
Sonically 'So Good, Wish You Would' was the odd man out in this collection. Co-written by Clear Light member Ralph Shuckett, the song had a very 1960s vibe possible explained by the fact the song was likely written in the late 1960s. Regardless, great track with a nice funky beat. Not sure what the mid-section lyrical breakdown was about. Sounded like Fowley was suffering a stroke, but based on his liner notes, I suspect it may have been something else happening in the studio. "A Ralph Shuckett/Kim Fowley song, Ralph had played with Clear Light, Jo Mama, and Moogy and the Rhythm Kings, as well as on the Carole King album. We wrote this song together in Laurel Canyon after a wild party I staged in my dog-hole. The lead vocal on this selection like all the others on the LP was done in Marrakesh, Morocco. My Moroccan girlfriend at the time began an exotic dance which cause the vocal fire which you hear during the solo. Speaking of the 'vocal fire' in the solo, my producer Jeffrey Cheen can't stand it, and asked that I mention that he wanted it removed, and only out of kindness did he allow it to remain on the album. A defintive expression of sleeze, and a wonderful song to listen to on a wet and windy night."
4.) World Wide Love (Kerry Scott - Kim Fowley) - 2:56 rating: **** stars
'World Wide Love' was a breezy, surprisingly commercial pop song. That made it one of the album's biggest surprises and unexpected delights. Captiol should have tapped it as a single. "A Kerry Scott/Kim Fowley musical statement of blonde, California Zydeco. This musical smile happened in Kensington, and is one of Martin Kitcat's favorite cuts on the LP. It is also a thank-you to She-Wolf and her reassuring phone call. It also describes my weariness of having lived in Toronto, Helsinki, Vaxholm, The Chateau Marmont, Anderson Valley California, Seattle, Memphis, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, The Modern Lover's House in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Houston, Honolulu, Demark, and Munich during the last three years."
5.) Dancing All Night (Kerry Scott - Kim Fowley) - 3:11 rating: **** stars
The title captured the song's energy perfectly - 'Dancing All Night' was easily the album's toughest rocker and another song that Bowie or Hunter would have killed to have written. "Words and music by Kerry Scott and Kim Fowley. Should remind interested parties that this Chelsea-written composition is definiitley all night rock material. The piano on this and other tracks, except for contributions of Peter Moss, is performed by Tony Marsh."
For anyone interested, Fowley has an interesting website at: http://www.kimfowley.net/
Rating: 1 star *
Title: White Negroes In Deutschland
Country/State: Los Angeles, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/ VG+
Comments: green vinyl
Catalog ID: 3182
Pulling a page of of the David Bowie and Brian Eno lifestyle manual, the early 1990s found Kim Fowley living in a recently reunited Berlin.
A collaboration with Flamin' Groovies guitarist Chris Wilson, 1993's "White Negroes In Deutschland" was a quickie live set covering a haphazard mix of garage rock classics and some of Fowley's newer and largely forgettable material. Recorded at a pair of Berlin performances, the fourteen tracks reflected middling sound - Fowley occasionally sounded like he was singing while sitting in a bathroom. Side one was recorded at an October 26, 1991 performance "before a Berlin Independence Day audience" (not sure what that meant. Side one at least had a couple of passable tracks ('Petra Kelly's Dead'), before the sponsors apparently pulled the plug on the show (I'm guessing that explains the album's subtitle "Banned In Berlin - Oct 26, 1992"). Side two reflected a 25 October, 1992 sound check at Berlin's Huxley's Neu Welt Club. As bad as side one was, the side two sound check sides were simply horrible. Okay, there was a little bit of decent Chris Wilson slide guitar on 'E.E.C.C. Blues' and his voice was far better than Fowley's, but man this was tough slogging.
Negroes In Deutschland" track listing:
1.) Berlin Boogie (Kim Fowley) - 4:29 rating: *** stars
The intro was needless; the band marginally competent, the audience lukewarm, the song ... a largely forgettable bar band rocker. Admittedly Fowley could still sing; reflecting surprising power in his voice. Lots and lots of references to "naked angels". Guess he was playing in a strip club.
2.) Moonlight In Germany (Kim Fowley) - 4:26 rating: ** stars
The opening sounded like the band was playing two separate songs and when they finally settled on one tune 'Moonlight In Germany' turned out to be one of the dullest performances you could have imagined. Even guitarist Peter Radszuhn sounded like he was going through the motions.
3.) Petra Kelly's Dead (Kim Fowley) - 3:42 rating: *** stars
The late Petra Kelly was known as one of the founders of Germany's Green Party. She was shot by her partner who then committed suicide. You had to wonder how German audiences felt about Fowley's tribute ... Compared to some of his catalog, Fowley seemed to treat the subject with care and consideration. Nice rock arrangement, though the song just kind of hit a brick wall and Fowley could have done a little more in the lyric department ...
4.) Back In the USSR (John Lennon - Paul McCartney) - 3:00 rating: * star
friend German author Dave Rimmer handled the lead vocals on 'Back In the
USSR'. Shame since he was apparently tone deaf.
'Gloria' featured another guest singer (who was at least better than Rimmer), and introduced Fowley's long promised "naked angels". Not that it did you any good listening to the album. Luckily 'Gloria' is one of those classic tunes that can survive virtually any situation, including this drunk fest. The only real question was how did these guys manage to keep going for almost nine minutes.
6.) Peter R. Defends Kimania (Kim Fowley) - 0:49 rating: * star
In spite of the threat to perform a disco song, 'Peter R. Defends Kimania' marked the unexpected end of the set. Even Fowley appeared uncertain as to what had happened as the band hastily exited the stage.
7.) Skin Head Boot Boy Mambo (Kim Fowley) - 0:25 rating: * star
'Skin Head Boot Boy Mambo' was nothing more than 25 second of a German MC asking the crowd if they wanted Fowley to come back onstage.
8.) O.K. Shitheads (Kim Fowley) - 0:46 rating: * star
'O.K Shitheads' was just a continuation of the MC yelling at the crowd.
1.) Third World Girl (Spanish Fly) (Kim Foley) - 2:25 rating: * star
Was this really a song, or just a stoned Fowley killing time while his band try to get in tune?
2.) Heart of a Dog (Kim Foley) - 0:52 rating: * star
Even worse than 'Third World Girl' ...
3.) E.E.C.C. Blues (Kim Foley) - 7:34 rating: ** star
I guess this was Fowley trying to sing the blues. That's not to say this was listeable by any stretch of the imagination. And it went on and on and on ... Wilson's part of the song was far better.
4.) Soul of a Madman (Kim Foley) - 1:18 rating: * star
Seriously, can I get my money back?
5.) World Beat Party (Kim Foley) - 3:19 rating: *** stars
Well, at least 'World Beat Party' bore some semblance to a song. It wasn't a good song, but at least it was a song.
6.) Night of Pagan Sex (Kim Foley) - 6:28 rating: * star
OMG, this might be the dullest, most depressing song in the entire rock and roll catalog. A pox on it.
Rating: 2 stars **
Title: Hotel Insomnia
Country/State: Los Angeles, California
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: purple vinyl
Catalog ID: 6136
Kim Fowley's not exactly a household name, but with a musical career that stretches back to the early-1960s there's a good chance that even if you don't recognize the name you've come across something he's done as an A&R man, DJ, poet, producer, manager, etc.
Released by the L.A.-based Marilyn label, 1993's self-produced "Hotel Insomnia" served as my introduction to Fowley the artist. I remember being less than overwhelmed by the set, left to wonder what all the excitement was about. Responsible for all of the material, judging by these 14 tracks Fowley wasn't a particularly gifted writer and his singing voice was best deemed an acquired taste - better than Leon Redbone, but not by much. Musically the set bounced across various genres, but a disproportionate number of tracks showcased Fowley as kind of a Dylan wannbe - never a good artistic corner to be in ... Actually about half of the tracks sounded like demos that Fowley may have planned to shop around to other acts.
Insomnia" track listing:
1.) Failure Rock (Kim Fowley) - rating: *** stars
'Failure Rock' was one weird track - apparently an autobiographical number, the song melded a nice punk rock-flavored base with Fowley-has-the-last-laugh reflections on his interfaces with Hollywood. Easy to see Mott the Hoople recording this one.
2.) 1983: Year of the Bleeding Trees (Kim Fowley) - rating: **** stars
'1983: Year of the Bleeding Trees' had a surprisingly funky rhythm (think mid-1980s Talking Heads) with a glam-styled vocal delivery. Love to know what Fowley's eclectic lyrics were about ...
3.) Back On the Road To Nowhere (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
Complete with Al Kooper styled organ, the bluesy ballad 'Back On the Road To Nowhere' found Fowley seemingly trying out his best Dylan impersonation. Not exactly the easiest song to sit through. The violin accompaniment sounded like fingernails scratching on a chalkboard.
4.) Citizen Kane (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
'Citizen Kane' continued in the sensitive/songwriter vein complete with an extensive celebrity name check. The lyric was interesting, though once again the plotline was lost on me.
5.) Precious Kate (Kim Fowley) - rating: *** stars
'Precious Kate' offered up another slice of Dylan-wannabe, though this time around the song had a decent melody.
6.) Shape the Night (Kim Fowley) - rating: **** stars
About as close to a pop song as Fowley was going to get, 'Shape the Night' was actually quite likable. Yeah, the violin drove me crazy, but the song was strong enough to make you forget about Fowely's ragged voice.
7.) My Foolish Heart (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
With a folk-rock arrangement, 'My Foolish Heart' sounded like a demo he might have written for The Byrds. The song started out promisingly, but never really kicked into gear, eventually simply running out of steam.
At least to my ears 'Angry Young Man' sounded like an older song. Not sure how to aptly describe it, but the instrumental backing track just had a mid-1960s vibe to it. Check out the pseudo-surf lead guitar. Kind of an entertaining 'protest' song with lots of name dropping. Wonder why it faded out so early ...
2.) Where the Cactus Grows (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
'Where the Cactus Grows' found Fowley trying on acoustic blues for size. It wasn't a particularly good fit ...
3.) Let's Rock 'n' Roll Tonight (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
The stark rocker 'Let's Rock 'n' Roll Tonight' (Just Fowley and an acoustic guitar), sounded as if he was interested in giving Bruce Springsteen a run for his money = )
4.) Teenage President Talking Blues (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
'Teenage President Talking Blues' was another slice of acoustic blues. Best description - dull ...
5.) Angel of Fire (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
Opening up with some electric piano, 'Angel of Fire' sported a touch of new wave angst, though the barebones arrangement left you with the impression this was just a demo.
6.) I'm Crazy (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
Wow, talk about truth in advertising - 'I'm Crazy' was bizarre even for Fowley. Wonder how many beers he'd consumed during this recording session ...
7.) He Is Pretty (Kim Fowley) - rating: ** stars
No stranger to glam, 'He Is Pretty' sounded like a demo penned for one of the late-1970s bands he established and managed. Quite raw and almost laughable in its effort to be shocking.
This is one of those albums I've listened to at least a dozen times trying to figure out what I've missed. I still don't know ... Maybe someone else out there will get it.
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