Sunday, January 16, 2005

King Face

Self-titled EP
King Face, 1987

Another of the incredible 2nd-gen Dischord bands - except they never recorded an original record for the label. Still, Mark Sullivan played in one or two of the high school Ian-Jeff bands, MacKaye produced this, at (where else?) Inner Ear, their lyrics of self-reliance/soul-baring fit with the others and they certainly played a bunch of local shows with the other Dischordians at that time. This record aptly captures their live show energy, a good thing and a bad thing. Good because, well, their live shows were pretty memorable. Bad because they occasionally over-reached - a sin that is forgivable live but all to obvious when listening to a recording. This is most present in the opening and closing cuts of this six song EP. Can't recall ever liking the bluesy harmonica-laced "Crawl Into Tomorrow" - the 1st song on the a-side - but I kinda have to respect 'em for trying to break out of the mold. They just don't have it to do the blues-rock thing, though, whatever "it" is. And that last cut, "Like A King" is about two minutes too long and bloated with jamming, that like I said, over-reaches beyond their talent.

Where they hit is in their simpler, tighter cuts. "I Don't Want To Be Anything" was their big crowd-pleaser at their memorable live shows - in a flash this song would turn the front of the stage into a manic, crazy mosh-scene with Mark Sullivan seemingly whipping his dreadlocks into the crowd.

"Anyone" has an opening guitar riff that sounds like a Dead song that is subversively laid on a thrashpop bass-drum bed. I love the paradoxical lyrics sung without irony by the distinctive voice of Mark Sullivan:
If anyone starts talking to you about human nature
Ignore them, it means they're as dumb as their parents were
Our nature is to change our nature
"Lick the Moon" and "Lull-A-Bye" are also stand-outs on this out of print record, the latter featuring some fine guitar work by Pat Bobst. The band broke up after about three years (1989, I believe) and then reunited in the late '90s. I believe Dischord put out a CD anthology but that too is sadly out of print - someone should do something about that sad fact.

Record sleeve and insert was designed by Cynthia Connolley with a lovely Leslie Clague set of band photos.

Band line-up (in order of pictures):
Pat Bobst - Guitar
Larry Colbert - Drums
Andy Rapoport - Bass
Mark Sullivan - Vocals
Listen to some King Face songs and tell me what you think (limited time availability):

Links/Where Are They Now?:
  • Flex's King Face discography was helpful - KF also have a cut on the Dischord State of the Union compilation)
  • Mark Sullivan has gone on to greatness in the publishing world with his thriving NYC-based Akashic books. They publish everything from Krist Novoselic's Of Grunge and Government to edgy Cuban crime fiction.
  • Per Dag House, Bassist Andy Rapaport showed up to play with the one-off Looters DC show at the Black Cat anniversary last year. And there was a 2000 Joe Talbott indie movie Eat Me! that includes King Face music and Andy acting (he's also had a bit part in John Waters' Pecker) - haven't seen Eat Me! but it got played at a side-festival at Cannes.


Eric said...

haven't listened to this one in years. Kind of different from the usual DC sound - more rock or something. I dig it though. Also of interest is the live double 7", which I remember liking.

I think Mark Sullivan was Bobby Sullivan's (soulside vocalist) older brother, for what it's worth.

Funny, I was just thinking of doing a post on "State of the Union" this week. Now I can do a tie-in

Anonymous said...

Great to know of other KF appreciators. This live recording:

will thrill and delight, for sure!


Jim H said...

Thanks Mike - I was aware of this but it was an oversight on my part not to have included the link - here's the direct link to save people the trouble of having to cut and paste into their browser:

Kingface LiveCheck out Mike Lupica's radio show which is linked at the bottom and is available in MP3 (96 kbps) and other formats.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Crawl Into Tomorrow is probably my favorite song of theirs, i LOVE the harmonica..

I don't like the audience singing ability in the 9:30 live recording though. haha

KF rocks, even today.