KINGS OF THE SUN
RAZED ON ROCK
Released on October 20, 2016 (Independent)
Kings Of The Sun are a band from Australia, best known for their mid-’80s hits “Serpentine”, “Black Leather”, and “Drop the Gun.” Between 1988’s self-titled release and 1990’s Full Frontal Attack, the band made inroads in North America with interesting guitar lines and a killer drummer.
I’ve been a fan of Kings Of The Sun since I heard their first release on late night Canadian television in ’88. God love the CBC! My band used to play “Tom Boy” to a slightly bemused crowd, but it was fun to jam out. Full Frontal Attack was much more hyperactive and probably a more solid album musically, however 1993’s Resurrection fell apart somewhat. Nevertheless, there were still some good tunes on it like “The First Thing I Remember” or the frantic “How to Pick Up Girls.” The writing seemed more honest, but the overall song quality had declined, perhaps due to various changes in personnel and issues with the record label.
Kings Of The Sun morphed into The Rich And Famous in 2004. After below-average results for that experiment (which included a saxophone), I rushed to get Stand Back And Prepare To Be Amazed in 2007. It was closer to vintage Kings Of The Sun, but still lacked that earlier edge.
Skip forward a few albums to December 2016. Sleaze Roxx asked its readers on Facebook to identify any album that it hadn’t reviewed yet this year that may be worthy. One intrepid post suggested Razed On Rock, so I was intrigued… I figured I’d give it a shot.
The title track is not exactly the best album opener. It’s a little slower than it should be, with a pretty basic drum and guitar line. I can picture AC/DC jamming it out in-studio and saying “naah, too easy.” “Struck By Lightning” is a little closer to what I have grown accustomed to from Kings Of The Sun. The guitar isn’t exactly relentless, but it never stops making noise, which is good. The chorus is strong and the riff is cool. The mid-tempo ballad “Fallen Rockstar” is pretty predictable fodder. Neither here nor there, it could be a Quireboys toss off, except for the weak attempt at a blues-based solo. I’m no fan of these types of songs.
Coming back with “Braveheart” is no recovery. I’m not sure what style Kings Of The Sun is going for here — mid-tempo power rocker, or what. There’s a brief The Doors like keyboard break, then suddenly the song picks up into something decent. Unfortunately that’s over two minutes into the six and a half minute song. Meanwhile, I sure wish I could remember where I heard the riff and vocal line for “Black Dog” before, because I’m sure it was somewhere famous — and no, not Led Zeppelin, but something much sleazier.
Much like U2’s depressing “Van Diemen’s Land” from 1988’s Rattle And Hum, the Kings Of The Sun song by the same name has some feel but little emotion. While I hear lyrics referring to the arrival of the exiled to Australia, and references to capital punishment, I just can’t get into this song. Maybe like Canada’s The Tragically Hip singing “50 Mission Cap”, you just need to be a local to get it. If that is the case, I will give this song a pass before irate Aussies get upset and jump all over me. Please explain…
“Shots Fired Out” is a real southern US stomp of a blues song. Being a fan of sleazy acoustic blues, this speaks to me. It’s not going down as a classic by any means, but it is a much needed feel good song on Razed On Rock. Finally, “Whip Me Like A Horse” starts slow but picks up tempo early on… It’s a difficult thing to do as a band and it turns into a half decent rock song. Oh, yes, then Kings Of The Sun chose to reprise “Razed On Rock” as an acoustic ballad. To be honest, it’s better than the rock version in some places. The acoustic guitar sounds great, and Clifford Hoad’s vocals are solid, when he’s not improvising.
Looking back to the ’80s and early ’90s, Kings Of The Sun were one of my go to bands. They had powerful vocals, spectacular guitar riffs, and crazy drumming. To me, many of their tracks still stand up over the years as solid sleaze rock. Razed On Rock has very little of that. It is an album with average writing and not much vision. I truly wish I could be more positive, but Razed On Rock just doesn’t have it.
01. Razed On Rock
02. Struck By Lightning
03. Fallen Rockstar
05. Black Dog
06. Van Diemen’s Land
07. Shot Fired Out
08. Whips Me Like A Horse
09. Razed On Rock (Ballad)
Clifford Hoad – drums, lead vocals
Rowie Riot – lead, electric and acoustic guitars
Shar Roxxon – rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals
Laurie Marlow – bass
Produced by Clifford Hoad
King Of The Sun‘s “Struck By Lightning” video:
World premiere of STRUCK BY LIGHTNING, the track from new Kings of the Sun album Razed on Rock. The track was premiered on 3RRR’s The Australian Mood show ho…
King Of The Sun‘s “Razed On Rock” video:
World premiere of Razed on Rock, title track from the brand new Kings of the Sun album, on 3RRR Melbourne’s radio show called The Australian Mood hosted by N…