Released on February 21, 2020 (Squib Kick Records)
It’s very rare that a musician can pull off the majestic feat of handling all facets of an album — vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and production — and come up with a good album. In fact, until I heard Rich Kid Express‘ EP, all of the previous records that I had heard from one-man acts fell short one way or another. Usually, it’s the tricky vocal department where one-man acts sadly fall short or simply fail. A few recent examples of one-man shows that should have really gotten someone else to handle the lead vocals include Bad Montana‘s (Sean O’Donnell‘s) album Eye of The Hurricane and Pablo de León & The Mother Coyote Band‘s record Mother Coyote. For the latter, it wasn’t even a one-man act as de Léon “only” handled the vocals, guitar and bass. Whatever the case, I have never really liked any album from a one-man act until hearing Rich Kid Express‘ debut EP Bubblegum Radio.
Before I get to Rich Kid Express‘ very good EP, I have to mention the man behind it — Rob Richardson. I first became aware of Richardson through his record label Squib Kick Records. For those of you not familiar with it, it’s a small label that essentially put out The Bad Somethings‘ debut self-titled EP. Although I liked the songs that I heard from The Bad Somethings, I actually declined to review it since it was only released in digital format. I know, perhaps a little shallow on my part but I like my CDs and there’s too many albums to review in any case so why not prioritize the ones that release their albums in physical format? It might sound odd but I’ve given sometimes somewhat negative reviews to albums that I only listened to digitally (Diemonds‘ Never Wanna Die comes to mind) that ended up becoming one of my favorite records of the year once I listened to it on CD (Never Wanna Die finished at #3 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2015).
What I recently learned from Richardson is that he is actually one half of The Bad Somethings as Richardson‘s side kick in that band — Leo Davidson — is actually David Barker while Richardson was previously going under the “stage” name Kenny Richie. Given that Squib Kick Records has also released Richardson‘s solo project Rich Kid Express, it turns out that Squib Kick Records might simply be a vehicle for Richardson to get his music out to the masses. And frankly, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, Mötley Crüe first released their debut album Too Fast For Love on their own record label Leathür Records and the rest is history.
To me, the oddest part of Rich Kid Express‘ Bubblegum Radio EP was the choice of the first advance single, which was the title track. To say that I was underwhelmed at first would be an understatement. The song was quite poppy and simply not what I would usually gravitate to. Throw in the kid like EP cover and it was therefore with some trepidation that I put on the Bubblegum Radio EP when it later arrived at the Sleaze Roxx headquarters. I was actually shocked when I heard the opening track “You Went Too Far.” It was really good, simple yet classic type rock n’ roll and heavier than the title track. Built on a guitar riff whose simplicity would make AC/DC proud, the track oozes melodies in a classic Alice Cooper way. Richardson‘s vocals and the feel of the song pretty much immediately reminded me of the shock rock master and that’s a great thing! Rich Kid Express indicate that their music is “70s / 80s style classic hard rock” and I couldn’t agree more. By the time that the second track “The Way She Rolls” was done, and despite some cheesy lyrics at times (“I like the way she rocks, but I love the way she rolls”), the song was so catchy that I found myself singing along.
Next up was the title track, which I didn’t like as a stand alone song, but surprisingly fits quite nicely on the EP. It’s still my least favorite track on the EP but just like the second track, I found myself singing along to the chorus. In some ways, the title track is like a classic Alice Cooper curve ball. When I first heard “Is It My Body” off Alice Cooper‘s Love It To Death, I didn’t like it but over time, listening to it in the context of the entire record, I found it to be a brilliant track. It’s the same thing for a song such as “Sick Things” off Alice Cooper‘s classic record Billion Dollar Babies. It’s an odd track on its own but fits rather nicely on the album. I am not sure if I will ever think “Bubblegum Radio” rises to the level of “brilliant” but listening it to on the EP along with the other four tracks, it fits in really nicely. Next up is the best song on the EP — “Just A Dog” — where Richardson‘s vocals and melodies really remind me of the Coop sprinkled with a little bit of Helix on the chorus section (probably due to the latter’s classic track “Dirty Dog”). Upon hearing “Just A Dog”, I couldn’t help but wonder why Rich Kid Express didn’t start off with that track as its opening single. The Bubblegum Radio EP closes off with another solid rock n’ roll track in “Steamroller.”
Aside from the great melodies, what really struck me on Rich Kid Express‘ Bubblegum Radio EP was how good Richardson‘s vocals sound in the context of the songs themselves. There is no doubt that Richardson will not be the next Tim “Ripper” Owens with his vocal range and delivery but the former’s singing fits the songs on the Bubblegum Radio EP so well and is very similar to what Alice Cooper accomplishes on his albums. I think it’s fair to say that the Coop has never been considered a “great” singer but he has a knack for delivering songs that always compliments his vocals and it’s the same for Richardson. Within a few listens of the Bubblegum Radio EP, I knew exactly what I was going to say in my review but rather than just review it and move on to the next album, I decided to simply enjoy the EP for a couple more days before delivering this review. Rich Kid Express‘ Bubblegum Radio EP is the surprise album of the year for me. I never thought that I would enjoy it so much and it will definitely be on a regular rotation for the rest of 2020.
01. You Went Too Far
02. The Way She Rolls
03. Bubblegum Radio
04. Just A Dog
Rob Richardson – lead and background vocals, guitar, bass, drums, keys
Kayden Richardson – background vocals (3)
Ryan Richardson – background vocals (3)
Produced and engineered by Rob Richardson
Mastered by David Harris
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, March 2020
Rich Kid Express‘ “Just A Dog” video:
Fun dog video, for the song “Just A Dog” off the new “Bubblegum Radio” EP. AVAILABLE NOW! Spotify – http://bit.ly/RKEBGRadio Apple Music – http://bit.ly/AMRK…
Rich Kid Express‘ “Bubblegum Radio” video:
Title track off the Bubblegum Radio EP by RICH KID EXPRE$$. Just a little tribute to the 70’s era of Glam Rock and Bubblegum scene. PRE-SALE @ Bandcamp – htt…
Rich Kid Express‘ “You Went Too Far” single:
Track 1 from the “Bubblegum Radio” EP NOW AVAILABLE! Spotify – https://open.spotify.com/album/3JlbhJcRhLpUF2UDfzTDRd Apple Music – http://bit.ly/AMRKE Facebo…