By the time Redd Kross released Show World in 1997, they had already been a successful recording act for almost two decades. I thought that maybe this one would propel them from the minor leagues into the household name category, but once again the masses turned a deaf ear, and thirteen years later I’m still waiting for the next one. Two years after its release, guitarist Eddie Kurdziel died, and the band put everything on the back burner.
Hard to believe that it’s been thirty years since their debut EP. Harder to comprehend is that leaders and brothers Jeff McDonald and Steven McDonald are still young pups in their mid-forties; they recorded Red Cross when they were teenagers. Forced to change their name for obvious reasons, they released six albums over the next seventeen years, slowly moving from punk rock and juvenile subject matter to more highly polished material that rivaled the best powerpop songs of their era.
Many fans preferred the hardcore punk days when subject matter ranged from cereal and comic books to Hollywood celebrities like Linda Blair and Mackenzie Phillips; Neurotica is often mentioned as their best work. I was gobsmacked when “Annie’s Gone” came blasting out of my speakers; great vocals, big guitars and a hook that could snag a whale…
Video: “Annie’s Gone”
They mastered the art of mixing bubblegum pop, glam rock and hard rock into an irresistable mix, which is why I much prefer the later releases (Third Eye, Phaseshifter and Show World) that focused on those crunchy pop rock nuggets. Show World in particular has three stone-cold classics in the first five tracks – “Pretty Please Me” (a faithful cover of classic by The Quick), “Stoned” and the shoulda-been-a-smash-hit “Mess Around”. Radio blew it once again.
Video: “Mess Around” (live)
The band has been making live appearances over the past few years and a limited release of a live CD/DVD called Got Live If You Must (a takeoff on an early Rolling Stones title) was gobbled up by lucky fans. There have been one-off projects by Ze Malibu Kidz and The Steven McDonald Group, and their Bitchin’ Ass podcasts have kept fans in stitches.
Judging by that video clip, the boys are in top form. Reportedly their new release – recorded with drummer Roy McDonald (no relation) and former guitarist Robert Hecker – is almost ready to rock. I’ve been waiting thirteen years, so I’m ready!
Listen to song clips at Amazon.
Visit the Redd Kross website and their MySpace page.
Speaking of blasts from the past, bug-eyed British comic Marty Feldman would have been 76 years old today. He left us far too soon; dead of a heart attack at 49. Most people know his work in the Mel Brooks films but were unaware of his small screen work, from his writing and performing on British television to the American era staring with his debut as part of Dean Martin’s show. He combined physical comedy, quick-witted dialogue and absurd situations in a unique mix that people all over the world responded to.
R.I.P., Marty – thanks for all those smiles.