1998 may just be the year that King's X garners the worldwide devotion that they deserve and certainly have earned. They've paid their dues for over sixteen years now. It's time. Doug, Jerry, and Ty of King's X recently signed with Metal Blade Records, home of such dubiously-titled acts as both God Dethroned and Hecate Enthroned as well as Dark Funeral, Lord Belial, Screw, and Cannibal Corpse; yet also home to long-time friends, Galactic Cowboys. Regardless, they are excited about their three album deal, including a new album expected the fall of 1998. Let's hope that their new home proves to be the starting point of something truly big and wonderful for this beloved band. They are rockdom's best-kept secret, and I'm not alone in questioning why this prodigious band has remained in relative obscurity.
In the meantime, there are a pair of solo albums to keep King's X fans merrymaking. Pound Hound, Doug Pinnick's first solo album, is due this spring, and Moonflower Lane by Ty Tabor hit the streets on February 24 in the States, with a release in Japan and Europe to follow shortly. Naomi's Solar Pumpkin, Ty's first solo project, was released as an indie in 1997 and has different versions of six songs appearing on this new one, as well as four that don't (Moonflower Lane has a total of ten tracks). Ty is also teaming up with some of the Dream Theater members to release an album under the moniker Platypus. It's raining music.
Fans of King's X will rejoice. Moonflower Lane is decidedly King's X-ish in execution and overall tone. For those familiar with the songs Ty has sung in the past, like "Mississippi Moon" and "It's Love," you are in for more of the same here. The new songs neither over-extend his songcraft into bizarre areas, nor step back, but are rather solidly in keeping with what Ty does best. That being his mix of Beatlesque vocals with harmonizing hard rock sensibilities in a powerful combination of beautiful song arrangements and great guitar riffs. The songs soar, the guitars rock, and deft drumming from Alan Doss of Galactic Cowboys (his partner for this album) keeps the beat with indisputable skill. The sitar makes a slight return on "I Know Everything," and Frank Hart of Atomic Opera even lends some cello bits. The other Galactic Cowboys also make appearances here and there, but neither Doug nor Jerry of King's X show up. This only makes for a departure in band credits, not in the King's X signature sound, which is assuredly intact for the most part.
Moonflower Lane is not quite as aggressive and funky as King's X; neither is it full of slouching, self-indulgent experiments that smite some solo releases. Tabor's album is certainly full of requisite power rockers, introspective lyrics, delicate ballads, and outright anthems. It's sensitive, timely stuff that will bring waves of resounding euphoria to your ear.
One departure from recent King's X tradition, however, is that these songs are both joyful and refreshingly free of cynicism in mood as well as more overtly inspirational in overall character. In most of these tracks, Ty celebrates his devotion to either God or his wife in songs that are clearly concerned with doing the right thing under heaven and in earthly relationships. It's not all love and roses, however; songs like "The Truth" continue Ty's deserved criticism of misguided Christian preachers, and others like "Hollow Eyes" are more elusive. Some of the love songs seem a tad quaint if you read the lyrics, but are nevertheless heartfelt and honest in sonic elocution much like the passionate delivery on the rest of the album. In a moment of true celebration, Ty captures a wonderfully-spirited sentiment when he sings:
I look for the Voice that will move like the wind
The packaging is curious. The album cover art is a shadowy photo of Ty with a purple moonflower over his right eye and a purple moon just to the left of his head. I don't much care for it. It's not quite up to the wonderfully artsy standards the band has set in the past (Dogman notwithstanding). Don't let the poor packaging fool you; the contents are well-produced, polished, and perfectly fit for consummation.
Be careful, however. To be honest, Moonflower Lane took a little time to grow on me...but many of the best albums do. I very quickly found myself singing along, and that's a large part of the fun. If you like King's X, this is a must; if not, you owe it to yourself to get in on the secret.
By Steven Stuart Baldwin