It's been 38 years since Boston's REAL KIDS debuted with the finest rock'n'roll record ever committed to tape, and now they're back with a long-awaited new full-length on legendary hometown label Ace Of Hearts and Canada's Ugly Pop.
Of course, long time fans can always be excused some apprehension when a band of this vintage presents new material so deep into their career, but there's no cause to fret here. “Shake...Outta Control” is a fantastic return to form, a strong set of powerful, memorable and engaging songs that do absolute justice to this band's legacy. While some bands lose track of their own soul in forced attempts at progression, and others risk diminishing returns by simply treading the water of their earlier work, 2014 finds the Real Kids negotiating this path beautifully. Boasting both the raw energy and tough hooks of 1977 and the matured chops and expanded palette of frontman John Felice's “Nothing Pretty” LP, the dozen songs on this disc settle easily among the band's best work. Producer Rick Harte guides with an expert hand, integrating Hammond organ and pedal steel seamlessly into a full yet suitably unpolished whole, and the songs run the gamut from quieter but intense ballads like a definitive new “Common At Noon” and a sublime take on Jonathan Richman's “Fly Into The Mystery” to fast-paced rockers like “All Night Boppin'” (powered along by highly caffeinated barroom piano) and of course the instant classic title track, a high-energy gem anchored by the sort of classic Boston punk rock'n'roll riff that made this band's name. Culminating in an incendiary “Who Needs You?”, this is a genuine Real Kids record that will thrill new fans and old alike.
Superbly mastered at New York's renowned Sterling Sound, the “Shake...Outta Control” LP was cut 100% analog direct from tape and pressed at RIP-V on 180G vinyl for an incredible high-quality deluxe package.
The first “real” Real Kids album since 1977? I always considered Norton Records’ No Place Fast a Real Kids album, but I guess it’s not, as it consists of Real Kids and Taxi Boys recordings. Some of the songs on Shake… have been floating around since Real Kids founder John Felice was planning the second album way back in the late ‘70s. Even before I heard this record was coming out, I would often wonder what happened to the album the Real Kids was working on in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s. So, what to say about Shake…? It doesn’t suck! But is that really something to say, when the first thought that came to my mind was “this doesn’t suck?” Really, it’s reductive and oafish of me to write that, but I did think those thoughts. The recordings are good and warm, a much better mix than on the Down to You EP from 1999 (something about the drums on those recordings will always bother me). John Felice’s voice has held up pretty well. He was never a good “singer,” but that’s not the point. It’s just that sometimes I feel he’s reaching for notes he can’t hit. What Felice really is is a good songwriter: the man can write a hook, he’s got a signature guitar sound that any Real Kids fan can pick up on immediately, and he does the heart-on-sleeves thing but doesn’t make it feel cheesy. There’s an updated version of “Common at Noon,” slowed down and with extra instruments that improves on the original. The back cover photo should really have been the front cover.
–Sal Lucci (RAZORCAKE)