The flat mate who was having sex whilst I played Sparklehorse loved Kingmaker. I remember him vividly, singing along to this album (badly, out of tune, and without a care in the world) often he would forget the words and kind of ‘la la la’ a bit until the chorus kicked it and then it would be back to a very bad X Factor audition impression. I’m not sure what the ladies saw in him but I hope to God it wasn’t his singing skills. He was fluent in six languages so maybe it was that.
Where was I? Oh yeah Kingmaker, the third best band to ever come out of Hull (Debate time, name the other two…) I once got mildly slated in the mainstream press for calling Kingmaker a poor man’s Jesus Jones. I can understand why now in hindsight because Kingmaker are better than Jesus Jones. The poor man’s Wonder Stuff perhaps, without the fiddles, or the intelligent man’s Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, without the two basses? To be honest I just wanted to name check Ned’s Atomic Dustbin there, Kingmaker sound nothing like them.
Kingmaker’s early work achieved moderate success, they had Top 20 hits and their debut album called Eat Yourself Whole was really well received (and rightly so, its excellent). At the time, they were, along with so many others, The Next Big Thing (a phrase which basically deals a death blow to any band). After the success of the debut album, they struggled creatively, the second album failed to set the world on fire. Soon Kingmaker were criticised by the Hull glitterati (two words I never thought I would ever type together there…) for being middle class pretenders and they fell out of fashion. Personally I think Britpop happened and we were too busy listening to Menswear in our skinny jeans to notice Kingmaker any more.
Kingmaker split after the release of In the Best Possible Taste. They reformed again a few years ago without charismatic lead singer Loz Hardy, I’m not sure what happened to him but he always had a catchy soundbite to quote. To me he was the spirit behind Kingmaker and without him they seemed like faceless blokes who could have been in any band at any time. The problem was that when they released the LP no one was listening anymore – it bombed terribly failing to make the Top 75. The lead single made the Top 40 but only just.
I don’t think it helped that the album itself was released one month after the death of Kenny Everett – and I’m not sure if people though they were being ironic or not. Bit of a shame really as its pretty good, its flirts with rockabilly a couple of times on it, which is NEVER EVER a good thing, even if you are a rockabilly band – whether we the public are to blame for their demise for not getting it or whether it was just that they stopped making excellent records its not for me to say (but it’s the latter of the two) – its still a shame that Kingmaker never became as popular as they should have been.
mp3 : Kingmaker – You and I Will Never See Things Eye To Eye
I heartily recommend the debut album of Kingmaker, you all own much worse records, (probability is that at least one person reading this will own a Toploader record or something by The 1975) but I wouldn’t recommend the New Kingmaker (Kingmaker MMX to give them their full, terrible name) to you though, although tracks are available to download or stream on their website so you can decide for yourself.
JC adds the only Kingmaker single from the collection. Have to say, listening to it again for the first time in the best part of 20 years do I hear what S-WC has pointed out and that’s how similar they sound to Wonder Stuff, a band I caught live a couple of times in that era. Time has passed very quickly.
mp3 : Kingmaker – Ten Years Asleep