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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

342. "Won't Find Better Than Me" by The Kit Kats

People, I'm really tired, and really burnt out, and sort of struggling to stay just two days behind on the blog right now, and it comes down to this: gremlins. There's no other explanation. No matter what I do, I can't stop that 13-string track at the beginning of this song from breaking up all staticky-like. The meters didn't peak; the waveform's not squaring off; none of the tracks are in the red. And the gear I'm using is the very definition of industry standard for decades and then some: Shure SM-57 pointed at a Fender Twin, which sounds, as it should, clear as damn bell in the room. And yet that static is there. I've had this issue before with the 12-string sound, but hell, the pickups on my Rick 610-12 are as time-tested as all of the rest of that stuff, and again... it sounds clean in the room, and it's not pegging any meters. So W, I ask you, TF?

What's particularly irritating is that this track is actually meant for better things, and all told it's the last track but one for me to finish before tucking into seriously compiling the upcoming Thunderhill double-disc retrospective. So it's supposed to be good and stuff, and most of what I achieved on it tonight is pushing it in that direction, it's just... that... damned... guitar...

However, this is a pretty good performance of a Thunderhill live staple, and once again a rare opportunity to hear the original version of a song which changed drastically from its inspiration, as it was easily able to do because nobody's ever heard of the Kit Kats. They are tucked away in the record collections of a few collectors of forgotten "sunshine pop", but I found them because my dad's band did this song and my mom put a lot of their tunes on the 8-track compilations she made for car trips (yeah-- I know-- my mom made mix tapes, how awesome is that?) and when pretty much everything they ever released became available on a CD compilation, I had to get it as a gift for the family, and happily kept one myself... because it's still really kickass. Looking at it from the perspective of your average sunshine record, it's got less filler and more originals (man is it weird how many bands recorded "The Nutrocker", but as this was the only version I heard or knew of for years I can still even dig it), but the main thing is that the standout tracks are really inspired. A lot of what you'd expect, but top-flight in execution-- big vocal harmonies, crazy keyboards, orchestrations-- and the songs are really good, complex and ambitious without the least bit of pretension and almost all catchy as hell. There's this one, of course, but also the maybe-better-known and dazzling "Let's Get Lost on a Country Road", "Breezy", "That's All Right", "You Got to Know"... man, good, good stuff that should be heard by any fan of chamber pop in its original form, Zombies, Beach Boys and all.

Jim Broome ~ Lead vocal, rhythm guitar
Rich Frush ~ Drums, vocals
Rex Broome ~ Lead guitar, vocals
Tom Heckman ~ Bass, vocals
Jerry "Vic" Marsh ~ Tambourine
Recorded live at the Honi Honi, Summer 2010 by Heckman, messed with by Rex at Minco in early 2011

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