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Music Review: KKB – 1974

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Well, here’s a blast from someone’s past!

Because one of the Ks in KKB is for Bruce Kulick, erstwhile guitarist with the mighty Kiss! Fair enough that it was the denuded Kiss years, but Bruce Kulick was their guitarist of choice for 12 years. Before that he’d toured with Meat Loaf, where he was a member of the Bat Out Of Hell touring band, and post-Kiss he’s worked with the mighty fine Union and the Mark Farner-less Grand Funk Railroad.

Let’s have Mr Kulick take up the story of KKB.

“After I’d been playing a while, I found a guy who lived in the next building over from me, in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, New York. His name was Mike Katz, and he was a bass player who loved all of the same bands I did. We started jamming, and, because we already spoke the same language musically, it was just magical. We found a drummer named Guy Bois who rounded out the picture, and we formed a group that we envisioned as a cross between Cream and Yes.”

The band, called KKB for this CD, although they never had an official name, entered the studios in September 1974 to record a handful of songs. After Kulick, Katz, and Bois went their separate ways, the tape sat gathering dust until Kulick found a reel-to-reel player at a garage sale, and rediscovered the KKB sessions. Even though there has been some repair work and mastering done on the tape to get it up to digital standards, no overdubs were done for the release. The sessions appear on the CD exactly as they were recorded.

And it’s surprisingly good stuff as the 20 year old Kulick and his cohorts set about their power trio business. For sure it can, at times, be derivative of their influences, but with the enthusiasm and passion of youth, it’s more than just a stroll down memory lane for a middle aged musician. And he’s not doing it for the money, as there are only a thousand being pressed up and they’re being signed by the man himself. At its best, they do manage to get close to their Cream meets Yes ambitions, although it falls much further on the Cream side of the fence, with the highlights including the progressive blues of “My Baby” and the heavy funk fusion of “Tryin’ To Find A Way.”

Kiss fans will find it strange listening as it shows Kulick still trying to find his own style as a guitarist, although technically he has his licks down pat. The rhythm section is a bit muted and the vocals of Mike Katz never stir above functional, but as he was the main songwriter for KKB, I doubt anyone was going to take him aside and tell him. However, the jams are good and for those of us who hanker for the heady days of Three Man Army, Blue Cheer, and yes, even early Grand Funk, this is a rare and enjoyable treat.

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About Stuart A Hamilton