King Khan and the Shrines The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

All this would have sounded exhilarating to a young Lester Bangs in 1966

Angus Taylor 2008

Born to Indian parents in Montreal Canada, and forming his band the Shrines in Germany, you'd expect hoarse-voiced rabble-rouser King Khan to have a mixed bag of influences. What may come as more of a surprise is that most of them emanate from the USA.

Fusing the driving stomps of classic sixties soul with the muddy yet crunchy guitars and puerile words of garage rock, King Khan & The Shrines are one of those uncommon groups who seem to live in the past and still make an attention-grabbing noise. The Supreme Genius is a retrospective of their work this century from initial 45s through to the cleaner more sophisticated efforts of their last proper album, What Is?!.

Soul is certainly a key ingredient in the Shrine's psychedelic stew, though purists would balk at describing the end product as one of their own ('filthy racket' being the likely response). Fans of the 'rock 'n' soul' pedigree stretching from the Kingsmen to The Make Up and The Black Lips, however, should be more accepting, as will anyone who likes their music loud, raucous and dumb.

The lyrics hover between edgy humour and being plain childish, (''she's fat, she's ugly, and I love her'' – from early single Took My Lady To Dinner). Then again, this record is all about celebrating your whacked-out inner idiot. That said, the slower, tenderer numbers such as Fool Like Me and Welfare Bread are the record's biggest successes. The rhythm section wobbles out of time momentarily during guitarist Mr Speedfinger's solo on I Wanna Be A Girl but Destroyer shows they can be a very tight funk band when they jettison the fuzz tone and tremolo FX.

While all this would have sounded exhilarating to a young Lester Bangs in 1966, it's tempting to wonder what the point of it is in 2008. Still, the tunes are good, so best not to ask too many questions, as music this knowingly obtuse will always connect.

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