Man or Astro-man led the charge of a new b-movie punk branch of instrumental surf. That reach extended globally but their crash-landing in Alabama left a radioactive fallout that spawned instro bands within a small radius for years to come. Kill Baby Kill (now The KBK) came along much later, but spilled out of the same crater and stuck around long enough to make an impact on many of us. When I spoke to Chad Shivers, organizer of Southern Surf Stomp, member of the Mystery Men? and currently bassist for The KBK, he told the main reason he joined the band is because it’s meaningful to him and he didn’t want it to go dormant. Kill Baby Kill played the first benefit I ever did for Storm Surge of Reverb and it was better than I could have imagined, so I totally get it.
The KBK descend from MOAM but they’re very much their own entity. They’re faster, less sciencey, more horror-influenced, and spend less time with covers of obscure 60’s classics. They’re more ruthless, with most songs aiming for the intensity of Astro-man’s most vicious. Noah Holt is the only constant member of the band and his guitar defines the band, but Chris Eagle’s keyboards (present on all but 3 tracks) set the sound apart. This anthology includes a remastered version of their album Corridor X and I think the keyboard steps forward another 2 paces in this mix, as does the crunch on the guitar, but Corridor X wasn’t that awful of a mix to begin with, and trying to compare old and new versions while reviewing has been difficult. It’s different, but not enough to feel completely new.
This is indeed a complete anthology of The KBK (though nearly all of it was recorded under their previous name) with 27 tracks including older versions of reworked songs, and it’s undoubtedly the one release you need from this band. “Stop off in Ridgeview” deceptively start in front of the Corridor X tracks despite being released on a later EP, but I know that Noah believes it’s their strongest track and the closest to what he’s wanted from the band, so it makes sense that it’s the track to first shake hands with the listener. Yeah, it’s great. Absolutely huge and apocalyptic.
There are 7 unreleased tracks and they’re all great additions, expanding the attitude of the band and giving a peak at their outside influences. They include covers of The Ghastly Ones, The Marketts, and more interestingly The Beastie Boys and Causey Way. There’s also a Metallica nod in one of the tracks. There are some unheard originals too though, very notably “Do Not Speak Its Name” which does lack a little studio polish but is close enough to satisfy as a new song. Then the record closes with two very rough live cuts including the wonderfully named “Vincent Price in the Deli Section of a Publix”. They’re great and give a sense of their presence in a live setting, though they do feel like extras in their recorded state. I’m glad they’re on here, it’s an anthology after all.
This the ultimate document for a band that may not be mentioned among surf legends, but holds that stature in small circles. If you lean towards the aggressive side of surf, this is a necessary album to own and at 27 tracks it’s a helluva bargain. Now with this out, it’s time to look for what’s next. You can get this one on CD or cassette from Deep Eddy's website.