King Khan

The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines

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Vice Records, the musical offshoot of the hilariously snarky Vice Magazine, compiles the best tracks from King Khan & the Shrines' career, piling together 16 of the boys' greasiest platters for The Supreme Genius of King Khan & the Shrines. Vice could be considered the perfect holding cell for the smirking Khan (often pictured in less than pants), whose image relies on tongue-in-cheek sexiness and whose lyrics revel in perverse humor. But beneath all the boisterous tomfoolery lies a surprisingly gifted songwriter well versed in Nuggets-era garage rock, Eric Burdon's gritty stylings, and Sly & the Family Stone's hot buttered soul. Endowed with a massive 12-piece band including a horn section, King Khan & the Shrines' production pays perfect tribute to the era it's reproducing, complete with plate reverb and compression that flattens the organ, Stax-influenced horns, an elastic rhythm section, and analog murk. Many bands imitate the '60s sound (the Black Lips, the Detroit Cobras, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre to name a few), but rarely do they hit the mark with such accuracy. More importantly, the melodies are so warm and memorable that they easily could be confused for hit singles of the baby boomer generation -- if not for some of the racier lyrics. From the raw fuzzy drive of "Torture," "I Wanna Be a Girl," and "No Regrets," all powered by Khan's squeaky yowl, to the softer psych, doo wop, and soul ballads "Fool Like Me," "Crackin' Up," and "Welfare Bread," the tight musicianship and adherence to just what made the vintage sound golden make for a classic batch of songs, even if the material actually isn't all that old. It's enough to mistake Khan for a serious performer, even if he once went by the name of Blacksnake in a band named the Spaceshits. Supreme genius may be laying it on a bit thick, but the songs are indeed as good as the album cover suggests.

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