Show Business

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By 1995, the pop-metal sound that once dominated the charts had been driven off by the rise of grunge rock and other alternative rock styles that eschewed the pop showmanship of hair metal. As a result, pop-metal groups were forced to retreat to independent labels. Some tried to modify their style to fit in with the current musical climate, but others kept putting out music in their original style. One of the best examples of the latter trend is Show Business, a fun rock album from Kix that overcomes its indie-ghetto status by combining catchy tunes with a polished style of delivery. Kix was always musically smarter and more ambitious than much of their pop-metal brethren, so it's no surprise that the songs on Show Business work all sorts of interesting twists into its pop/rock mix: "I'm Bombed" sports some funky rhythm guitar lines and a disco-ish bassline while "If You Run Around" works a Beatles-styled cello line into its synthesizer-layered piano balladry. Elsewhere, the group mines the patented combination of rock riffs and pop hooks that made them a cult favorite in the 1980s: "Put My Money Where Your Mouth Is" is a clever pastiche of AC/DC's style and "Ball Baby" weaves bubblegum-style background vocals into a song that is otherwise pure hard rock. Sometimes the group gets a little too clever for their own good (the chorus of "Fire Balls" references AC/DC's "T.N.T." a little too closely for its own good), but Show Business remains an entertaining and varied collection songs that proves pop-metal's commercial death didn't put and end to the hard-rocking charms of Kix.

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