KBC Band – KBC Band [1985]

PhotobucketBelow I intend to present a band that probably it is not very known to you but both the musicians and their songs deserve special attention. The band is none other than KBC Band, a pretty different beast from the typically mid eighties stuff.

The KBC Band was formed in 1985, when vocalist and guitar player Paul Kantner left Jefferson Airplane (later Jefferson Starship) looking for new horizons, and soon joined forces with his former Jefferson Airplane Marty Balin (vocals and guitars) who was playing live with his own band. The duo agreed to form a band with a new sound, and for the prpose they called the also ex Jefferson Airplane bass player Jack Casady. KBC band (Kantner-Balin-Casady band) was born, and after a six month writing period, the group ink a deal with a major label. Their lone self titled album was released in 1986.

The rest of the band consist by keith Crossan on saxophone, the keyboardist Tim Gorman, Mark “Slick” Aguilar on guitars and Darrell Verdusco on drums. Their debut LP, featured the moderate hits “America”, which found renewed interest after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me”, which attracted airplay on AOR radio.

The album is good, solid work, with Balin’s voice still one of the most beautiful and powerful in rock. It’s commercial, yes, including catchy poppy AOR tunes with heavily layered vocal harmonies, some bombastic electronic drums and tons of synthesizers, but lyrically has some kind of defiantly message and musically the band adds saxophone (heavily compressed) duelling with the guitar.

The record opens with the anthemic “Mariel”, a catchy pop and rock song, which actually has Paul and Marty sharing the lead vocal duties and features an insanely catchy guitar and saxophone duel riff and uplifting singalong choruses. “It’s Not You, It’s Not Me” is a profoundly affecting ballad of confusion and acceptance. The song was the first single and a minor hit in the charts, which attracted airplay on AOR radio, written by Van Stephenson , with an anthemic chorus and a melodius guitar/sax interplay. “Hold Me” is a tender ballad about difficulty of maintaining a relationship over the long term, and it really gets under your skin, with fine guitar work and sweet vocals by Balin, but a bit long to my tastes. On the classic rockin’ “America” the vocals are shared again, with Paul singing on lead, although Marty harmonizes with him for most of the vocals.

The up tempo “No More Heartaches” is one of my favorite songs on the album, an urgent up tempo AOR track I can say, full of well-placed descending synths figure on the verses and a irresistibly catchy chorus. This song alone worth the entire album. “Wrecking Crew” is rather generic, but it’s still amusing with its main riff embedded with that 80s magic impossible to resist. Poppy AOR ready for the radio. Simply great. “When Love Comes” is a kickass bluesy rocker with another infectious riff. The song is a re-make of a song previously done by Balin on his 1983 solo album “Lucky”. The KBC Band version has a more classic rock treatment but with the addition of lush keys and electronic drums to update the sound to the mid eighties style. In addition to “Mariel” and “America”, there’s one more song credited to the Kantner/Balin songwriting team, and that’s “Dream Motorcycle”, an infectious pop rocker with a catchy melody, a bit overwhelmed by a wall of sax though.

The album ends with “Sayonara”, an affected and beautiful performed melodic power ballad, full of class and style, a fine way to end the album.
KBC Band definitely has a mid 80s sheen on it, with great production and a big sound, and when you add in the distinctive and unbeatable vocals of Balin and Kantner, this ends up being a unique album that I wouldn’t want to be without.

Band Members
Marty Balin – Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul Kantner – Lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jack Casady – Bass
Mark “Slick” Aguilar – lead guitar, background vocals
Tim Gorman – Keyboards, synths, background vocals
Keith Crossnan – Saxophone, background vocals
Darrell Verdusco – Drums, background vocals

Additional Musicians
Pete Escovedo – Percussion on “Mariel”

Tracks
1. Mariel
2. It’s Not You, It’s Not Me
3. Hold Me
4. America
5. No More Heartaches
6. Wrecking Crew
7. When Love Comes
8. Dream Motorcycle
9. Sayonara

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