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Various Artists

Max's Kansas City: 1976 & Beyond

Review by Gary Hill

This collection features a number of punk rock and other styled acts that were featured at Max's Kansas City in the mid 70s. Some cuts are recorded live, and others are studio numbers. Bands like the New York Dolls are presented along with Iggy Pop, Nico and Sid Vicious. This is a cool collection that's well worth having.


This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 4 at

Track by Track Review

Wayne County & the Backstreet Boys - Max's Kansas City 1976

Punk rock and roots rock merge on this cut. It calls to mind Lou Reed quite a bit. This is noisy and hard edged at the same time. That's appropriate because Reed gets named check on this. Then again, so do a lot of others. This is such a run-down of artist who play the venue. It's a good theme song, really.

Fast - Boys Will Be Boys

I dig the mix of old school glam rock and new wave. This is energetic and fun.

Harry Toledo - Knots

I really like this one a lot. It comes in with a trippy kind of psychedelic vibe. It works out to more of a mainstream rock sound. There are definitely hints of something like The Doors here, but I'm also reminded of The Animals at times.  However you label the influences, though, this dramatic slow moving cut is cool.

Cherry Vanilla and her Staten Island Band - Shake Your Ashes

Some studio banter starts this. Then cymbals bring the beat. Piano joins. From there we're taken into more of a cool classic rock and roll meets punk rock sound. It gets harder rocking later, and there is something that calls to mind the kind of musical theater related stuff that Meatloaf often does. I love the guitar solo on this thing.

Wayne County & the Backstreet Boys - Cream in My Jeans

This is very much an old school rock and roll based tune. It's got plenty of punk in the mix, too.

Fast - Wow Pow Bash Crash

Old school hard edged rock and roll is the idea behind the music on this. The vocals turn it more into the punk rock line of thinking. This isn't far removed from some of the NWOBHM sounds. The dropped back, psychedelically tinged section makes me think of David Bowie a bit.

Wayne County & the Backstreet Boys -Flip Your Wig

Much more of a punk rocker, this still has some of that hard edged glam sound to it, too. I like the descending riff that drives this. The weird section mid-track makes me think of Alice Cooper a bit.

John Collins Band - The Man in Me

This has a real mainstream hard rock sound to it. It's driving and powerful. I like it a lot. The bridge takes it into some rather strange, but cool, territory.

Suicide - Rocket USA

This is trippy, effects driven weirdness. It's part techno (before that genre existed) and part psychedelia. It's also cool.

Fast - Kids Just Wanna Dance

New wave and punk are the concepts here. This is energetic and fun.

Philip Rambow - Night Out

A melodic rocker with a lot of classic sound built into it, this is another classy tune.

Suicide - Ghost Rider (1976 Demo)

I really like this song. It's echoey, trippy and so cool.

New York Dolls - Bad Girl

This is a smoking hot Dolls song. It's part punk and part glam. Yet, it also has some things that seem to link it to the NWOBHM sound.

The Stillettos - Pink Stilettos

I dig the saxophone on this cut. The vocals on this call to mind 60s girl groups, but the sound has more of a punk rock edge with some 50s sound in the mix.

Knots & Joey Pinter - Heartbreaker

This feels a lot like the Ramones. It's a killer number.

The Senders - 6th Street

The old school rock and roll driving the musical portion of this is great. The vocals are more pure punk rock. There are definitely links to The Stray Cats on this, but it seems meaner and more punk.

Jimi Lalumia & The Psychotic Frogs - Death to Disco

Early punk rock makes up the concept here. This is a solid stomper. You have to love any song with the lyrics "disco sucks." This definitely earns some parental advisories. I really dig the guitar solo. There is a percussion meets spoken lyrics section at the end of this. There is crowd conversation in the background of that segment.

The Brats - First Rock Star on the Moon

Perhaps more of a glam rocker than it is anything else, this is a killer tune. It's quite catchy. I love the guitar solo, too.  Somehow, this reminds me a bit of Kiss.

The Offs - You Fascinate Me

There is some funk in this thing. The saxophone is cool. Somehow it reminds me a bit of Frank Zappa.

The Terrorists - Riis Park

Reggae is the order of business here.

Roland Alphonso - Sax Skandal

As you might guess from the title, there is a lot of saxophone on this cut. It's another with a healthy helping of reggae at its heart. It's an instrumental and even seems to have some surf guitar in the mix at times. It's a fun one.


Von Lmo - This Is Pop Rock

The horn sound adds something to the mix here. This is very much the kind of thing that was eventually landed under punk rock and hardcore. It's a killer tune.

Fast Floyd & the Famous Firebirds - Frogs Legs

The introduction on this song earns a parental advisory. The cut has some great horns and just plain grooves.

CellMates - Everybody Wants

More of a mainstream punk rocker, this is solid stuff for sure.

Science - Twistco

I love the little spoken introduction on this. The cut is high energy quirky, punk rock and roll. This reminds me just a bit of the kind of thing The B-52s do, but mixed with some more mainstream rock and roll.

BMT's - Clothes and Alcohol
Fun old school rock and roll, this is classic and classy.  There is definitely some rockabilly in this.
Keiran Liscoe & the Attitude - Hello St. Vincents

I dig the new wave vibe on this. Yet, it's got a great old school rock and roll vibe, feeling like "Great Balls of Fire."

Jayne County - Max's Kansas City

At over eight and a half minutes in length, this one of the truly extended cuts here. It's different version of the song that started the set. It gets tastefully punky.

Freddy Frogs - Days on Earth

A full on old school rock and roll vibe makes up the musical concept here. This has a cool vocal arrangement and some classic sounds on the musical arrangement. I really dig the guitar solo. That section calls to mind Stray Cats.

JoY RyDeR - Johnny Was a Fireman

This cut is a good combination of punk rock and old time rock and roll. It's energetic and yet catchy.

Sea Monster - Halloween in Detroit

As is the case in a lot of these songs, this is a hard rocker that has a lot of classic rock in the mix. It's another killer tune. In fact, it's one of my favorites here. Then again, I love Halloween, so it gets points for the title before it even begins. The guitar soloing has such a cool sound.

Ruby and the Rednecks - Ruby from the Wrong Side of Town
This comes in with a real red-neck country kind of sound. I guess that's appropriate. As it gets into the song proper the vocals maintain that element, but the music gets more of an old school rock and roll texture.
Joey Kelly Allstars - Amanda

There is a lot of blues rock built into this cut. The horns bring some jazzy textures. The vocals are low-register ones. The harmonica is a great touch. This song just oozes cool and is one of the highlights here.

Phil Marcade - All Quite Wasted

This is essentially a folk tune. It earns a parental advisory.

Jayne County - Max's Kansas City (Reprise)

As advertised, this is a return to the previous number's concept. It lists a bunch more musicians.

Iggy Pop - Rock Action (live)

This rocker is typical of old school Iggy Pop. It has a lot of angst and raw power along with the early punk edge.

Nico - Saeta (live)

I've always liked Nico. This has a moody kind of sound. There are links to the Velvet Underground sound, but I'd almost think of this as progressive rock in some ways. It certainly shares some territory with it, particularly during the keyboard/flute instrumental section. This is, at the very least, art rock. It's also great. It's definitely my favorite tune here.

Gang War - These Boots Are Made for Walking (live)

I dig this raw powered rendition of the classic old school tune.

Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers - M.I.A. (live)

This is a high energy punk rocker that's strong.  At less than two and a half minutes long, it's one of the shortest things here.

Sid Vicious & the Idols - Take a Chance (live)

Noisy and echoey, this is raw. It's the lowest quality recording here, but makes up a lot of that with the energy.


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