Archive for August 9, 2008

TKO – In Your Face (1984/2008 reissue, Tribunal/Divebomb Records)

  1. I Wanna Fight
  2. Run Out Of Town
  3. Give Into The Night
  4. End Of The Line
  5. Working Girl
  6. All I Want To Do
  7. Don’t Give It Away
  8. I Can Do Without You
  9. So This Is Rock ‘N Roll
  10. Danger City
  11. I Wanna Fight*
  12. Run Out Of Town*
  13. Give Into The Night*
  14. End Of The Line*
  15. Working Girl*
  16. All I Want To Do*
  17. Don’t Give It Away*
  18. I Can Do Without You*
  19. So This Is Rock ‘N Roll*
  20. Danger City*

(* Bonus tracks – 2001 remixes)

Band Lineup:
Brad Sinsel – Vocals
Adam “Bomb” Brenner – Guitars
Evan Sheely – Bass
Gary Thompson – Drums

Producer: Rick Keefer
Remix Producer: Rick Keefer

Total Time = 1:14:37

TKO MySpace page
Divebomb Records
Divebomb Records MySpace page
Tribunal Records

TKO is another one of those bands that I discovered during hours of reading Rock magazines when I was a kid. Somewhere along the line, I saw an ad for the band’s second album, IN YOUR FACE, and I thought it looked cool. Take a look at the cover, every 12 year old in 1984 thought that Brad Sinsel looked cool standing over a topless chick in boxing gloves. The band’s name and the album’s image were genius to me when I was a young metalhead but the topless girl is probably what won me over! I never ended up buying the album but I did enjoy a dubbed cassette copy I acquired from a trader. Fast forward to the digital age and IN YOUR FACE has been reissued by various labels over the years…..all unofficially. Tribunal/Divebomb Records has worked closely with lead singer Brad Sinsel to finally release this album, and TKO’s debut LET IT ROLL, officially on CD.

TKO released their first record, LET IT ROLL, in 1979. Shortly after it’s release, their label (Infinity Records) was bought out by MCA and eventually folded. The band was without a record deal and the members went their separate ways. Lead singer Brad Sinsel brought in new members Adam “Bomb” Brenner, Evan Sheely, and Gary Thompson to form the “new” TKO and the band began writing and recording IN YOUR FACE in 1980 with the album being finished in ’81. The problem was TKO couldn’t get a record deal because the new album was too heavy for the current music market…..before Heavy Metal really took off in the States. Rock was dead in ’81 and Disco was still king! Without a deal, the three new members eventually left (Brenner for a solo career and Sheely & Thompson to Q5) and were replaced again. TKO ended up with their elusive record deal releasing IN YOUR FACE on Combat Records in 1984…..three years after it was originally recorded.

The Music:
IN YOUR FACE is a heavier album than it’s predecessor, the debut LET IT ROLL. Even though it was written and recorded in ’80/’81, the album sounds more like the Metal released in 1984. Gone are the keyboards and organ, although I do detect some on a couple of songs, and the guitars are turned up. Adam Bomb has a very sleazy dirty guitar sound and the duo of Sheely and Thompson are a solid rhythm section. Brad Sinsel’s vocal style changes on IN YOUR FACE, it’s more in your face! On LET IT ROLL, Sinsel has vocal style that sounds a lot like Roger Daltrey (The Who) and Michael Lee Smith (Starz). On IN YOUR FACE, there is more power and aggression to his voice, more Metal. What is remarkable about the album is that it was recorded three years before it was released and easily holds it’s own alongside other albums released in 1984 like KISS’ ANIMALIZE, Black ‘N Blue’s debut, Ratt’s OUT OF THE CELLAR, and Quiet Riot’s CONDITION CRITICAL. You can hear a NWOBHM influence on a lot of the album and, if you take the recording year (1981) into consideration, that was the midpoint of the NWOBHM era. Listening to the album now, it’s obvious that TKO was ahead of the game in the early ’80s but suffered due to a lack of a record contract. All that lost momentum probably cost the band their cut of fame and fortune.

In addition to the original album, a 2001 remix of the record is included as bonus tracks. The 2001 remixes were done by original producer Rick Keefer. From what I understand, these remixes were taken from the master tapes that were still in Keefer’s studio and the tapes had to be baked in order to make them useful for remixing. To my ears, the remixes sound inferior to the original album: everything sounds louder, the vocals are way up in the mix and the keyboards I detect in some songs get pushed way out in front at times. The songs don’t sound as heavy they sound more processed.

The Package:
Just like they did with the LET IT ROLL reissue, Tribunal & Divebomb Records got founding member Brad Sinsel involved in the project. For me, there is more credibility to a reissue project like this when the band is contacted for input and permission to re-release the material. Like I mentioned before, various labels over the years have released this album on CD but never with involvement from members of the band, although IN YOUR FACE was reissued on another label years ago with Adam Bomb’s permission. I believe there was a legal issue between Sinsel, Adam Bomb, and that other label over who actually owned the rights. Tribunal/Divebomb was able to get one of my favorite Rock writers, Martin Popoff from Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, to write a quick band/album history for IN YOUR FACE just like he did with LET IT ROLL. Add lyrics to all the songs, pictures of the original vinyl, and the the 2001 album remixes and you have a solid package that is well worth buying.

Favorite Songs: Just like LET IT ROLL, it’s hard to pick a few favorites because I like the whole IN YOUR FACE album. If I had to choose a few standout tracks they would be ‘I Wanna Fight’, ‘Run Out Of Town’, ‘End Of The Line’, ‘Working Girl’, and ‘Don’t Give It Away’.

TKO – Let It Roll (1979/2008 reissue, Tribunal/Divebomb Records)

  1. Let It Roll
  2. Ain’t No Way To Be
  3. Only Love
  4. Gutter Boy
  5. Kill The Pain
  6. Come A Day
  7. Rock ‘N Roll Again
  8. Bad Sister
  9. What In The World
  10. Introduction*
  11. Rock ‘N Roll Again*
  12. Bad Sister*
  13. What In The World*
  14. Gutter Boy*
  15. Kill The Pain*
  16. Only Love*
  17. Let It Roll*
  18. Ending Outro*

(* Bonus tracks are from a radio taping, KZOK FM Live In Studio Sessions – 1978)

Band Lineup:
Brad Sinsel – Vocals
Rick Pierce – Guitars
Tony Bortko – Guitars & Keyboards
Mark Seidenverg – Bass
Darryl Siguenza – Drums & Percussion

Producer: Mike Flicker

Total Time = 1:06:27

TKO MySpace page
Divebomb Records
Divebomb Records MySpace page
Tribunal Records

TKO is another one of those bands that I discovered during hours of reading Rock magazines when I was a kid. Somewhere along the line, I saw an ad for the band’s second album, IN YOUR FACE, and I thought it looked cool. The next time I went to the record store I checked it out and noticed that the band had another album which turned out to be LET IT ROLL. I dismissed LET IT ROLL based on two factors: the album cover was silly, it had these homemade Rock’em Sock’em Robots and the album was released in 1979! At the time I made this discovery it was mid to late ’84 and I was convinced that “new” Metal bands only released albums in the ’80s. Sounds dumb doesn’t it? Especially since I had albums by KISS, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and AC/DC that were all released in the ’70s! I never ended up buying either album but I did enjoy a dubbed cassette copy of IN YOUR FACE I acquired from a trader. Over the years, I was able to hear LET IT ROLL but I never actually owned a copy. Fast forward to the digital age and both LET IT ROLL and IN YOUR FACE have been reissued by various labels…..all unofficially. Tribunal/Divebomb Records has worked closely with lead singer Brad Sinsel to finally release both albums officially on CD.

The Music:
The reissue contains the official nine song album plus a radio broadcast from 1978 where the band runs through seven of the nine songs in their set. The album is not remastered, it is reissued. The master tapes have long been lost since TKO’s original label, Infinity Records, folded in 1979. The audio tracks provided to Tribunal/Divebomb were from Brad Sinsel himself and could be either a copy from the original studio sessions or taken from the original vinyl. Other reissues have used the original vinyl for mastering but without the band’s consent.

Hearing LET IT ROLL for the first time in many years it’s amazing to hear the similarities that TKO had with Aerosmith, Starz, The Who, and UFO. The album was recorded in 1978 and released in 1979 so that ’70s Hard Rock sound is there that has that “Rock ‘n Rollsy” sound that Aerosmith perfected. Brad Sinsel sounds a bit like Roger Daltrey on a number of songs and ‘Gutter Boy’ sounds like it could have been a Who song. I hear a UFO connection when the keyboards/organ are more prominent in the songs (Listen to ‘Rock ‘N Roll Again’) but the group I identify TKO with the most is Starz. They both have that same laid back vibe and Michael Lee Smith (Starz’ Lead singer) and Brad Sinsel have a similar cool delivery.

The bonus tracks are a radio broadcast from 1978 of the band doing a local showcase playing most of the album. This is live in the studio but the band runs through the set well and the songs sound close to the originals on the album. It’s a nice timepiece and gives you an idea of where TKO was as a live band and how the Rock scene was different back in the late 70s/early 80s: they played a new local band’s live showcase on the radio! Before they released an album! You would never hear something like that today.

The Package:
The first thing that Tribunal & Divebomb Records did right was get founding member Brad Sinsel involved in the project. For me, there is more credibility to a reissue project like this when the band is contacted for input and permission to re-release the material. Like I mentioned before, various labels over the years have released this album on CD but never with involvement from a founding member. The second thing they did right was get one of my favorite Rock writers, Martin Popoff from Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, to write a quick band/album history. Add lyrics to all the songs, pictures of the original vinyl, and the bonus radio broadcast and you have a solid package that well worth buying.

Favorite Songs:
I like the whole album and picking a couple of favorites is tough. I’d probably have to choose ‘Gutter Boy’, ‘Rock ‘N Roll Again’, ‘Ain’t No Way To Be’ and ‘Let It Roll’. It’s an excellent album of strong songs…..I really do like them all.