Personnel: Jamie James (vocals, guitar); Michael Rummans (bass guitar, background vocals); Rex Roberts (drums, background vocals).
Liner Note Author: Jamie James.
Photographer: Jamie James.
History does not record if Jamie James holds a grudge against the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton, but it would be hard to blame him if he does. The Kingbees' 1980 debut album spawned a minor hit in "My Mistake" and established them as a top-notch proto-rockabilly act back when the phrase roots rock had yet to gain currency. Their second album, 1981's The Big Rock, could have been the band's commercial breakthrough, but it was released as RSO Records was going through its death throes, largely due to the massive commercial miscalculation of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack, issued as the fortunes of Frampton and the Brothers Gibb went into a swan dive. While The Big Rock's failure to scale the charts has given it a reputation as a sophomore slump project (especially since the original lineup broke up within a year of its release), a careful listen reveals it's a lively, revved-up bit of old-school rock & roll that certainly matches the debut for energy and rock action. The album doesn't have an instant classic tune on the level of "My Mistake," but "Stick It Out!," "Let Myself Go," and the title track could have connected on radio with the right amount of push, and the halftime trio of vintage rock & roll covers confirmed these guys did right by their influences. Guitarist and vocalist Jamie James was a fine frontman who gave this band some real rock drive without overdoing his bop cat affectations, and bassist Michael Rummans and drummer Rex Roberts were a supremely tight rhythm section with a healthy swing, and great harmonies to boot. The production by David J. Holman and Rich Fitzgerald is clean, crisp, and makes the most of the band's no-frills attack. Short, sweet, and satisfying, The Big Rock is the work of a band that deserved a better fate than being (almost) a one-hit wonder, and it has passed the test of time with flying colors. ~ Mark Deming