Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds
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Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds

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The best kept secret in music

Press


Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Philosophy and Underwear
Chris Campion, London Daily Telegraph

With spells as one of Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, co-founder of the Gun Club and sometime player with the Cramps, Kid Congo Powers has had a long and illustrious history as the pre-eminent punk rock sideman.

He's notable for his choppy expressionist guitar style, less so as a vocalist and songwriter in his own right. Philosophy and Underwear, a new album recorded with his own bunch of sidemen, should correct that.

In the opening "The History of French Cuisine" and a raucous stomp called "Black Bag," he even adds a few bonafide classics to his canon. And the cannibal-fixated "Why Hurt Flesh," a cover of a song originally recorded with techno-blues producer Khan, is as ghoulish as anything the Cramps ever recorded.

An eminently capable bunch, the Pink Monkey Birds thrash out a delightful accompaniment to Powers's unique musings on love, sex, sleaze and the human disease that's somewhere between rock and roll cabaret and lounge punk.

The glue that holds it all together, though, is Kid Congo's unique delivery, a drawl so impossibly cool its difficult to work out whether he's being seductive, wry or scathing.

Chris Campion

- LONDON DAILY TELEGRAPH


Kid Congo returns with a relatively conventional sounding album. From a man who has flirted down the years with Nick Cave, Foetus and Lydia Lunch this is a surprise, although rarely a disappointment. The vocal delivery and lyrical observations are pure Lou Reed, while the likes of ‘La Historia De Un Amour’ hint at wilder excesses being reigned in: witness the backwards guitar sounds and latin percussion. This kind of control is impressive and directly benefits structured music. In the main this album has a soul swagger shot through with angular no-wave guitar, but the highlight is ‘The Weather The War’ which summons up the soundscape from some long forgotten Western movie. Highly recommended.

Leon Michael Tricker - VANITY PROJECT (UK)


The retro haze has obscured some of the original "new wave" era's more
risk-taking artists, especially those from the West Coast. As a member and
co-founder of the legendary/seminal The Gun Club with Jeffrey Lee Pierce,
Kid Congo Powers made a unique brand of rock that mixed blues, campy
theatrics, nihilistic punk and tribal beats. Yet unlike other acts making a
revival, Powers never truly went away. Quite a resume this "Kid" has,
considering he has been a Co-conspirator of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds,
The Cramps, Khan, Foetus, Lydia Lunch, Die Haut, Little Annie , Julee Cruise,
and Michael Gira. Kid has continued to find the most interesting partners with
whom he creates a varied batch of devilish sounds. Which is exactly what he
is doing with his band Kid Congo and The Pink Monkey Birds now in 2005 in
New York City, his home of the last 10 years. KCP & The PMB’S have just
finished recording their first album, “Philosophy and Underwear” to be
released on Trans Solar records in September 2005. As the title may lead
one to believe, the album is a highbrow , and often humorous, viewpoint of a
tough and sleazy low life world Kid’s character’s inhabit. Hurbert Hunke’s
1940’s Times Square in “Johnny” , Shakespeare’s Richard III unrequited
loves haunt modern guys in “Richard Three” S&M Leather Men’s inner
struggles in “Even Though Your :Leather is Cliché” Or the post 9/11 breakup
of a relationship in “The Weather The War” . Although heady, and heavy
subjects, the music is a mélange of stomping soul swagger, angular No-
Wave, Glam era Lou Reed “Transformer” celebrations and New York stories.
Guitars scream like banshees, drums swing from the rafters, bass lines snake
charm, and electronics reference more Roxy Music Eno than the over
exhausted electroclash. Mixed with Kid’s casual laconic and resonant
talk/sing style ,whether dueting with a Little Annie or doing it solo, Kid gives
heartfelt performances, his inspiration carefully skirting ironic tendencies that
lesser artists would mistake as "camp", which is a delicate artform in and of
itself. Rather than presenting from the side, he stands behind the characters
and themes of his songs. ...................... "Screw James Brown. The title of
Hardest Working Man in Show Business truly belongs to Kid Congo Powers."

KURT B. REIGHLEY - SEATTLE WEEKLY


Bands To Watch: Kid Congo Powers

Take a youth who has grown up during grunge’s peak years. More than likely this person, who’s now an adult, finds themselves mildly lost in the current musical landscape. They grew up during a period that is widely understood as a mix of other musical movements that had previously dissolved. Break grunge down, and you ultimately have punk; a period that combined unrivalled angst with a blossoming level of unappreciated creativity. With the previous statement in mind, where would someone who found themselves in the eye of punk’s storm find themselves today? With certain exceptions most bands, such as the Buzzcocks, and the oh-so-drab Sex Pistols, find themselves simply releasing material or touring to try and rekindle an emotion that they’ve long since lost. One such exception is Kid Congo Powers. Growing up in New York City, becoming president of the Ramones fan club in 1976, and finding residency as guitarist for The Gun Club are simply two early keys to the resume. As if that wasn’t enough, Brian Tristan would soon embrace the name Kid Congo Powers while playing with the Cramps from 1980-1984. Ultimately his departure would forecast what would become a trend his future, joining a rotisserie of bands, while developing a unique sound in each. Rather than becoming an artist burnt out by the scene he was influential in creating, he blossomed into a versatile musician through another stint with The Gun Club, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and numerous other bands. With four releases in 2005 alone, his unique prolificness shows that not all performers artistically climax during the scenes they are best known for.

- CULTUREBULLY


Kid Congo Powers is a true, old-school rock and roll decadent, and one of the only convincing ones I’ve seen this week. Oozing sleazy charisma, the legendary former Bad Seed, Cramp and charter member of The Gun Club takes the stage at the Velvet Spade at midnight Saturday to lead his grooving young band through a series of ‘60s discotheque-style tunes with titles like “The History of French Cuisine” while flouncing, frugging and leering autistically at the crowd. Now THAT’S rock and roll! - HOUSTON PRESS


Kid Congo Powers and his Pink Monkey Birds drum up all shades of twisted hoochie-koo rock. That's no surprise to anyone familiar with the New Yorker's work as a founding member of the Gun Club, his stint with Nick Cave, his killer guitar work with the Cramps, and the wild panoply of other acts he's started. His latest recording is last year's Solo Cholo. – Margaret Moser - AUSIN CHRONICLE


Discography

Kid has appeared on too many records to list here (over 100 plus countless bootlegs. Here’s a few of the highlights - chronologically:

The Cramps, Psychedelic Jungle (IRS 1981)
The Cramps, “The Crusher b/w “New Kind of Kick” and “Save It” 12” (IRS 1981)
The Cramps, Smell of Female (Enigma 1983)
The Cramps, Bad Music For Bad People (IRS 1984)
Chris D & The Divine Horsemen, Time Stands Still (Enigma 1984/Atavistic 2005)
The Gun Club, The Las Vegas Story (Animal 1984, Sympathy for the Record Industry 2004)
The Gun Club, Danse Kalinda Boom (Megadisc 1985/Triple X 1993)
The Gun Club, Mother Juno (Red Rhino 1987/Sympathy for the Record Industry 2005)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Wings of Desire (Mute 1988)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Tender Prey (Mute 1988)
Die Haut, Headless Body at a Topless Bar (WSFA 1988)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, “Helpless,” The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young (Caroline 1989)
Barry Adamson, Moss Side Story (Mute 1989)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Good Son (Mute 1990)
The Gun Club, Pastoral Hide and Seek (New Rose 1990/Thirsty Ear 1997)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Road to God Knows Where (Mutefilm/Atavistic 1991)
The Gun Club, In Exile (Triple X 1992)
Die Haut, Head On (Triple X 1992)
The Gun Club, Ahmed’s Wild Dream (Triple X 1993)
Die Haut, Sweat (Triple X 1993)
Congo Norvell, Music to Remember Him By (Basura/Priority 1994)
The Gun Club, Preachin’ the Blues VHS (Video Visonary 1995)
Congo Norvell, The Dope, The Lies, The Vaseline (Priority 1996)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Best of (Mute 1998)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, The Videos VHS (Mute 1998)
Congo Norvell, Abnormals Anonymous (Jet Set 1998)
Make-Up, Blue is Beautiful VHS (Discord 1998)
Mark Eitzel, I’m Caught In a Trap and I Can’t Back Out ‘Cause I Love You Too Much Baby (Matador 1998)
The Angels of Light, Tonic Benefit (Young God 1999)
Knoxville Girls, s/t (In the Red 1999)
The Vanity Set, s/t (Naked Spur 2000)
The Angels of Light, How I Loved You (Young God 2001)
Khan, No Comprendo (Matador 2001)
Knoxville Girls, In a Paper Suit (In the Red 2001)
Mark Eitzel, Invisible Man (Matador 2001)
Kid and Khan, Bad English (Trans Solar 2005)
Kid and Khan, Washing Machine 12” (Trans Solar 2005)
Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Philosophy and Underwear (New York Night Train 2006, Trans Solar 2005)
Kid Congo Powers, Solo Cholo (New York Night Train 2006)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

The gigantic tone of Kid Congo Powers’ open-tuned guitar is one of the more readily identifiable sounds in the history of underground rock. Best known for his contribution to the development of the contemporary noise guitar with The Gun Club, The Cramps, and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds in the 1980s, Kid’s spent the last fifteen years as a sideman (Make-Up, Mark Eitzel, Angels of Light, etc.), as a partner in Congo Norvell and Kid and Khan, a member of garage rock supergroup Knoxville Girls, and, most recently, the leader of Kid Congo Powers and the Pink Monkey Birds. What’s important about Kid’s resume isn’t only that he played with some of the best bands of all time, but that he did so during their finest hours, from The Cramps’ Psychedelic Jungle to Nick Cave’s Tender Prey to Angels of Light’s How I Loved You, Kid’s always had a knack for being with the right people at the right place at the right time. The last five years however, Kid’s gradually quit relying on his luck and taken matters into his own hands, emerged as a world-class songwriter and a distinctive vocalist.

Jump-starting his career when he and Jeffrey Lee Pierce formed The Gun Club in 1979, Kid Congo Powers left the obscure new band in late 1980 when he was offered the universally coveted gig replacing Bryan Gregory in The Cramps. Though Kid was already a Cramp when The Gun Club recorded their classic debut Fire of Love (1981), a number of songs that he helped write and develop appear on the record. Kid wound up in The Cramps throughout the peak of their popularity, leaving the band in 1984. Psychedelic Jungle (1981), Smell of Female (1984), and Bad Music For Bad People (1984), are among Kid’s souvenirs of the era. After rejoining The Gun Club for a 1984 Australian tour, Kid stayed in the picture for their The Las Vegas Story (1984). When the band fell apart the next year, Kid moved to London and played with The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, The Beasts of Bourbon’s Tex Perkins, and his own band, The Fur Bible. In 1986 he was invited to join Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds for the Your Funeral, My Trial tour – moving to Berlin and becoming a full-time member until 1990 - appearing in Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire (1987) and on the albums Tender Prey (1988) and The Good Son (1990). During his German years Kid not only played and recorded with Die Haut, The Butcher Shop, and Barry Adamson, but also embarked upon sevenyears of constant recording and touring with The Gun Club.

In 1993, Kid Congo Powers made his final appearances with The Gun Club and Die Haut to devote full-time attention to his own project with actress/chanteuse Sally Norvell - Congo Norvell. After the duo released a string of singles, EPs, compilation tracks, and the success of the LP Music To Remember Him By (1994), Priority signed them to record The Dope, The Lies and Vaseline (1996). Falling victim to the dissolution of the “alternative” division of the label, the two moved to New York and recorded Abnormals Anonymous (1998) for Jet Set. Kid was immediately asked to play with everyone in town – performing, recording, and touring with Jonathan Fire*Eater, Mark Eitzel, The Angels of Light, The Vanity Set, DC’s Make-Up, and a number of others. During this period Kid teamed up with Bob Bert from Sonic Youth and Pussy Galore, Jerry Teal from the Honeymoon Killers and Chrome Cranks, guitar ace Jack Martin, and keyboardist Barry London to form the prolific hard-touring supergroup, Knoxville Girls.

After a trio of albums on In the Red, Knoxville Girls imploded in 2001. Not long after the breakup, electro-star Khan invited Kid to appear on his Matador LP No Comprendo (2001). By 2002 the duo forged an official project, Kid & Khan, and began touring the world alone or with Twin Peaks vocalist Julee Cruise. Around the same time Kid formed his first band of his own, Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds with his favorite guitarist Jack Martin. With the release of Kid & Khan’s Bad English and Washing Machine, 2005 was a big year for Mr. Powers. 2006 has seen the American release of Pink Monkey Birds Philosophy and Underwear and career-spanning compilation Solo Cholo on New York Night Train. Still the hardest working man in showbiz, Kid Congo Powers shows no signs of slowing down - touring and recording regularly with both the Pink Monkey Birds and Kid & Khan.