King Khan - Bad News Boys (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

King Khan

Bad News Boys (2015)

In the Red

For a while there, it looked as if the King Khan and BBQ Show may have been cancelled. After a series of public meltdowns and ugly on-stage quarrels, the punky garage-soul duo appeared to have severed ties and moved along upon their own musical paths. But per the classic adage, should one set free something they love, sometimes it returns with a love stronger than ever. On Bad News Boys, the rock n’ roll love affair between Arish “King” Khan and Mark “BBQ” Sultan appears to burn bright. A more appropriate title for this album may have been, “You Complete Me”.

Bad News Boys picks up rather seamlessly where the King Khan and BBQ Show last left off. The music is lo-fi and soulful, anchored by the stomp-stomp drums of Sultan, who not only plays the drums with his feet, but also bashes guitar strings and sings -- truly a marvel of ambidexterity. A concoction of crunchy garage and 60’s-style soul, held together by a punk rock ethos and sense of humor, Bad News Boys should satisfy all who appreciate their rock n’ roll a little on the weird side. If the cover of the album is any indication (a tripped-out painting of Khan and Sultan dressed like psychedelic, multi-nippled beast kings, in a throne room full of both literal and figurative birds), listeners should expect the music to be on the kooky side. And their expectations would not be wrong.

“Alone Again” is classic King Khan and BBQ, with slashing guitar strings, a galloping beat, and soul for days. “Illuminations” is an incredibly catchy, more poppy punk song featuring Khan’s signature rasp, before slowing things down for the boppy “Kiss My Sister’s Fist”. Other notable songs include the belligerent, lo-fi hardcore of “D.F.O.”, (which, of course, stands for “Diarrhea Fuck Off”), as well as “When Will I Be Tamed?”, a Mummies-esque garage romper. “Ocean of Love” is another soulful song that lovers of King Khan and BBQ’s previous catalog will undoubtedly dig. The album closes with “Zen Machines”, a disposable hardcore-ish song that serves as somewhat of a downer ending to an otherwise solid album. Still, one senses the goofy fun Khan and Sultan are having, like two old friends re-connecting through their music, and this spirit makes even “Zen Machines” likeable.

Khan and Sultan haven’t lost a step in the five tumultuous years since their previous album. Bad News Boys finds them right back in the swing of things, having a good time while kicking out solid, rollicking rock n’ roll. Let's hope the Show keeps going on for years to come.