When vocalist and guitar player Paul Kantner left Jefferson Starship in 1984, the group disbanded. Grace Slick and lead vocalist Mickey Thomas continued on simply as Starship.
Kantner was looking for new horizons, and soon joined forces with his former Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship bandmate Marty Balin who was playing live with his own band. The duo agreed to form a band with a new sound, and for the purpose they called the also ex Jefferson Airplane bass player Jack Casady.
KBC band (Kantner-Balin-Casady band) was born, and after a 6-month writing period, the group ink a deal with a major label. Their lone self-titled album was released in 1986.
"KBC band" is a pretty different beast from the typically mid-eigthies stuff.
It's commercial, yes, including catchy poppy AOR tunes with heavily-layered vocal harmonies, some bombastic electronic drums and tons of synthesizers, but lyrically has some kind of defiantly message and musically the band adds saxophone (heavily compressed) dueling with the guitar.
On some tracks the vocals are shared between Kantner and Balin, but it's Marty Balin who handles almost all of the lead vocals, resembling on many parts his stupendous solo albums from the beginning of the eighties.
Opener "Mariel" is a catchy rock&pop song that somehow sounds British to my ears, maybe 'cos the political lyrics (Kantner was an activist at the time).
"It's Not You, It's Not Me" was the first single and a minor hit in the charts, which attracted airplay on AOR radio. Written by Van Stephenson, this is a beautiful mid-tempo tune with an anthemic chorus and a melodious guitar / sax interplay.
"Hold Me" is a slow track in the Americana style with a fine guitar work and sweet vocals by Balin, a bit long to my tastes.
On the classic rockin' "America" the vocals are shared again for good effect. This song recently found renewed interest (due to the lyrics) after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The uptempo "No More Heartaches" is one of my favorite songs on the album, an urgent uptempo AOR track full of synths and a ridiculously catchy chorus. This song alone worth the entire disc.
"Wrecking Crew" is another winner. It is embedded with that '80s magic impossible to resist. Poppy AOR ready for the radio - Love it -.
"When Love Comes" is a re-make of a song previously done by Balin on his 1983 solo album 'Lucky'. The KBC Band version has a more classic rock treatment but with the addition of lush keyboards and electronic drums to update the sound to the mid-eighties style.
"Dream Motorcycle" is a simple but infectious pop-rocker with a catchy melody, a bit overwhelmed by a wall of sax though.
The album ends with "Sayonara", an affected and beautifully performed melodic power ballad, full of class and style, another of my favorites here.
Ignored or unknown for most Adult Oriented Rock collectors, with great production and a big sound, "KBC band" is a succulent dish of mid-eighties brilliance, including some memorable AOR moments (specially on the second part, or 'B' side).
By the way, this is a rip at maximum quality from the not so easy to find CD edition of this album.
01 - Mariel
02 - It's Not You, It's Not Me
03 - Hold Me
04 - America
05 - No More Heartaches
06 - Wrecking Crew
07 - When Love Comes
08 - Dream Motorcycle
09 - Sayonara
Marty Balin – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul Kantner – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
Jack Casady – bass
Mark 'Slick' Aguilar – lead guitar, background vocals
Tim Gorman – keyboards, synths, background vocals
Keith Crossnan – saxophone, background vocals
Darrell Verdusco – drums, background vocals
KBC Band (1986)