Midnite Dynamite


Atlantic Records, 1985


REVIEW BY: Chris Harlow


Attending junior high school in the Washington, D.C. area, I vividly remember being exposed to several forms of "homegrown" for the first time. The one I naturally took to was D.C./Baltimore area rockers, Kix, right at the time they released their third full-length album, Midnite Dynamite. And while I may have chosen the form that Mom would have initially preferred, the choice had as much to do with the fact that DC/101 regularly featured the band on their weekly "Local Licks" radio program to any parental advice she could have given me.

My first impression of Midnite Dynamite left me with a giddy feeling that Kix were easily a more exciting version of Aerosmith during their toxic-twin era. This Kix release had a heavy recorded tone to the songs and thanks to some searing harmonica solos by vocalist Steve Whiteman, one could easily spot elements of the same blues-based rock formula that catapulted Aerosmith to the top of the charts.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Beginning with the self-titled track, Whiteman and company resist the urge to race through a song and chorus that might lyrically suggest otherwise. The vocalist allows guitarists Ronnie Younkins and Brian Forsythe to prove that faster is not always better as the two axemen set the table for Whiteman to masterfully croon his way through the song.

While Midnite Dynamite "hits" on the first song, it begins to misfire as the songs "Red Hot (Black & Blue)" and "Bang Bang (Balls of Fire)" suffer from weak and predictable lyric composition. Whiteman's screeching vocals save these songs from being classified as filler and, as far as I'm concerned, his unique vocal style kept any Kix song from entering the increasingly ubiquitous landfill of cock-rock schlock that the 80's were known to have spawned. The two tracks listed above suffer from titles too blasé to try and finesse a song and chorus around. A little stronger turn of the ignition switch in amping up the guitars and maybe these songs would have worked.

The hidden gem on Midnite Dynamite is buried eight tracks deep into the release. I've yet to understand why bands force listeners into this game of hide n' seek, but as always, the discovery of such a grand track is always most fulfilling. "Cold Shower" is anchored by a deep and dark bass line and features Whiteman delivering his lyrics in a sinister fashion. The rhythm section of Kix, drummer Jimmy Chalfant and bassist Donnie Purnell, accelerate the groove on this song during the several instances they back Whiteman on his vocals. And to top things off, Whiteman ices the track's splendor with a departing harmonica salute. "Cold Shower" is easily the most dynamic track on the album.

In addition, Midnite Dynamite benefits largely from the two tracks that conclude the 10-song album. "Lie Like a Rug" and "Sex" are upbeat boogie-blues rock n' roll tunes which in retrospect, provide the substance that distanced Kix from their mid-80's L.A. metal scene contemporaries.

Think of the last three songs matching up with a strong title track and Midnite Dynamite sandwiches its way into an album that could have benefited from more than the regional exposure radio provided. Any serious rock n' roll fan would also do well to refrain from any preconceived notions that Kix thrived or even belonged in the largely shallow hair-metal scene of the 80's. That being said, Midnite Dynamite is an album that would fit comfortably into any rock fan's music collection.

Rating: B

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© 2003 Chris Harlow and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Atlantic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.