Long-term rock music fans can probably agree that the experience of listening to some music can be optimal only if carried out in a particular track order or collection, often that presented on a seminal album or single release. In the age of digital music, such a traditional approach has frequently flirted with extinction - even if plenty of purists remain to insist on the "proper" way to hear great albums and even just great songs. Remember the whole mix tape concept? Ah well, there may not be that many of us left, but when the tendrils of commerce occasionally extend to allow the preservation of such mementos, it is certainly a time for noting if not outright celebration.
Visitors to this site may not be fully aware that among the many '80s music discoveries I've had the privileged pleasure of making during my seven-year tenure as '80s guide, Canadian new wave, power pop and straight-ahead rock band The Kings is one of the first and most memorable. It's been a few years since I've sung the praises of the original Toronto-based quartet, but there are actually many reasons to revisit the career of one of the best early-'80s should-have-been-huge bands from a musically rich (if sometimes underrated) era. However, I must admit that the catalyst for this week's feature is the recent official digital release of the iconic but criminally seldom-heard "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide." For the past decade of digital music availability, there had been no easy way to get this essential Kings experience, but now at least that particular injustice has been rectified. It doesn't make up for the many examples of overlooked but highly worthy '80s music that remains languishing in oblivion, but it's something.
I'll close this musing by making an analogy that should serve clearly to compliment The Kings and its central place in '80s music legend. One of my favorite Elton John songs (or combo selections, if you will) has always been the symbiotically linked "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding." Reaching back into John's sprawling, rather hard rock-friendly period, this piece of music has its greatest impact when heard uncut and without interruption, as intended. The same can definitely be said of The Kings' segued classic spotlighted here. Just listen for yourself.
- Sample or download the "original radio segue" version of "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' to Glide" here.
- Top 10 Canadian Artists of the '80s
- The Kings Are Here and More Album Review
- Top Elton John Songs of the '80s
Single Cover Image Courtesy of Rhino/Elektra