Saturday, February 21, 2015

Run-D.M.C. – King of Rock

Today (February 21st) marks the thirtieth anniversary of King of Rock, the second studio album from Run-D.M.C. This 1980 release spent fifty-six weeks on the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 52. It also went to number 12 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

Side one opens with “Rock the House”, a high-hat heavy track.

The title track “King of Rock” is next. As the first single, it hit number 108 on the US Billboard 200, number 80 in the UK, number 40 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 14 on the US Billboard R&B chart. The lyrics make reference to other R&B acts like Michael Jackson and Kool and the Gang, and they point out how Run-D.M.C. is different than the rest of the pack.

“You Talk Too Much”, the second single, reached number 107 on the US Billboard 200, number 30 on the US Billboard Dance chart, and number 19 on the US Billboard R&B chart. I like the beat on this one as it reminds me of the B-boy days of early rap. The lyrics take down the loudmouths and the braggarts of the world. And how can you not smile when the guys reference the Cavity Creeps and Crest?

“Jam-Master Jammin’” has a heavy, thundering beat to it that sounds great blaring from your speakers.

The side closes with “Roots, Rap, Reggae” featuring vocals from Yellowman, a Jamaican reggae performer. I like how it shows that Run-D.M.C. was open to expanding their sound to a variety of sounds.

Side two beings with “Can You Rock It Like This”, the rousing third single. It hit number 19 on the US Billboard R&B chart.

“You’re Blind” is next up. By this point in the record, the beats are starting to run together. The lyrics focus on those that fail to acknowledge what is going around them.

“It’s Not Funny” warns folks from getting scammed by people you can’t trust. This one reminds me a lot of “It’s Like That” from their debut album, both musically and in the rhythm of the lyrics.

The closing track is the six-and-a-half minute long “Darryl and Joe (Krush-Groove 3)”.

The 2005 deluxe edition included a demo version of “Slow and Low” (which the Beastie Boys recorded on their 1986 debut Licensed to Ill, a live version of “Together Forever (Krush-Groove 4)” which was the B-side to the third single, an extended remix version of “Jam-Master Jammin’”, and a live version of “King of Rock” from the group’s performance at Live-Aid.

King of Rock is a strong sophomore effort from the guys. Listening to this one, I can see the continued evolution of their sound as they moved from their debut to their next album (1986’s Raising Hell). I can’t recall why I did not pick this one up on cassette in the mid-80’s when I snapped up their first and third albums.

For more from Run-D.M.C., click here.

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