Kid Congo Powers
Some New Kind of Kick
Late to this but Kid Congo has recently published a thoroughly absorbing, eye-opening account of his life and times as gunslinging guitar hero covering his time in The Cramps, The Bad Seeds and The Gun Club. As much as it’s a story about rock’n’roll, it’s also an honest and beautifully paced coming of age story of a young man who starts out as a flamboyant wallflower at Rodney’s English Disco in Hollywood, embraces his sexuality, begins experimenting with drugs and finds his patent leather platform shod feet in a world of fashion and glamour and dressing up. Then punk happens and he’s bit hard by the bug-eyed ramalama mop tops of the Ramones (hard enough to set up their fan club).
Kid recounts the oft told tale of meeting Jeffrey Lee Pierce in a queue for a gig and him hiring him for the nascent Gun Club. Pierce taught him open tuning and he learned on the fly by playing Bo Diddley one-chord wonders over and over and over. These are the roots of Kid’s idiosyncratic style that held him in good stead in his role as sideman for three of modern rock’n’roll’s most exhilarating front men, though he reveals his first time holding an instrument was at the behest of Lydia Lunch who years earlier had goaded him into joining her on an apartment jam session riffing on a Kiss cover.
Of course Gun Club/Cramps/Bad Seeds fans will find a lot to treasure in the book but what makes it stand out is how passionately Kid writes about his early years and the soul, funk and R’n’B records that meant so much to him growing up. When the solo Dracula Boots album came out a lot of people were surprised how funky it was “Some New Kind of Kick” puts everything into context and highlights the sparks that Kid blew into creating his ferocious and caustically psychedelic guitar inferno.