The rap (sheet) of Khan

Pasatiempo - - Terrell’s Tune-up -

It’s a good thing that the King Khan & BBQ Show isn’t as fa­mous as the Bea­tles and that Pres­i­dent Obama prob­a­bly doesn’t hate and fear Ar­ish “King” Khan as much as Pres­i­dent Nixon hated and feared John Len­non.

Im­prob­a­ble as this com­par­i­son is, I couldn’t help but re­call Len­non’s tribu­la­tions when the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion tried to get him de­ported as an “un­de­sir­able alien” be­cause of a drug bust. What prompted this mem­ory was Khan’s ar­rest with his road man­ager, Kristin Klein, in Ken­tucky ear­lier this month on charges of pos­ses­sion of psy­che­delic mush­rooms.

The ar­rest of Khan, a Cana­dian ci­ti­zen, occurred on the road be­tween the band’s gigs pro­mot­ing its new al­bum, In­vis­i­ble Girl. Here’s the group’s of­fi­cial state­ment on Nov. 17, via Pitch­fork: “On Novem­ber 16, 2009 Kristin Klein en­tered a guilty plea to 2nd de­gree pos­ses­sion of a con­trolled sub­stance in Chris­tian County, Ken­tucky. Ms. Klein was driv­ing a rental ve­hi­cle that was ran­domly stopped at a safety check­point. Of­fi­cers lo­cated a con­trolled sub­stance in the cab of the ve­hi­cle. Ms. Klein was un­aware of the con­tra­band and the va­lid­ity of her li­cense was in­de­ter­minable at time of ar­rest. Un­der KY law a driver of a ve­hi­cle is re­spon­si­ble for its con­tents. There­fore, Ms. Klein en­tered a guilty plea and is sched­uled to ap­pear on April 2, 2010, to pro­vide proof of her valid li­cense.”

The Ken­tucky New Era news­pa­per re­ported that Khan and two oth­ers with the KK & BBQ en­tourage “were al­lowed to en­ter a pre­trial di­ver­sion­ary agree­ment. The drug pos­ses­sion charge against each of them will be dropped if they stay out of trou­ble for a year, said [Khan’s lo­cal lawyer Rick] Bol­ing. They were or­dered to pay court costs.”

There were fears through­out Khan fan­dom that this bust would be a ter­ri­ble chap­ter in the war on drugs— be­ing ar­rested in Chris­tian County, Ken­tucky, for Pete’s sake! As the River Front Times’ St. Louis Mu­sic blog put it, “Keep in mind, it’s not hard to imag­ine a sce­nario where cops in a tiny Ken­tucky town un­fairly has­sle a crazy looking In­dian man wear­ing a huge shark-tooth neck­lace.”

But it looks like the judge was pretty le­nient, al­most more con­cerned about the driver’s li­cense than he was the mush­rooms. Of course, the catch is that Khan has to stay out of trou­ble for a year. That could be the real trial.

While Khan is also known for his soul re­vue The Shrines (and less so for The Tan­doori Knights, an­other two-man band, and the garage/ punk/lo-fi/gospel su­per­group The Almighty De­fend­ers, whose self-ti­tled al­bum I re­viewed here a few weeks ago), some of his finest work is with Mark Sul­tan. Sul­tan, aka BBQ, is an­other Cana­dian, who was Khan’s band­mate in a Montreal band whose name is un­print­able in this fam­ily news­pa­per.

You might think of two-man gui­tar/drums groups in terms of stripped-down blues bash­ers like Flat Duo Jets and the early White Stripes. There’s cer­tainly that el­e­ment at work in KK& BBQ. But what dis­tin­guishes this dy­namic duo is its an­chor in raw doo-wop. The ba­sic sound, there­fore, is punk-rock roar, em­bel­lished by some Ruben& The Jets/Sha Na Na/rama-lamad­ing-dong silli­ness but based on some se­ri­ously pretty melodies and oc­ca­sional sweet har­monies.

It’s all there in the open­ing cut, “Anala,” on which Khan han­dles the lead vo­cals. It wouldn’t be hard imag­in­ing The Pen­guins or The Moon­glows singing this. This is fol­lowed by the ti­tle cut, which fea­tures a folk-rock gui­tar that sounds in­spired by The Bea­tles’ “Ticket to Ride” or The Searchers’ “When You Walk in the Room.”

But my fa­vorites are the ones on which Sul­tan’s high voice soars, such as “I’ll Be Loving You” and “Tryin’.” Some­times Sul­tan sounds like a more ragged Sam Cooke— or, cyn­ics might say, a hip­ster ver­sion of Steve Perry of Jour­ney. What­ever, the boy can sing.

The most in­ter­est­ing Sul­tan-led song on In­vis­i­ble Girl is “Third Av­enue.” It starts out and ends as a se­ri­ously greasy doowop­per, but it’s got a strange psy­che­delic freak-out sec­tion fea­tur­ing gui­tar and or­gan. Un­for­tu­nately the song that’s get­ting the most at­ten­tion is “Taste­buds,” which is ob­scene, ju­ve­nile — and an­noy­ingly catchy. Looks like maybe the two are try­ing to ex­pand their fan base by be­com­ing frat­boy faves. I just hope they weren’t blast­ing this on the car stereo when the cops stopped them in Ken­tucky. See mys­pace.com/thek­ingkhanbbqshow.

Also rec­om­mended:

We can’t even print the name of the new al­bum by Bob Log III. If a two-man band is just too crowded for you, check out one of the most fun one-man bands out there— and “out there” is a good de­scrip­tion— Mr. Log’s mu­sic might be for you.

This is just good down-home stomp­ing blues with Log’s trade­mark dis­torted vo­cals (he per­forms in a mo­tor­cy­cle hel­met) and some scat­tered elec­tronic em­bel­lish­ments. Log was once part of the Ari­zona-based blues/noise duo called Doo-Rag back in the mid-’90s.

Log’s ba­sic sound on this al­bum is a funky, clunky hoe­down. But it’s ob­vi­ous that Log ac­tu­ally knows how to pick, as he shows ev­ery so of­ten— in­clud­ing with the speedy acous­tic gui­tar work­out on the in­stru­men­tal “Buck­tooth Po­tato.” My fa­vorite here is “Ma­nip­u­late Your Fig­ments.” It’s one of the best elec­tron­i­cally mu­tated blues tunes I’ve heard in a while. For more, bird­man­records.com/boblog.

Hear songs from th­ese al­bums (and other bitchen noises) on “Ter­rell’s Sound­World,” 10 p.m. Sun­days on KSFR-FM 101.1 and stream­ing live at ksfr.org. And don’t for­get “The Santa Fe Opry,” same time, same chan­nel, Fri­day nights.

I dreamed I was there in Hill­billy Heaven: Oh, what a won­der­ful dream. And what a won­der­ful pod­cast. Check out the lat­est Big En­chi­lada pod­cast, “Hill­billy Heaven” at bi­gen­chi­ladapod­cast.com.

King Khan & BBQ Show

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