THE KISSERS – Good Fight
(2005 Skeptic Rock Records)
Working too hard? Feeling downtrodden? Not happy with the hundreds of billions being spent on warmongering while our schools languish, poverty advances and health insurance becomes a luxury akin to caviar? Want to crank it up and rock the fuck out? This could be the album that speaks to you.
The Kissers’ last album, Fire in the Belly, was a true studio recording with the songs receiving a fair amount of treatment. Good Fight turns that method on its head as it was recorded live in the studio – vocals and all – with very few overdubs. Just check out the instrumental title track if you want to hear the level of intensity that the Kissers have risen to by paring down the instrumentation and becoming a true rock quintet. This is but a hint of the power that they now bring to their live performance.
Whereas Fire in the Belly was a collection of songs, Good Fight is cohesive and solid, reflecting the current state of affairs and important issues in the U.S. If the Kissers are an Irish Band they are a one-hundred percent, true-blue American Irish band who care more about you than your government does. Even the two Irish traditionals included here reflect the demoralization of the working class that has occurred over generations, addressing a condition here in our own country that is too often denied. This phenomenonis a common theme running throughout the album in songs like “What They Can,” where Nate Palan shines brightly, cranking up the rock guitar, and “Under Wisconsin,” a beautiful and sad song about nature’s oppression in the form of Wisconsin winters and the sadness of death. Here the poetic lyrics of the song, written by accordionist and keyboardist Pete Colclasure, bring the story even closer to home.
Every song on Good Fight is a winner but the centerpiece is Ken Fitzsimmons’ “No War,” a biting slice of rock sarcasm that will have you pumping your fist in the air with a hearty “Fuck, yeah!” The lyrics here are nearly prophetic: “You don’t think you can speak your mind / Say there’s someone else on the line / Relax now everything is fine / They’re protecting you and I.” It’s one of the best local songs of the year and also appears on the anti-war compilation album No Camouflage. Fitzsimmons turns in several winners, the lamenting “Captain George,” “What They Can” and the dark folk tale “Black Crow Road.”
Other issues arise on Good Fight. Palan’s “Kicked in the Head” is a hilarious romp about religious fanatics inspired by a visit from some Mormon evangelists. It has one of the best lyrical lines I’ve heard lately: “So hit me with the Gospel if it’s lighter than the Book.” Colclasure’s “Pictures at an Execution” reflects on the madness of the death penalty. Fitzsimmons’ “The Ballad of Cobb Tyler” suggests that death may be the only relief from the oppression of life.
The Kissers are coming into their own and have never sounded better. It is hard to imagine them being from anywhere else than Madison, Wisconsin but with their frequent touring and high-powered stage presence they are sure to build legions of fans across the country. Good Fight is not only the voice of a band hitting its stride, it’s the voice of the people, specifically those they represent, and that would be you. In a way they are your unelected ambassadors of rock. Get Good Fight and hear what you’re saying. Or…remain in denial.