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Album Review : Klark Kent – ‘Klark Kent’

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Review by Paul Monkhouse for MPM

Global straddling megastars The Police were just taking off when a shadowy, but oddly familiar, figure emerged from the wings.

For all who saw him, it was no secret that Klark Kent was actually drummer Stuart Copeland on a branch from the day job, the worry as to whether the Copeland, Summers and Sting triumvirate would actually break through into the mainstream.

The rest, as they say, is history but thankfully we have this newly released double album that acts as a retrospective record of Copeland’s releases under this moniker, brought fully together into one glorious package.

Whilst the drumming is unmistakable, the rest of the sounds herein sometimes stray far from the template, the focus on fizzy and quirky fun. Whilst there may be a lot of tongue in cheek tracks here, a million miles away from some of The Police’s carefully crafted pop rock gems, there’s also a great musicality that draws you in and underpins everything on the release.

No hint of this being a throwaway project, this was to be the potential launching of a totally different persona and one that was meant to have staying power way beyond some of the novelty records that abounded in the mid 70’s to early 80’s.

With debut single ‘Don’t Care’ launched on the public in 1978 and reaching the UK Top Fifty, things were off and running. Famously, the track was released on collectable kryptonite green vinyl and so many were issued that Copeland said at the time that to find one on black vinyl was rarer.

Whatever the reason for its success, the single got into people’s heads and it surfed the snotty pop bridge between Punk and New Wave perfectly. With the sticksman playing all the instruments himself and handling the vocals, the whole was a mammoth task but one that he had complete creative control over and this allowed him to really experiment.

As a result of this freedom, there’s a wonderful quirkiness to the album and its eighteen tracks over two slabs of vinyl, black not florescent green, show a real breadth of influences whilst still retaining their central character.

Most of ‘Klark Kent’ is shot through with New Wave stylings but it’s the touch of reggae in ‘Away From Home’ and jazz in instrumental Grandelinquent that add extra hues to the musical palette. It may have been hard work undertaking such a polymathic task but we hear Copeland having a huge amount of fun here too and that gives the whole an infectious quality that makes it impossible not to smile at.

For such a diverse and loose sounding album, there’s a lot to truly absorb here and this is far from throwaway, the whole something to play on repeat and certain glistening gems present themselves to become favourites.

Whilst many may be initially attracted by the more madcap with tracks like the twisted ‘Guerilla’, the skittering judder of ‘Old School’ or ‘Too Kool For Kalypso’ with its frantic speed, other numbers like rolling instrumental ‘Kinetic Ritual’ bring a more measured charm.

Given this collection, it’s fascinating to think what may have happened in a sliding door scenario had The Police not rocketed into orbit the way they did but instead Klark Kent had taken flight.

We can only speculate on that but whilst this may not have had the longevity and stellar impression that the trio had, this one-man band certainly made a hugely entertaining set of tracks that are worth exploring way beyond any completists tick list or as a pure curiosity.

Like listening to any early albums by ‘Nutty Boys’ Madness, this may have some quirks of its time but still manages to sound fresh and vibrant, a rare feat indeed.

Whilst it may not reach the lofty heights of ‘Sgt Pepper’, ‘Pet Sounds’ or ‘Blonde On Blonde’, ‘Klark Kent’ is a remarkably winning album that will keep the listener coming back time and time again to wallow in its many magnificent curves. It’s all rather wonderful.

Eddie explores the mysteries of Sri Kent. @eddievedder LP, CD and Digital klarkkent.lnk.to/KKD








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