The Kingsnakes – Live At The Old Waldorf June 5, 1981


You are probably aware of San Francisco’s rich musical history, but you might not realise just how deep and wide it runs, and that’s where record label Liberation Hall steps in. Having treated us to sets by The Mutants and Romeo Void, they now shine their spotlight of rock n’ roll rowdies The Kingsnakes. Captured in all their sonic fury at San Fran’s legendary music venue, Live At The Old Waldorf June 5, 1981 contains a blistering set that’s bursting at the seams with raucous rock n’ roll.

Playing by no one’s rules but his own, vocalist and guitarist Daniel Jeanrenaud is rock’s last great maverick, and when he relocated from his native France to the States in the late ‘70s, things really got interesting. Daniel’s roots were in punk, yet when The Kingsnakes formed he didn’t torch his past, and the energy from punk informs almost every note on this disc. I always found it strange when there was tribal wars between punks and teds, the two factions hated each other (in the UK at least) and it seemed that never the twain would meet. Both were spirited forms of music that were devoid of pretension or extraneous frills, and it took a band like The Kingsnakes to unite them. Opening for rockabilly rebel Robert Gordon, this recording found the band on top form and immediately settling into a good groove with their very own ‘Rock N’ Roll House’. Daniel has a voice that recalls Lou Reed in a lively mood (if, in an alternative reality, Lou had jammed with The Stray Cats) and it fits rather nicely with the spiky, angular guitars, and it sets a dangerous precedent for the rest of the set. Featuring a mixture of covers and original tunes, it’s to the band’s credit that the self-penned ‘You Can’t Bring Me Down’ nestles effortlessly alongside Chuck Berry’s ‘No Particular Place To Go’, and without missing a beat.

This previously unreleased set is presented as it happened; there’s been no studio wizardry or airbrushing of history here. This is The Kingsnakes 100% live, and the raw, visceral nature of the recording only adds to its charm. When a band is on stage and the adrenaline is flowing, it’s hard to keep all the instruments in check and not fly off at 100mph, yet the band keep ‘Walking By Myself’ at a steady pace, and that only serves to make the circular ‘Not Nice’ all the more boisterous. The great thing about The Kingsnakes was that they were no mere copyists, and throughout this gig you can here them slightly subverting the genre, and adding a freshness that makes Live At The Old Waldorf sound pertinent, over four decades later. Rock n’ roll’s natural habitat was the small club, and the up close and personal nature of The Old Waldorf always made for an intense experience, and you can almost feel the sticky floor and sweat dripping from the ceiling, and that’s perhaps the greatest gift a live album can bestow.

Bolstered by two bonus studio tracks, a Latino flavoured ‘More’ (recorded 1988) and the more straight-ahead ‘Get Up!’ (London, 2011) makes Live At The Old Waldorf an essential purchase for both the hardcore and casual fan alike. A few months previously, The Kingsnakes played the same venue as support to Chuck Berry, and hopefully a recording of that show is in a vault somewhere and primed for release, but until then, things don’t get much better than Live At The Waldorf.

  • Live At The Old Waldorf June 5, 1981 is released via Liberation Hall and is available now (from here).

Track List:

  1. Rock N’ Roll House
  2. My Babe
  3. You Never Can Tell
  4. Walking By Myself
  5. Not Nice
  6. Look Out Mabel
  7. You Can’t Bring Me Down
  8. No Particular Place To Go
  9. Good Rockin’ City

Bonus Studio Tracks:

  1. More
  2. Get Up!


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