King's X appeared like a breath of fresh air in the late eighties Rock/Metal scene. A band going their own way and doing something different to the myriad of hair metal bands that seemed to appear every week. What made them stand out for me, apart from Bassist/Vocalist Doug Pinnicks wild hair style was firstly Ty Tabors guitar playing and sound; very rich and full, heavy without being metallic and interesting chord progressions with a strong emphasis on melody. Pinnick has a great voice in the rock tradition but all the band sing, Tabor and Drummer Jerry Gaskill adding some great harmony work in the tradition of The Beatles and taking lead at times too.
Gretchen Goes To Nebraska is their second album and remains one of their very best, if not the best with a consistently strong selection of melodic heavy rock. For a listen to Tabors inventive playing just listen to his chord progressions at the end of I'll Never Be The Same, gorgeous arpeggios on Mission coming across like Cream's White Room incarnated and Summerland, still one of their most sublime moments and like all the album strong on melodies and hooks. To put it simply King's X write songs with the priority on strong tunes, not overly complex but they've got the musical skills to call upon where necessary.
Other highlights include Pleiades for Tabors subtle climatic build on guitar towards the end and album opener Out Of The Silent Planet, which was also the title of their first album setting the scene for what to expect for the rest of the album with those lush chords and harmonies.
Highly regarded by many Over My Head is pretty much a straightforward rocker and at the time received a fair amount of play on MTV. It has a good riff but there's much more interesting stuff here like Everybody Knows A Little Bit of Something; scratchy guitar on the verse giving way to another great Tabor riff on the chorus and an excellent groove from Gaskill in the drum department.
Don't Believe it (It's Easier said Than Done) features some of their best harmony work as well as simply being another great tune. And so it goes, I'm sure you've got the idea by now, the quality songwriting prevails for the entire album.
At the time it looked like great things were in store for King's X but for whatever reason major success has eluded them. Fortunately their still with us producing great music and Gretchen Goes To Nebraska remains one of the great relatively undiscovered gems of the eighties.