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Various Artists - Max’s Kansas City 1976 & Beyond album review

Another NYC story where footnotes become stars

Cover art for Various Artists - Max’s Kansas City 1976 & Beyond album

Max’s Kansas City 1976 was one of the first albums to present a provocatively alluring taste of the punk action happening in New York’s downtown clubs. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the set’s been vastly expanded by original booking manager Peter Crowley and lavishly repackaged by Jungle Records to present a larger parade of acts that invaded the fabled Park Avenue South venue in its 70s heyday (although notable names that played the club but originally declined appearing in ’76 still remain absent).

Over two CDs or tasty coloured wax double album, the original studio-recorded tracks, that included Wayne County (whose feisty three outings include his Max’s Kansas City signature song), Suicide making their recording debut, Cleveland’s Pere Ubu, ebullient power-poppers the Fast and old school rock-tart Cherry Vanilla, are joined by the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop, Nico, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, preBlondie Stillettos, Ruby and the Rednecks, the Senders, Brats, Offs, Von Lmo, Sid Vicious (captured playing Max’s in 1978 with the Idols and Mick Jones), plus the new set’s annotator Jimi LaLumia and his Psychotic Frogs.

The compilation also comes as an overdue tribute to Peter Crowley, an undersung dynamo of New York’s 70s scene whose vision afforded Suicide’s first regular bookings and kickstarted their career, which was further helped when he stuck Rocket USA on Max’s legendary jukebox. This magnificent artefact consolidates Crowley’s original dream and can even be held as a cool, Alan Lomax-style field recording.

Kris Needs is a British journalist and author, known for writings on music from the 1970s onwards. Previously secretary of the Mott The Hoople fan club, he became editor of ZigZag in 1977 and has written biographies of stars including Primal Scream, Joe Strummer and Keith Richards. He's also written for MOJO, Record Collector, Classic Rock, Prog, Electronic Sound, Vive Le Rock and Shindig!