by Fred Mills
Kenne Highland cut his rock 'n' roll teeth with legendary Hoosier punks the Gizmos back in the mid '70s, going on to play in D.C.-area cult heroes the Afrika Korps and eventually heading to Boston and becoming a mainstay of that burg's garage/punk scene in the '80s. Highland sightings during the last decade have been rare, however, making this comeback elpee a serious bucketful o' manna for those of us with long memories (and even longer vinyl collections).
As per the man's roots, the holy trinity of Stooges-Stones-Velvets looms large; surrounding himself with a cast of likeminded Beantown loonies (including World of Distortion sitarists/guitarists Aram Heller and Scott Ferguson), Heller is nothing if not consistent. Although the searing Elmore James/Yardbirds tribute bearing the hilarious title "Max Headroom Must Die" suggests that Highland's in touch with his inner archive geek, not to mention being a man of musical wealth and taste courtesy covers of covers of the Young Rascals (a garage-slam version of "Come On Up") and the Temptations (a psychedelicized "My Girl").
Still, in the context of the current rockisback! revival and Little Steven's nationally syndicated "Underground Garage" syndicated radio show, Highland originals like the defiant Who/Standells-like "I'll Show Them Who's Mod," the Lower East Side rawk of "Not Too Shabby (At The Abbey)" and the modified "Search And Destroy" isms of "Be More Flamboyant" signal Highland's time is right now. Put this guy on a bill with the Strokes and watch those young NYC pups drop to their knees and genuflect before a real master. The rest of you do should do likewise.
E-mail Fred Mills at email@example.com.