Boston’s proto-punk/power pop rockers the Real Kids have been lionized as legendary through the years that have passed since their short, original run. The few studio recordings they released officially during their lifespan contain great, hook-ridden songs but don’t hint at the true ferocity that fans who caught them “back in the day” swear to. Luckily, Norton Records has blessed the world with Grown Up Wrong, and this incredible live document confirms that every bit of ancient hyperbole about the Kids was true. The tracks are culled from a live radio broadcast, unreleased soundboard tapes, and the band’s two tracks from the seminal Live at the Rat compilation; the Real Kids prove to be just as sweaty and explosive as rumored, far more visceral than their studio recordings ever suggested. For fans of high-velocity, no-nonsense rock & roll, this is the Real Kids record to start with. They may be a bit sloppy and over-amphetamined, but it’s exactly as they were meant to be heard, with full-tilt Rickenbacker riffing and energy that leaks out of the speakers and into the listener. The best cuts are aggressive, sneering put-downs to old girlfriends who, whether they realize it or not, screwed up by walking away; “Bad to Worse,” “Hit You Hard,” and the perfect breakup anthem, “All Kindsa Girls,” are all rousing pep talks for anyone who suffers from a broken heart. Also exceptional is a moving read of “Common at Noon,” a tough but mournful lament over lost love and the passage of time itself (“This ain’t my town/It ain’t like it used to be/When you were still hanging around”). Covers of Eddie Cochran, the Rolling Stones, and Mitch Ryder tunes are tributes to heroes at hypersonic speeds performed at a time when simply showing respect for the roots of rock was a rebellious act. The WCMF broadcast has the best fidelity and focus, though the audience reaction on the club cuts is infectious and enviable. The Real Kids might have burned out too fast, but the scorch can still be felt all these years later, and Grown Up Wrong will assure any true rocker of this remarkable band’s raw brilliance. ~ Fred Beldin
This really is a superb collection of live recordings from Boston’s legendary Real Kids. Straight ahead, high energy, no B.S. rock and roll in the fine tradition of the Ramones, Iggy, Dolls and the MC5 (as the MC mentions in his intro) with the melodic quality of the Beatles and Kinks thrown in for good measure. Do The Boob!