That meant a solid brass section, warm organ sounds, spy-flick guitar licks and rock-steady rhythms. They called themselves the Kingpins, and in matters of traditional ska party music, they were. They are easily one of the nation's best live acts and party bands. The first Kingpins single "On the Run" won a MiMi (Montreal Independent Music Industry) award for Best Single in '95, coinciding with swelling crowds and a proliferation of younger bands eager to ape that Kingpin cool. The following year saw the dawn of their own label Stomp Records and the first Kingpins CD, "Watch Your Back?. By '97 the band was on newspaper covers and national TV; all eyes were on the Kingpins, stylish ambassadors of ska.
Trapped between grunge and techno, people were hungry for satisfying, kick-ass live music that one could dance to. Who better to turn to? The band burst out of the alternative sub-category that contained it with mainstream radio play, a second album in '99 "Let's Go To Work" that outdid the first, numerous headline gigs all over Europe, North America, Japan, breakout slots on packages like the Warped Tour, TV appearances, video airplay and soundtrack material for film and TV. With their most current full-length, "Plan of Action" aggressive choices were made, and they paid off. First, the lineup was stripped down to a tight, well-oiled five-piece party machine, with Lorraine ?The Queen of Ska? taking up vocal duties full-time. While maintaining solid ties to the rhythms and positive energy of ska, they explored punk, pop, new wave, moving balladry and even breakbeats.
The results, far from a corny, unfocused cash-in, were vital, solid and the best and most exciting thing the band had done to date. Not surprisingly, the album raced to the top of the Canadian college charts in a time when most ska releases were serving as drink coasters. Not only have Canada?s Monarchs of Ska, the Kingpins come through shining, that shine will light the way to the most creative and engaging stretch of their career. And hey, everybody's welcome to hop on for the ride.
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