I always make it a point of doing some pre-work whenever we travel to a new country. I’m a history geek, after all, so I make a point of knowing a bit about where we’re going, interesting and potentially relevant things we may want to see, and stuff that looks just plain fun. I also do some research into that country’s music scene and put together a list of bands to be on the lookout for, as well as shops where I might be able to find some vinyl.
Last year we found ourselves in Finland and Sweden, two hotbeds of early punk rock. Helsinki was, unfortunately, a bit of a bust – I didn’t buy a single record, though I did pick up a handful of cool CDs including the debut from the previously reviewed killer punk band LAMA, who are one of my all-time favorites. I fared better in Stockholm thanks to a nice haul at Trash Palace, though the one band I was really hoping to track down was KSMB and I’d struck out on that front. On our last day in Stockholm, however, Holly suggested a walk south of where we were staying and that, my friends, is how I happened across Pet Sounds Records. And not one, not two, but three KSMB records! I should listen to her more often.
Rika Barn Leka Bäst (“Rich Kids Playing Best” according to Google Translate) was the band’s second full length album. Released in 1981, Rika Barn Leka Bäst is said to represent KSMB moving away from classic punk to a more pop-punk sound, and I’d certainly agree that these songs are pretty melodic and probably resemble either more of a rock sound or sort of The Clash “lite”. There are some songs here that have a bit of swagger to them like “Blått & Guld” (though it does feature horns…) and “Klockan 8,” but even these have a pop-punk feel to them and seem a bit too… I don’t know… competent? Clean? Produced? Don’t get me wrong, I like KSMB. But it’s hard to think of it as punk, especially with the very un-punk-like and gratuitous guitar solo on the six-plus minute “Drömmar,” even with them trying a very punk-hip reggae-influnced song in “Jag Är Ingenting”.
KSMB kind of played second fiddle to Ebba Grön during their hey-day, but they were still very popular in their native Sweden. They broke up in 1982 with just two full length studio albums and one live record (which I scored as well), and though they reformed in 1993 and released a new album a year later, it wasn’t particularly noteworthy. They also released a compilation in 1989 called Sardjentpepper (the other record I picked up…) that includes four of the ten tracks from Rika Barn Leka Bäst. Certainly worth a listen if you can find ’em.