Despite having been around since the late '70s, there aren't a ton of Redd Kross recordings out there, especially not outside their handful of studio albums. Hot Issue helps to alleviate that imbalance by rounding up a tidy batch of rarities, outtakes, and previously unreleased tracks mostly from their mid- to late-'90s stint with Atlantic Records, but also stretching back to the early '80s and forward to the late 2000s. The most well-known song here is their brilliant 1995 single "Switchblade Sister," but everything else they dug out of the archives is just as fun and fresh-sounding. Their take on the New York Dolls' "Puss N Boots" dates from 1983 and has an unbridled, youthful kick which makes sense, since the brothers McDonald were still quite young at the time. The tracks from the '90s show the band at the top of their game; it's hard to figure out why tracks like the romping "Pop Show" and "That Girl" weren't finished and released. They sound like classic Redd Kross, in the vein of "Switchblade Sister," which is featured here in an alternate mix. Along with more gems like the ultra-hooky "Starlust" and the strutting "Insatiable Kind" they could have polished but were instead shelved, the collection also reveals some interesting directions the band could have gone if they wanted to change their formula drastically. "Take It Home" is sample-heavy psychedelia that sounds like their vitriolic take on Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here," "It's a Scream" is super spooky garage psych. There's also revved-up cover of Kim Fowley's "Motorboat" from Steven McDonald's solo EP from 2002, an epic Queen-like piano ballad "Born to Love You," and one demo they did end up redoing in the studio for an album. "Don't Take Your Baby Downtown" is a jangly power pop confection here in rough form; the band changed the title to "Stay Away from Downtown," added new lyrics, and cranked the amps up past ten in the process of turning it into a vintage Kiss-style rocker on their excellent Researching the Blues album. Hot Issue isn't perfect -- what the world really needs is a collection that covers all the many single tracks, covers, and other cool things the band recorded and sometimes released. Until that happy day comes along, this will do just fine. ~ Tim Sendra
- Genre: Pop
- Format: Vinyl
- Released: 12/7/2018
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