Alan Vega–Kid Congo

By the time Alan Vega released his third solo album, Saturn Strip, he was ready to dispense with ultra-bleak futurism and early rock homage in order to attempt something more contemporary (read: popular).  Again working with Ric Ocasek as a producer, the album is often thought of as the moment when Vega turned to synth-pop in a bid for commercial acceptance.  And while it’s true album opener Saturn Drive stretches itself into shades of Kraftwerk-style krautrock, it still melded those leaning with influences that were more Vega’s speed, showcasing some of the best punk-poetry delivery this side of The Jim Carroll Band.  But songs like Kid Congo show where his heart is.  An ode to Kid Congo Powers, guitarist for The Gun Club and The Cramps, the track is practically a polka, but Vega’s riotous delivery manages to turn it into a piece that could live right alongside everything from The Modern Lovers to The Idiot-era Iggy and Transformer-era Lou Reed. The song is both quintessential Vega and totally new territory for him.  He’s used to taking familiar elements and crafting something utterly unique with them, it’s just that what he ends up with normally isn’t two-and-a-half minutes of itchy pop perfection.

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