There had never been a record quite like it, when it landed at our campus radio station in the fall of 1980. Who are these guys . . . the Kings? At first, we thought they were merely part of the herd of new bands record labels were pushing at that moment in history. But then we heard the record: A crunchy guitar riff was quickly followed by another one on the organ just as the backbeat kicked in, the vocals sounded new-wavey, and lyrics were damn catchy, too. Halfway through, it switched gears into a different song, and we realized that the transition, from “This Beat Goes On” into “Switchin’ to Glide,” was one of the great punch-your-fist-in-the-air rock moments of all time. And the lines “Nothin’ matters but the weekend/From a Tuesday point of view” were The Truth.
It didn’t take long before “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide” was every jock’s favorite song. You’d be disappointed if the person on the air before you got to play it, because it meant you couldn’t—although sometimes, you’d play it anyway. (During her brief on-air career, The Mrs. played the record every Tuesday.) It became a party anthem among the radio-station crowd, and some of us never forgot it.
The album from which it came, The Kings Are Here, was out of print and pretty rare for several years. I finally found an affordable copy in a North Carolina antique store in 1993. More than decade later, I’d sometimes get to play the song on 93.1 The Lake, committing acts of studio-monitor abuse whenever it came on. And the phones would ring with people wanting to know what that song was, just like back in the day.
In short, all these years later, there’s still never been anything like “This Beat Goes On/Switchin’ to Glide.”
I blogged briefly about the song last fall. A couple of weeks ago I got an e-mail from John Picard, better known as Mister Zero, the Kings’ lead guitarist. He’d found the post and poked around the blog a little. As it turns out, the Kings are still together, and they’ve put together a DVD called Anatomy of a One-Hit Wonder, which is about the making of the song and its legacy. The DVD also contains 70 minutes of music videos by the band. Zero was kind enough to send me a copy of the DVD and do an e-mail interview, which we’ll start running in this space next week.
I’ve heard from a number of people mentioned on this blog over the year, but hearing from Mister Zero hisownself is the coolest thing yet. The interview’s great, too, and I hope you’ll like it.