• Home

Mark Knight & The Unsung Heroes

Mark Knight & The Unsung Heroes’ Lonesome Songs

By Debbie Brautman

Mark Knight founded the Los Angeles 80’s hard rock band, Bang Tango, with bassist Kyle Kyle in 1988. They had success with their 1989 debut album Psycho Café and its single, “Someone Like You.” Their glam rock good looks and crunching hard rock’ n’ funk made them MTV rock darlings. Dancin’ On The Coals, their 2nd album, was released in 1991 and its single “Untied and True” had some minor success.” By 1995, the thrill was gone and the band went their separate ways until January 25, 2020, when they had one reunion concert at The Whiskey A Go-Go on the Sunset Strip in California. Guitarist and singer-songwriter Knight has been perfecting his singer-songwriter skills since the 1990’s and has put out a slew of solo releases. Fast forward to 2023 with Knight’s new solo album, Lonesome Songs, which was released in June on Knifewound Records, and might just be his best solo effort yet and a long way from his Bang Tango beginnings in maturity and evolution. All songs are written and composed by Knight on this most interesting new album. Former Bang Tango bandmate, Tigg Ketler, plays drums and LA Guns’ Adam Hamilton contributes additional drums/percussion, bass, strings and piano, along with co-production. Wayne Lothian adds bass, strings, and keys.

Knight started his love of music with 45’s of Paul McCartney and Elton John as a boy. His first album was Led Zeppelin’s 2nd album, Led Zeppelin II, which happened to be my first album also. Led Zeppelin guitarist, Jimmy Page, was a huge influence. Knight’s father brought him home a Fender Strat and he became obsessed with playing guitar. That was all he wanted to do. His mom never had to tell him to practice. Van Halen was his first concert and Eddie Van Halen was another major influence along with Michael Schenker (UFO) and Randy Rhodes (Quiet Riot/Ozzy). Well, he sure can play guitar, and he can also write some damn great songs as well.

Knight’s killer guitar chords open the new album with the song “Beg,” where he laments immediately that “I miss my band,” and it has a vague essence of Johnny Thunders, except Knight’s voice is way better. On “San Fernando Valley,” Knight traveled the entire world and ended back where he grew up. He sings, “my whole family moved away and I moved back here and I’m stuck,” which leads one to wonder why he is “stuck” there, especially after his whole family moved away. So, I just had to ask Knight why he felt stuck in San Fernando Valley. He explains with a laugh, “HaHa. Ended up buying a house in San Fernando Valley and just kinda committing to raising a family there. I’m not actually stuck, I can always pack up and leave, but I kinda put roots down.” Now that explains it and it also sounds good when he sings it. Wayne Lothian (The English Beat) added super keyboards and co-produced this song. Knight’s vocals and guitar solos are spot on, making it a well-written and executed song. The spoken words towards the end of the song sound like Tom Petty came back to life. It’s a beauty.

“Last Night’s Parade” might be the most lonesome song of the Lonesome Songs with the message, “Even the good ones, they don’t last that long, and the bad ones only make us strong.” “Shut Down” has a Steve Earle vibe and is about the pandemic shutdown in Whitesburg, Kentucky. It’s one of Knight’s favorites and mine also. Fabulous slide guitar by Knight combines with stellar songwriting and a memorable chorus, “Everything just shut down… And Winona shut down.” The way he sings, “Winona shut down” is priceless. It’s the album’s highlight and a perfect gem. It can be played repeatedly. After 50 listens it still sounds fresh. Change of pace and style with “Put It On Yourself.” After watching a documentary on Elliott Smith, his daughter Scarlet challenged him as to who could write the best Elliott Smith sounding song and this is what he came up with. It swings and is as smooth as silk. The way he intersperses so many styles in these different songs and makes it work is a feather in his cap.
The title song, “Lonesome Songs,” is an Americana ballad of a weary rock musician’s experiences and he croons, “She said hello and I said goodbye… I’m not the man, that I was back then, go find yourself another cheap thrill.” Sometimes age brings wisdom. Knight is older and wiser. It is reminiscent of “The Ballad of Mott The Hoople,” and that’s a compliment. For those who know, you know. “These Days” was inspired by a Martin D18 guitar and more killer vocals with a little nod to Led Zeppelin. It includes some memorable guitar work and solos by Knight. His description of “I woke up feeling kinda strange with the wine still in my veins” makes an impact, as does “these days won’t last long.” The guitar is exceptional and with such great vocals, it’s hard to believe he wasn’t always the vocalist in his earlier bands. Getting better with age it seems. “Ain’t The First Time” with slide, acoustic, and dobro… has it all. It won’t be the first time or the last time that you listen to it. “I Do” is a sweet duet with his daughter, Scarlet Rae Knight, who also added some interesting open-tuned guitar of her own and wrote the second verse. She has a delicately distinctive and super cool voice which blends quite well with her dad. It contains the lyrical wisdom, “I should have looked around and got out of my own damn way.” Haven’t we all felt that way? It’s very relatable, as is this entire album. “I Don’t Know Anything” is the most rocking track on the album showcasing more of Knight’s powerful and catchy guitar licks. Tigg Ketler on drums keeps right up with him. It will have you singing “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know anything anymore.” It’s an infectious rocker that really works. It slows, with some complexity before breaking back into rock mode and a nice guitar solo. “Stop The Rain” is a favorite of Knight’s. It’s an elaborate ballad with strings, bass and drums by Adam Hamilton and co-produced by Wayne Lothian.

Overall, this album has a great flow with lots of guitar hooks, good vocals and honesty pouring out. It’s a real album by a genuine rocker who has something to say. This superb guitarist/singer-songwriter has nailed his latest album and it’s light years away from his Bang Tango years, yet it still rocks and he has added the wisdom of a life well-lived. Let’s hope he’s not too lonesome for long. Long live our creative and talented rockers. May they keep making these masterpieces from the heart.

The website to purchase this great album is https://markknighttheunsungheroes.hearnow.com and there is an option to buy from artist for the physical cd and options for spotify, apple music, itunes, amazon, pandora and deezer for downloads.

Share It!