There’s nobody like King Khan. As the front man of King Khan & the Shrines, as well as duo The King Khan & BBQ Show, he’s a ball of energy that manages to capture on record the unhinged glory and occasional danger of live shows in which he frequently performs bedecked with a necklace of donkey teeth—but otherwise as close to naked as possible. This is what makes Turkey Ride, a collection of songs Khan and a gaggle of friends made in Berlin and Bordeaux nearly two-decades ago, so perplexing. While marginally fun, the odds-and-ends collection does little to capture the incendiary spirit of Khan’s music in the 18 years since it was recorded.

It emerges in places: “Come Levitate with Me” and “Hey Rudi” make up a breezy one-two punch, the former a pleasant psych-rock jam and the latter a bouncy though inessential throwback rock number. The fire that you feel like you should hear when he sings “Some people wonder what I’m gonna do/ Without your soul guidin’ me through” is absent, but it’s not enough to detract from the fun. And you can easily find that fire hidden in the eastern-influenced “Le Responsable,” a reminder that he doesn’t need to sing in English for you to get what he’s all about.

Sadly, too many songs live up to the album title. Cringe-worthy opener “Turkey Ride” is a lame, four-minute dick joke you never need to hear again, with Khan unconvincingly wailing in ecstasy, while “Bob Log Stomp” is a similarly one-note joke about finding shit in your scotch. Crassness is a part of his wheelhouse, but these lack finesse; something about these leaves a lingering feeling of, “Yeah, but couldn’t he have made these jokes better?”

Even when they try something fun with the lo-fi Hendrix pastiche of “Are You Serious,” it falls entirely flat. The only thing that redeems these songs is closer “Hammer Ich Vermisse Dich,” the infectiously glitchy German-language cover of Jay Reatard’s “Hammer I Miss You,” a tribute to his late friend. It’s classically Khan right down to the strange choice in language and the accompaniment of German schoolgirls, and it’s a far more tender moment than you expect.

What’s so strange about the collection is that, from someone whose work is so memorable, so much of this is forgettable. “Turkey Ride” is a rough enough track that you remember why it’s distasteful, but what do you do about the lethargic “Dr. Ruin-Yer-Life” or the sloppy “No Regrets,” his James Brown-like wails sounding phoned-in. One wonders what changed inside him between these songs and, say, What Is?!

Is it fair to judge Turkey Ride for not having the same overwhelming spirit that Khan would embody with his later projects? Probably not – it presents us with the earliest days of his recording career, before he found a way to grab onto what’s made him such a one-of-a-kind performer. If you’ve been a longtime fan, this collection can be a fun way of seeing the seeds of what King Khan & the Shrines would become – outside of that, it’s totally skippable.

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