Stuck on Repeat: Joe “King” Carrasco “I Get My Kicks on You”

Stuck on Repeat

Sometimes a song from Austin’s past won’t get out of our heads and we’re forced to share it with you so it will get stuck in yours too, like a music nerd version of It Follows. This week’s addiction is Joe “King” Carrasco’s “I Get My Kicks on You,” a ’50s-esque romper from Carrasco’s debut LP on legendary British label Stiff Records, which hinted at bigger things to come for the Austin artist.

After the psych and outlaw country movements ran their course in Austin, the scene embraced punk and new wave like so many other hip college towns across the country. The Dicks, Big Boys and Scratch Acid would all have massive influences on the shape of punk to come but the first Austin act to catch the eye of venerable UK punk label Stiff was Joe “King” Carrasco, a crazy guitarist with a taste for flashy royal costumes and organ-driven garage rock rather than torn outfits, breakneck tempos and an aura of violence.

It’s not hard to figure out why Stiff was drawn to Carrasco, he was essentially creating the same kind of nerdy pop as Elvis Costello at exactly the same time. But Carrasco lacked Costello’s vicious, wordy edge and was devoted to the art of starting parties rather than putting down rivals and ex-lovers. Costello played up the angry young nerd role whereas Carrasco was an obvious dork, a dude in a crown with awkward stage moves who grinned at the crowd, hoping to infect them with his happiness instead of a simmering resentment. Eventually, the King would have a notable hit with the self-explanatory “Party Weekend,” but it’s “I Get My Kicks on You” from his Stiff debut Joe “King” Carrasco and the Crowns that I’d argue is his, ahem, crowning achievement.

An appetizing blend of Carrasco’s inventive Tex-Mex Rock & Roll and the snottiness of Stiff punk, “I Get My Kicks on You” is an ode to one sided infatuation, centered around some wordplay foreplay, Carrasco telling a love “I get my kicks on you/So don’t you walk away.” Kris Cummings’ Farfisa organ provides its melodic center, making her Carrasco’s own version of Costello’s secret weapon Steve Nieve, allowing for some complex call-and-response interplay between the organ, Carrasco and the backing vocals. The song itself is simple in its intent but more complicated in its arrangement, Carrasco cramming in a number of vocal styles and musical shifts. One moment it’s a Buddy Holly ’50s pop number, the next it’s shifting keys to a Split Enz-like bridge, the chorus itself dominated by Carrasco’s impression of Mick Jagger horniness.


Though it’s not as explicitly party oriented as Carrasco’s other material, there’s still a focus on the thrill of pursuit, lines that would be predatory in other hands seeming more playful. Carrasco’s name and image seemed out of touch with both his Austin contemporaries and the rest of the Stiff catalog, but his devotion to commemorating base impulses in song was his most direct connection to punk, as well as his interest in returning music to the primitivism of the ’50s. The song sounds as refreshing today as it must have nearly four decades ago because it still stands out amongst Austin rock, eschewing psych and punk darkness for unapologetic glee in the pleasures of life, be they partying or romantic chase.

Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he’s the last of the secret agents and he’s your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Ovrld as well as Loser City, where he mostly writes about comics. You can also flip through his archives at  Comics Bulletin, which he is formerly the Co-Managing Editor of, and Spectrum Culture, where he contributed literally hundreds of pieces for a few years. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd .gif battles with his friends and enemies on twitter: @Nick_Hanover