In Part 1 we talked about the packaging and all that was included in The Box Set. Now, we are going to talk about the music. There are 5 discs included in this set and they are broken up in to certain eras/timeframes of the band. They cover from the very beginning all the way up to 1999. The set was released in 2001 so nothing from after Psycho Cirus.
First up is Disc One that covers the era from 1966 to 1975. Wait…Kiss didn’t start until 1973, how do we have stuff from 1966? Well, you will have to wait and see. The disc has 21 songs and of those, 12 are previously unreleased. And it is those 12 songs that are the prize on this release. Here is the entire track listing for this disc.
The first two songs up are demos that were done in 1973 at Electric Lady Studios with the great Eddie Kramer on the boards. You know Eddie from his work with Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix…at least you should. The two songs were “Strutter” and “Deuce”, two of the bands most iconic songs. These versions had never been released prior to this set. I think I am going to go out on a limb and mention that these versions might be better than the actual recordings on the debut album of which, Eddie was not a part. These songs had so much more meat to them. They had more edge and captured more of the band’s essence.
“Strutter” is actually from an early Gene Simmons song called “Stanley the Parrot”. They took the chord pattern off that song and turned it in to a song that Paul feels has a “strutting” feel to it and thus the name. “Deuce” was another song that was sort of a Frankenstein pieced together from a couple of other songs except these weren’t old Kiss songs. The band loosely based it off the song “Bitch” by the Rolling Stones and the beginning of the song came from The Raspberries song “Go All the Way”.
Next up are three songs from Gene & Paul’s original band called Wicked Lester. Wicked Lester was a very different band. They were more experimental, a little folk, a little jazzy, a little of everything. The 3 songs from them were from the band’s unreleased album and I am not sure if it will ever be released, but we can hope one day. The first song is “Keep Me Waiting” which is full of horns and a very dated sound, but still you hear something special with it.
The next one is one of my favorites, “She”. The song is so different than what the band recorded for the album ‘Dressed to Kill’ years later. It has a jazzy, funky feel to it and includes the most metal instrument, the flute. Jethro Tull did it, so why not Wicked Lester. After that is another one that was used for ‘Dressed to Kill’ called “Love Her All I Can”. Paul admits that the opening guitar work was strongly influenced by The Who song “Can’t Explain” and the guitar & bass parts were taken from “Open My Eyes” by Nazz. Another Frankenstein song. Again though it works. Another great track in its original form. Definitely not Kiss, but you could see a band that had potential.
The next demo up is “Let Me Know” which was originally titled “Sunday Driver”. “Sunday Driver” was the song Paul played Gene when they first met which wasn’t didn’t lead to great things…it was later down the road when the met again when things started to work. Then we get the demo for “100,000 Years” a song about intergalactic space travel…yes, you read that correctly. This song live is like nothing else, here it is a decent track and you can see that improvements were made before it made it to the album.
Now we get to two unreleased tracks that were both way before the time of Kiss, even before Wicked Lester. The first up is the Paul Stanley song “Stop, Look to Listen” which was recorded back in 1966 when Paul was like 14 years old. To say it is a bad song, isn’t really harsh enough. But!!! But is still really cool to have something from this early in his life. The next demo is from Gene which he recorded back in 1969. The song is called “Leeta”. It is a dreamy, 60’s song that is nothing short of awful. If you heard this out of the Kiss context, you would have zero idea that this was Gene. Deep down, it is another song that is really cool to have in the collection and kinda makes me want to get The Vault.
We are to the last 3 unreleased tracks and they are demos of two classic Kiss songs and one not so classic. The first up is the demo of “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll” recorded in 1973 and showed up on ‘Hotter Than Hell” in 1974 and was the first single from that album. The demo is as rocking as the album version and a really great track. They have continued to play this song for over 40 years in shows.
Then we get a live version of “Acrobat” which was recorded at The Daisy back in 1973. It was the first song Ace brought to the band. It is a weird piece and is a little all over the place which amazingly wound up on the first album as an instrumental track called “Love Theme From Kiss”. The live version had some lyrics that Paul supplied from a song called “Too Young”. The song didn’t work which is why it was stripped down to an instrumental only for the album.
The last demo and unreleased song is “Firehouse” and it is definitely an early mix. I love how they messed up and had to start over. It is a fun listen and a great beginning to a classic song. They would beef it up and add many more layers for the record version and make it an amazing rock song. The original thought behind the song came from the band The Move’s song “Fire Brigade”. This was his interpretation of that song basically.
The remaining 9 songs are taken from the band’s first three albums, ‘Kiss’, ‘Hotter Than Hell’ and ‘Dressed to Kill’. We all know and love those songs, but the gem on these are the unreleased tracks and this disc has a boatload of them. I am not going to go in to those songs as I will wait until I do my deep dive reviews of every Kiss album.
As I said earlier, this has the most unreleased tracks and since it is the early stuff, I really like this disc. It might end up being my favorite of the bunch. I am really only rating on the unreleased tracks because I have all the other songs already. Having the Wicked Lester songs, the early Eddie Kramer demos and some very early Paul and Gene songs, this is an amazing disc. I will rate this 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars. It doesn’t get much better than this one (except if all of it was demos and unreleased tracks). But I will take what I can get.
Check it out and let me know what you think. If you want to go back and read Part 1, click on the link below:
The 6 Part Series:
Up next is Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)