Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 2 of 15 – Disk 1)

Welcome back to the Gene Simmons The Vault review.  We are starting with Disk 1, naturally, and I will try and keep some consistency between each disk.  I will go through each song and mention who wrote, who played on it and what I think about the song. I won’t go through all the stories as you should get the vault to get all the information.  I will grade each song (ranking 1 to 5, 5 being best) and then take an average of the grades for the score of the disk.  I know most of these are demos, so I won’t be taking quality of the sound in to play that much because I know what I am getting and I am more interested in the overall song.

At the end of all the reviews, we will average the score of each review and come up with an overall ‘The Vault’ score which I hope will be a fair representation of the whole package.  I am going to do my best to do one a week, but as I said before, life sometimes gets in the way so I am not going to promise one a week.  Plus, this is 11 disks to digest and that is a lot as I am also doing the David Coverdale Series at the same time.  That is a bunch of music to go through.

The songs aren’t in chronological order.  Gene states they are more of a mood or vibe.  The first three or four discs appear to be pretty much the Rock selections and I am quite happy to start with those.

Well, are you ready?  Then let’s get right to it.

The first disc is housed in a picture of Gene with a lot of Platinum albums behind him…


On the flip side is the track listing:



First up is the song “Are You Ready” which was written solely by Gene and wasn’t written for any particular album. It was something he came up with on an acoustic guitar.  The year was around 1999 when it was written and recorded around 2007 or 2008.  The players on it are Gene, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer.  It comes at you hard and heavy, with Gene doing a little speaking vocals.  It has a whole “Revenge” album feel to it which is a great album and this would have fit nicely within it.  Great song to kick off the whole set with. (GRADE 4)


Another Simmons only track and this time we have only Gene and Tommy Thayer playing on the song.  The song has no date  on when written but could be prior to Psycho Circus.  It was recorded in 1993.  The song is a little bluesy with a whole ZZ Top vibe to it as well as I hear a “Domino” influence.  It is about how a good looking woman can turn you to stone with one look.  It is pretty decent track, not as good as the first one, but still keeps the ball rolling.  (GRADE 3)


“Juliet” is around the early 90’s and was a song considered for the ‘Revenge’ album.  It was written by Gene and Ken Tamplin and recorded finally in 1993/94.  It is Gene and Ken playing the instruments and the drummer is none other than a Drum Machine.  It is a heavy song, great guitar riff with Ken on the guitar and not sure why it didn’t make the album as it is freaking awesome.  It sounds like a perfect Gene & Kiss song. (GRADE 5)


Another song written with Tamplin so I am guessing it was done around the same time as “Juliet”. No mention of players on it.  It opens with a great bass riff and some cool guitar playing.  Lyrically, nothing great, but when does Gene have one that is (ha, ha).  It is a simple tune and could have been a Kiss song, but would have needed some work. I really enjoyed it overall though and so far, I can’t complain yet on what I have heard.  (GRADE 3)


A third song with Ken Tamplin and this one was for the Carnival of Souls album.  Kiss actually recorded it, but it didn’t make the album.  This is the demo version of that song with Gene and Ken only on the instruments and was recorded in the Summer of 1994.  I have to say I actually like it better than most of what was on Souls which wasn’t one of my favorite albums.  To me it has more of an Elder vibe to it.  Another pretty good rock track. (GRADE 3)


This song was written by Gene, Adam Mitchell (Creatures of the Night fame) and Micki Fres and timeline wise this would have been around the early to mid 80’s.  The demo was recorded in 1982.  The song was originally recorded by Wendy O. Williams of the Plastmatics for her solo album W.O.W.  This is Gene’s demo of that song and isn’t much different.  It is an acoustic, slower tempo song and Gene’s vocals have an echo effect on them.  It is actually freaking awesome.  I think I like this better than Wendy’s version.  One of the best slow songs I have heard Gene do.  (GRADE 5)


Written by Gene and he did numerous recordings of it in many different styles.  This one has Bruce Kulick on guitar and was recorded in 1988 and considered for ‘Hot in the Shade’. It didn’t work for that album but would have worked more from the Revenge album or even Carnival of Souls as this has a very darker tone to it.  It is not a ballad, but it doesn’t rock out either.  It is more on the slower side of things and doesn’t really go anywhere for me.  It meanders a long a little, but hearing Bruce makes it all worth it.   The singer Doro covered the song on one of her albums.  (GRADE 2)


Gene Simmons wrote this one all by himself and it was considered for Sonic Boom, but as you know didn’t make it.  Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer are playing on this demo and they recorded it as it sounds, no overdubs or anything.  It was recorded in 2007 or 2008. A little rough around the edges and sounds a little like a demo. It has some promise.  Tommy lays down a good guitar solo and it has a nice riff.  It sounds very demonesque and I can see why it was up for consideration. It is missing something to take it over the top.  (GRADE 3)



Recorded in 1986, Gene wrote this song and had Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr record it one New Year’s Eve.  The song has that Crazy Nights / Hot in the Shade feel and would have fit on one of those albums with some work. It is the typical Gene song about sex and/or lust.  It is heavier guitar sound with a nice bass line, but the highlight is another Bruce Kulick solo.  You can’t go wrong with that.  However, the song is little on the blah side overall.  (GRADE 2)


The song written by  Gene, Scott Van Zen and Jaime St. James.  The song made it on to Carnival of Souls so was written in around 1993/1994.  The song starts off with some studio chatter (which is always cool) and then Gene lays down a nasty bass line and some hard, heavy ass guitar riffs.  There are some backward recorded cymbals for a cool effect.  The song is dark like most of that album.  The final version has a slightly different opening, but still the same groove and bass line, however, I think I like the demo better as it is so much darker and more menacing even though the album version is way more polished  (GRADE 3)


Written with Scott Van Zen, Gene put together a song for the Carnival of Souls album, but it didn’t make the album that is named the same thing.  The song to me sounds more like a Psycho Circus style song than for the Souls album.  It is at a breakneck speed tempo-wise and is a really fun song.  The song did make Gene’s 2004 album “Asshole” and that song was too upbeat and happy sounding compared to this.  This is better hands down for me. (GRADE 4) 


This one was written by Gene and he stole the title from The Barbarians song of the same name.  It is filled with simple chord progressions with a whole 60’s vibe even though it was recorded with Eric Carr and Tommy Thayer (yes, that is right, before Tommy was in the band).  I am going to guess the song was recorded around 1988.  On this demo, Gene made up the lyrics as he went along and it shows.  Gene also has some great bass work which saves the song a little from getting a retched score.  (GRADE 2)


This song was recorded in 1997, but it is basically “Mongoloid Man” (which is up next) as it uses the same riff. The big difference is the lyrics have been changed.  Tommy and Gene went in to the studio and recorded this version of the song.  I think they were able to modernize the song enough and not make it sound like a Caveman song as the original does.  (GRADE 3)


This song was recorded in 1978.  It is a very Caveman type song and Gene is playing guitar and bass, but Joe Perry of Aerosmith came in a recorded the solo.  On backing vocals is the great Michael Des Barres which is cool to know.  He should have had this play in sequence before “Say You Don’t Want It” since it was first in the development.  The Perry solo was fantastic and my favorite part of the song and without it, I would have rated this lower.  Gene would later go on to use some of these lyrics in other songs like “Spit”.  (GRADE 3)


This song was written by Darren Leader and Gene.  Darren gets top billing as it is mostly his.  Who is David Leader?  You might know him as Stix Zadinia, the drummer from Steel Panther.  The song is a ballad and sounds fantastic.  It was recorded back in 2002.  I like the softness of Gene’s vocals and the chorus is awesome.  It is not a Kiss song, but it is still wonderful. I like the Beatles feel to the chorus and it is a really pleasant song.  I didn’t know Gene had it in him.  (GRADE 4)

And that is Disk 1.  You get 15 tracks and there is not one that was totally awful. I would say that is win.  I will let you know that I think anything 3 or better is great and couldn’t be more thrilled with this first disk.  I know I will run in to some stinkers, but this was enjoyable to listen to.  I would listen to this disk again for sure (already listened to it 5-6 times).  The average score for this disk is a 3.3 out of 5.0.

Up Next – “Part 3 – Disk 2”

Here are all the posts we did on the Vault:

89 thoughts on “Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 2 of 15 – Disk 1)

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