Welcome back to the Gene Simmons The Vault review. We are now on Disk 4. Below are the rules I am trying to follow with each review.
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 Fourth Disk are songs again that are mostly demos of Kiss songs and Gene’s solo songs. So I guess it is a Kiss vibe then. It rocks out and it goes chill.
Well, are you ready? Then let’s get right to it.
Disk 4 comes on a page filled with old Kiss concert phots and has Gene spitting fire…
The flip side has the track listing like normal…
Written solely by Gene and he plays everything on this one including the drums on the demo which was recorded in 1977. It doesn’t sound much different than the final version that ended up on ‘Love Gun’. This does sound like a demo, but quality is great. The bass is a little heavier at the beginning and the tempo of the song seems a little faster than the final version. It is a quality version. (GRADE 4)
This next tune was recorded in 1978 and again another solely written by Gene. Another demo of a Kiss song and this one was on 1979’s ‘Dynasty’ album. Gene again plays everything on it and this one isn’t as great sounding as the prior track, but it isn’t bad. It doesn’t have the great guitar sound nor the quality background vocals as the final version, but it isn’t much different. It might even be a slightly slower tempo. Not a favorite song to begin with, but this isn’t have bad. It is rougher and a little more raw which makes it rock a little more and the solo ain’t half bad. (GRADE 4)
Written by Gene and Howard Marks who was Kiss’ business manager at the time. Gene is on bass and guitar and does the solo (actually is great, better than final version) and recorded it some time in 1978. It doesn’t credit a drummer. This is a rough song. Vocals are not the best and the overall tune is weak. It is much darker tune than the final version on ‘Dynasty’. No disco feel here at all with this one. I struggle to enjoy this one though with the exception of the guitar solo which is why it doesn’t get a 1. One cool fact is the chordal structure of the song is from the Wicked Lester tune “Simple Type”. (GRADE 2)
“ROCKIN’ IN THE USA”
Gene does everything on this song as well as writing and it was recorded in 1977. It is a raw, more stripped down version than what ended up on Side Four of ‘Alive II’. It is a whole different vibe than the anthem feel of the final version in part to the different arrangement of the song. It is pretty cool to hear this one in such an early form. (GRADE 3)
This demo is another Gene only written song and was recorded in 1977. You have heard this one before on the Kiss Box Set, but the mastering is slightly different and the intro has been shortened a little. Otherwise, you know this one. Gene says he is doing all instruments on this demo including the keyboards. Regardless, I am not liking this one too much as it hasn’t been a favorite of mine anyway. (GRADE 2)
“SEE YOU IN YOUR DREAMS TONIGHT”
Recorded in 1977, Gene plays all instruments yet again as he states when he wants to record the demos he has trouble finding anyone available so he does all the work. Gene wrote this and ended up considering this for his solo album. When he decided to do that, it was about a year after he recorded this and added the backing vocals done by the Group With No Name which has Katey Sagal a year later. This is the version a year later with the backing vocals added. This version is pretty similar to the end product only missing some of the finer production points. (GRADE 3)
“MAN OF 1,000 FACES #1”
This song was written by Gene back in 1974, but this demo wasn’t recorded until 1976. Gene is again on all instruments and this one starts off with a very distorted and loud guitar riff before Gene comes in. The song is quite different sounding the final version on his solo album. It is a little heavier overall, but does move to a more chill vibe at one point in the song. It is a rough demo, but the heart is still there. (GRADE 3)
“MAN OF 1,000 FACES #2”
We have another version of “Man of 1,000 Faces” and this one has Ace on guitar and JR Smalling on drums. Gene didn’t like the original recording’s vibe so he did this one. The guitars on this one are softer and closer to the final vibe, but the instruments are all muted compared to the vocals on this one. I thought having Ace on it, it would be better, but nope. (GRADE 2)
“CALLING DR. LOVE”
Recorded in 1976, this Gene track has nothing but Gene on it with the exception of a studio drummer that is actually unnamed for this recording. This demo is pretty close to the final version that wound up on ‘Rock And Roll Over’. By this time, he had found where he wanted this song to go because prior we were at “Bad Bad Lovin”s” version of the song…which coincidentally is up next. (GRADE 3)
“BAD BAD LOVIN’ / CALLING DR. LOVE”
Here we have an earlier version of “Calling Dr. Love” with the chorus being the Bad, Bad Lovin’ lyrics. It was recorded in 1975 with Ace and JR Smalling both assisting Gene. I read this was the same version as the Kiss Box Set, but I don’t know about that. The mastering is so much better and the ending is shortened slightly. It seems to be almost a final production type of recording as it so clean. I really think this is the best version I have heard of this song and really dig it. (GRADE 5)
Written by Gene in 1976 and recorded around that time as well. Gene is on all instruments and even on lead guitar. This version is very close to the final version on ‘Love Gun’ with the exception of the final mastering and some of the sound effects added to the final version. Sadly, not a favorite of mine so not really in to this one. (GRADE 2)
“BURNING UP WITH FEVER #1”
Recorded in 1975 and was considered for ‘Destroyer’. Gene wrote and performed this demo, but it was recorded on an 8 Track and therefore doesn’t sound as clean as version #2 also in The Vault. And like the other version, nothing special and kind of bland, but not horrible. The final version wound up on Gene’s solo album. (GRADE 2)
“TRUE CONFESSIONS #1”
Another track considered for ‘Destroyer’ and also recorded in 1975. This version has JR Smalling on drums and Gene does all the rest. We know this wound up on Gene’s solo album, but this version does not include the Group with Name girls on it like version #2 does on Disk 3. As with “Burning Up With Fever” not a fan of this one either so won’t get a great grade. (GRADE 2)
“GOIN’ BLIND / LITTLE LADY”
Recorded in 1970, this was is written by Gene and his good friend and Wicked Lester bandmate Stephen Coronel. It is recorded on a 2 track reel and it sounds like it, but at the same time it sounds surprisingly well. I find this to be really cool track as it is such an early version of the song. It has the “Little Lady” for the fact there is a line in it that mentions that is not in the final version. You can feel the heart of the song in the song even at this early of a time. It is soft and has a really great vibe to it. This is one that is going to get a high grade despite the quality because I find this to be a gem of a demo, but might have gotten top grade if it didn’t end up an actual Kiss song (make sense? who knows). (GRADE 4)
Recorded in 1977, this song ended up on Side Four of ‘Alive II’. This is the demo of the song that isn’t too much different in structure than the final version. It is a little quieter and less rocking than the final version and there is a spoken part by Gene at the end that was not included on the final version. It is another cool demo. (GRADE 4)
“IT’S MY LIFE”
Here we are on the final track that is one of those songs that should have been a Kiss song. Written by Gene and Paul Stanley. Recorded in 1982 and I believe is actually Kiss demoing the song for Bob Ezrin. There is a version of this on the Kiss Box Set, but this version isn’t as clean as that version. The drum opening seems a little shorter and overall not as good a version, but still this is a damn fine song. It should have been a Kiss song. It became a Wendy O. Williams song, but should have been Kiss. Did I mention this should have been a Kiss song? It should have. It feels like Kiss, it is a rock anthem, it is everything you want to hear from them. (GRADE 5)
And that is Disk 4. You get 16 tracks this time and like Disk 3, these were mostly demos of final Kiss songs and Gene songs and unlike 3 these weren’t necessarily my favorite Kiss songs. The average score for this disk is a 3.1 out of 5.0. So far, my least favorite of the bunch, but somehow able to stay just above 3 as there were a couple really cool tracks that brought the score up.
I will let you know that I think anything 3 or better is great and couldn’t be more thrilled with this disk as well. I know I will eventually run in to some stinkers as it is a matter of time.
Up Next – “Part 6 – Disk 5”
Here are all the posts we will do on the set:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict