Welcome back to the Gene Simmons The Vault review. We are now on the Bonus Disk and the final disk in the set. 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 each disk is more of a mood or vibe. The vibe of this one appears to be one of celebration. Not with all the music being upbeat and party, no not at all. But a celebration of Gene’s writing. There are some of his earliest songs on here and Gene is giving us a taste of everything style he has done…almost.
Well, are you ready? Then let’s get right to it.
The CD comes with one of Gene standing with The Vault. Plain and simple, yet effective.
And you also get the track listing…
“FEEL LIKE HEAVEN”
Written by Gene and recorded in 1978 or 1979, this song only features a drum machine and Gene on bass and a little child’s synthesizer with only one octave on the keys. It is a rough sounding song, but still cool nonetheless. It isn’t a rocker and has a 70’s vibe to it. The song got recorded by Kiss during the recording of The Elder before it became The Elder, but was never used. Another cool fact..the kid’s keyboard used here was also used to write “War Machine”. (GRADE 3)
Written by Gene and recorded in 1978 about the same time as “Love is Blind” and “Eat Your Heart Out” that are on the vault. The chorus would later be used on a demo called “Reputation”. This version is I believe is only Gene on guitar and bass. The bass line here is great. A driving rhythm. This is a Gene song full of swagger and cockiness that is pure Gene. The bad boy in full display. (GRADE 5)
This is the most modern song on the disk as it was written in 2013 and recorded then as well. Kiss was writing songs for this Japanese girl group called Momoiro Clover Z. They did 2 songs and Paul’s was selected not Gene’s. Gene’s song is a complete blast. It is an anthem and party song. Some of it the song was taken from the song “Fourever” that is on a previous disk, but that song was awful…this one is far from that. This is a finished production song and not a demo and it is Gene on pretty much everything including the high sounding girlie voices. “Mina San, Mina-San” translates to “Everybody, Everybody” in case you wanted to know. (GRADE 5)
“I HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT”
Written and recorded by Gene in California in 1978. This was loosely based on “Calling Dr. Love” and is very Kiss-like which was the intention. The players on this one are Gene and 2 members of a Bill Aucoin managed band called Virgin. They were Tom Moody on guitar and Chuck Billings on drums. Tom delivered a great solo. It is solid track that was thought to be up for the ‘Asylum’, but didn’t make it. (GRADE 4)
“IT’S FUNNY, BUT IT AIN’T NO JOKE”
Written by Gene and recorded in 1978 (which a lot of these tracks are so far). It has the same verses and music as the song “Love by Invitation” (which is up next), but the chorus is completely different. This one has a great guitar solo and his more rocking than the other version. It has a completely different feel and I am not sure which one I prefer. Ok, I think it is “Love By Invitation” and I will explain why on that one. (GRADE 3)
“LOVE BY INVITATION”
As with “It’s Funny, But It Ain’t No Joke”, this is a Gene song and done in 1978. The vibe of this one is more jazz and R&B with some of that classic Motown backing vocals. It has a slower groove and is so different than most of Gene’s stuff that I think I dig this more for its uniqueness…oh yeah and that Jazzy Saxophone that pops up. (GRADE 4)
This Gene penned song was recorded in 1980 and features the great Anton Fig on drums and Kiss fans should know him (Ace Drummer and Kiss drummer on Unmasked and most of Dynasty). Also included on backing vocals is Holly Knight and another person in Kisstory (she wrote “Hide Your Heart” with Paul). Holly and Anton were in a band called Spider at the time. It is an uptempo love song driven by a piano and has an old school rock sound from like early 60’s…at least to me. A fun little track. (GRADE 4)
“QUEEN OF HEARTS”
“Queen of Hearts” was written by Gene and Peppy Castro who wrote with Gene on “Naked City”. It was recorded in 1980 around that same time as “Naked City”. It is a poppy song with keyboards which Peppy plays and Gene on everything else. It sounds real cheesy and too poppy. It is also a rough sounding demo. It isn’t a bad song, just needs a lot of work. (GRADE 2)
This Gene song was written in 1966 and this recording was done in 1980 when Gene was in his kitchen and was trying to remember the song. It is just Gene on an acoustic and vocals. The vocals are bad at first and get better thankfully but it doesn’t matter as the song is just so sweet and simple. I think for that simplicity and sweetness that I like this one. (GRADE 4)
You’ve heard this one before on the Kiss Box Set. It was written and recorded back in 1969 or 1970 and is very Beatles influenced…it is dripping with Beatles influence. I didn’t really like on the Box Set and not digging it here and honestly, I don’t hear any significant differences between the songs. It is slow and plods along to make it quite boring for me. (GRADE 2)
“PUT ON YOUR SLIPPERS”
Speaking of Beatles influences, this 1970 Gene song could be a Beatles demo is it is completely done in their style. And that is okay. It is brilliant. Fully of the Beatles psychedelic style and based loosely on Paul McCartney’s lyrics for “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”. This was Gene trying to do everything on his own. It is quirky and nothing like Kiss and find that to be appealing. (GRADE 4)
Written and recorded around 1979 and 1979 and influenced heavily by ELO. It was recorded around the same time as “Feel Like Heaven” on this disk. I’m not going to say its bad, but it ain’t no good either. It is kind of pedestrian and boring. (GRADE 2)
This is a very famous and early demo of Gene’s. It was written and recorded back in 1970 and was the inspiration for the song “Only You” that Kiss did much later on The Elder. The song was inspired by the Beatles song “Because”. This recording is rough as it is 1970 which makes it cool. It is tough to hear the lyrics and there is some warping on the song from such an early tape (or reel). For history sakes, it is the coolest, but for listening enjoyment, it is tough. So I will meet in the middle. (GRADE 3)
“A REEVUS IN THE EYE – NANCY”
Written by Gene in 1969 and recorded around that time as well. “Nancy” is a love song to the girl he was dating while he was in college. What is a “Reevus” in the eye? No one knows. It was a placeholder of a word until he could come up with something better, which never happened. It is short at 1:25. (GRADE 2)
“MY UNCLE IS A RAFT”
This is one of the earliest Gene songs ever written. It was written in 1966 and recorded around the same time. It sounds like such an early 60’s rock song. It is uptempo and has a Gene scream of “yea haw” and is only 1:16 so it is real short. It has innocence to it as it pays homage to his Uncle who was always so supportive of Gene. He is the raft that kept Gene afloat and pushing towards that goal of being a rock star. I will say this now, I like it!!! It sounds great for being over 60 years old. (GRADE 3)
And that is the last of the Disks. I am a little saddened. Still 3 more posts to go to wrap it all up though. This Bonus Disk is a gem of disk with such early versions of Gene’s writings and I have to say this was way more enjoyable than I expected. I think I enjoyed that there really weren’t any Kiss songs on here and it was such a variety of songs. The Japanese song was killer and Gene’s 1966 song was enjoyable as well. The Beatles influenced songs were a treat and all around I dug most of it. The overall score on this disk is 3.3 out of 5.0 and since anything over a 3.0 under this scoring system is good than this is a good one.
Up Next – “Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault”
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