Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 13 of 15 – The Best Songs of the Vault)

I can’t believe I am done going through all the disks in detail.  It took 10 solid weeks to get through all 11 disks.  I read the entire Vault Book and researched more details online.  I dived into it like I have never done before for any release.  It was time consuming and it was a total and utter blast.

And to keep the fun going, I thought I would compile what I found to be the 20 Best Songs in The Vault.  There are a 164 songs in The Vault to go through.  I know you get 166, but one song is in there twice (oops on someone’s part) and the Bob Dylan 15 minute track with Gene at a writing session doesn’t really count.

To determine the songs, I picked all the songs that scored a 4 or 5 and placed them in a playlist.  That gave me around 60 songs to choose from.  From there I thought, if the song is just a demo of a Kiss song or a Gene Simmons song that was actually released, I want to exclude those as well.  In the end I think I started with about 30-34 songs.

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I listened to the playlist a lot of the last couple weeks and was still having trouble narrowing it down further. So, I sat with a piece of paper, a pencil and the playlist.  I looked through the list and jotted down every song that I just loved and that came to 24 songs that were no doubt, my favorites.  And then I finally whittled it down while writing this post.

I will point out that no song featuring Van Halen made the list and the Bob Dylan songs didn’t even make the cut.  I wanted to stick with songs that were utterly new to me or songs that might have been performed by other bands, but written by Gene and had Gene singing.  Enough chit chat, let’s get to the list.  I hope you enjoy…

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One more thing, the order is very subjective.  A lot of these songs I like equally as much as the other, so the order to me is irrelevant, but I know people like to have order, so they are in somewhat of an order.

#20 – “SOMETHING SEEMS TO HAPPEN AT NIGHT” (DISK 6)

Recorded in 1982, this song was written by Adam Mitchell, no Gene.  Adam worked with Paul and co-wrote “Creatures of the Night” so you have heard of him before in the Kiss World.  All Gene did was sing over the already recorded demo.  It is a medium tempo song with a nice driving groove.  It builds up, slows down and flows so nicely.  It has a great guitar solo and is really perfect the way it is.  I don’t see where this was ever released in any other form or I am just missing something. How this song never saw the light of day, I do not know.  It is Gene singing a ballad and I think I like Gene and ballads.  It worked for me.

#19 – “BAD BAD LOVIN’” (DISK 8)

Since the original “Bad Bad Lovin’” became “Calling Dr. Love”, Gene kept the “Bad Bad Lovin’” title and re-wrote the song. This was recorded in 1978 and is so different than the other version of the song in The Vault. Musically, it is more stylistic with the 60’s and vocally Gene is mostly speaking the lyrics in that Lou Reed fashion.  It is groovy man and I am digging it.  Put on your shades and sit back and enjoy the cool.

#18 – “SHE’S ROTTEN TO THE CORE” (DISK 8)

The song was written by Gene and Bruce Kulick.  There is an old Gene demo called “Rotten to the Core”, but this isn’t another take off of that.  This is a completely different animal.  A lot of the lyrics of this song are pieced together from other songs Gene has demoed including “Juliet” on Disk 1.  It is a rocking track and I would put the timeline on it as mid to early 90’s since Bruce is on it.  The guitar solo is another great Bruce solo that was actually written by Gene (according to Gene).  If you want to hear a version of this song, check out Lita Ford’s album ‘Time Capsule’ as she covers it.  Now her version doesn’t quite sound the same as this, but still pretty cool.

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#17 – “NO CONSCIENCE” (DISK 7)

The track is written with Gene and Vini Poncia.  You know him as he produced Dynasty, Unmasked and Peter’s 1978 Solo album.  This is a great track which was recorded around 1988 and probably had Bruce Kulick on guitar.  The book doesn’t give me much info on the song other than a great store about Vini.  The song will sound a little familiar as I think the melody is from the Kiss song “Love’s a Slap in the Face”  Only, this one might be better. Who am I kidding, it is better!!

#16 – “WEAPONS (POWER TO RAISE THE DEAD)” (DISK 2)

This taken from the song “Weapons of Mass Destruction” off Gene’s album ‘Asshole’, however, this one was given to Ace Frehley to record once it didn’t make Psycho Circus.  He changed the lyrics and turned it in to a whole new animal, therefore, both Gene and Ace are credited with writing this one.  It was recorded in 1998 and this is my favorite version of this song as Ace can do no wrong.  Gene’s bass sounds prominent and cool on this one, but it is really Ace’s vocals and lyrics that shine.

#15 – “STICKY GOO” (DISK 10)

Written by Gene around 1993 or 1994 and this version has no lyrics.  Gene scats a little at the beginning but truly not needed.  Musically, this is a killer song.  Gene says he was going for a reggae, Bo Didley and Johnny Otis feel and he might have hit all those marks.  It is so catchy and fun and my favorite on this disk.  It rocks out, it is playful, it is a blast.  Man, this thing needs some lyrics badly especially around “Sticky Goo” as that works for this song.

#14 – “CHROME HEART” (DISK 8)

This song was written by Gene and Bruce Kulick.  It was recorded in 1986 and based off a killer riff brought to Gene by Bruce.  It was done around the time of ‘Crazy Nights’ and is more heavy than anything on that album.  Bruce’s guitar riff and work on this song is freaking awesome and too bad they couldn’t work out the song.  And note, this is not an early version of “Heart of Chrome”, totally different song. For Bruce’s guitar work, this gets a really high grade despite the overall quality of the song which is little rough around the edges.

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#13 – “I WAIT” (DISK 1)

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.

#12 – “DAMN, I’M GOOD” (DISK 9)

I like how this opens with Gene on guitar strumming away some chords and mumbling some lyrics.  It is ever so soft and a very, very early version of song before it kicks in to the actual demo.  A whole “Evolutions” vibe from the Whitesnake box sets.  This Gene song has Eric Singer on it and it was around 1993 or 1994.  Gene plays all other instruments.  For me, this is a Demon song…full of cockiness and those womanizing lyrics (where they are finished).  There is an old school classic rock vibe mixed with R&B.  It is really fun.

#11 – “PROMISE THE MOON” (DISK 7)

Probably my favorite song on this disk, this one was written by Gene, Bob Kulick, Thayer and St. James.  It was done by Black ‘N Blue for their album “Nasty, Nasty”.  The song dates back to the 70’s when Gene and Bob wrote a song called “Sentimental Fool”.  Gene tried to refresh this song in the 80’s which this song was recorded around 1986.  The melody of the song might sound a little familiar as it sounds a little like “Rain Keeps Fallin’ demo on this set.  It is a ballad and Gene sounds really great doing a ballad.  I like this softer side of Gene.  This could’ve been a great Kiss song.

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#10 – “ARE YOU REAL” (DISK 6)

Right at the end of “Is It Real”, the full fleshed out version immediately kicks in with drums, electric guitar and acoustic guitars.  The title was changed to “Are You Real” and backing vocals added.  It is Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums.  It was recorded in 2011 which would have put it right on the ‘Monster’ record which came out in 2012.  The song isn’t on Monster though.  Why it didn’t find its way to be released, I don’t know as it is fantastic!! Even has a nice Beatles influence to it.

#9 – “TAKE IT LIKE A MAN #2” (DISK 10)

This Gene Simmons written track was a re-record of the demo from the Asylum album.  It was recorded in 1997 and Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick were brought in to assist in the recording.  The song is rock and Gene imagined it as a full band song with each person getting a verse.  Towards the beginning he even said who would sing it and then sing it in their voice. He was sort of disparaging to both Peter (“I’m in the mafia”) & Ace (“And I like to take a drink every once in awhile”) and it was hilarious…sorry guys.  It rocks out and would have made a fine Kiss song if ever properly finished.  Who knows maybe someday.

#8 – “ARE YOU READY” (DISK 1)

First song on the Vault 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.

#7 – “ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT (JOURNEY OF 1,000 YEARS)” (DISK 10)

This is the demo of “Journey of 1,000 Years” off ‘Psycho Circus’ and is brilliant.  It is written by Gene and recorded some time around ‘Psycho Circus’ so around 1996-1997 probably.  It is Gene, Eric and Tommy on the song it has most of the elements of the final version only with a slightly different chorus thus the name of the track.  This version is pieced together with the chord structure coming from “You’re My Reason For Living” and guitar riff is inspired by the Beatles “I Want You (She’s so Heavy)”.  This is a much more darker, menacing version. I love the title “Roar of the Greasepaint” as it fits the masked band so well. It is just bad ass.

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#6 – “ARE YOU ALWAYS THIS HOT” (DISK 9)

This song almost made it on the ‘Crazy Nights’ album which dates it to 1987.  Gene and Adam Mitchell wrote it using the same title as a song Adam did for his own album, but this is a different song.  Bruce is on guitar and really sounds awesome; however, Bruce didn’t like the song.  Sorry Bruce, you are wrong.  This song rocks and kicks major ass.  This is a Gene song…definitely an 80’s Gene song. A really fast tempo, driving beat and womanizing lyrics…what more could you want.

#5 – “JULIET” (DISK 1)

“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.

#4 – “MINA-SAN, MINA-SAN” (DISK 11)

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.

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#3 – “DIAL L FOR LOVE” (DISK 9)

This song was written by Gene, Adam Mitchell and Eric Carr.  A version of it is on Eric Carr’s album ‘Unfinished Business’, but that one is all instrumental.  This version is a full on rock version with Gene on vocals and bass, Bruce Kulick killing it on guitar and Eric pounding on the drums.  It was intended for ‘Crazy Nights’, but wasn’t good enough at the time, but this version seems pretty damn fantastic.  It has a whole “Radar For Love” feel to it with the chorus, but Paul sang that one. Gene even has a little speaking verse part towards the end, it sounds like 80’s Kiss.  It is a fun song and one of the best on this disk for sure and maybe even the whole set.

#2 – “WE ROCKED IT ALL NIGHT” (DISK 8)

The opening track on Disk 8 is a pure rock & roll anthem.  It was written by Gene and intended for Sonic Boom, but didn’t make the cut.  I believe the year would be 2009.  It doesn’t reference the players on it, but I would guess it has Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer based on what it sounds like as it is a pretty finished version.  It is an autobiographical tune of Gene’s life and has many, many Kiss references and is totally awesome.  It is another great rock anthem from the band!

#1 – “LEGENDS NEVER DIE” (DISK 1)

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 way better than Wendy’s version.  One of the best slow songs I have ever heard Gene do.  I latched on to this immediately and caught myself going back to play this one a lot.  The most played song on the set so far for me.

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And there you have it.  I don’t know if I will ever be satisfied with the order as it changes almost daily, but either way, these are some of my absolutely favorites from the set.  If you are one of those that likes to go back and check what I rated each song, you will find that some 4’s made the list and some 5’s didn’t.  The 4’s and 5’s were mostly due to what was on that Disk.  When I played them all side by side for all the 4’s and 5’s, my grades on them might have changed compared to all the other great songs.  It was a lot of fun and this playlist will get played a lot.  The total count on song listens is over 2,000 already.

Up Next – “Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault”

Here are all the posts we will do on the set:

18 thoughts on “Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 13 of 15 – The Best Songs of the Vault)

  1. Great post and summation of the best of. I checked out some of the songs that other artists recorded like Legends Never Die and Rotten To The Core.

    The Vault photos look impressive as well.

    And it’s nowhere on digital services to stream and listen to, so it really is a Collectors Edition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. The other artists songs don’t necessarily do the songs justice. Most of the time, I like Gene’s version way better.

      And thank goodness you can’t find it anywhere. I would be a little pissed. I am sure it will leak out one day, but glad to see it is still a Collector’s Edition.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The only way it would leak on pirate sites is if the fans who have it, shared it. Which I don’t think would happen. And the rumor is that Spotify offered Gene a sum of money to have the Vault on the service, but he refused it. So if true he is keeping it as a collectors item.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Cool list John.
    As I have said before Gene wrote some fantastic tracks around that 82 period for Creatures so I’m not surprised to hear that a track would be Number 1 on your list from that era.
    Thanks for sharing the Vault reviews with pics and a ton of info. If I could ‘like” this series 100 times over I would.
    Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

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