We are now in 1994 and it has been almost 2 years since the band’s last studio album. At this point in the timeline, there is no work being done on a new album either. Kiss was in limbo to some degree. But the motors were turning and the band thought to celebrate their 20 years in music, they would do a Tribute album which would be performed by artist that were big at the time of 1994. Tribute albums were big in the early 90’s as there a ton, so this was not an original idea by the band. I believe they had run out of original ideas years earlier.
The band had over 100 bands that wanted to do songs including such acts as Sir Mix A Lot and Smashing Pumpkins. Hell, even Kurt Cobain and The Melvins did a song together, but sadly it came in too late to be included on the album. They had settled on 12 acts to perform 12 Kiss Klassics…sorry Classics. These song wouldn’t be straight up renditions as each band was allowed to do something different to the songs and make it special in their own way.
Before we get to the music, let us talk about the packaging a little. Now, if you notice the cover art, the make-up for Ace isn’t shown and that is because Kiss didn’t own Ace’s make-up design. At this time, Ace still owned it. The band didn’t get permission from the right people in time for the album’s release so that is why it is absent. Instead, you get Paul’s original design with the bandit style make-up on the little boy.
As you can see on the cover picture, my version is still wrapped in the plastic and still has all the hype stickers on it. As a result, I can’t open mine and see the gatefold. I found some pictures on Discogs so we could all see the inside. It has the lyrics to the songs as well as a bunch of Kiss tattoo pictures…hmmm…I’ve always wanted a tattoo, maybe I should get one…on second thought, nah!
This limited edition copy that I have also comes on red vinyl and is quite pretty. And look at the great label. I love it!! This edition also has a bonus track which we will discuss when we go through the songs one by one.
The album was ceritified Gold and went as high as #19 on the Billboard charts where it spent 13 weeks on the chart. It did spawn 2 singles that charted one of which charted on the country charts. We might as well start talking music so away we go…
The album opens with “Deuce” which was performed by Lenny Kravitz. Lenny turned the song in to a funky 70’s vibe with Stevie Wonder on harmonica. The song went to #11 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and was a solid rendition and I like the added Organ in the middle of the song giving it a solid 70’s sound which is when the song did come out originally.
Next up is the Garth Brooks sung “Hard Luck Woman”. Garth agreed to do the song only if Kiss actually played the music which the gladly did. This song didn’t stray too far from the original sound only going a little more country. It charted on the Country charts going only to #67. Being a Garth fan then and now, I still like this version and found it quite enjoyable.
Then we get “She” by the Thrash Metal band Anthrax. They definitely brought the heavy with this one and let me tell you it rips you a new hole and doesn’t kiss your ass, but kicks it in to next week. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Kiss was actually involved with this song too as they produced it for the band.
Since this is the 90’s you have to have the Gin Blossoms do a song and they cover “Christine Sixteen” and the stick relatively close to the original and they do capture that heavy bass sound. But they do turn it in to a more upbeat happier version of the song which I found a little boring for my taste. Nothing real creative or adventurous at all.
Toad the Wet Sprocket gets the daunting task of covering Kiss’ most iconic song, “Rock And Roll All Nite” which had to scare the crap out of them. Thankfully, they completely flipped this song on its ass and turned it in to a folk song done acoustically. It is brilliant and talk about making a song your own, they did just that. This is how you total flip a song in to something different.
The final song on Side One is “Calling Dr. Love” by a brand new band called Shandi’s Addicition. Okay, the band was formed for this one time event and not really a new band. It consisted of Maynard James Keenan (Tool), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave), Billy Gould (Faith No More), and Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave). A cool super group to say the least. I think this version runs in to problems because they tried to do too much with it. It falls flat for me and is a complete mess.
Side Two kicks off with Dinosaur Jr. covering “Goin’ Blind” and they definitely make this song sound like it was from the 90’s. J. Mascis’ vocals are so depressing and sad sounding that I actually quite like it. Hell, Grunge was depressing music and this succeeded in doing just that. The guitar work on it was great and I think I kinda dig this one.
Extreme is up next with “Strutter” and talk about a mess, this was plain awful. They tried to funk it up Extreme style and instead the F’d it up for sure. There is nothing enjoyable about this song as it lacks fun, joy and anything that resembles the original. A total misfire. The only interesting thing about this song is that Nuno Bettencourt incorporates the “God of Thunder” riff into the track. The band also threw in some lyrics from “Heaven’s on Fire” and “Shout it Loud” and then at the end of the song, Gary Cherone sings the drum part of “Love Gun”. Those cool nuggets are still wasted in an overall dreadful version of the song.
“Plaster Caster” is up next and done by the Lemonheads. It is hard to believe there wasn’t something better by some other band. They stick to the original and suck the life out of it. Not much more to say about this one.
Then we get to another interesting take of song with “Detroit Rock City” by the band The Might Mighty Bosstones. Instead of the radio broadcast of the original version, they have Gene telling them that other bands have dibs on the song, but we see which version wins out. The vocals on this one are pretty gritty and evil sounding which is what they needed to do. They gave the song an overall funk feel and kept the song pretty heavy. Not a bad version.
Then we get to the song “Black Diamond” by Yoshiki. He is the bandleader for the Japanese band X Japan. Gene wanted Yoshiki to do a take of the song “I” from ‘Music from The Elder’, but Yoshiki wanted to do “Black Diamond”. The song was going to be the bonus track for the Japanese Edition of the album, but Gene liked it so much it wound up on the album. This is an all instrumental version of the song and it is nothing short of amazing. It is all orchestration with piano, strings and horns. It was performed by American Symphony Orchestra. I truly loved this take on the song as to hear it done this way turned a classic song in to classical music. It actually sounded like a movie score that came right out of Star Wars or something like it.
The final track on this is the bonus track of the song “Unholy” by Die Arzte. The version is sung in German and the band even incorporates a little of “I Was Made For Loving You” into the mix. It is extremely heavy like the original, and when they sing the title of the song, it sounds a little funny. This is truly a little weird and a lot offbeat. As a result, its quirkiness is actually what helps make it work and makes it a little fun.
- Lenny Kravitz – “Deuce” – Keeper
- Garth Brooks – “Hard Luck Woman” – Keeper
- Anthrax – “She” – Keeper
- Gin Blossoms – “Christine Sixteen” – Delete
- Toad the Wet Sprocket – “Rock And Roll All Nite” – Keeper
- Shandi’s Addiction – “Calling Dr. Love” – Delete
- Dinosaur Jr. – “Goin’ Blind” – Keeper
- Extreme – “Strutter” – Delete
- The Lemonheads – “Plaster Caster” – Delete
- The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Detroit Rock City” – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Yoshiki – “Black Diamond” – Keeper
- Die Artze – “Unholy” – Keeper
The Track Score is 7.5 out of 12 Tracks or 63%. Most of the album worked for me, but there were several misses. This is not something I pull out very often, since I would rather listen to the originals, but it is still fun for something a little different. I think this is more for the true Kiss fans and not the casual fans though. For the songs that were done right, they were really good and for that I will give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars because as a Tribute album goes, it is pretty good and since it is Kiss songs, it gets a little credit for that point as well.
Next Up: Kiss – Unplugged (1996)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
- Kiss – Alive! (1975)
- Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
- Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
- Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
- Kiss – The Originals (1976)
- Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
- Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
- Kiss – Alive II (1977)
- Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
- Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
- Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
- Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
- Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
- Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
- Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
- Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
- Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
- Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
- Kiss – Killers (1982)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
- Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
- Kiss – Animalize (1984)
- Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
- Kiss – Asylum (1985)
- Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
- Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
- Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
- Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
- Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
- Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
- Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Chikara (1988)
- Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
- Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)
- Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc
- Kiss – Revenge (1992)
- Kiss – Alive III (1993)
- Kiss – Konfidential VHS (1993)
- Kiss – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- 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