Mark St. John – Mark St. John Project E.P. (1999) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Up next on the side projects is former Kiss guitarist, Mark St. John. Mark played on Animalize but didn’t last real long with the band. He developed a type of arthritic condition in his fingers that was very troublesome. When the band toured live for the album, Mark only played in 3 shows. The excuse was given that he was let go because he couldn’t play due to the condition with this hands, but I am not so sure that is true. I think his guitar fill-in on the tour who happened to be Bruce Kulick fit in with the band better than Mark so they let Mark go while on tour and stuck with Bruce who would stay in the band for over a decade. Probably a great move on their part.

Now that doesn’t take away from Mark’s ability as he was a hell of a shredder on the guitar. His playing was fast and frantic and he could rip out a solo. After he left Kiss, he actually did form a band and release an album independently with a band called White Tiger so technically I should’ve reviewed that album back when we were in the 1985/86 timeline, but if you have been paying attention to the review series, I have been picking the side projects with larger Kiss connections and other than Mark, there isn’t another Kiss connection I could make. Instead, I went all the way to 1999 and his Mark St. John Project and the E.P. they released. Why you may ask. Well that is because of the 5 songs on the E.P., three of those songs were co-written with a former Kiss alum, Peter Criss. That is right, the Catman. Mark had been working on a project prior to this with Peter around 1990. They shopped around a demo but the response was not so good.

Fast forward to the end of the decade and along with Phil Naro, Stan Miczek and Roger Banks, Mark had his new band, the Mark. St. John Project. Their 5 track E.P. is what we will review and this was basically their demo they were shopping around to get a record deal. And let me tell you it is the best thing I have ever heard in my life!!! I mean seriously!!

Ok, not really…April Fool’s!!!

The 3 songs co-written with Peter and recorded back in 1990, have now been redone with his new band playing the tracks. I don’t think they had any label interest as the project went no further than this. He did put out an another album a few years later that was all instrumental, but those are really hard to review so another reason I went with this one.

The first track is called “A.W.O.L.” and starts off with a siren (played on guitar). It is an all instrumental track and highlights Mark’s extreme guitar prowess. His frantic fingers were flying up and down the frets. It is a heavy track and goes at a breakneck speed. It is as close to speed metal as you can get without it being speed metal. I think it is a hell of an opening track and quite stellar.

The next track is “Between the Lines” co-written with Peter Criss. This one is a little rough for me and it isn’t because of the music. It really has to do with the lead singer Phil Naro. I don’t particular care for his vocals at all. He doesn’t sound in tune and I feel I sound better than that when I sing in the shower. There is a Great White feel to the vocals except Jack Russell sounds way better. It distracts so much from the song, it is hard to rate it otherwise. I think it could be a better song with someone else on vocals. Let’s talk about Mark, he does lay down a good solo, but it isn’t anything special. It is too plain and not flashy enough which is needed.

“Love For Sale” opens strong with some cool riffs and flashy fills by Mark, but is quickly destroyed when Phil starts to sing. I am sorry Phil if you ever read this, but the production on your vocals is not good. This time I don’t think it is all Phil’s fault as I don’t really like the song. The chorus is short and weak and not very memorable. This song needs a lot more work, but Mark’s guitar work is way better on this one the previous song so there is that plus.

The last vocal song on the album is “No I’m Not Afraid”. This time around we get a ballad and Phil really nails this one believe it or not. This song really fit his tone and he didn’t try to over sing it. It is more piano based, but has a nice rhythm section with the drum and bass driving the song along. It is still a little weak but of the three lyrical tracks it is by far the best of the bunch.

The last track on the album is another instrumental. The track is called “Baghdad” and this time around it starts off again with a similar siren sound to the “A.W.O.L.” track but lasts a lot longer. Then the guitar sound changes quickly to what sounds like a Sitar to give it that Middle Eastern sound to match the song title. It is a different side of Mark’s playing and shows how versatile he can be. It is nice to finish the way it started with an instrumental to highlight Mark’s immense talent.

Track Listing:

  1. A.W.O.L. – Keeper
  2. Between the Lines – Delete
  3. Love for Sale – Delete
  4. No I’m Not Afraid – Keeper
  5. Baghdad – Keeper

The Track Score is 3 out of 5 or 60% which is better score than what you really get. I am not a fan of the lead singer, Phil Naro, but I do love Mark’s playing. However, this is not an album I’m going to pull out and play very often (I don’t own it, I actually streamed from the Tube of You). That doesn’t mean if I ever saw a copy out in the wild I wouldn’t grab it to add to the Kiss collection, I just wouldn’t play it. I am going to score the album a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars. I think Mark would’ve been better off with an all instrumental such as his 2003 release of ‘Magic Bullet Theory’. Get that instead.

Next Up: Eric Singer Project – ‘ESP’ (1999)

Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  9. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  10. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
  11. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
  12. Kiss – Alive II (1977)
  13. Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
  14. Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
  15. Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
  16. Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
  17. Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
  18. Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
  19. Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
  20. Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
  21. Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
  22. Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
  23. Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
  24. Kiss – Killers (1982)
  25. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
  26. Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
  27. Kiss – Animalize (1984)
  28. Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
  29. Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
  30. Kiss – Asylum (1985)
  31. Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
  32. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
  33. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
  34. Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
  35. Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
  36. Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
  37. Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
  38. Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  39. Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
  40. Kiss – Chikara (1988)
  41. Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
  42. Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)
  43. Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc
  44. Kiss – Revenge (1992)
  45. Kiss – Alive III (1993)
  46. Kiss – Konfidential VHS (1993)
  47. Kiss – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)
  48. Kiss – MTV Unplugged (1996)
  49. Kiss – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996)
  50. Kiss – Greatest Kiss (1997)
  51. Kiss – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)
  52. Kiss – Psycho Circus (1998)
  53. Kiss – The Second Coming Documentary (1998)
  54. Eric Carr – Rockology (1999)
  55. Mark St. John – Mark St. John Project (1999)

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)

Kiss – The Box Set:

  1. The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
  2. The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
  3. The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
  4. The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
  5. The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
  6. The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)

Gene Simmons – The Vault:

  1. Part 1 – The Grand Opening
  2. Part 2 – Disk 1
  3. Part 3 – Disk 2
  4. Part 4 – Disk 3
  5. Part 5 – Disk 4
  6. Part 6 – Disk 5
  7. Part 7 – Disk 6
  8. Part 8 – Disk 7
  9. Part 9 – Disk 8
  10. Part 10 – Disk 9
  11. Part 11 – Disk 10
  12. Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
  13. Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
  14. Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
  15. Part 15 – The Final Verdict

44 thoughts on “Mark St. John – Mark St. John Project E.P. (1999) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

    1. I did that one already, that was Peter’s debut solo album that I review months ago…it sounded just like that.
      And I still have 4 more side projects left in the series…Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick, Gene and Paul.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I always feel guilty buying albums like that. It’s like, I could support great underground bands that need the money, buy a classic album I’ve never heard yet, or buy a side project from a dude in a rich band that I know for almost fact is going to be mediocre. What to choose…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Luckily, I haven’t bought it yet. Thank goodness for streaming!! It doesn’t mean I wouldn’t buy it if I found it out in the wild and that is the only way I’ll get it is out in the wild. I won’t ebay this or discogs it.

          Liked by 2 people

  1. Thanks for this review John! I have No I’m Not Afraid on that Mitch Lafon Kiss tribute CD. I always wondered where it was from. Now I know. And now I know not to spend too much money on it if I find one! I’m a little surprised to hear you didn’t care for Naro as he’s actually one of my favourite singers. I first heard of him on a CD called Raw MEAT which was a Canadian compilation — he sang backing vocals with a band called Washington Wives.

    Then I got the Talas compilation and absolutely loved Phil on that! So I am somewhat surprised, but aside from one song, I have not heard this…so maybe he really sucks on it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I didn’t realize The was a Mark song on the tribute album. Cool. As far as Naro, I liked the one song, the other two had really rough sounding vocals. These are ,ore like demos so I will write it off to that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great detective work there fella. Never knew this one existed at all. St John blazed some serious riffage on Animalize and all he got was grief from Starchild which is kinda of a crappy dig at the guy as hot dog shredder guys were the deal in 84.
    Still say that solo on Thrills In The Night is one of the better 80’s Kiss guitar solos out there amongst they’re catalog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. haha good one and good way to do an April’s fools. I thought of you the other day. do you have the KISS album called rock and roll in no more? or something similar to that title. I did not recognise it.

    Liked by 1 person

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