For My Sunday Song #135, we are going to discuss the song “Nowhere to Run” off the bands 1982 compilation called ‘Killers’. After the doomed release of ‘The Elder’, Kiss immediately went into the studio and recorded 4 new songs to go with a greatest hits compilation because they knew that ‘The Elder’ was dead on arrival. The four new songs were all fantastic. This was my favorite of the bunch.
Out of the four new songs, this was the only one solely written by Paul Stanley. For all the others, he had help. Also interesting is the fact that Paul sang all four of the new songs, no Gene. Although, he did play bass and Eric was on the drums. And Ace tour it up on lead guitar, at least that is what I thought as a kid. It was actually Bob Kulick who had originally auditioned for Kiss back in the day, but was beat out by Ace. Now, he was lead guitarist (just not officially).
The song had an old Kiss sound and felt like they were going back to their roots, but it was the 80’s and the production was louder and bigger with Michael James Jackson at the board. It is a rocking track and Bob really does kill it on the solo and Eric’s drums are loud and powerful as he brought such a new life to the Kiss sound. I love the little drum fill at the beginning with a little acoustic intro and it built up from there. Paul sounded sensational and this was Kiss hitting on all cylinders. After the disaster of ‘The Elder’, Kiss was back in good favor…at least in my book.
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For My Sunday Song #134, I am going to discuss “Naked City” off the underrated 1980 album ‘Unmasked’ by Kiss. I say underrated now because I have grown to like this album now. I didn’t appreciate it back in the day, but there were some great songs on this album, including this one.
First, the song was written by Gene Simmons, Vini Poncia, Bob Kulick and Pepe Castro. The bass on the song is Gene and the rhythm guitar is Paul, but that is it…no Ace & no Peter. Drums are handled by Anton Fig and actually he did all the drums on the album even though Peter is credited. Lead guitar on the song is former Kiss bandmate Bruce Kulick’s brother, Bob Kulick. Bob actually auditioned for the lead guitar role back in the day, but Ace came in a beat him out…I guess the band never lost his number.
The song is more of a pop/rock song and doesn’t have the full edge of the classic Kiss tunes, but it is smoking when it comes to overall tone, groove and Gene’s vocals. Even without all original members, it is still Kiss and it is still fantastic. The song is about New York City (which a lot of their songs are about). The song talks about the fact there are so many people in the city, so many lonely and lost people. It is actually quite a sad, insightful and observant viewpoint of the city.
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For My Sunday Song #133, we are tackling one of my favorite Ace songs from Kiss called “Shock Me”. It was off the 1977 album, ‘Love Gun’ and it was actually the first song Ace had the lead vocals on. He had written other songs, but never sang. Ace intended for Gene to sing, but Gene pushed it back and encouraged Ace to sing this one. And thankfully that happened as it was a showcase for Ace during their live shows.
On December 12, 1976, Kiss was in concert in Lakeland, Florida when Ace touched a railing that had not been properly grounded and let’s say he got the shock of his life. That incident was the inspiration for the song even though that is not what the song is about. The song is about one of Kiss’ favorite subjects. Nope, not rock & roll, but sex. That is right, sex. I know!! You are surprised and you can’t believe it, but it is the truth.
Now Ace doesn’t have the best voice, but he has a great rock voice. It is a little gritty and dirty and it is rough just like rock should be. If you want a pretty voice, go listen to pop music. I believe I read that Ace recorded this by lying down on the ground. I don’t know if that is true, but that does sound like something he would do.
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For My Sunday Song #132, we continue the Kiss theme going with the song “A Million to One” from the 1983 album ‘Lick it Up’. ‘Lick it Up’ is the first non-makeup era Kiss album and saw the band see a resurgence in popularity. Taking the make-up off made them slightly relevant again. “A Million to One” was never released as a single and is arguably the best song on the album…IMO!!
The song was written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent (who did not save Kiss) which tells the story of our hero of the song telling his ex-lover that there is basically no hope in hell she will find a love as great as his. Paul’s cocky attitude in the lyrics and the vocals propel this into one of his greatest performances on a song.
Musically, the song hits on all cylinders as well. The powerful sound coming from Eric’s drum gave this song an extra punch that you felt with each swing of the sticks. Between ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick it Up’, I don’t know if the drum sound from Kiss ever sounded better. Not to be outshined, Vinnie’s guitar playing is masterful with great riffs and a great solo all along with the underrated rhythm guitar of Paul.
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For My Sunday Song #131 and for the next 10 songs, we are celebrating the songs of Kiss!! Now that Kiss has started their Farewell Tour, I thought I would honor some of my favorite Kiss songs. There will be No “Beth”, No “Detroit Rock City” & NO “ROCK & ROLL ALL NITE”!!! Sorry, not my favorites..,well Detroit is one but too obvious a choice. We will start it off with “Black Diamond” from the debut album ‘Kiss’.
Black Diamond was written by Paul Stanley and it was about New York as were a lot of their songs. This one was on the seedy side of it at least. It is about street hookers and the queen of them all, the Black Diamond. Stanley has been quoted as saying this was partially inspired by the Rolling Stones classic “Brown Sugar”.
Lyrically there is not much there, but musically…Damn!! What a way to close out your debut album. The song kicks off with Paul Stanley on vocals for the first verse while playing an acoustic guitar. He screams “HIT IT!!” and all hell breaks loose. Peter Criss takes over vocals and the song kicks in to full gear with his pounding drums, Gene Simmons’ thumping bass and Ace Frehley’s frenzied guitar.
The guitar solo is top notch and I love how it ends with the heavy ass bass sound with the ominous sounding drums as it gets slower and slower and then fades out. It is amazing how so few lyrics can turn into a song over 5 minutes long and when the play it live it is even longer…live is a whole other story. Don’t get me started on how great this song is live. They used to close their live shows with this one a lot.
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For My Sunday Song #130, the final instrumental we will highlight is from John 5 & the Creatures called “Here’s to the Crazy Ones”. The song is off the album ‘Season of the Witch’ from 2016 and I love that album.
The song is John 5 on guitar and for the Creatures you have Ian Ross on bass guitar and Rodger Carter on drum and what a heck of a trio you have on your hands. John 5’s guitar work is unbelievable with some killer riffs and one heck of solo. But not to be outshined is that rhythm section. Ian is destroying it with his bass fills and Rodger’s drum work all add to the craziness of the song.
The song has some Satriani-esque moments, it has some funked up jazz moments, it has progressive rock moments and it is just John 5 showing off with his full arsenal of tricks and speedy-ass fingers. Ian and Rodger turn what would be great songs into something even better. The trifecta of musicians make it shine.
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For My Sunday Song #129, we are tackling the Jeff Beck classic, “Beck’s Bolero”. The song was recorded back in 1966 and released by Beck in 1967. This was the first release after Beck left the Yardbirds in hopes of quieting everyone that were upset about him leaving the band. The song would wind up on his 1968 debut album ‘Truth’.
Now, before we get in to the song, I think we need to discuss the musicians that were on this track. The songwriter is said to be a guitarist by the name of Jimmy Page with contributions to it by Beck himself. The line-up was Jeff Beck (of course), Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, John Paul Jones and Nicky Hopkins. Damn!! That is a line-up. It was later confirmed that was the early incarnations of a little band you might have heard of called Led Zeppelin!! Pretty dang cool.
Okay, back to the song…the song is inspired in part by Ravel’s “Bolero” obviously. The song is made up of three parts. The first is Page giving us that Bolero sound and then Beck bringing in the melody and almost spiritual, spacey sound going. Part two kicks in with a scream and Keith Moon beating the crap out of the drums. The tempo picks up with some distorted guitar sounds and the song rocks out with some slamming keyboard as well. And part three brings us back to the earthy sounds of the beginning with some added fills and more melody. It is a sensational journey.
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For My Sunday Song #128, the instrumental this week is the great “Frankenstein” by The Edgar Winter Group. The song was off the band’s 1972 album ‘They Only Come Out at Night’ and went all the way to #1 for one week in May 1973. The song sold over a million copies and you probably know it and don’t even realize it.
The title of “Frankenstein” is interesting. The title came from the fact the song was pieced together from a very long version of the song as the band would often just jam. So pieces from that jam were spliced together to form the 4 minute album version. It sounds seamless, but the song is an amalgamation of so many different sounds and styles from funk to progressive rock to just plain experimentation. It is a monster for sure.
Speaking of monster, what a monster line-up on this song. You have Dan Hartman on bass, Chuck Ruff on drums, Ronnie Montrose on guitar and Edgar Winter synthesizers and keyboards as well as Rick Derringer producing the song. What a fine group of musicians.
Back to the song, the song is also famous for the double drum solo between Chuck Ruff and Edgar Winter. Chuck on the drums and Edgar playing a set of timbales. It really adds to the song. And don’t forget all the synthesizers music, sound and whatever strange noises were being made. It was just such a weird song sandwiched in between those awesome Montrose guitar riffs. And Ronnie Montrose is a beast on this one.
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For My Sunday Song #127, I am covering the instrumental classic Steve Vai song “For the Love of God”. The song is off his 1990 album ‘Passion and Warfare’ which was my first Steve Vai album. After hearing him play with David Lee Roth and with Whitesnake, I was a huge fan of his and had to have this on CD.
The song has this dreamlike feel to it as if it is floating around you in the heavens. It is strange and wonderful all at the same time. His playing is exceptional and out of this world. Per Wikipedia…
Vai recorded the track on the fourth day of a ten-day fast. During an interview, he explained, “I do try to push myself into relatively altered states of consciousness. Because in those states you can come up with things that are unique even for yourself”.
The song goes on for over 6 minutes and actually ends with some spoken words. Those words are spoken by David Coverdale and are “Walking the fine line between Pagan and Christian.” So, does this still count as an instrumental? Yes, it most certainly does.
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For My Sunday Song #126, the instrumental we will be covering is “Switch 625” by none other than Def Leppard. For a band that is not noted for doing instrumentals, when they did one, they definitely got it right. The song is off the band’s second album ‘High & Dry’ and is still played today in concert as a tribute to the writer of the song, the late, great Steve Clark.
The song bleeds effortlessly after “Bringin’ On the Heartbreak” with such a smooth transition you would swear it is part of the song. The long, unedited version of the song. The song itself is a beautiful representation of all that was great about the god-given gift of Steve’s guitar playing.
I love the dual guitars battling it out. I can picture Pete & Steve going back and forth and playing off each other (now I am making an assumption that Pete played on the recorded version). It also has such a great melody and if it had lyrics would have made for another great Def Leppard ballad I am sure.
In fact, producer Mutt Lange wanted to add lyrics but after battling out with Joe Elliot, no lyrics were added. Joe felt the song was perfect the way it was and no need to mess it up with his voice (of course that isn’t a direct quote, I’m making assumptions but the story itself is true).
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