The next in the Kiss Bootleg Series is a show from March 19th in 1975 on the Dressed to Kill Tour. The show was at the Roxy Theatre in Northampton, Pennsylvania and is actually opening night of the Tour.
As usual, we will start with the packaging and what this bootleg has to offer. First, it is a double LP, however, they skimped and there is no Gatefold to be had. It is actually a pretty flimsy album jacket and I don’t think it will hold up over time. The back cover is another live shot of the band but you can’t see anyone’s face. Not the best choice for a picture.
The album came with a couple surprises. The first being a collection of Kiss photographs from an L.A. photoshoot at the Playboy Club Rooftop on January 16th, 1974. The photos came in a nice little mailer as seen below…
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And now we are on the third Kiss Bootleg I picked up in Paris. This one is a beauty. It is called “Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out!”. The package is fantastic on this release as you get a beautiful gatefold, some awesome pictures on the vinyl sleeves and some colorful vinyl.
The show is at the Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, NJ on July 10th, 1976. It is a full soundboard recording (and I believe this show was videotaped as well and circulating). You get 15 tracks plus 3 solos, so yes, a full show. Before we get in to the music, as always, let’s go over the packaging. You’ve seen the cover above, now take a look at the back cover. It is a picture of the band on motorcycles. I really cool shot!
And It is a 2LP set and they did it right with a gatefold. The full picture on the gatefold is a shot of the stage with all the band and the Kiss Logo!! Okay, Peter is little blurred by the smoke…lots of smoke.
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For My Sunday Song #140 and the final of this 10 song run of Kiss songs, we are discussing “Rocket Ride” by Kiss. The song is one of the five original songs on the classic live album Kiss Alive II. For the second live album, Kiss stepped it up a notch and added some original songs to give the album that extra boost. The song reached #39 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the band’s seventh song to make it to the Top 40 charts.
The song was written by Ace Frehley and Sean Delaney. Sean, if you don’t know, worked with Kiss back in the day and was crucial in Kiss becoming Kiss. He pushed Bill Aucoin to go see the band and then Bill became the manager. Sean became their road manager and was critical in the development of the band’s onstage choreography and even co-wrote many famous Kiss songs. He is a big part of the band’s Kisstory!!
This is the only song of the five that Ace actually appeared on as Bob Kulick was brought in to play the guitar on all the other songs. Ace and Peter are the only Kiss members to appear on this track in return. Peter of course on the drums and Ace played all the guitar and bass parts.
The song opens with some electrifying guitar riffs delivered by the master himself. It speeds by with a blistering pace and Ace truly nails the vocals. The song is fun, rocking and delivers everything you want in a Kiss song including a stellar solo. Peter keeps the beats coming with some nice little fills and the two are great together. The guitar riff at the end along with the explosiveness of Peter’s drumming ends the song perfectly and goes out the same way it came in with bang.
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For My Sunday Song #138, I am going to dive in to the song “She” by Kiss off their 1975 album ‘Dressed to Kill’. “She” is one of only a handful of songs that originated with Wicked Lester which was Gene and Paul’s band prior to Kiss. The song was written by Gene Simmons and Stephen Coronel from Wicked Lester.
The song was originally titled “She Walks By Moonlight” which is the first line of the song. It was inspired by a line in the film ‘Hondo’ which was a western from 1953. The song is basically about sex, go figure. That is one of their favorite subjects.
The original version of the song had a flute, a tambourine and even some congas in it, It was really cool with a real nice groove and had these earthy vocals to them. Very Jethro Tull with that flute. You can hear it on the Kiss Box Set.
Kiss removed all those instrumentations and really beefed up the guitars. The groove was still there, but the song was much heavier and Ace takes it up a notch with the guitar. The solo was even taken from The Doors song “Five to One”. The song for me has this great flow and style and might be one of my favorite tracks from ‘Dressed to Kill’ as it is not a full on rocker in the “anthem” sense, but something really cool and different.
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For this month’s version of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are tackling the 70’s hit, “New York Groove” that was made famous by Ace Frehley on his solo album in 1978. However, the song was originally performed by the Glam band Hello back in 1974. The song was written by Russ Ballard and if you don’t know Russ, he was in the band Argent, went solo, and was a songwriter who has worked with America, Roger Daltrey, Peter Criss, and Frehley’s Comet to name a few.
The Hello song did pretty well in the UK hitting #9 and #7 in Germany. Ace’s version was the highest charting song of any of the Kiss Solo albums where it peaked at #13 in the Billboard Hot 100.
Russ Ballard wrote the phrase “back in the New York Groove” while on a plane headed to New York where he hadn’t been in a long while. So, that became the theme of the song and eventually he would finish the song.
Hello connected with Russ while he was in the UK and the band’s manager had reached out to Russ asking if he had any songs the band could use and boom, you get “New York Groove”.
Hello’s version opens with a hand clap sound (maybe a stomping/clapping sound), a harmonica riff and a great drum beat. Right before the chorus, there is nice little guitar riff and speaking of chorus, the way they emphasized the word “Groove” in New York Groove was unusual and made it stand out. It definitely has that 70’s feel to it and Bob Bradbury does a great job with the vocals. It is actually a very fun song and I can see why they had a minor hit with it.
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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 #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 #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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I was walking through an Antique Mall as my daughter had found another great place to buy used vinyl. We came to a booth that didn’t have a ton of books, but there was one book there that immediately caught my eye. It was the Gene Simmons’ autobiography called “Kiss and Make-Up”. I had not read yet, so I grabbed it. And at only $5, it was a steal.
And what did I think? It was okay. It was an easy read, but there was really nothing surprising or earth shattering. I did forget he dated Diana Ross, but I knew about Cher so no shocker. I had forgotten about some of the movies he did, but not ‘Runaway’ as I loved that one.
It was interesting to read about his childhood as it did explain a lot about who he is and why he is the way he is. Gene is definitely full of himself and you know what, that is okay. He knows it and I was worried I would like him even less after reading this, but I didn’t. I actually like a little more. I feel I understand him a little more.
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Ace Frehley! This ratty kid walks into the audition with a mismatched pair of shoes and Gene and Paul are not sure what to think of this mess. He plugs in and plays and the rest is Kisstory as they say. Ace is the one of the main reasons I love rock & roll. His playing was amazing and he played with such feel that you wanted to be Ace. When you and your friends wanted to pretend to be Kiss, I always wanted Ace and if I couldn’t get Ace, I was Paul (no one wanted to be Peter, not even Peter…old joke).
His time with Kiss was tumultuous at best. But when the band did their solo albums back in 1978, Ace showed he had the goods to do this on his own and eventually that is what he did. Eventually due to his drinking and other issues, Ace was let go and his solo career began. And that solo career is the focus. We will include the Kiss solo album because it is an Ace Frehley album, but only Ace’s stuff, no other Kiss. And only studio albums will be counted, no live or compilations.
Sit back and enjoy the ranking of the Ace Frehley albums from Worst to First…
THE WORST – FREHLEY’S COMET – SECOND SIGHTING (1988)
Now when it comes to Ace, I am a little biased. I do enjoy all his albums so for me “worst” is a little harsh. I would just say it is the least favorite and not really the “worst”. I have heard some pretty awful albums and this isn’t one of them. But, it isn’t that great either in my humble opinion. I know some would disagree (right LeBrain!!).
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