The lack of success for the band’s last album, ‘Hot in the Shade’, had them at a crossroads again as to what to do. They were asked to record a song for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey in February of 1991, so they brought Bob Ezrin back to record it although Gene was a little hesitant about it after the debacle of ‘Music from the Elder’. But they recorded that song, which was “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II”, and then nothing for awhile. Paul was writing songs with various people, Gene was writing with Bob Dylan (sort of – you can read about that in The Vault series), and then the tragedy of Eric Carr happened. As we discussed in the last post, Eric had heart cancer and died on November 24, 1991 and he had been sick for some time. It was a dark day in Kisstory.
Eric Singer was brought in as the drummer full time now and Kiss went back in the studio in December 1991 with Bob Ezrin back at the helm as the producer probably in part that the Bill & Ted song did so well. The band sought help from an old friend at this time to help with the songwriting. That old friend was Vinnie Vincent. Actually, I think Vinnie reached out to them, but it doesn’t matter. Vinnie had turned over a new leaf and wrote some great songs with both Gene and Paul. And then Vinnie turned back in to Vinnie and tried to renegotiate a contract with them, sued the band and then lost. And Vinnie was again on bad terms with the band. Oh well, at least they tried. There was another Kiss connection on this album as the boys from the band Black ‘N Blue were brought in to help with backing vocals. They would be Jaime St. James and Tommy Thayer. Tommy is now the current Kiss guitarist for the band. This brings the count to 7 Kiss members that worked on the album…Gene, Paul, Eric S., Eric C., Bruce, Tommy and Vinnie. Pretty cool!
Prior to the release of their next studio album, Kiss was asked to due a song for a movie. That movie was Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Yes, one of cinema’s finest movies, I know. The song was a cover of “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” by the band Argent, but the lyrics were changed up so much, they added the “II” at the end to signify it was a little different than the original. So that meant, not only was Russ Ballard’s name on the credits, it now had Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and producer Bob Ezrin who the band was working with at the time for the new album. The single was released on August 22, 1991.
What was special about this song and release is that is the last Kiss single to feature Eric Carr. Eric wasn’t healthy enough to do the drums at the time, but he is featured in the background vocals. And luckily he was healthy enough to be in the video. Eric was extremely ill as he had been diagnosed with heart cancer. He had become so ill, he was no longer able to play, so the drum work on the song was handled by Eric Singer, who also did the drum work on the band’s next album, ‘Revenge’. Eric Carr made his last public appearance with the band shortly after the video at the MTV Musis Awards in September 1991. Shortly thereafter, Carr suffered an aneurysm then a brain hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. He later died on November 24, 1991 which was sadly, the same day Freddie Mercury of Queen had died and that overshadowed his death.
Kiss came off a very successful Australian Tour thanks to Unmasked and the song “Shandi” being huge hits in that country, but in the States, Kiss had floundered significantly. They were now basically a joke. Peter Criss was no longer in the band, their music was no longer rock and things looked pretty dire for them. Kiss started recording for a new album and this album was going to get back to the hard rock roots of the band, however, things started to change. The thought of hard rock album wasn’t enough. The band had to do something drastic, something big, something artistic. In comes producer Bob Ezrin.
Bob had come off the success of doing a concept album with a band you might know name Pink Floyd. The album was ‘The Wall”. In January 81, the band had started recording at Ace in the Hole studio at Ace’s house and they were doing much harder, rock recordings. But when Bob came on board around March, talk started to change to maybe doing a concept album and Gene was immediately on board, Paul was somewhat, Eric was not thrilled about the direction, but he was thrilled about finally recording his first Kiss album. And Ace, well Ace wasn’t happy at all. Things with Ace would start to deteriorate even more. So much so while the album was being recorded in Toronto and New York, Ace stayed at this house in Connecticut and did his parts in his studio and mailed them out when he was done.
Welcome back to the Kiss Review Series. Today we are doing a little bonus edition. As I am going through the band’s releases, I am going to throw in different items from my collection that aren’t part of the band’s normal album releases. Singles, promos or whatever I can come up with.
Since we just talked ‘Destroyer’ in the last review, these next two posts are specifically related to that album. The first is this 45 Single of the song “Flaming Youth”. Now, I am cheating here as I wrote a review on this years ago, so I am re-doing it here so it is now a part of the Kiss Review Series. I hope you like it.
I had this big box of vinyl that I found in my attic that started my new vinyl obsession about 4 years ago. This is another 45″ Single in that big box of vinyl and it is from the Kiss album ‘Destroyer’. The song was “Flaming Youth” and it was only a promotional single and not intended for resale. How we ended up with it or where we got it, I am not sure.
The B-Side of the single is also “Flaming Youth” which I find interesting because the true B-Side of the Single released for the album was “God of Thunder”. Both sides of the disc say Side A. Maybe I have a nice collectors piece…if so, I wish it was in better shape.
With the success of ‘Alive!’, Kiss was saved and in turn, so was their record label Casablanca. With that new success, the band signed a brand new contract with Casablanca after the band’s manager had threatened to walk. This time though, Kiss was only given a two album deal which really isn’t a very long contract in those times and showed that maybe the label didn’t have much faith the band would have continued success.
While the band was touring the album ‘Alive!’, they started rehearsing for the new album. Their success was able to land them a high-end producer in the likes of Bob Ezrin. His success with Alice Cooper had garnered him some notoriety and was going to take Kiss in a whole new direction. Thankfully, the band was still in tact with Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons.
We are finally on our 5th Producer in the “Producer Extraordinaire” series after a very long break. This time we are focusing on Bob Ezrin as he has produced some very influential albums and albums that have impacted my life like all the producers in this series have. The other producers have been as follows:
Bob Ezrin hails from Toronto, Canada (and I think 2 of the other producers in this series hail from Canada) and has been producing for over 40 years. He has spanned many genres, but it his rock productions that have become the most famous and most notable. He is a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and has actually never won a Grammy award although he has been nominated once. Let’s discuss his work…
Bob Ezrin has worked with Alice Cooper more times than I can count. He might as well be considered a member of the band. He pretty much did all the big albums in the 70’s and even a couple big ones in the 2000’s. I believe it is a total of at least 13 albums (oh, I guess I can count). Insane. I guess he as much a part of their sound as anyone.
To be a part of such huge albums as “Welcome to My Nightmare”, “School’s Out”, “Billion Dollar Babies” and even Alice’s latest masterpiece, “Paranormal” goes to show the magic that Bob can pull out of an artist. It also makes you wonder would Alice have been Alice without Bob behind the boards…probably, but who knows.
For My Sunday Song #139, “God of Thunder” by Kiss is our menacing topic. The song is off the band’s 1976 classic ‘Destroyer’. Kiss was flying high at this point and unstoppable. “God of Thunder” became Gene’s theme song and is the point in the live show that saw Gene spit his blood and perform his bass solo. It was always awesome.
The song was written by Paul Stanley and he had all intentions of singing it. Producer, Bob Ezrin thought differently. He recommended slowing the song down and letting Gene sing the song. The slow, almost nightmarish beat of the song fit Gene’s personae perfectly.
The song kicks off with a couple children saying…”Okay, ya’ll can start singing”. Those kids were heard throughout the song screaming and making all kinds of noises during the song. Those kids were David and Josh Ezrin, the producer’s kids. There were so many sound effects added to it to give that eerie feeling. Even Ace’s guitar work was done in a way to add more of a darkness feel to the song.
For My Sunday Song #76, I bring you the Kiss classic, “Detroit Rock City”. The song was the opening track to the album ‘Destoyer’ and it was also the third single in support of the album. However, the song never charted due to the little B-Side on the back called “Beth” (which is a story for another time).
A fan favorite and still played at shows today, “Detroit Rock City has become one of the band’s most recognizable songs behind “Rock & Roll All Nite”. The song was so popular, there was even a movie made called “Detroit Rock City” that Kiss actually appeared in.
The song does mention Detroit, but is really about a young fan that is killed why he was on his way to a Kiss concert. The story is based of an actual event that occurred outside a Kiss concert in Charlotte where a fan was hit by a car and killed outside the arena. Knowing it is based a real life event adds a little extra to the impact of the song.
The song opens with a radio broadcast (the broadcaster is played by Gene Simmons) of the death of a driver killed in a car crash then seques in to the young man getting into his car and heading to the concert playing Kiss’s “Rock & Roll All Nite” on the radio. During the song, you go back and forth between the song and hearing the car drive down the road getting closer to the show. The song ends with the car crashing and immediately goes into the next song on the album “King of the Night Time World”.