Kiss – ‘Asylum’ (1985) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

We are now on the 13th Kiss studio album called ‘Asylum’ which came out on September 16, 1985. And this is actually the 30th review in the Kiss Review Series…I can’t believe we are already to #30 is pretty much the half way mark of the series. I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far and I hope you have as well.

Now Kiss is in a good place, for the most part. Yes, Gene isn’t as involved as he should be and Paul is still running the show, but they have a solid line-up now that Bruce Kulick is an official member of the band. The line-up seems to be relatively issue you free (except for the Gene part). The line-up was now Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick. It would stay this way for the next 6 years and there would not be as much drama as before…thank goodness, but at the same time it does make for great story telling.

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Asylum’ (1985) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘Animalize Live Uncensored’ (1985) – Video Review (The Kiss Review Series)

The first concert video Kiss had ever released was ‘Animalize Live Uncensored’ and I had this on VHS and I remember it vividly although I did watch it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It came out on April 19, 1985 and I was so excited when this came out mainly because I saw this tour. My second Kiss show ever and now I was getting a video from that tour, how cool was that. Here is my ticket stub and you can view the Animalize Tour Book which I bought at the show by clicking the link.

The stage was a simple set up in Kiss terms. A couple ramps on each side of the drum set with an elevated platform behind them. The stage floor was covered in the same animal print as the Animalize album cover…makes sense. The show had a varied setlist with some old and some new. They kick off and end with some classic Kiss songs, but everything else in the middle was all 80’s from ‘Creatures of the Night’ (4 songs) to ‘Lick It Up’ (3 Songs) to ‘Animalize’ (3 Songs). For me, this is where I wanted them to spend their time as I was discovering Kiss on my own with these albums so I wanted these songs and I got my money worth with it.

The video opens with Kiss rising from the stage and then they explode in to “Detroit Rock City” and they are in Detroit! The song is so sped up and Eric’s drums are so heavy. I don’t think I’ve seen it played this fast before. After the song, Paul goes in to his his “Cold Gin” spill and they blast in to “Cold Gin” with Bruce Kulick laying down that nasty riff. Bruce was a full time member of the band at this point (which they announced before this very show) since Mark St. John was let go around the beginning of the tour due to his health issues. The show was also a radio broadcast and being filmed for an MTV concert (and this video).

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Animalize Live Uncensored’ (1985) – Video Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘Animalize’ (1984) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

With the success of ‘Lick It Up’, Kiss was back on top…well as close to on top as they were going to get for awhile. They were somewhat relevant again, but things weren’t easy. Vinnie Vincent was officially out of the band by around April 1984 and they needed a guitarist quick as it was time to record a new album. They settled on a guitarists by the name of Mark St. John. He was a proper shredder which was typical of the time thanks in large part to the late, great Eddie Van Halen. Now fully staffed again, they went in to the studio in May and worked through July on the album.

I said “they”, but that was a loose term. This project was really more Paul’s than Gene’s. Gene was out doing movies, trying to produce new rock bands and pretty much anything else that wasn’t Kiss. Paul Stanley ran the shop and actually ended up producing the album. Gene Simmons showed up on occasion to give us a handful of a mediocre songs. But he didn’t play on all the songs.

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Animalize’ (1984) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review

In my quest for collecting Kiss Bootlegs for eery tour they have done, I found another fantastic addition to the collection.  My local record shop, Hardy Boy Records, has been a goldmine of late for Bootlegs. I have now bought four over the last few months and all for tours I didn’t have (or a collection of Wicked Lester demos – that is another story that will be told later).

The last 2 I bought were actually the same store, so I guess that statement was entirely true.  The difference was one was the North American Tour setlist (which will come in the next week or two) and this one is the European leg of that tour with an ever so slightly different setlist.

Before we get to the show and the music, let’s discuss the cover of the album.  This album is listed as “For Promotional Use Only” and is a really cheap production.  The album jacket is plain white cover with this paper picture of the band that wraps around the back. It is glued down and not going anywhere.  But the strange thing is the people on the cover.  Now, I get it this the Animalize Tour so you would expect Mark St. John to be on the cover, but there is a problem.  This is not one of the 3 shows that Mark actually played on.  This has Bruce Kulick playing before he was an official member which would come about two months later.

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The show is from October 26, 1984 at the Johanneshov Isstadion in Stockholm, Sweden on the first leg of the tour.  The recording if an audience recording actually sounds quite excellent.  Not much crowd noise and everyone sounds pretty clear with minor instances where the sound was off a little.  This was released a year later in 1985 by a group called Poverty Records at least that’s what it says on the album itself. Continue reading “Kiss – ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review”

Kiss – Asylum World Tour – Tour Book

I started 1985 with a Kiss concert (Animalize Tour) so I had to end it with a Kiss concert. This one was on December 31, 1985 and where else, but at the Omni.  This show was for the Asylum Tour this time. The opening act for this show was Black n Blue.  Gene had produced their album so no wonder they opened. Same line-up as the earlier show so nothing really new except the costumes were quite colorful and loud and looking back are quite hideous.

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This setlist was different in the sense that Rock and Roll All Nite was not the encore.  This encore was a big jam session with a lot of covers and I remember it being pretty cool.

  1. Detroit Rock City
  2. Fits Like a Glove
  3. Guitar Solo (Paul)
  4. Uh! All Night
  5. Cold Gin
  6. Under the Gun
  7. Guitar Solo (Bruce)
  8. I Still Love You
  9. Bass Solo
  10. I Love it Loud
  11. Tears Are Falling
  12. Drum Solo
  13. War Machine
  14. Love Gun
  15. Rock and Roll All Nite
  16. La Bamba (Encore)
  17. Whole Lotta Love (Encore)
  18. Heaven’s On Fire (Encore)
  19. Oh! Susanna (Encore)
  20. Won’t Get Fooled Again (Encore)
  21. Lick It Up (Encore)

And like the last show, I bought a Tour Book which I still have today and we are going to go through it right now.  Bruce finally gets his spotlight in the Tour Book as he wasn’t in the last one even though he performed.  It was still Mark St. John as the band didn’t have time to change it out or want to spend the money to do so.  I have him now and that is all that matters.

The first page, as always, is a list of all the albums they have released.  This page isn’t much different than the last tour book since it has only been one album.  Well, there is one big difference.  The ‘Creatures of the Night’ cover is different. It now has the band unmasked and Bruce was on the cover…wait…I don’t think he was on that album…but then again, neither was Ace and he was on the original cover.  I guess it is okay…not really!!

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Kiss – Animalize World Tour 1984-85 – Tour Book

On January 9th, 1985, I went to my 2nd Kiss concert which as the old arena called the Omni.  That arena is no longer around, but the memories I do still have.  The opening act was Krokus and they were great.  The tour was for the Animalize Tour and the lead guitarist on this one was supposed to be Mark St. John, but he was fired in December of the previous year.  Bruce Kulick took over duties for the remainder of the tour and for years later. I hate I didn’t get to see Mark. He is the only Kiss guitarist I have not seen live.

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The setlist for this show was below and not all too different from the Lick It Up Tour I saw before.

  1. Detroit Rock City
  2. Cold Gin
  3. Creatures of the Night
  4. Fits Like a Glove
  5. Heaven’s On Fire
  6. Guitar Solo
  7. Under the Gun
  8. War Machine
  9. Drum Solo
  10. Young & Wasted (Eric now on vocals)
  11. Bass Solo
  12. I Love it Loud
  13. I Still Love You
  14. Love Gun
  15. Black Diamond
  16. Oh! Susanna (Encore)
  17. Lick It Up (Encore)
  18. Rock and Roll All Nite (Encore)

Continue reading “Kiss – Animalize World Tour 1984-85 – Tour Book”

Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 15 of 15 – The Final Verdict)

We are finally to The End of the Road.  No, not the End of the Road Tour, but the end of our journey of Gene Simmons – The Vault!  We are on Part 15 of our 15 Part series.  We have spent numerous hours listening, reading, researching and writing up these posts and I have to say, it is the most fun I have had on this site maybe ever.  I wanted to deliver a very detailed breakdown of The Vault so maybe you would see whether or not it is worth buying.  For me, it was a no brainer, even though it took me two years to do it.  The price was finally right.

Let’s mention a little on the production of this album.  The production and mix were stellar.  They all had the same volume level and even the worst quality recording still sounded great.  They put a lot of time and effort in that and they hit it out of the park.

And I don’t want to forget to mention the people on this album.  I won’t go through all of them as you should read each review, but you get Ace Frehley, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer, Bob Kulick and even Paul Stanley.  And then there is Bob Dylan, Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen, but that is only a small portion…you get members of Black & Blue, of Silent Rage and even someone from Steel Panther. You get some songwriters, producers that helped write some songs and even Katey Sagal from Married With Children does some background vocals.  It is so cool to see all the different people involved.  That was one of my favorite parts.

IMG_1624 Continue reading “Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 15 of 15 – The Final Verdict)”

‘Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato – Book Review

Welcome to a two-fer Book Review of ‘Take it Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato.  Not only am I doing a review but my friend Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock is doing one as well.  So click on his name and go read his when you are done with this one.  I am sure his will be better!!

A little backstory on Kiss during the Unmasked years.  I was a teenager during most of this time and I discovered Kiss for myself in these years. I say that because I was introduced to Kiss in the 70’s as I had one brother in particular that was huge in to the band.  He had posters and magazine pictures plastered all over his bedroom all…and I mean ALL over it.  I listened to all the 70’s albums, but I was seeing it through his eyes.  In 1982 with Creatures of the Night, I was now buying Kiss and loving Kiss on my own.

After the Lick It Up album came out, I finally got to see them live and I saw them live 3 times during the Unmasked years.  I bought every album during this period and have them today in some form or fashion.  So, needless to say, I am a huge fan of the Unmasked years so when I heard about this fantastic book by Greg Prato, I had to have a copy.  And I got one as a Christmas gift.  So, no more waiting, let’s review the book.

Greg’s book covers the entire era of Kiss without makeup.  All the way from 1983’s ‘Lick It Up until 1997’s album ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’.  And if you didn’t know, that is 12 albums mixed with Studio albums, live albums and compilation albums as well as one tribute album.  And here they are…

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Continue reading “‘Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato – Book Review”

The Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Years)

Thanks to the Kiss Box Set Series I reviewed and most especially, Disc Four (which covers the 80’s), I have been on a Non Make-Up Era Kiss fix of late..  I have been playing all the albums and I am even getting Greg Prato’s book “Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked” for Christmas (Review in January 2020).  So, I figured why not do a list of my favorite Kiss songs from that time and here we are.  I am going to cover the albums from ‘Lick it Up’ in 1983 to ‘Carnival of Souls’ in 1997 and although I included the cover to “Thrashes, Smashes & Hits’ on the post header picture, there are no songs from it as the two new songs are really, really bad.

So, why wait any longer.  Here are what I say are the Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Era)…

#20 – “Master & Slave” off ‘Carnival of Souls’ (1997)

I had to have one song from ‘Carnival of Souls’ which is not a good album, but there was one song I did like and that is “Master & Slave”.  It was written by Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Curtis Coumo.  When you hear it, it is not normal Kiss.  This is dark, brooding and completely centered in the Grunge era (which was a couple years too late).  I liked the biting guitar work from Bruce and it is something completely different.

#19 – “Thou Shalt Not” off ‘Revenge’ (1992)

I really like a lot of Gene’s songs and there are quite a few on here despite Paul still leading the pack.  The ‘Revenge’ album was a return to glory for Gene as he seemed lost for a few years.  This is Gene, plain and simple.  It is heavy and sounds evil which is just what the doctor ordered.  The guitar solo is just as menacing as the rest of the song (good job Bruce).

Continue reading “The Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Years)”

Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Five 1992-1999) – Album Review (Part 6 of 6)

Welcome back to final review in the series which is Part 6 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we have covered Disc 1 and Disc 2 in the set.  For those, we got about 20 unreleased tracks between those two.  Quite impressive.  For Disc Three, we only get 3 unreleased tracks and Disc Four we only get 2 unreleased tracks and for the final disc, Disc 5, we only get 3 previously unreleased tracks.  As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.

For Disc 5, we only have 3 studio albums and some live albums to include on this set and not everything was great.  As far as studio it is the fantastic ‘Revenge’, the lack of direction ‘Carnival of Souls’ and the reunion album ‘Pschyo Circus’ which not everyone played on so not really a reunion, but that is another discussion.  You also get tracks from the MTV Unplugged album, The Detroit Rock City Soundtrack and some unreleased tracks.  Here are the songs and I love how Eric Carr in Fox Makeup is the background!!

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First up on the disc are four songs from the album ‘Revenge’ which is an album that saw Gene get comfortable in his skin again and gave us one of their heaviest albums since Creatures.  It was fantastic.  Out of the four songs, we get the demo of “Domino” which was written by Gene in 1991 for the ‘Revenge’ album.  The demo is pretty close to the original song with some minor changes as the solo in the album version is played at a different key than the demo.  It is a cool piece to the collection.

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The next batch of four songs is from the MTV unplugged album. The first three tracks are with Eric Singer and Bruce and the last song, “Nothin’ to Lose” has Ace and Peter on it.   I think all four tracks are great as is that whole album.  With so few albums to pull from on this set, we are getting a lot of songs for each album which is part of the drag on this disc.

Next we get two tracks from the album ‘Carnival of Souls’ and to say this isn’t a good album is almost an understatement.  There are some good songs from the album such as “Master and Slave”, but the songs chosen for this release are not my favorites.  These don’t sound like Kiss songs to me.

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Then we get four songs from ‘Psycho Circus’ and none are demos or anything rare.  The song choices are fine it is just like I said earlier, four songs from one release is a lot and it would have been nice to have more unreleased stuff on this disc.

There is one cool song on here from an album I didn’t have which is the Detroit Rock City Movie Soundtrack.  The song is “Nothing Can Keep Me From You”.  I believe the song played through the end credits and was actually written by Diane Warren and not by Kiss.  I enjoyed the track and this is the perfect set for songs like this to be on.

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Then we get one of the most famous unreleased tracks, a song called “It’s My Life”.  This song is one of the best on the disc and did you know Kiss played this live for the first time on the Kiss Kruise IX which was a month ago.  The song dates back to around the time of ‘The Elder’ and was never fully finished.  I believe it has all the original band members on this track was supposed to be on Psycho Circus, but as you know, didn’t make it.

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The last two tracks are both live.  The first one is “Shout it Out Live” from a show in 1996 and on ‘The Greatest Kiss’ album.  And then a previously unreleased version of “Rock & Roll All Nite” because that was what we needed (yeah, no!).  It was from 1999 and was later released on the ‘Alive! The Millennium Concert’ in 2006. For me, not much a great win as an unreleased track.

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This disc had a few highlights for me with “It’s My Life”, “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” and “Domino”, but outside of that it was underwhelmed.  There were too many songs from each disc and the Carnival of Song choices kind of sucked. I don’t ever need another version of “Rock & Roll All Nite”…I mean who does.  I am going to only give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as a result.  The 3.0 is generous, but I do love “It’s My Life”.

And now that we have all the scores from all 6 reviews, we need to tally up the whole Box Set and come up with an overall score.  Here were the scores:

  • Overall Packaging – 5.0 out of 5.0
  • Disc One – 5.0 out of 5.0
  • Disc Two – 4.5 out of 5.0
  • Disc Three – 3.5 out of 5.0
  • Disc Four – 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Disc Five – 3.0 out of 5.0
  • Overall Average Score – 4.2 out of 5.0 Stars

Check it out and let me know what you think. If you want to go back and read them all, click on the links below:

The 6 Part Series:

    1. Part One – The UnBoxing
    2. Part Two – Disc One: 1966-1975
    3. Part Three – Disc Two: 1975-1977
    4. Part Four – Disc Three: 1976-1982
    5. Part Five – Disc Four: 1983-1992
    6. Part Six – Disc Five: 1992-1999

And that is the end!!  I hope you enjoyed this 6 Part Series of The Box Set!