Kiss – The Albums Ranked Worst to First

We are finally to the end of the Kiss Review Series. And like I like to do at the end of each series is Rank the Studio Albums from Worst to First and we aren’t going to do it any differently here. There are 24 Studio albums and since there are so many, I am keeping the summaries brief and no videos as I usually like to post a video with each album, but just way too many to do this time around.

Kiss began in 1973 and are still around today, but the last studio album was in 2012. It started with the original four – Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Then came Eric Carr who replaced Peter Criss; then Vinnie Vincent who replaced Ace Frehley; then Mark St. John to replace Vinnie and then Bruce Kulick replaced Mark; and it continues with Eric Singer replacing Eric Carr after his death and then Peter & Ace came back in and out after the reunion and then finally Tommy Thayer replaced Ace for good. Lots of changes, but Gene and Paul are always the consistent formula that has kept Kiss “Alive” all these years. For the diehard fan, remember, this is my opinion and your favorites are probably going to be different, but it is okay as we both love Kiss. For the newbie, this is a good guideline on where to focus.

Now, if the band ever decides to do another Studio album, I will gladly come back and update this, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen. If you want to check out the review of each album in detail, there are links at the bottom to all the reviews in the series and there were only 72 of them!! It took me almost 14 months to get through them all and it is still the most fun I have had on the site.

Thanks for spending all this time with me going through the Kiss catalog and my Kiss collection. I hope you enjoyed it. Enough chit chat as there is a lot to get through so sit back, grab a coffee or a beer and enjoy!!

WORST – ‘PETER CRISS’ (1978):

Continue reading “Kiss – The Albums Ranked Worst to First”

Gene Simmons – ‘Asshole’ (2004) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

On our journey through the band Kiss, we have taken detours for one side project from every member of the band. We are almost done with that part of the journey as we only have two members left we haven’t covered. The first of those is Gene Simmons. In 2004, in between all the band’s touring, Gene managed to put together an album for his first “true” solo album. I say it that way because his first solo album was part of the 4 Kiss solo albums each member did that was under the Kiss logo. This is his first proper one. If you remember his first, you will remember it was very diverse and had a ton of guest appearances on the album. Let me tell you, this album is in no way different. It is also all over the place style wise and contains more guest appearances than any album in the history of albums…okay, that is a bit much, but there are a lot of guests.

The album was released on June 8, 2004 and didn’t do that great only going to #86 on the Billboard Charts. There is both an unedited version of the album (and cover) and an edited version of the album (and cover). The cover picture for this post is the edited as I was worried the unedited one might get dinged on Facebook or Twitter for being too offensive. And as you can see by the picture below, you get an idea of what the unedited might be like. Now, before we move on, is anyone else wondering where that finger has been in the picture below or is it just me??? I am also waiting for any minute that Sir Mix A Lot will pop out and sing his signature song…again..is that just me???

I am very familiar with this album, but not for the reason you think. It wasn’t because I ran out and bought this. Nope. I actually just bought this album a few weeks ago, because I need it to complete the collection. My familiarity with it comes from Gene Simmons ‘The Vault” as almost every song is on that collection and is on it in demo form except for maybe one or two tracks. And sometimes they are on there numerous times at different stages of completion. I will be completely honest with you…I prefer ‘The Vault’ versions immensely more than this. Why? Because at least I knew “The Vault’ versions were demos, these are supposed to be finished products, but I’m sorry, they aren’t that good AT ALL!! With minor exceptions.

The album kicks off the album with what is probably the best song on the album. And I will go further and say it is one of my favorite Gene tracks. “Sweet & Dirty Love” is a beast of a track. It rocks out with the help of Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer on guitar and drums, respectively. It is what you want the Demon to do as a song and Gene hits some killer notes and has never sounded better. I like one of ‘The Vault’ versions better only because it is a little more raw and raunchy as this is very polished. But still, the best song on the album.

The second track is a cover which is a little early to have it the #2 song on the CD in my book. And it is a strange one as Gene is covering “Firestarter” by Prodigy. The guitar work on here is fantastic as that is handled by Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction fame. Gene sticks to the original version for the most part and the song is ver industrial with that metallic sound and I know people think this song is awful, but I think it is so bad it is now good. I actually don’t mind it because I do love the music in it and Gene is being Gene which I have to admit I like at times.

Then we get to the song “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” which is another heavy song, completely balls to the walls bombastic power. There is even a punk edge to it. It has Bruce and Eric back helping out and if you take out the stupid “E Pluribus Unum” quote in the lyrics, this would a 5 star song, but I will ding it down to a 4. Another great track and really the last of the really good ones. There are two demos on ‘The Vault’, one with Eric and Tommy Thayer that is a little slower and darker. The other lyrics were written and it was given to Ace to play after it wasn’t picked for ‘Psycho Circus which was the original intention. The Ace version is killer. After this the album goes to shit.

Next we get the song Gene wrote with Bob Dylan…yes, that Bob Dylan. It is a ballad and it is bloody awful. It is called “Waiting on the Morning Light” and I think Gene is trying to be Dylan and he isn’t the Bob Dylan type of writer and that is okay, we love him for him. It is just a bad attempt at trying too hard.

Then we get a synth song called “Beautiful” with Mark Addison helping on guitars and such and Nina Singh on percussion who wrote the song. It is another ballad that has a nice chorus and is a pretty good effort that just falls short of being a great ballad. That annoying synth sound doesn’t really help. The verses are a little rough vocally, but he makes up for it in the chorus. “The Vault” version is actually cleaner sounding and I like it better than this one.

We are now at the title track “Asshole” which is rocking track where Gene embraces the whole “asshole” personae. It is a rock anthem type song that makes you want to scream “asshole” right at Gene and helps make it a fun singalong. It is still not a great song, but it will pass. Now, the edited version is atrocious as it doesn’t bleep out asshole, it just turns the “ass” part in to what sounds like a goat…it is horrendous.

“Now That You’re Gone” is a song Gene wrote with Bob Kulick. You get his daughter Sophie on background vocals along with Zachary Grant and Jeff Diehl on keyboards. The bass is real strong on this one, it has a children’s choir type sound with Sophie and Zachary. It plods along going nowhere and is totally uninteresting and lifeless and that is putting it nicely. ‘The Vault’ has three versions of this song and none are really that great.

Then we get “Whatever Turns You On” was a demo received from a band Gene was working with and Gene took it from them but it has the co-write of Dave Williams so he didn’t steal it. If you are going to steal a song, steal something better. This sounds like a bunch of drunks hanging around and partying having a good time and thought it would be a good idea to record it, but they’d be wrong. It does have his lovely wife Shannon Tweed and her mom on the background vocals along with Dave. I think with some work, this song could’ve been turned in to something better than what is here. At least they sound like they are having more fun than the listener. This one is on ‘The Vault’ as well with about the same effect, maybe a little better.

“Dog” was written by Gene and Alex Chuaqui (or Bags as Gene had him change his name as Alex Chuaqui wasn’t a good enough rock name and too ethnic) On the song Gene howls like a dog and he speaks a very sexual and dirty Little Red Riding Hood verse that is as dirty as it gets. It is a mid-tempo song and is so close to being something good. It isn’t bad, but could’ve been more.

Then we get an unexpected surprise an unfinished Frank Zappa song called “Black Tongue” that Gene licensed from the estate and finished it up with the help fo the entire Zappa family as Dweezil, Ahmet, Moon and Gail are all on background vocals. Frank even has a speaking part that was left over from the original demo. The guitar work is sensational as you would expect because it is being handled by Richie Kotzen. Zappa’s guitar riffs are their, Richie does the solo and adds some flair. It sounds like a mixture of grunge with still a hint of that Zappa psychedelic vibe. I will admit I like this song.

Next we get “Carnival of Souls” which was written by Gene and Scott Van Zen and recorded back in 1993 or 1994 originally.  It was passed over for both the ‘Carnival of Souls’ album and ‘Psycho Circus’.  ‘The Vault’ has two versions of it and both are really good. One version is a little slower tempo and much darker which is always a good thing. This version is heavy, speedy and a rocking track. It isn’t half bad. I will keep this one especially since it is another with Richie Kotzen on guitar. Also, Nick Tweed Simmons does the background vocals so now the whole family was involved.

Then we get what might be the worst song on the album “If I Had A Gun” is a horrible topic and just a horrible pile of dung. It sounds like what comes out of an Asshole for sure so if that was the intent, then he struck gold. Not a great song for all the gun violence we have. It slows down and speeds up and goes back and forth but feels so disconnected and utter trash. Skip this one as fast as you can. I skipped ‘The Vault’ version to and wound up on My Worst of the Vault list.

Lastly, we get a similar ending as we got on his 1978 solo album. Almost a carbon copy of that Disney sounding song is this copycat “1,000 Dreams”. This one even has a country music flair to it. Please cue the vomit inducing noise now as that is what you want to do when you hear this. More garbage and the worst way to end this album. Good Riddance.

Track Listing:

  1. Sweet & Dirty Love – Keeper
  2. Firestarter – Keeper
  3. Weapons of Mass Destruction – Keeper
  4. Waiting for the Morning Light – Delete
  5. Beautiful – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. Asshole – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  7. Now That You’re Gone – Delete
  8. Whatever Turns You On – Delete
  9. Dog – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  10. Black Tongue – Keeper
  11. Carnival of Souls – Keeper
  12. If I Had A Gun – Delete
  13. 1,000 Dreams – Delete

The Track Score is 6.5 out of 13 or 50% which is probably way to generous on my part.  I have a soft spot for Gene, what can I say.  However, I still think this album is horrible and not worth getting unless you are a diehard like me or a glutton for punishment.  The songs are all over the place and there seems to be no direction and the album is definitely lacking good flow.  Overall, the album only get s a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars and that is probably too high of a score but that is what I am giving it.  To me, ‘The Vault’ was worth what I paid for it, but this one, not so much.

Next Up: Kiss – Rock the Nation Live ! – DVD (2005)

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)
  56. Eric Singer Project – ESP (1999)
  57. Bruce Kulick – Audiodog (2001)
  58. Kiss – Kiss Symphony: Alive IV (2003)
  59. Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004)

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

Kiss – ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’ (1997) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Shortly after the MTV Unplugged Show, the current line-up of the band, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer, went back in to the studio to record what would become the band’s 17th studio album. The album was recorded between November 1995 and February 1996, however, the album was scrapped and pushed aside. Why would they do such a thing, was it that bad? No, not exactly. The problem was that after the MTV Unplugged Show, the buzz about the Ace Frehley and Peter Criss playing with the band again was reaching a fever pitch. Would they get back together and do a reunion tour? Would they put the make-up back on? And the answer to both of those questions was a resounding, YES!!

The album was set aside for the time being. Somehow though, bootleg copies of the album got out and were being distributed around in certain circles (I wasn’t in that certain circle). As a result, the band decided to finally release the album and they called it ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’. It actually didn’t have all the same songs as the bootleg, but at least it was out.

The album was a complete departure for the band. It saw them go darker and more grunge because as usual, the band were followers and trying to follow the trend. They didn’t care in the least anymore to be trend setters and set the bar high. Nope, they pandered to what was big in music. There is a problem with that as Grunge was fading by this time. A lot of the sound was actually a result of Bruce Kulick’s doing as he helped co-write 9 of the 12 songs. I am not saying it is his fault, I am only saying that it was because of Bruce they were able to do that sound as he was versatile enough and technically savy enough to play anything.

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’ (1997) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

‘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”

Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 3 of 15 – Disk 2)

Welcome back to the Gene Simmons The Vault review.  We are now on Disk 2.  Below are the rules I am trying to follow with each review.

I will try and keep some consistency between each disk.  I will go through each song and mention who wrote, who played on it and what I think about the song. I won’t go through all the stories as you should get the vault to get all the information.  I will grade each song (ranking 1 to 5, 5 being best) and then take an average of the grades for the score of the disk.  I know most of these are demos, so I won’t be taking quality of the sound in to play that much because I know what I am getting and I am more interested in the overall song.

At the end of all the reviews, we will average the score of each review and come up with an overall ‘The Vault’ score which I hope will be a fair representation of the whole package.  I am going to do my best to do one a week, but as I said before, life sometimes gets in the way so I am not going to promise one a week.  Plus, this is 11 disks to digest and that is a lot as I am also doing the David Coverdale Series at the same time.  That is a bunch of music to go through.

The songs aren’t in chronological order.  Gene states they are more of a mood or vibe.  The first three or four discs appear to be pretty much the Rock selections and I am quite happy to start with those.

Well, are you ready?  Then let’s get right to it.

The second disc is housed in a picture of Gene and one of his bass guitars from around the Revenge era…

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On the flip side is the track listing…

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“WEAPONS”

The disk opens with the demo for the song “Weapons of Mass Destruction” that appears on Gene’s solo album ‘Asshole’.  Recorded in 1997 and written by Gene, it has both Tommy and Eric performing.  The song was considered for Psycho Circus, but didn’t make it.  I like how it opens with Gene giving directions on how to start.  This version is a lot slower, darker and less punk than the version on the solo album. (GRADE 3)

“WEAPONS (POWER TO RAISE THE DEAD)”

Then we get the same song…well not really. This one was given to Ace Frehley to record once it didn’t make Psycho Circus.  He changed the lyrics and turned it in to a whole new animal, therefore, both Gene and Ace are credited with writing this one.  It was recorded in 1998 and this is my favorite version of this song as Ace can do no wrong.  Gene’s bass sounds prominent and cool on this one, but it is really Ace’s vocals and lyrics that shine.  (GRADE 5)

“HATE”

“Hate” is the demo for the opening track of the ‘Carnival of Souls’ album and was recorded back in 1993 or 1994.  It was written by Gene, Bruce Kulick and Scott Van Zen who all perform on the demo.  The demo is so much heavier and dirtier than the final track.  The sounds more like a Gene song for the old Demon himself.  (GRADE 3)

#CARNIVAL OF SOULS #2″

This one is the original demo of final song that wound up on ‘Asshole’.  The song was written by Gene and Scott Van Zen and recorded back in 1993 or 1994.  It was passed over for both the ‘Carnival of Souls’ album and ‘Psycho Circus’.  This is a 4 track version and I don’t think the lyrics are even finished.  I like the speed of the song and it is not as upbeat as the album version.  This is equally as good as the first version on Disk 1. (GRADE 4)

“MASTER OF FLASH”

This is one of the few songs Gene didn’t write. It is written by Jon Montgomery of the band Street Punk. I won’t tell you how Gene got the song.  It was recorded by Gene in 1980 and is done acoustically and is mostly spoken vocals.  It has a whole David Bowie vibe and is very different and you can see why it was never considered a Kiss song.  There is something cool about it though even for a very rough sounding demo.  (GRADE 3)

“HEAVY RAIN”

“Heavy Rain” is another version of the song “Rain Keeps Falling” and written by Gene and Bruce. It was recorded in 1993 or 1994 and man it sounds awesome.  A lot of it has to do with the guitar/bass riffs are from “Within” (or used for the song “Within”).  There are some rough patches in the recording, but easily ignored.  It is a pretty heavy track and a great Gene song.  (GRADE 4)

“WITHIN”

This is the original demo for “Within” which is off the ‘Psycho Circus’ album and was recorded in 1993 or 1994.  Gene wrote this one himself and this version is missing a lot of the lyrics as Gene didn’t have them finished yet.  So, when there are no lyrics he kind of scats and yabba dabba doos through it.  It is awesome.  It starts with Gene introducing the song for the studio tape.  Even though it isn’t a complete song, it is what I love about demos to see the beginning of a song. The main riffs are from the previous song “Heavy Rain”.  (GRADE 4)

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“IN YOUR FACE”

This is the original demo of the song and was recorded in 1997.  The song was written by Gene and he is the only one performing on the track along with a drum machine.  One of the shortest demos on the release and it is pretty good. A heavy rocker even a little bright and sunny in the way it feels.  There are some good bones there.  (GRADE 3)

“IN YOUR FACE (WITH ACE)”

Gene gave the song to Ace who changed the lyrics to fit him so both Gene and Ace have credits on this one. Recorded in 1998 this version sounds like an Ace song.  The guitars are definitely Ace and no denying the vocals and lyrics are his.  It is one of the gems on this disk and so far on the album. (GRADE 5)

“RAIN #2”

There are numerous versions of this song from the original “Rain Keeps Falling Down” including “Heavy Rain” above.  This Gene penned song was recorded in 1994 with Eric and Bruce and it is very different than “Heavy Rain”.  Not near as heavy, but a really cool bass feel to it.  (GRADE 3)

“CARNIVAL INTRO”

This is the intro to the song “Carnival of Souls” for which the song was never used for ‘Carnival of Souls’ album or ‘Psycho Circus’.  However, the intro was used as the opening to ‘Psycho Circus’.  It was performed by Scott Van Zen.  It is public domain song and not a Gene song, not sure why it is here.  It isn’t bad…just doesn’t belong.  (GRADE 1)

“I WANNA LIVE”

The first song with Gene and Vincent Cusano who you might know as Vinnie Vincent.  This was written around the time of ‘Revenge’ and recorded in 1991.  It didn’t make the album. It was recorded with the guys from the band Silent Rage.  It definitely would not have fit on ‘Revenge’ so I see why it was left off.  It is a good song, but with only an okay delivery. I like it because it is a Vinnie song even though I don’t think he is on it.  The guitars aren’t overdone.  (GRADE 3)

“IF IT’S TOO HOT, YOU’RE TOO COLD”

Written by Gene, it was recorded in 1990 with the band Silent Rage doing the music.  You might recognize the song from ‘Sonic Boom’ as “Hot and Cold”.  It is a duller version of the studio album song.  But it does have a line that I love, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old”…now where I have heard that before (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink). (GRADE 2)

“RAIN KEEPS FALLIN'”

We have the third version of this song on the same disk and again another recorded with Silent Rage members.  This was written by Gene and recorded in 1991.  The most tame of the bunch, but equally as good.  It is more of a 80’s rock song or even classic rock than the more modern, heavier sounds of the other two versions.  (GRADE 3)

“BELLS OF FREDOM”

The final song on the disk is another Gene only song.  Recorded in 1997 and has Tommy Thayer on guitar.  According to Gene, it is a tribute to The Who, but I don’t really hear it.  The chorus is the best part, but overall not really impressed. (GRADE 2)

And that is Disk 2.  You get 15 tracks again and there is not one that was totally awful, just the one that I was sure why it was there.  I found this to be equally as good as the first Disk and the score is similar.  I would listen to this disk again for sure (already listened to it 5-6 times).  The average score for this disk is a 3.2 out of 5.0.  I will let you know that I think anything 3 or better is great and couldn’t be more thrilled with this disk as well.  I know I will eventually run in to some stinkers as it is a matter of time.

Up Next – “Part 4 – Disk 3”

Here are all the posts we did on the Vault:

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)”