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.

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The Original vs. The Cover vs. The Cover – “Hide Your Heart”

For this version of the The Original Vs The Cover we have yet another threepeat with the song “Hide Your Heart” which was original performed by Bonnie Tyler, then Kiss and then Ace Frehley all within a couple years. The song was written by Paul Stanley of Kiss along with the great Desmond Child and Holly Knight. The song was originally written for the Kiss album ‘Crazy Nights’ but didn’t make the cut so Paul shopped it around and Bonnie Tyler wound up with it. Kiss then put it on their next album and the same month, Ace Frehley, formerly of Kiss, did the song for his album ‘Trouble Walkin’.

After the success Desmond Child had with “Livin’ On a Prayer’ with Bon Jovi, Paul Stanley wanted to write a song in that same vein. Instead of Tommy and Gina, we get a cheap knock-off version of Johnny and Rosa. The problem with their relationship wasn’t the hardships of life, but that Rosa had a boyfriend named Tito who sounds like a gang leader in the shady part of town. Already, we know Rosa has bad taste in men. The story doesn’t end well like Tommy and Gina did. Basically this was a poor man’s version of “Livin’ on a Prayer” and the storyline sucked and was a total rip-off. It was too formulaic and Kiss was trying to chase trends at the time instead of being a leader and this was a perfect example of the trash that came out as a result. I guess it is pretty obvious I hate this song so why I am writing about it? Because I need to get it off my chest that I hate this song…I really don’t like it.

The song was never a big hit for any of the artist as it never cracked the Top 40. Even more proof of how bad this song really is. Enough about my distaste for the song, let’s get to the performances so I can get this over with and put out of my misery (ha!).

BONNIE TYLER

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My Sunday Song – “Livin’ On A Prayer” – Bon Jovi

For My  Sunday Song #200 and the final in the Bon Jovi set of 10 songs, we are discussing the classic song, “Livin’ On A Prayer”.  The song is off the band’s mulit-platinum selling album ‘Slippery When Wet’.  The song was the second single off the album and the second to go all the way to #1. The song and the album put Bon Jovi in to super star status and nothing would be the same afterwards.

The song was written by Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi with a lot of help from songwriter Desmond Child who was brought in by the record label to help the boys finish the album and work on some songs.  The song is loosely based on Desmond and his girl-friend as she worked in a Diner, but he was a taxi driver and not working at the docks.  It was that Blue Collar feel to the song that made it resonate with so many people.  It was a time when Bon Jovi actually wrote songs that told a story that connected with people and not try to write just to make a hit.

However, after recording it, Jon didn’t really like the song and wanted to leave it off the album.  Richie thought it was great and convinced Jon to re-work the song.  It was much improved by changing the bass line and recording with Hugh McDonald and not Alec John Such.  Funny thing, Hugh would become a band member less than 10 years later (unofficially of course).  Richie also added a talk box to the guitar to give it that extra boost in the same way Peter Frampton used it and made it famous.  The song was turned in to a complete masterpiece.

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My Sunday Song – “Wild is the Wind” by Bon Jovi

For My Sunday Song #197, we are going to go with a song off Bon Jovi’s New Jersey album called “Wild is the Wind”.  The song was from 1988 and it was never released as a single, but it stuck with me and was one of my favorites on the album.  Like a lot of their albums, the deep cuts can sometimes be better than the actual singles and this was one of those for me.  Next to “Blood on Blood” from the New Jersey album, this is one I go to more than others.

This song seems to be an admission of guilt for Jon as he seems to be feeling bad for not being there for his wife.  It is something deeply imbedded in him that drives him to be on the road all the time.  He feels she would probably do better finding someone else that can give her what she needs because he feels he is failing at that task.  And as much as he lived that rock star lifestyle, I would say he failed quite a bit at giving her what she needed.  In the end, we know how the story ends in real life as he and his wife are still together after all these years.

What I loved about the song is something that was a common theme on the New Jersey songs, it was this cowboy spirit drenched in the music style.  It wasn’t a country twang or anything like that, it was mostly in how the acoustic guitar is used in the songs.  There is this restless feeling in the songs.  Musically, it is a cross between a ballad and just a plain old rock song. It has its slow moments, but rocks out in the end with some damn fine guitar work by Mr. Richie Sambora, the backbone of the band.  Tico Torres has some nice drum fills and great moments as well so I don’t want to leave him out.  Jon sings with all his heart and his emotions on his sleeve like he always did back then (now the new stuff feels like is his just going through the motions, but that is another story for another day).

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My Sunday Song – “Edge of a Broken Heart” by Bon Jovi

For My Sunday Song #193, we are going back in time and checking out “Edge of a Broken Heart”.  A song written for the ‘Slippery When Wet’ album, but didn’t make it.  It is my favorite song to never make a Bon Jovi studio album.  It did wind up on the movie soundtrack to the horrible movie ‘The Disorderlies’ starring the rap group The Fat Boys. The song was never officially released as a single, but did reach #38 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay songs.  The song did wind up on two Bon Jovi albums, the Special Edition version of ‘Crossroads’ and the box set of ‘100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong’.

The song is the typical 80’s hard rock song.  Full of synths, drums, guitar and even Bon Jovi’s use of the voice box. This was back in a time when the band still wrote great songs that told a story you wanted to hear.  It is about a man who is in love with someone, but she is with someone else.  He is standing on the outside of her life waiting to catch her when she is dumped by the guy she is with.  He will be there to save her.

Musically, Richie’s guitar playing is always top notch and he has such a nice tone.  He delivers a great solo and of course, that voice box is classic Bon Jovi.  Jon sounds so young and he can hit this high notes he only wishes he could still hit.  He is able to convey all the emotions needed for the wonderful story he is telling.  You feel for the guy and are rooting he will win the girl in the end.

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Ratt – ‘Detonator’ – Album Review

The year is 1990 and we are getting to the end of the Hair Metal era, but at the time, no one knew that end was coming.  Ratt released their fifth album in August of 1990 and it brings us to the end the long running stream of Platinum albums.  It is also the last Ratt album with the line-up that has been on all 5 of their albums.

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robbin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass guitar
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

After the disappointing reception for ‘Reach for the Sky’ (although it did go Platinum), the band needed to make a change.  That change was not to use Beau Hill as producer on the next album as he had produced all previous albums to much success.  The band (or label) brought in powerhouse songwriter Desmond Child.  You know Desmond…he had great success writing with Kiss, Aerosmith and a few Bon Jovi classics.

And did he ever get involved in the songwriting as he has writing credits on 10 of the 11 tracks on the album.  Not only did Desmond assist with songwriting, he was also the executive producer along with Sir Arthur Payson.  While Ratt did maintain the classic Ratt sound which was a little bluesy and little sleazy, the songs were much more polished and contained more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.  It definitely leaned to a more Glam rock image than prior albums.

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Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (The 45 Single)

Disco era Kiss!  Does it get any better than that??  Well, yes it actually does.  Nonetheless, it was still Kiss and still awesome.  I was out at my favorite little record spot and came across a 7″ single of Kiss and of course I had to have it.  It was the 1979 single off the Dynasty album called “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.

The single was only the band’s second Gold single and it went on to sell over a 1 million copies so needless to say, it was a hit.  Which proved Gene and Paul correct that during the Disco era, anyone could write a disco song.  Speaking of writing, this was the first time Kiss co-wrote a song with Desmond Child and it wouldn’t be the last.  It was also Desmond’s first hit he ever had.  The song was also written by Paul Stanley and Vini Poncia who played piano on the song and did backing vocals.

The really isn’t much to talk about in regards to the song.  Think disco and you know what the song sounds like.  You can get up and dance to it and sing along to the catchy, pop chorus.  It is simple.  One thing I guess I can talk about is that wikipedia has the 7″ single listed at 4:01, but my version has it at 3:57 which might not seem like a lot, but that is a big difference.  The song is already cut down from the album version which was at 4:30.  Not sure if I have a different version or wikipedia is just wrong.

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My Sunday Song – “Blood on Blood” by Bon Jovi

 

For My Sunday Song #81, I bring you one of my favorite songs off the Bon Jovi album ‘New Jersey’.  That song is “Blood on Blood”.  Back in the day, Bon Jovi actually wrote songs with heart and songs that told great stories.  Stories you cared about and became connected with such as Tommy and Gina in “Livin’ On a Prayer”. “Blood on Blood” was the song that really connected with me.

The song was never released as a single, but I probably listened to it more than any other song on the album.  The song was based on the movie “Stand By Me”.  Jon was so inspired by that movie, he got with Richie Sambora and Desmond Child and they crafted this gem.

The story is about three childhood friends, though not related, were like brothers to each other.  They cut their hands and then shook to signify they were blood brothers, lifelong friends and friends you could call at any time and they would be there to help.

That theme resonated with me.  It resonated so much, I started outlining a book based on that very concept.  Sadly, I never finished that book (or really ever started other than the outline – maybe some day).  Anyway, take a listen to the song and read the lyrics and hopefully you will see what I mean.  It is a powerful song about friendship and if you have a friend or friends like that, then this song is for you!

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