Kiss – The Box Set – Album Review (Part 1 of 6)

I didn’t buy this when it originally came out as I was not a in a good music place at the time.  My music buying was limited.  So, now that I wanted it, I had to search for it, find one in good condition and find it at the right price as some of the prices were RIDICULOUS!!!

Lo and behold, I was at a record show here in Charlotte and a guy had one for sale.  Actually, he had two.  One was in the guitar case, CDs still sealed and had the hard back book, but I didn’t want to spend that much dough, when I could get this version for a fraction of the price. Plus, I wasn’t paying a premium for sealed CDs as the seal doesn’t last long on my collection. I listen to my music.  As much as I want the guitar case version, my wallet decided this was the better way to go. Sometimes my wallet is smart and other times, he wants to spend, spend, spend.

The Box Set by Kiss was released on November 20th, 2001 and consists of 5 CDs spanning their entire career (up to that point) and a paperback photo book which we will get to in a minute.  I will review all 5 CDs individually over 5 different posts over the next couple of months.  For now, we will talk about the overall box set and the packaging.

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The CD’s span different eras of the band and there are 5 discs full of music.  The Box Set includes 94 tracks,  which consists of 30 previously unreleased band and solo demos as well as outtakes and live recordings.  The other 64 tracks are songs selected from each of the band’s albums except for Gene’s solo.  From that one you get a demo.

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That is a lot of stuff.  Here are the discs…

Disc One: 1966-1975

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Disc Two: 1975-1977

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Disc Three: 1976-1982

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Disc Four: 1983-1992

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Disc Five: 1992-1999:

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PHOTOBOOK:

You also get a 120-page color booklet that contains track-by-track commentary by the band, detailed track information, photos and essays.  I loved the commentary and getting all the tidbits of information on the songs.  The pictures are stunning and the book is really high quality as it is with everything the band does.

Here are some pictures…

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I had to have my daughter hold it open to take the pictures as the book hadn’t really been viewed and was nice and stiff.  I was able to edit out her fingers.

The package comes in a nice box with a red velvet insert to hold the disc.  It is really a nice little set up.

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And then on the spine of the box, the Kiss logo is in engraved into the fabric for a nice shiny feel.  You can feel the grooves.

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For the packaging and the photobook, I will give the set a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars.  It is what you would expect from a Kiss Box Set. Now for the music, I will review over the next 5 posts and rate each disc separately and then a final Overall Score on the last post.  There will be 6 parts overall (this is part 1) to this series and I hope you enjoy them all as much as I will going through them.  Thanks for stopping by and until next time, have a great day!

 

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My Sunday Song – “Danger” by Kiss

For My Sunday Song #137, we are going to ‘Creatures of the Night’ album and the song “Danger” from 1982.  This album didn’t do that well for the band and the tour did even worse.  Kiss was in turmoil at the time and the band seemed doomed to be at their end.  The album eventually did go Gold, but at the time was a failure.  Now, it is actually regarded to some as one of their best albums…and I would be in that group.

“Danger” was written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell as the band had been using outsider writers for some time now.  Paul had lead vocal duties and Eric Carr was on drums.  But those were the only 2 official Kiss members on the song.  It was thought for a long time that Bob Kulick played lead guitar, but it was actually Vinnie Vincent who was not yet a full-fledge member of Kiss.  Ace, technically, still had that role although he didn’t play on the album.  He did get credited with playing and his picture is on the cover.

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And if that wasn’t enough, Gene doesn’t play bass on this one either.  The bass player was Jimmy Haslip from the jazz fusion group The Yellowjackets.  Gene apparently was too distraught over his break-up with Diana Ross to play.

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My Sunday Song – “No, No, No” by Kiss

For My Sunday Song #136, We are going to talk about the 80’s classic “No, No, No” off the 1987 album ‘Crazy Nights” and the B-Side of their first single “Crazy, Crazy Nights”.  ‘Crazy Nights’ was a platinum selling album and might be considered as one of the bands weaker albums in some circles as they were chasing the trend at this point rather than creating it.

The song was originally titled “Assume the Position” (get your mind out of the gutter…because I am sure that is where their mind was with that title) and later it was called “Down on All Fours” (hmmm…I think their mind is still in the gutter).  The song was originally written off a riff by Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr put his stamp on it as well.  It was later handed over to Gene Simmons for completion.

The song opens with a blistering, solo by Bruce.  It is fast and ferocious and shows why he is so highly regarded as one of the best Kiss Guitarists!!  The drums are heavy thanks to the late, great Eric Carr and Gene finally has a decent song as over the last few albums, his weren’t always so stellar.  Well, really this is great mostly because of Bruce, but we won’t tell Gene that as we don’t want to hurt his fragile little ego.

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My Sunday Song – “Nowhere to Run” by Kiss

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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My Sunday Song – “A Million to One” by Kiss

For My Sunday Song #132, we continue the Kiss theme going with the song “A Million to One” from the 1983 album ‘Lick it Up’.  ‘Lick it Up’ is the first non-makeup era Kiss album and saw the band see a resurgence in popularity.  Taking the make-up off made them slightly relevant again.  “A Million to One” was never released as a single and is arguably the best song on the album…IMO!!

The song was written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent (who did not save Kiss) which tells the story of our hero of the song telling his ex-lover that there is basically no hope in hell she will find a love as great as his.  Paul’s cocky attitude in the lyrics and the vocals propel this into one of his greatest performances on a song.

Musically, the song hits on all cylinders as well.  The powerful sound coming from Eric’s drum gave this song an extra punch that you felt with each swing of the sticks.  Between ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick it Up’, I don’t know if the drum sound from Kiss ever sounded better.  Not to be outshined, Vinnie’s guitar playing is masterful with great riffs and a great solo all along with the underrated rhythm guitar of Paul.

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Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” (The 45 Single)

 

I was out and about at one of my favorite local record stores and came across this old 45 Single from Kiss. It was for the song “Tears Are Falling” off their 1985 album ‘Asylum.  By 1985, Kiss was  fully ensconced into the 80’s Hair Metal scene.  Starting with their previous album, ‘Animalize’, the band’s sound shifted from the heavier albums like ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick It Up’, to more of the Glam Rock sound to keep up with the music of the time.  That meant power ballads.  “Tears Are Falling” fit that mold quite nicely.

“Tears Are Falling” was released as a single in 1985 and made it to #20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, just not technically not a Top 40 hit since it only reached #51 on the Billboard Hot 100.  The song did have better success on MTV where it was in frequent rotation on the station.

The song was written by Paul Stanley and one of the few times we ever get a true Stanley Only song.  The next we got was not until his solo album in 2006.  That bit of tidbit surprised me, but the internet can’t be wrong…can it??  The song was recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios which is Jimi Hendrix’s old studio and produced by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  Interesting enough, Gene didn’t play bass on the song, it was played by Paul.

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“My First Time” with Kiss – ‘Lick It Up’

We are now to the end of the “My First Time” series. I ended up skipping it in November as their were too many new albums to review, plus I just wasn’t in the mood,  That got me thinking.  I don’t like being tied down to a specific album or theme.  I want to review albums whenever I am in the mood to do it.  Doing this series, limited me a little so I figured I would do one more and then just start reviewing any album, any time…no theme.

I figured if it was going to be my last, it needed to be something special.  For me, that means Kiss!!  The “My First Time” series is about the FIRST album I bought from a band.  Believe it or not, that album is ‘Lick It Up’ by Kiss.  A couple of my brothers were huge fans and had all their albums, but I had never bought one.  That changed with the excitement of this release.

What was all the excitement about this album?  Well, I am glad you asked.  Kiss sales had been in the decline.  Even with the stellar album ‘Creatures of the Night’ (one of their best), Kiss needed to do something to shake things up.  So they did just that.  They removed the make-up.  It was such a big deal, MTV held a special for the band to reveal themselves without make-up.  They also introduced the video for their first single, “Lick It Up”.  Here is the MTV special reveal…

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