Kiss – ‘Music From The Elder’ (1981) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

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.

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Kiss – ‘Kiss: 1977-1980’ by Lynn Goldsmith – Book Review

I know…you are probably sick of Kiss related posts at the same time I am doing the Kiss Review Series and I am sorry. I am in a Kiss Zone right now and everything is KISS, KISS, KISS!!! And on my continuous Kiss hunt, I found another book that was all about Kiss that I want to discuss.

This is a book right up my alley and education level. It is a picture book with very few words…YEAH ME!!! It is Kiss: 1977-1980 by Lynn Goldsmith. Lynn is a celebrity portrait photographer and was one of the very first female Rock Photographers. Lynn has been asked numerous times to photograph Kiss and this book encompasses all of those meetings and pictures from all of the sessions she had with the band. Those sessions were only from 1977-1980 which was a very interesting and transforming time for the band. It was coming out of Alive II, the solo albums, in to Dynasty and Unmasked where the music changed and Peter left. It goes up to where Eric Carr joins the band and has his first photo shoot with the band.

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Kiss – ‘Unmasked’ (1980) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

By the end of they Dynasty Tour, the Kiss Empire was eroding quickly. Between Ace’s and Peter’s drinking problems (among other things), the band was at an all time low. During an interview on October 31, 1979 on the Tom Snyder Show, Ace was totally hammered and you could see the faces of Gene and Paul and they did not look altogether happy. Pissed is a probably a good word for it. And let us not forget Peter during the Tour. By the end, he would make so many screw-ups and some times would simply stop playing. Gene and Paul had had enough and so had Peter.

When 1980 rolls around, the band have to make a new album and this would become the first album without all four members of the band. Peter did not play on the album at all and there are no Peter sung songs, but he was credited to play and he was on the cover as Kiss wanted to keep the illusion going the band was fine for as long as they could. Who handled the drumming, well that would’ve been Anton Fig.

Now Ace, well, he was on the album, however, he only shows up on probably 5 of the 11 songs with the rest of the guitar parts being handled by Paul, Gene or Bob Kulick. It was becoming more and more obvious that the end was near for Ace as well although it wouldn’t be for another year or two. He somehow managed to hang in there for a little while longer.

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Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition) – (The Kiss Review Series)

As a Bonus Edition to The Kiss Review Series, we are going to look at a couple singles I have for the Song “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” off the band’s 1979 album, ‘Dynasty’. The song was a commercial success for the band reaching all the way to the #11 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 and one of only a handful of times they have broke the Top 40.

The music, however, was quite a departure for the band. The song was labeled as Disco and if you listen to it, it really was. The song was written by Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia and the great Desmond Child makes his first of many appears with the band (only one on this album). The story goes that Disco was really big at the time and the record company wanted the band to be a little more commercial. Paul thought any idiot could write a disco song and a bet was made and a few hours later, the song was written and the Paul proved his point. This song did have every trapping of a disco song, the tempo, the beat, the pop sound, the disco sound effects…I mean it was disco…but it was good and it was catchy and they still play it live today. Now on a side note, this is Gene’s least favorite song (and Peter and Ace hate it too).

I have two versions of the Single. I have the Radio Edit 45 Single with “Hard Times” as the B-Side and I have the 12″ Dance Mix with “Charisma as the B-Side. First we will talk about the 7” Single, which might be the Radio edit.

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Kiss – ‘Dynasty’ (1979) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After the solo albums, Kiss jumped back in to the studio in January/February 1979 and began work on their seventh studio album (the solo albums aren’t really considered Kiss Studio albums) to be called ‘Dynasty’. It was set up to be the return of Kiss as it was the band’s first “band” album since 1977’s Love Gun. I say “band” because by this point, “band” is a very loose term.

The band was having serious problems with Peter Criss at this point. Peter had hurt his hand in a car accident, he was heavy in to drugs and alcohol and he was basically difficult to work with. To help try and ease things with Peter, the band hired Vini Poncia as the producer as he produced Peter’s solo album so they thought it would make things easier…it didn’t! In fact, Vini did not feel’s Peter’s playing on the recordings was sub par…basically, it sucked. So, they brought in a drummer to do all the drum parts. His name was Anton Fig and he played drums on Ace’s solo album. Anton played on every song, but one. The one song Peter played on was the one he sang, “Dirty Livin'”. It would also be the last Kiss song he played on any album until 1998’s Pyscho Circus (which is a whole other story to be discussed much later in the series).

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Kiss – ‘Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park’ (1978) – Movie Review (The Kiss Review Series)

1978 was a big year for Kiss. Not only were they working on their Solo albums, they were also making their first movie. Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park was released on October 28, 1978. It was a made for TV movie in the U.S. if that tells you anything about it before we even start talking about it. I actually remember all the hype this was getting and for me it was Event TV. I was going to watch this when it came out and I actually did. I was just shy of 10 years old and I remember this vividly. I even had it on VHS when it was released (or my brother had it), but we don’t have it anymore.

I think there was a plot so I will see if I can piece it together for you. The movie takes place at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California and the Park is having some money troubles. The evil scientist man, Abner Devereaux played by Anthony Zerba, is spending too much on his robots. He is close to developing the most realistic robots ever, but before he can finish, he is fired. This sets him off to destroy the park and Kiss as they were there to perform 3 shows over the weekend. The funny thing is that after being fired, he wasn’t escorted out of the park like any normal firing. Stupid mistake on their part.

There is Sam and Melisse, two young kids in love. Sam works for Devereaux who takes Sam hostage using a micro chip in his neck to control him and basically turn him in to a human robot. All the while, Sam’s girlfriend, Melissa, is trying to find him. She meets Kiss and tries to get their help. Kiss is happy to oblige a pretty young lady and she was that. Kiss had special powers, they were superheroes basically. They had these Talisman that gave them their powers and Devereaux uses Sam to steal those Talisman.

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

The second Kiss solo album in the review series is none other than the Demon himself, Gene Simmons.  Gene’s album was released on the same day as all the other band members on September 18, 1978.  And Gene had the distinction of being the highest ranked album on the Billboard charts at #22, however, that doesn’t mean it was the best of the bunch.

Gene approached his album a little different than the other members.  Gene wanted as many people as he could possibly get to appear on his album.  And he delivered a smorgasbord of guest including Joe Perry from Aerosmith, his current girlfriend Cher, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Bob Seger, Helen Reddy, Donna Summer, Michael Des Barres and an unknown artist at the time Katy Sagal (you know her as Peg Bundy from Married with Children). And an interesting note on the album is that Gene did not play bass on it at all, that was handled by Neil Jason.

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Kiss – ‘Double Platinum’ (1978) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Kiss was flying high.  Alive II was doing well and heck, all their albums were selling and some even reaching Platinum status.  Kiss had been in and out of the studio and on the road touring for over 4 years straight. They had 6 studio albums and 2 live albums under the belt now and they were tired.  Band friction was starting to form.  They were about to implode.  Ace wanted to do a solo album and to help keep the peace, management and the band came up with the idea of doing 4 solo albums all under the Kiss moniker.  To keep the ball rolling and capitalize on their current success, a greatest hits album was put together for a quick cash-grab and to give them more time to finish the solo projects and save the train wreck about to happen.

The album was released on April 2, 1978 and not just a simple single LP.  No, this was a 2 LP, 20 song greatest hits compilation.  It covers everything.  To entice people to buy it, they remixed a number of songs on here so the fan would have something a little different than what they already had.  And the packaging was beautiful.  The album cover was a gatefold which made sense for a double LP.  It was also embossed in a silver, foil-like sheen.  And let me tell you that trying to take a picture of this and not have me and the camera visible was very difficult.  The front and back cover for my version, are exactly the same.  I know some later ones, the back is different. Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Double Platinum’ (1978) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – World Domination 2003-2004 Tour – Tour Book

In yet another Kiss post, we are back on the topic of Tour Books. I had 3 Tour Books from Kiss and I have done posts on 2 of those and I really enjoyed going back through the book and looking at all the pictures.  The third one is from the End of the Road Tour and I will get to that one eventually.  In the meantime, I said to myself, “you know John, we should start collecting Tour Books”.  And I answered myself back with “John, that is a brilliant idea.  Not only are you handsome, but you are pretty damn smart too!”  I couldn’t agree with myself more.

That got weird fast!!

Back on topic.  I actually went on to eBay and noticed there are tons of them for sale, but dang! they are expensive.  Maybe this wasn’t a good idea.  Then I saw one that was only $5 and the pictures looked pretty great actually.  I added it to the Watch list and about 4 hours before it was to end, I figured let me place a bid.  So I did and I was not wanting to go over $10 so that was what I put in as the max bid. I went to bed and forgot about, but morning came and dang it, I got it.  My Tour Book collecting had officially begun.

The one I bought was from the World Domination Tour in 2003.  This was Kiss with Aerosmith and I actually missed this tour as I believe they came to town shortly after the birth of my first daughter so there was no way I was getting out to see a show.  So I was excited to see what this book looked like and now it is time to share it with all of you. Continue reading “Kiss – World Domination 2003-2004 Tour – Tour Book”

Kiss – ‘Alive II’ (1977) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After three studio albums, it was time to repeat the magic with another live album, ‘Alive II’.  It worked well the first time so it seemed like that was the intention this time around to try and capture that gold again.  However, that was not the original intention.  While the band was touring Japan for ‘Rock & Roll Over’, they recorded the entire show of the band at the famed Budokan Hall in Tokyo on April 2, 1977.  They felt the band needed a break before recording the next album and this would be it.  However, Casablanca hated the album and it was scrapped.

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The band went and released ‘Love Gun’ as planned and then it was time for another live album.  This time they recorded three shows at the LA Forum on August 26-28 of 1977 while out on Tour for the ‘Love Gun’ album which was just released in June.  Heck, they even recorded the soundchecks as the goal for this album was to not duplicate any songs that were on ‘Alive!’.  And to add something special to the album, Side Four was going to be all new studio songs which gives this release a little something extra.  Eddie Kramer was brought back in to produce and he worked his magic. Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Alive II’ (1977) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”