My youngest daughter loves her Funko Pop! Figures and was thrilled when I got my own set of the Def Leppard Funko Pop! Set. She also knows I am a huge Kiss fan and so for Christmas this past year, she searched out and found all 4 of the Kiss Funko Pop! Rocks Figures. I was thrilled and happy to get this set and to come from her makes it extra special.
This set is the 2nd Kiss set in the Funko Pop! Rocks series as they are numbered #121-124. The first set in their series was #04 to #07 and they looked a lot different than this set. And it is much more expensive, so maybe some day down the road I will find that, but for now I am going to enjoy this special set.
This set doesn’t go by the band member’s actual names as that would be tough to choose who you are basing the make-up and the costume on and possibly give credit to past members and Kiss doesn’t want to do that. Instead, they are based on the Kiss characters each rock star is playing.
Only 2 months after Kiss released their reunion album, ‘Psycho Circus’, the band released another video. This one consisted of 2 VHS Tapes called ‘The Second Coming’. This isn’t a concert video, but instead what we get is a documentary that documents the band’s reunion with Ace and Peter and the subsequent Alive/Worldwide Tour from 96-97. The video was released on November 24, 1998 and the sales were really great as it went Platinum.
It starts off sounding like a VH1 Behind the Music TV show as they quickly go through the band’s make-up history and the first departure of Peter and Ace. This part takes only about 15 minutes and when I say it is high level, that is an understatement. This is an extremely short version of Cliffs Notes Kisstory. The good news is that leaves the remaining 2 hours left to discuss when Peter and Ace start getting back in the good graces of Gene and Paul starting with the Kiss Conventions and going through the end of the Alive/Worldwide Tour a few short years later.
Before we get in to some of the detail of the video, let’s first talk about a future Kiss connection with this video. The Director and Producer of the video is future Kiss’ own Tommy Thayer. That is right, before he became the Spaceman in Kiss, he was brought on board as basically a historian for the band.
After the very successful Reunion Tour from 1996-1997, it was time for the original band members to put other their first album in 20 years with the Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter. The last one they did together was 1979’s ‘Dynasty’. Let me tell you, I was super excited to get a new album with only the original 4 guys. I couldn’t wait. I would get to hear Ace rip solos and cool riffs on every song and Peter would bang those drums until the cows came home. Man, I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it. Now imagine my surprise when it wasn’t even close to the build up.
Yes, it was a new album that did feature all four original members. Their pictures are on the front, they each sing song, but it was far from only being the original four guys. Ace appears on only 2 of the 10 songs and Peter sings on 2 and only plays drums on 1. Nothing seems to have changed as ‘Dynasty’ was also an album Ace and Peter slightly appeared on as well. Gene and Paul still rule the roost and do things the way they want to do them. Ace does appear on the Japanese only track so on that release he is on 3 of the 11 tracks. The only song that features all four members is the Ace sung song “Into the Void” which we will discuss later. To be fair, the reason behind Ace and Peter not getting to play much as they were trying to renegotiate their contracts with Kiss and I don’t think that sit real well with Gene and Paul.
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.
Welcome to the 50th Review in the Kiss Review Series and we aren’t even close to being done. Sadly, the 50th review is this pile of crap. Kiss in 1997 was still touring the Alive / Worldwide Tour and to keep pushing out product for cash grabs, they dumped on us a total worthless pile of dung called ‘Greatest Kiss’. Yes, another greatest hits package. This one was released on April 6, 1997 and it only hit #77 on the Billboard Charts. I don’t think it was ever certified Gold or anything like that because let’s be honest, this is not a good greatest hits package.
The problem with it is that the U.S. version only covers the time frame of 1974-1980, the make-up years with the four original members. And there is only one previously unreleased track which is “Shout it Out Loud” that was recorded the prior year while on tour. It was recorded at Tiger Stadium in Detroit, MI on June 28, 1996 and was the show opener. It had a ton of explosions and fireworks and you hear every last pop. It’s not a bad recording.
Welcome to the February wrap-up of my album purchases for the month. I have to say Vinyl took a pretty big backseat this month as I have been going gangbusters buying back my CD collection that I once had. I decided to add more to the Paul Laine collection and start on the Will Hoge collection. I only hit one record store and it was a quick stop in to one out of town. It has been awhile since I’ve been to a local shop and oh how I’ve missed going . That means March better get some visits before I start going through withdrawal and getting the shakes and a fever.
First up, do you know when you are having a little downer of a day? When I have those, I tend to shop for music (man, I must be down a lot…I’m not). But some days when I am, I just feel better buying something and that is what I did. I ended up buying a very hard to find Paul Laine album from his band Shugaazer called ‘Shift’. This one I found in England and man did it ship fast. I think I got it in 5/6 days.
Next up, I was getting close to the Gene Simmons album Asshole in my Kiss Review Series, but honestly, I had never bought it. So, I did for like $5-6 bucks. That review will be coming up in either late April or early May, don’t know yet.
After the MTV Unplugged special that ran on August 9, 1995, the fan reaction was huge. People were itching for the original line-up to get back together in make-up. Now Kiss is not one to generally miss a good opportunity. While they were in the studio with their current line-up of Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer recording their next album (Carnival of Souls), Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons were contemplating their next move. Well, the noise was getting too hard to ignore and so was the money.
The Carnival of Soul album was shelved (for the time being) and Bruce and Eric were pushed to the side as Peter Criss and Ace Frehley were back in the band. The Kiss Reunion was going in full force. The band decided to get back together, the make-up was re-applied and the Tour was scheduled. This tour would be called the 1996-1997 Alive / Worldwide Tour. If you want to read about my concert experience a little and see the Tour Book…click TOUR BOOK.
In support of the Tour, Kiss decided to make a massive cash grab and released a Greatest Hits compilation of sorts. This one was released on June 25, 1996 and was called “You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best” and consists of all live tracks from the band with Ace and Peter. The name of the album, of course, stems from the opening line of all the Kiss shows when most famously, roadie JR Smalling would scream out “You Wanted the Best, and you got it. The Hottest Band in the Land…KISS!!!”
Before we get to the music, let’s talk about what was inside the Album. Not much, sorry. When you bought this album, inside was simply order forms for Kiss merchandise because Kiss never missed an opportunity to sell you something…
Alright, back to the music on the album. Did this album offer anything new and different. Well yes, it actually did it. But it mostly consisted of songs taken from the albums ‘Alive!’ and ‘Alive II’. There were, however, 4 previously unreleased tracks as well. You get four songs that were taken from those eras that were outtakes or leftover tracks. Now, if you were in Japan you got a bonus track. Let’s be honest, this is a total and utter cash grab. There is nothing real special. This is pure & simple, Kiss trying to profit off the new found interest in the band. But at least you got some unreleased stuff which is still way more than you get on from the next release. I’m getting ahead of myself, let us talk about what you get on this one.
The first record has the most unreleased stuff. The first three tracks are all unreleased. First up you get “Room Service” recorded in Davenport, IA in 1975. Then you get “Two Timer” which was recorded at Cobo Hall in Detroit MI on May 16, 1975. The third track is “Let Me Know” and it was recorded at the same Cobo Hall show as the previous track. These are cool tracks as they aren’t normally played live so that much is awesome about them. But here is the crazy thing. They were overdubbed and remixed in 1996 with not Ace on guitar or probably not even Peter on drums. Bruce Kulick has admitted he worked on the overdubs and those drums sound pretty damn good and clean…and a little modern. I’m just saying. The crowd noise also sounds so fake and it doesn’t really feel that live. Who knows what to believe.
The remaining of Record 1 are three tracks from ‘Alive!’ which are “Rock Bottom”, “Parasite” and “Firehouse” and one track from ‘Alive II’ which is “I Stole Your Love” and “Calling Dr. Love”. If you don’t have those two albums, then these songs are classic and worth having. But if you don’t, you aren’t really a Kiss fan are you…sorry I’m judging and that isn’t nice…but seriously why don’t you own those two albums…better than this crap!!
The second record kicks off with another previously unreleased track and that one is “Take Me” which was Los Angeles, CA and recorded in 1976. Again, this was overdubbed in 1996 as well. It at least has more of a live feel than those first three. Paul is a little rougher around the edges and there is a better energy so I won’t bash this one. Now most of the rest of the album are tracks from the two classic albums again. The tracks are “Shout it Out Loud”, “Beth” and “Rock And Roll All Nite”.
If you have the Japanese edition, your album would end with another unreleased live track. This one was Ace’s song “New York Groove”. This one is cool in that it was recorded from Australia back in 1980 and actually includes Eric Carr on the drums which is always cool. I actually like this track as well and glad I have it. I like it because it has the warts and all as they didn’t clean up the feedback or much of anything which makes it really live. On Side D of this album is a 17 minute interview with the band hosted by Jay Leno. Which basically makes it pure promotion, nothing but softball question and Peter is the only that sounds like he is having any fun (maybe Ace too). Gene and Paul are the same as they always are…stick to the point and sell it. Now the funny thing is Paul states that everyone is “Straight” and “Clear Headed”, but if I’m not mistaken that during rehearsing for the Unplugged, Ace would show up late and in a slight “haze” from possible drinking so not an honest comment completely.
And that is it, thank goodness. What a waste of product this truly is and is only for diehard fans and idiots like myself. However, I don’t own this yet as it is really expensive to get on vinyl. I will have it at one time, but right time, right price! As far as a score, it gets a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars only because it does have 5 unreleased tracks at the time. If it wasn’t for that, this would be a 0!!
Next Up: Kiss – Greatest Kiss (1997)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
Welcome back to Kiss Review Series and this time around we will discuss the album ‘Unplugged’ or is it ‘MTV Unplugged’, I wasn’t really sure. I stuck with ‘Unplugged’ as that is what it says on the spine of the vinyl cover. But it was recorded for MTV so didn’t know the right way to label this post. But enough of that garbage, let us get back to the Kisstory.
Kiss seemed in no hurry to do an album. It had been several years since ‘Revenge’. They have been putting out product as we have reviewed it, but yet no studio album. And with this review, still no studio album. In 1995, the band set out and did these Convention Tours as around this time, Kiss Konventions had started popping up. Kiss would go play these and they were all done as acoustic performances. They would even get some special guests to join them and one time Peter Criss showed up and jumped on stage with them. Kiss started to play lesser known songs at the audience requests and they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Well, around that time MTV came a calling and asked if they wanted to do an episode of MTV Unplugged and the band agreed.
After Kiss released ‘Alive III’ you figured it would be time to do another album, but that wasn’t the case. The band instead decided to release another video on VHS. On August 16, 1993, the band released the video ‘Kiss Konfidential’. It sold over 50,000 units and in VHS tapes, that is considered Gold…who knew. The video is basically the live concert for ‘Alive III’ as there are 12 live performances that are from that album. So if you wanted a video concert of ‘Alive III’ this was as close as you were going to get.
Now that wasn’t all you were getting. The video also contained 4 live performances from the Kiss Archives which gave us “100,000 Years” from Detroit in 1976; “Nothing to Lose” from San Francisco in 1975; “Hotter Than Hell” again from Detroit in 1976 and lastly, “Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” from Japan in 1977. Now the songs were not played one right after the other because interspersed between the songs were backstage footage from the Revenge Tour as well as Exclusive interviews with the band. You were given about an hour and half of total Kiss.
Finally!! Kiss decided to release another live album and this one is ‘Alive III’ which was 17 years after their last release. Now they did release a live video, but this is the first album since ‘Alive II’ in 1977. The band recorded the album during the Revenge Tour in 1992 and used the recordings from the Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis stops of the tour. This is also the first live album of the Non-Makeup era and the first to not have the original Kiss line-up. The line-up is of course Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, but now it is Eric Singer on Drums and still Bruce Kulick on guitar. Oh yeah, and off to the side of the stage on keyboards is Derek Sherinian who toured with the band at this time since they added keyboards to a lot of the late 80’s songs.
Before we get to the music, let’s talk the packaging. We get a 2 LP set in a beautiful Gatefold cover. One side of the Gatefold has a really cool Kiss Family Tree. Although hard to read at times, it is a cool tracing back of where all the Kiss members, current and past, come from in their musical careers.
On the flip side of the Gatefold, you get the track listing and all the tour credits as well as some band pictures and a little note from the band.