For My Sunday Song #139, “God of Thunder” by Kiss is our menacing topic. The song is off the band’s 1976 classic ‘Destroyer’. Kiss was flying high at this point and unstoppable. “God of Thunder” became Gene’s theme song and is the point in the live show that saw Gene spit his blood and perform his bass solo. It was always awesome.
The song was written by Paul Stanley and he had all intentions of singing it. Producer, Bob Ezrin thought differently. He recommended slowing the song down and letting Gene sing the song. The slow, almost nightmarish beat of the song fit Gene’s personae perfectly.
The song kicks off with a couple children saying…”Okay, ya’ll can start singing”. Those kids were heard throughout the song screaming and making all kinds of noises during the song. Those kids were David and Josh Ezrin, the producer’s kids. There were so many sound effects added to it to give that eerie feeling. Even Ace’s guitar work was done in a way to add more of a darkness feel to the song.
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For My Sunday Song #138, I am going to dive in to the song “She” by Kiss off their 1975 album ‘Dressed to Kill’. “She” is one of only a handful of songs that originated with Wicked Lester which was Gene and Paul’s band prior to Kiss. The song was written by Gene Simmons and Stephen Coronel from Wicked Lester.
The song was originally titled “She Walks By Moonlight” which is the first line of the song. It was inspired by a line in the film ‘Hondo’ which was a western from 1953. The song is basically about sex, go figure. That is one of their favorite subjects.
The original version of the song had a flute, a tambourine and even some congas in it, It was really cool with a real nice groove and had these earthy vocals to them. Very Jethro Tull with that flute. You can hear it on the Kiss Box Set.
Kiss removed all those instrumentations and really beefed up the guitars. The groove was still there, but the song was much heavier and Ace takes it up a notch with the guitar. The solo was even taken from The Doors song “Five to One”. The song for me has this great flow and style and might be one of my favorite tracks from ‘Dressed to Kill’ as it is not a full on rocker in the “anthem” sense, but something really cool and different.
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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.
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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For this month’s version of The Original Vs. The Cover, we are tackling the 70’s hit, “New York Groove” that was made famous by Ace Frehley on his solo album in 1978. However, the song was originally performed by the Glam band Hello back in 1974. The song was written by Russ Ballard and if you don’t know Russ, he was in the band Argent, went solo, and was a songwriter who has worked with America, Roger Daltrey, Peter Criss, and Frehley’s Comet to name a few.
The Hello song did pretty well in the UK hitting #9 and #7 in Germany. Ace’s version was the highest charting song of any of the Kiss Solo albums where it peaked at #13 in the Billboard Hot 100.
Russ Ballard wrote the phrase “back in the New York Groove” while on a plane headed to New York where he hadn’t been in a long while. So, that became the theme of the song and eventually he would finish the song.
Hello connected with Russ while he was in the UK and the band’s manager had reached out to Russ asking if he had any songs the band could use and boom, you get “New York Groove”.
Hello’s version opens with a hand clap sound (maybe a stomping/clapping sound), a harmonica riff and a great drum beat. Right before the chorus, there is nice little guitar riff and speaking of chorus, the way they emphasized the word “Groove” in New York Groove was unusual and made it stand out. It definitely has that 70’s feel to it and Bob Bradbury does a great job with the vocals. It is actually a very fun song and I can see why they had a minor hit with it.
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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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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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For My Sunday Song #134, I am going to discuss “Naked City” off the underrated 1980 album ‘Unmasked’ by Kiss. I say underrated now because I have grown to like this album now. I didn’t appreciate it back in the day, but there were some great songs on this album, including this one.
First, the song was written by Gene Simmons, Vini Poncia, Bob Kulick and Pepe Castro. The bass on the song is Gene and the rhythm guitar is Paul, but that is it…no Ace & no Peter. Drums are handled by Anton Fig and actually he did all the drums on the album even though Peter is credited. Lead guitar on the song is former Kiss bandmate Bruce Kulick’s brother, Bob Kulick. Bob actually auditioned for the lead guitar role back in the day, but Ace came in a beat him out…I guess the band never lost his number.
The song is more of a pop/rock song and doesn’t have the full edge of the classic Kiss tunes, but it is smoking when it comes to overall tone, groove and Gene’s vocals. Even without all original members, it is still Kiss and it is still fantastic. The song is about New York City (which a lot of their songs are about). The song talks about the fact there are so many people in the city, so many lonely and lost people. It is actually quite a sad, insightful and observant viewpoint of the city.
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For My Sunday Song #133, we are tackling one of my favorite Ace songs from Kiss called “Shock Me”. It was off the 1977 album, ‘Love Gun’ and it was actually the first song Ace had the lead vocals on. He had written other songs, but never sang. Ace intended for Gene to sing, but Gene pushed it back and encouraged Ace to sing this one. And thankfully that happened as it was a showcase for Ace during their live shows.
On December 12, 1976, Kiss was in concert in Lakeland, Florida when Ace touched a railing that had not been properly grounded and let’s say he got the shock of his life. That incident was the inspiration for the song even though that is not what the song is about. The song is about one of Kiss’ favorite subjects. Nope, not rock & roll, but sex. That is right, sex. I know!! You are surprised and you can’t believe it, but it is the truth.
Now Ace doesn’t have the best voice, but he has a great rock voice. It is a little gritty and dirty and it is rough just like rock should be. If you want a pretty voice, go listen to pop music. I believe I read that Ace recorded this by lying down on the ground. I don’t know if that is true, but that does sound like something he would do.
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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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For My Sunday Song #131 and for the next 10 songs, we are celebrating the songs of Kiss!! Now that Kiss has started their Farewell Tour, I thought I would honor some of my favorite Kiss songs. There will be No “Beth”, No “Detroit Rock City” & NO “ROCK & ROLL ALL NITE”!!! Sorry, not my favorites..,well Detroit is one but too obvious a choice. We will start it off with “Black Diamond” from the debut album ‘Kiss’.
Black Diamond was written by Paul Stanley and it was about New York as were a lot of their songs. This one was on the seedy side of it at least. It is about street hookers and the queen of them all, the Black Diamond. Stanley has been quoted as saying this was partially inspired by the Rolling Stones classic “Brown Sugar”.
Lyrically there is not much there, but musically…Damn!! What a way to close out your debut album. The song kicks off with Paul Stanley on vocals for the first verse while playing an acoustic guitar. He screams “HIT IT!!” and all hell breaks loose. Peter Criss takes over vocals and the song kicks in to full gear with his pounding drums, Gene Simmons’ thumping bass and Ace Frehley’s frenzied guitar.
The guitar solo is top notch and I love how it ends with the heavy ass bass sound with the ominous sounding drums as it gets slower and slower and then fades out. It is amazing how so few lyrics can turn into a song over 5 minutes long and when the play it live it is even longer…live is a whole other story. Don’t get me started on how great this song is live. They used to close their live shows with this one a lot.
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