Tuesday’s Memes – Gene Simmons #2

I know I poked fun at Gene last year, but with getting the Vault, I thought we should poke fun at Gene again as there a plenty of memes out there around the internet doing just that. So, why wait any longer…here we go…

The Vault…

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Gene loves money…

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Continue reading “Tuesday’s Memes – Gene Simmons #2”

Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 1 of 15 – The Grand Opening)

I have actually been wanting this since the day it was announced back at the end of 2017 or early 2018, I can’t remember.  However, at the time, the price was the hinderance.  Then at the beginning of 2019, they offered a less pricey Vault that didn’t include the Gene Simmons Vault Experience.  You only received The Vault.  Still, I didn’t pull the trigger.  I always thought, if it ever a hit a certain price, I would pull the trigger.  Lo and behold almost two years later, there was Black Friday Sale and it hit that price. It didn’t take much convincing then, I pulled the trigger!  Bang!!

And to make it even better, 2 days before Christmas it arrived!!  And if you didn’t know, my birthday is Christmas…so it was a Big Early Present to myself!!  My kids poked fun at me because I have been chomping at the bit for it to arrive.  Two weeks after ordering, I had heard nothing, not a word.  I emailed the company and asked if I would get a tracking number and they replied back pretty quick with a tracking number.  The item shipped 4 days earlier and I didn’t know.  I checked that tracking often, to an obsessive level as I wanted my Vault.  I guess they weren’t going to send it until I said something. I am glad I got, because it did calm me down…a little.

On day of arrival, I received box 2 of 2 first.  A smaller box that I figured contained the contents of the vault, but it only contained the book and the CDs which if I am going to get a box early, at least it was that box. And if I didn’t have that tracking number I would have freaked not knowing it was shipped in two boxes.  I would have also been freaked if I received the Vault first with no book or CDs inside!!  Tracking number told me that so it wasn’t unexpected.  About 4 hours later, I received The Vault itself.  In a massive box inside another box…

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Continue reading “Gene Simmons – ‘The Vault’ – Album Review (Part 1 of 15 – The Grand Opening)”

December Purchases (& Gifts) – Vinyl (2019)

First off, December is a little light compared to the last two months of purchases  December was a more normal month of purchases mainly because it is the month for Christmas and my Birthday.  For that reason, I have to leave things for people to buy for me as gifts.

The month started out actually on Black Friday and yes, I know that is November. The problem is I couldn’t get these purchases into last months post due to timing issues and Thanksgiving and all.  I am sure you won’t mind.

Record Store Black Friday was on November 29th and I got up bright and early to pick up are few things and I got exactly what I was going for and nothing more…I stuck to the plan for once.

First up is the RSD Exclusive Release of Pearl Jam’s MTV Unplugged and you saw that one already at THIS POST!!!!

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The Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Years)

Thanks to the Kiss Box Set Series I reviewed and most especially, Disc Four (which covers the 80’s), I have been on a Non Make-Up Era Kiss fix of late..  I have been playing all the albums and I am even getting Greg Prato’s book “Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked” for Christmas (Review in January 2020).  So, I figured why not do a list of my favorite Kiss songs from that time and here we are.  I am going to cover the albums from ‘Lick it Up’ in 1983 to ‘Carnival of Souls’ in 1997 and although I included the cover to “Thrashes, Smashes & Hits’ on the post header picture, there are no songs from it as the two new songs are really, really bad.

So, why wait any longer.  Here are what I say are the Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Era)…

#20 – “Master & Slave” off ‘Carnival of Souls’ (1997)

I had to have one song from ‘Carnival of Souls’ which is not a good album, but there was one song I did like and that is “Master & Slave”.  It was written by Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Curtis Coumo.  When you hear it, it is not normal Kiss.  This is dark, brooding and completely centered in the Grunge era (which was a couple years too late).  I liked the biting guitar work from Bruce and it is something completely different.

#19 – “Thou Shalt Not” off ‘Revenge’ (1992)

I really like a lot of Gene’s songs and there are quite a few on here despite Paul still leading the pack.  The ‘Revenge’ album was a return to glory for Gene as he seemed lost for a few years.  This is Gene, plain and simple.  It is heavy and sounds evil which is just what the doctor ordered.  The guitar solo is just as menacing as the rest of the song (good job Bruce).

Continue reading “The Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Years)”

Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Five 1992-1999) – Album Review (Part 6 of 6)

Welcome back to final review in the series which is Part 6 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we have covered Disc 1 and Disc 2 in the set.  For those, we got about 20 unreleased tracks between those two.  Quite impressive.  For Disc Three, we only get 3 unreleased tracks and Disc Four we only get 2 unreleased tracks and for the final disc, Disc 5, we only get 3 previously unreleased tracks.  As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.

For Disc 5, we only have 3 studio albums and some live albums to include on this set and not everything was great.  As far as studio it is the fantastic ‘Revenge’, the lack of direction ‘Carnival of Souls’ and the reunion album ‘Pschyo Circus’ which not everyone played on so not really a reunion, but that is another discussion.  You also get tracks from the MTV Unplugged album, The Detroit Rock City Soundtrack and some unreleased tracks.  Here are the songs and I love how Eric Carr in Fox Makeup is the background!!

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First up on the disc are four songs from the album ‘Revenge’ which is an album that saw Gene get comfortable in his skin again and gave us one of their heaviest albums since Creatures.  It was fantastic.  Out of the four songs, we get the demo of “Domino” which was written by Gene in 1991 for the ‘Revenge’ album.  The demo is pretty close to the original song with some minor changes as the solo in the album version is played at a different key than the demo.  It is a cool piece to the collection.

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The next batch of four songs is from the MTV unplugged album. The first three tracks are with Eric Singer and Bruce and the last song, “Nothin’ to Lose” has Ace and Peter on it.   I think all four tracks are great as is that whole album.  With so few albums to pull from on this set, we are getting a lot of songs for each album which is part of the drag on this disc.

Next we get two tracks from the album ‘Carnival of Souls’ and to say this isn’t a good album is almost an understatement.  There are some good songs from the album such as “Master and Slave”, but the songs chosen for this release are not my favorites.  These don’t sound like Kiss songs to me.

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Then we get four songs from ‘Psycho Circus’ and none are demos or anything rare.  The song choices are fine it is just like I said earlier, four songs from one release is a lot and it would have been nice to have more unreleased stuff on this disc.

There is one cool song on here from an album I didn’t have which is the Detroit Rock City Movie Soundtrack.  The song is “Nothing Can Keep Me From You”.  I believe the song played through the end credits and was actually written by Diane Warren and not by Kiss.  I enjoyed the track and this is the perfect set for songs like this to be on.

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Then we get one of the most famous unreleased tracks, a song called “It’s My Life”.  This song is one of the best on the disc and did you know Kiss played this live for the first time on the Kiss Kruise IX which was a month ago.  The song dates back to around the time of ‘The Elder’ and was never fully finished.  I believe it has all the original band members on this track was supposed to be on Psycho Circus, but as you know, didn’t make it.

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The last two tracks are both live.  The first one is “Shout it Out Live” from a show in 1996 and on ‘The Greatest Kiss’ album.  And then a previously unreleased version of “Rock & Roll All Nite” because that was what we needed (yeah, no!).  It was from 1999 and was later released on the ‘Alive! The Millennium Concert’ in 2006. For me, not much a great win as an unreleased track.

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This disc had a few highlights for me with “It’s My Life”, “Nothing Can Keep Me From You” and “Domino”, but outside of that it was underwhelmed.  There were too many songs from each disc and the Carnival of Song choices kind of sucked. I don’t ever need another version of “Rock & Roll All Nite”…I mean who does.  I am going to only give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as a result.  The 3.0 is generous, but I do love “It’s My Life”.

And now that we have all the scores from all 6 reviews, we need to tally up the whole Box Set and come up with an overall score.  Here were the scores:

  • Overall Packaging – 5.0 out of 5.0
  • Disc One – 5.0 out of 5.0
  • Disc Two – 4.5 out of 5.0
  • Disc Three – 3.5 out of 5.0
  • Disc Four – 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Disc Five – 3.0 out of 5.0
  • Overall Average Score – 4.2 out of 5.0 Stars

Check it out and let me know what you think. If you want to go back and read them all, click on the links below:

And that is the end!!  I hope you enjoyed this 6 Part Series of The Box Set!

Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Four 1983-1989) – Album Review (Part 5 of 6)

Welcome back to Part 5 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we have covered Disc 1 and Disc 2 in the set.  For those, we got about 20 unreleased tracks between those two.  Quite impressive.  For Disc Three, we only get 3 unreleased tracks and now for Disc Four we only get 2 unreleased tracks.  As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.

Disc Four is a fun one for me.  It covers the Unmasked years of the 80’s.  Not the album, Unmasked, the non-makeup years unmasked.  The 80’s is where I got back in to the band.  My first show was the Lick It Up tour plus I saw the Asylum Tour and the Crazy Nights Tour as well.  It was all Kiss all the time (well, when it wasn’t Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Whitesnake).  I think this era of Kiss is so overlooked and unfairly so as I love it!!  Here’s what you get…

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Now here is where Kiss messed up the box set.  Yes, I get they had to put Ace’s picture on a disc like they did the other original members, but Ace isn’t on any of these songs…not a one.  They should have put Eric Carr on this disc and Ace on the next one. Yes, it would have been out of order, but at least it would fit the timeline.

Continue reading “Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Four 1983-1989) – Album Review (Part 5 of 6)”

November Purchases – Vinyl

First off, November does not have the amount of Purchases as October had as October was an anomaly…which I actually bought the album “Anomaly” by Ace Frehley last month so it was a double anomaly, if that is possible.  November was a more normal month of purchases.  And I am thankful for that. I am thankful for a lot of things.  Oh, and by the way…Happy Thanksgiving!!

I started off the month going back to Noble Records over in Matthews, NC.  They have been open for two months and I have been twice.  I think a regular monthly stop is what I should do and is what I am going to do.  As usual with Noble (even on his Pop-Up stores), I always walk away with some fantastic stuff and this trip was no different. This time, I only walked away with 3 Vinyl and they are great stuff.  They are all 80’s releases and actual 80’s vinyl, not re-issues.  And there are NO TURKEYS in this bunch. (Sorry bad Thanksgiving joke!!!)

First up is the debut album from the band Twisted Sister.  The album is ‘Under the Blade’ and it is the Italian release of the album by Secret Records.  It is also the original mix of the album and not the re-mixed version Atlantic Records released which I didn’t realize when I bought so thank’s to Scott at HMO for that information.

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The 2nd LP was the debut from the band Skid Row simply called Skid Row.  You know this one. It has “Piece of Me”, “I Remember You”, “18 and Life” as well as “Youth Gone Wild”.  It is a beast of a debut and it isn’t a first pressing, but it is the Columbia House Record Club version.  Remember that, for just $.01 you get like a bajillion albums if you buy 500 within two years…something like that.  It is mint shape and still has the plastic wrapper on it.

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The last one from Noble is Europe’s ‘Final Countdown’ album.  I am so sick of the song “Final Countdown”, that I had put off buying this one for years.  Well, Noble had one in one of the best shapes I have seen and at a decent price.  Also, still in the plastic wrapping.  So, I finally bit the bullet and added to the collection.  I am up to 5 vinyl releases for Europe and still a few more to go.

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Next up is one I finally grabbed from my WishList on Amazon.  I keep a list of albums I am looking to obtain and if the price ever gets right, I grab it.  This one I grabbed because it is a new release and it fell below my $15 threshold.  It actually wound up being only $14 for a 2LP set.  It is not my favorite Billy Idol album which is why I was waiting to grab it at the right price. It is his latest Re-Mix album Re-Vitalized.  I needed it to help complete my Billy Idol collection.  Still need a few more though before I am done.

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And then next up was a Record Show at the Fillmore here in Charlotte…at least I thought it was a record show.  It turns out it was market for mostly vintage clothing and jewelry.  Dang it!  I saw it advertised by Hardy Boy Records and Comics who have a shop over in Mint Hill so I thought it was going to be this huge record show. Wrong.  However, I wasn’t disappointed as I picked up a ton of stuff from the Hardy Boy’s booth as he never disappoints. If you are in or around Charlotte check out the shop at11237 Lawyers Rd in Mint Hill, NC.

Let’s start with the some Motley Crue.  I found The Dirt still sealed for $16.  I have avoided buying it because it is usually over $20 and I don’t like the new songs that much, but I figured for that price why not.  I also found a 12″ Picture Disc of Helter Skelter with the poster…Really cool…

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Next up is a classic Punk record I have been wanting for a while and finally found one in good shape at a good price.  It is The Clash’s ‘London Calling’.

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Then a couple really interesting pieces.  First up is an album I already have called ‘Love at First Sting” by the Scorpions…I don’t have it with this cover though!!  And for $6…sold!

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Next is one that is a round album cover with a blue vinyl which is really strange because yellow and black would have made more sense for an album color since the album is Stryper’s ‘Yellow and Black Attack’.

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And lastly is an album I have rarely seen it and it is usually north of $75.  This one was $15 all because someone named Lori wrote her name on the album cover.  Thanks Lori for saving me at least $60.  It is Kiss – ‘Smashes, Thrashes & Hits’.

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And that is it!  Sorry, no CD purchases this month.  Maybe next month!

Since I don’t post on Saturday, generally and tomorrow is a New Release Friday, I am doing my Purchase Summary today.  Which means, if I grab anything tomorrow for Record Store Day Black Friday, it will be in the December Summary.  I hope that is okay to have purchases from the wrong month included.  Don’t sue me, I am giving you a disclaimer with plenty of advance notice.

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HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

 

Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Three 1976-1982) – Album Review (Part 4 of 6)

Welcome back to Part 4 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we have covered Disc 1 and Disc 2 in the set.  For those, we got about 20 unreleased tracks between those two.  Quite impressive.  For Disc Three, we only get 3 unreleased tracks.  Rather a big let down after the first two.  As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.

Disc Three covers the years 1976-1982, which were some very rough years for the band. Coming off the fantastic Alive II album, the band released 4 solo albums, Dynasty, Unmasked, The Elder and Creatures of the Night.  Creatures being the only album that was truly fantastic…one of their absolute best.  The others were not so great.  The solo albums were a mixed bag, Dynasty was too Disco, Unmasked was too Pop and I don’t know what the hell The Elder was (I like it better as I am older).  Kiss lost a lot of fans during this era and probably for good reason.

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Disc Three contains 19 songs covering all the album I mentioned above and then some.  Like the albums from this time, the songs for me are a mixed bag as well.  It starts off with “Detroit Rock City” and omits the opening intro which is a version I don’t have so I will gladly take it.  The next song is “King of the Night Time World” off the Alive II album.  This is the only live song off that album which to be honest, I am a little surprised.  Instead, we get two of the studio tracks from that album which more than makes up for it as the songs are “Larger Than Life” and “Rocket Ride”, with “Rocket Ride” being one of my favorite Ace Frehley tracks.  It rocks out quite nicely.

Continue reading “Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Three 1976-1982) – Album Review (Part 4 of 6)”

Kiss – The Box Set (Disc Two 1975-1977) – Album Review (Part 3 of 6)

Welcome back to Part 3 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we covered Disc 1 in Part 2 which covered the years 1966-1975.  That set gave us 12 Unreleased tracks.  This one has a lot, but not quite as many. For Disc Two, we get 8 previously unreleased tracks out of the 20 tracks on the disc.  And it is those 8 tracks we will spend most of our time here today on.  The rest will get covered when I actually do a Kiss series later down the road.

I am sure now you are wondering the what is the track listing for this disc if there are 20 songs and I am going to show you in pictorial form with this picture of the back of the CD case with Paul’s Starchild face covering the whole rear of cover.

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The first four tracks on this are taking from the Alive! album which was released in 1975 and since they are previously released will skip over them and get to the three previously unreleased tracks that come up next.

First we get the song “Doncha Hesitate” which was written by Paul Stanley.  The song was recorded as a demo and one of the few times the whole band would get together to record a demo.  However, there are different stories on when it was recorded.  Gene says it was recorded for ‘Dressed to Kill’ when they were trying to come up with more songs. Paul says it was written after ‘Alive!’ and before ‘Destroyer’ which are both after ‘Dressed to Kill’…so not sure who is write on this one.  The song is great for a demo as it is very raw and rough around the edges, but it falls flat as an overall song which is probably why it was never used.  I do like it though and always great to have unreleased tracks that were not used in any other song.

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Next we get the demo of a song called “Mad Dog”“Mad Dog” was recorded as a demo for the ‘Destroyer’ album along with numerous other songs that Gene had (some of which went on his solo album – not this one).  As they were picking through songs, Bob Ezrin would pick pieces of the demos and they would end of making a new song.  The riff from this song will sound familiar as it would become the riff in the song “Flaming Youth” on ‘Destroyer’. The song kinda sucks, but it has a great solo included and I love the song “Flaming You” so I actually dug this one a bit for that connection.

“God of Thunder” is a demo and the song was originally written and sung by Paul Stanley.  This to me is one of the gems on this Disc because it is so cool to here how Paul envisioned the song.  You can see why Bob Ezrin had Paul give it to Gene to sing because the theme, the sonics and the lyrics all scream Gene’s demon character.  Paul’s version is a faster tempo and less eerie as the final version, but it is fun and a rocking song.

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We go through some songs from ‘Destroyer’ before we get to the next demo which is “Bad, Bad Lovin”.  When you hear this one start up, you know it is the demo for the song that would become “Calling Dr. Love”. The verses are pure “Dr. Love”, but the chorus of “Bad, Bad Lovin” is so bad and doesn’t even fit with the feel and vibe of the verses.  Re-working it become “Calling Dr. Love” was definitely the way to go.  And cool that they put “Calling Dr. Love” as the next song on the album.

“Mr. Speed” is the demo of the song from ‘Rock & Roll Over’.  It is not my favorite song to begin with and this does nothing to make up for that.  This version has Bob Kulick on guitar and not Ace, but it is a demo so no big deal.

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We are going to skip the next batch of songs as they have all been released on albums and we will go to the next unreleased track which is a Soundcheck recording of “I Want You”. It was recorded in August 1977 at the soundcheck  at the Los Angeles forum.  Being a soundcheck, it is loose and a freaking blast!.  I love this song to begin with so any cool version I can get is fine by me.  Another favorite of mine on this disc.

The next demo is of the Kiss Klassic “Love Gun”.  Paul demoed this in New York with drummer Steve Korff of the band The Planets.  Paul played the bass and guitar for the demo.  That machine gun drum fill is the heart & soul of the song and was only replicated by Peter Criss as Paul came up with it.  The demo was pretty complete and sounds really close to the final version so not much was tweaked on this one.

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The last track is the Gene Simmons demo of a song called “Love is Blind”. It is one that was never recorded and it is Gene on all the instruments. And if you listen closely, you can here the click track in the background.  It doesn’t sound anything like Kiss, but maybe would have fit on his solo album as it was so diverse.  Gene felt it had more of an Eagles feel to it and I can hear that it in the overall sound.  A really cool track to me.

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And that is all the unreleased tracks.  Another great disc and almost as good as the first one, but not quite.  The 8 unreleased tracks are fantastic to have in the collection and I think this disc will get almost as much spin time as the first one.  Overall, I will score this one a 4.5 out of 5.0 Stars.  These first two discs were the majority of the Unreleased tracks from the set.  There are only about 10 more over the next three discs so I am going to have to review those slightly different otherwise they will be short reviews.  Until then.  Enjoy!

Check it out and let me know what you think. If you want to go back and read Part 1, click on the link below:

  • The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
  • The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
  • The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)

Up next is Disc Three 1976 – 1982 (Part 4 of 6)

Kiss – The Box Set (Disc One 1966-1975) – Album Review (Part 2 of 6)

In Part 1 we talked about the packaging and all that was included in The Box Set.  Now, we are going to talk about the music.  There are 5 discs included in this set and they are broken up in to certain eras/timeframes of the band.  They cover from the very beginning all the way up to 1999.  The set was released in 2001 so nothing from after Psycho Cirus.

First up is Disc One that covers the era from 1966 to 1975.  Wait…Kiss didn’t start until 1973, how do we have stuff from 1966?  Well, you will have to wait and see.  The disc has 21 songs and of those, 12 are previously unreleased. And it is those 12 songs that are the prize on this release.  Here is the entire track listing for this disc.

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The first two songs up are demos that were done in 1973 at Electric Lady Studios with the great Eddie Kramer on the boards.  You know Eddie from his work with Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix…at least you should.  The two songs were “Strutter” and “Deuce”, two of the bands most iconic songs.  These versions had never been released prior to this set.  I think I am going to go out on a limb and mention that these versions might be better than the actual recordings on the debut album of which, Eddie was not a part. These songs had so much more meat to them.  They had more edge and captured more of the band’s essence.

“Strutter” is actually from an early Gene Simmons song called “Stanley the Parrot”.  They took the chord pattern off that song and turned it in to a song that Paul feels has a “strutting” feel to it and thus the name.  “Deuce” was another song that was sort of a Frankenstein pieced together from a couple of other songs except these weren’t old Kiss songs.  The band loosely based it off the song “Bitch” by the Rolling Stones and the beginning of the song came from The Raspberries song “Go All the Way”.

Continue reading “Kiss – The Box Set (Disc One 1966-1975) – Album Review (Part 2 of 6)”