We all know Kiss was started by Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. But did you know about the band prior to Kiss? It all started with Gene (Chaim Witz) and Paul (Stanley Eisen) in a band called Rainbow with Gene’s friend Stephen Coronel. Paul was the third member and then they brought in a drummer named Joe Davidson. This band didn’t last long at all and hell, the drummer even a shorter time as he was quickly replaced with Tony Zarella. They only played one show before they had to drop the name Rainbow because that name was already being used by some other band (and no, not the Richie Blackmore band).
And that is how Wicked Lester was born. After only a couple shows as Wicked Lester, they were approached by a label and were given the chance to record some demos. After listening to those demos, the label decided that Stephen was not good enough and had to be fired. And since Gene and Paul the upstanding citizens they are, they fired Stephen. I guess you do whatever it takes to make it in this business. Ron Leejack was then brought in for guitar duties and it was time to record the album.
Now the album would take about a year to complete and upon receiving the album and hearing it, the label were not quite thrilled with it…okay, they hated it. Hated it so much, they shelved it and it was never released. Well, never in a full, pure album form. It has been leaked out as a bootleg and that is what we have here.
Despite not having any new albums in years, Kiss was touring. In 2000-2001, the band was touring the so called “Farewell Tour” which was supposed to be the end of Touring. Well, in 2003, the band announced The World Domination Tour where the band would be co-headlining with Aerosmith. Ace Frehley believing the Farewell Tour was the final tour, did not want to do this tour if they were the opening act for Aerosmith. Well, Ace was now gone. Because apparently the Farewell Tour was really the Farewell Tour for Kiss playing with Ace. Peter Criss came back in to the fold and did the World Domination Tour.
When that tour ended, Kiss decided to do another tour in 2004 called the Rock The Nation Tour. This time around, Kiss was the main headliner and the opening acts were Poison and Z02. Before the tour started, Peter Criss’ contract with the band had expired. According to Peter, no one contacted him about signing back up with the band for the next tour. Now, Peter was gone, yet again. Kiss was back down to just Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley with the hired guns of Eric Singer on drums and Tommy Thayer on guitar. This is the line-up that would stay in existence for the remainder of the Kisstory. The Rock The Nation Tour, was the start of a new era of Kiss. One where people either still loved the band and didn’t care who was in it or a group that hated Tommy for being in the band and wearing Ace’s make-up. Sorry folks, but so what. Tommy was hired to do a job and Tommy does that job very well. No one seemed to care too much that Eric was in the band and wearing Peter’s make-up and maybe that was because Eric had already been a big part of Kisstory before and he had earned his cat whiskers.
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.
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”.