The Scorpions have really had a new life since their farewell tour. With a new album, ‘Comeblack’ which had them re-record old hits and some covers, the band was having a good time again. So, when MTV approached them about doing an MTV Unplugged, they jumped at the chance. They put a lot of work in to re-arranging the songs for an acoustic setting as you can tell from the “Making of Documentary” on the DVD on this release. The band actually didn’t really wanted to play their hits, but dig deep. With pushback coming from either the label or MTV (I forget which), they agreed to do some of their hits, but they also went deep and even brought in some new songs specifically for this set. The setlist is one of the highlights as we get old school Scorpions, 80’s heyday and even songs from today. It spans their career in what a good setlist should do.
The recorded 25 songs and performed at MTV’s first outdoor unplugged show and they couldn’t have chosen a more beautiful spot than high a top a mountain at the Lycabettus Theatre in Athens , Greece. It was recorded over 2 nights on September 11 and 12, 2013. The release came quick on November 29, 2013 and I think the U.S. got it later. Let’s get out the one bad thing about the US version. The US Version is only 1 CVD and not a full show. The DVD that comes with it has the full show, but the CD does not. I am not sure why the rest of the world had a 2 CD full show option and we didn’t, but it is what it is. So, I am reviewing the DVD, full show set.
The full band is there and front and center are Klaus Meine, Rudolf Schenker and Mathais Jabs. The other two guys are slightly behind them with James Kottak on drums and Pawel Maciwoda on bass. But they weren’t alone, wow! There is a lot of extra help on the stage including a string ensemble, an extra percussionist with Pitti Hecht and then Mikael Nord Andersson, Ola Hjelm, Ingo Powitzer and Martin Hansen all on guitar (plus Mathias & Rudolf). And that wasn’t all, you also got Hans Gardemar on piano and accordion plus several surprise guest vocalists. It is a full house and one hell of a party.
We are now to one of the greatest things Kiss has ever released. In 2006 and through to 2007, Kiss released the Kissology: The Ultimate Kiss Collection over a 3 Volume set. This set was amazing as it brought Kiss in living color to your screen. Each set covers a different era of Kiss and each is filled with interviews, promotional videos and tons and tons of live shows. It is more Kiss than you could ever absorb in a day. And we aren’t going to babble on any more as this is too good to wait, let’s jump right in to it!!!
KISSOLOGY: THE ULTIMATE KISS COLLECTION VOL. 1 – 1974-1977:
First up is Volume One which covers the years 1974-1977 the classic years of Kiss. This is Kiss in their prime and there is so much goodness in this set as there are around 380 minutes of Kiss. This set only had 2 Discs (only, because the other 2 sets have more). The first disc has so memorable and historic Kiss moments and kicks off with the earliest recorded video from February 17, 1974 of the band playing the song ‘Acrobat’ which was never released prior to this set. It also includes some TV appearances on ABC’s In Convert and their appearance on the Mike Douglas Show which has the most hilarious interview with Gene. The disc also has two full live shows with one from the Hotter Than Hell Tour from 1975 and a set for the Alive! Tour from Cobo Hall in 1976.
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.
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.
For My Sunday Song # 199, we are going to discuss one of Bon Jovi’s most popular and famous songs, “Wanted Dead or Alive” off the band’s 1986 album ‘Slippery When Wet’. The song was the third single from this album and the third to crack the Billboard Hot 100 reaching #7. The band was on a roll and growing to become one of the world’s biggest rock bands thanks in large part to his song.
The song’s title was inspired by old western movies and Jon thought the lifestyle of a band was similar to that of the outlaws in those movies. Instead of horses, the band takes the tour bus (which is sort of a large steel horse) from town to town and raping and pillaging in each town…okay not really, but they were getting all the chicks and making tons of money performing, just not stealing it.
That whole cowboy vibe is felt in the music using acoustic guitars as well as electric. There was a western sound with a hard rock edge and when they do play this as full acoustic, it is drenched in that sitting around the campfire feel telling stories of the road (or old west). Richie Sambora’s guitar playing on this song spectacular and his background vocals mixed with Jon’s vocals takes this song to the next level. And Richie’s solo is one of the most memorable he has done and how well it fits in with vibe of the song is magical. Musically, according to Jon Bon Jovi, the song is inspired by Bob Seger’s song “Turn the Page” and if you listen to the song you hear that the slow driving tempo and groove and seriousness of the song and you can see why it was so inspiring.
For Record Store Day Black Friday 2019, I got up bright and early to go stand in line for some Exclusive vinyls and most notably was for Matt Nathanson’s 2007 album ‘Some Mad Hope’. This was the first time that record was to be released on vinyl. Another exclusive I wanted was Pearl Jam’s MTV Unplugged appearance from 1992 finally being released on vinyl. And I’ll be honest, this is the FIRST Pearl Jam album I have actually bought on vinyl…I know, crazy right!! But what a way to start.
The album was recorded in 1992 right after the end of the Tour for their debut album ‘Ten’ and a set list that covers that album quite nicely, you are treated to one mesmerizing and very special performance. When I watched this back in the day, I realized than that the guys were pretty freaking great. I was not a Grunge fan at all as I come from the 80’s and the whole 80’s Rock scene. Grunge was blasphemy. But there was something about this show that resonated and when I saw it was coming out on vinyl, it was a no-brainer.
The packaging is a beautiful gatefold for only 1 LP which I always love to see.