I have been a huge Ace Frehley fan since I was probably 8 years old. He was my very first guitar hero. I had only seen him play with Kiss and I have never seen him love as just Ace Frehley. When I saw he was opening for Alice Cooper, I couldn’t click the purchase ticket button fast enough. This was also the first concert I had attended since Covid began around 19 months ago so it was even more exciting.
The concert began at 7:30pm on October 7, 2021. We arrived in plenty of time because I was damn well sure going to make it to see the opening act, because, well, as was the opening act. We stand in line to get stamped with proof of vaccination (or proof of negative covid test) and then go in line again to go through the metal detector and all good so far. I don’t know why I said “so far”, because we ran in to ZERO issues all night. It was supposed to rain…None! The weather was a little chilly, but felt great. We hit the restrooms (TMI) and then went and bought some bottled water…except…they don’t sell bottled water anymore…WHAT!!! Nope. It is now in a can…huh???
Yes, they sell water in a can now so I guess non-drinkers don’t get harassed for not drinking as it looks like a beer can. I have to admit, it looks pretty damn cool for water. We then hit the merch table and there were a ton of Alice stuff and only a little Ace, but I saw Alice 3 years ago almost to the day, so I went with the Ace Shirt. They were already out of XL size, so I went 2XL and I hope it shrinks…
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!!
When we think of the Kiss Solo albums, we really only have Ace to blame. Ace was not happy with the band and he wanted to do a side project, but to keep the peace, the idea was floated out there that each member of the band do a solo album and they were all to be released under the Kiss moniker and all on the same day. A feat never done again by Kiss or any other band and there is a reason for that. No one can afford all albums at once and not every band member is created equally as Ace proved here.
Ace Frehley’s solo album had the best producer of the four, Eddie Kramer, and it was the one that sounded the most like Kiss. In the case of the solo albums, this is a Win-Win for Ace! Ace didn’t deviate from the Kiss sound at all. In fact, I think he refined it and made it even better. This would only boost his confidence even more and drive that ego to hit the stratosphere as problems would continue from here on in for Ace and Kiss. Between his issues and Peter’s, things were about to get dicey. Enough about that, and back to the solo albums.
We have another Kiss Bootleg to discuss in this series. We are on #4 and this one is from the 1979 Dynasty Tour and took place in Largo, Maryland on July 8th, 1979 at the Capital Center. This was a time in Kiss that is quite interesting as the band was imploding, basically. Peter couldn’t play drums like he did just a short time earlier and Ace was shall we say, “high” on life. This tour was supposed to be huge. The costumes, the stage show and well, everything was to be bigger and better. Well, it was far from it.
Before we get in to the music, we go through the packaging first and this set is delivered beautifully. The set was done in 2018 and it was put together quite nicely. Here is the first little nugget, it is a a little side card that bends around one end kind of like the OBI strips for Japanese releases.
After that there is a large, album sized Disco Sticker included. It is supposed to be in a Disco Ball style and is a little hard to see, but cool nonetheless.
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.