Kiss – ‘You Wanted the Best, You got the Best!!’ (1996) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

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.

RECORD 1:

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!!

RECORD 2:

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!!

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  9. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  10. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
  11. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
  12. Kiss – Alive II (1977)
  13. Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
  14. Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
  15. Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
  16. Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
  17. Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
  18. Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
  19. Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
  20. Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
  21. Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
  22. Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
  23. Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
  24. Kiss – Killers (1982)
  25. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
  26. Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
  27. Kiss – Animalize (1984)
  28. Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
  29. Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
  30. Kiss – Asylum (1985)
  31. Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
  32. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
  33. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
  34. Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
  35. Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
  36. Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
  37. Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
  38. Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  39. Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
  40. Kiss – Chikara (1988)
  41. Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
  42. Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)
  43. Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc
  44. Kiss – Revenge (1992)
  45. Kiss – Alive III (1993)
  46. Kiss – Konfidential VHS (1993)
  47. Kiss – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)
  48. Kiss – MTV Unplugged (1996)
  49. Kiss – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996)

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)

Kiss – The Box Set:

  1. The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
  2. The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
  3. The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
  4. The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
  5. The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
  6. The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)

Gene Simmons – The Vault:

  1. Part 1 – The Grand Opening
  2. Part 2 – Disk 1
  3. Part 3 – Disk 2
  4. Part 4 – Disk 3
  5. Part 5 – Disk 4
  6. Part 6 – Disk 5
  7. Part 7 – Disk 6
  8. Part 8 – Disk 7
  9. Part 9 – Disk 8
  10. Part 10 – Disk 9
  11. Part 11 – Disk 10
  12. Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
  13. Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
  14. Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
  15. Part 15 – The Final Verdict

Kiss – ‘Unplugged’ (1996) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

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.

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Kiss – Konfidential (1993) – VHS Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After Kiss released ‘Alive III’ you figured it would be time to do another album, but that wasn’t the case. The band instead decided to release another video on VHS. On August 16, 1993, the band released the video ‘Kiss Konfidential’. It sold over 50,000 units and in VHS tapes, that is considered Gold…who knew. The video is basically the live concert for ‘Alive III’ as there are 12 live performances that are from that album. So if you wanted a video concert of ‘Alive III’ this was as close as you were going to get.

Now that wasn’t all you were getting. The video also contained 4 live performances from the Kiss Archives which gave us “100,000 Years” from Detroit in 1976; “Nothing to Lose” from San Francisco in 1975; “Hotter Than Hell” again from Detroit in 1976 and lastly, “Let Me Go Rock ‘N’ Roll” from Japan in 1977. Now the songs were not played one right after the other because interspersed between the songs were backstage footage from the Revenge Tour as well as Exclusive interviews with the band. You were given about an hour and half of total Kiss.

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Kiss – ‘Alive III’ (1993) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Finally!! Kiss decided to release another live album and this one is ‘Alive III’ which was 17 years after their last release. Now they did release a live video, but this is the first album since ‘Alive II’ in 1977. The band recorded the album during the Revenge Tour in 1992 and used the recordings from the Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis stops of the tour. This is also the first live album of the Non-Makeup era and the first to not have the original Kiss line-up. The line-up is of course Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, but now it is Eric Singer on Drums and still Bruce Kulick on guitar. Oh yeah, and off to the side of the stage on keyboards is Derek Sherinian who toured with the band at this time since they added keyboards to a lot of the late 80’s songs.

Before we get to the music, let’s talk the packaging. We get a 2 LP set in a beautiful Gatefold cover. One side of the Gatefold has a really cool Kiss Family Tree. Although hard to read at times, it is a cool tracing back of where all the Kiss members, current and past, come from in their musical careers.

On the flip side of the Gatefold, you get the track listing and all the tour credits as well as some band pictures and a little note from the band.

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Kiss – ‘Revenge’ (1992) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

The lack of success for the band’s last album, ‘Hot in the Shade’, had them at a crossroads again as to what to do. They were asked to record a song for Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey in February of 1991, so they brought Bob Ezrin back to record it although Gene was a little hesitant about it after the debacle of ‘Music from the Elder’. But they recorded that song, which was “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II”, and then nothing for awhile. Paul was writing songs with various people, Gene was writing with Bob Dylan (sort of – you can read about that in The Vault series), and then the tragedy of Eric Carr happened. As we discussed in the last post, Eric had heart cancer and died on November 24, 1991 and he had been sick for some time. It was a dark day in Kisstory.

Eric Singer was brought in as the drummer full time now and Kiss went back in the studio in December 1991 with Bob Ezrin back at the helm as the producer probably in part that the Bill & Ted song did so well. The band sought help from an old friend at this time to help with the songwriting. That old friend was Vinnie Vincent. Actually, I think Vinnie reached out to them, but it doesn’t matter. Vinnie had turned over a new leaf and wrote some great songs with both Gene and Paul. And then Vinnie turned back in to Vinnie and tried to renegotiate a contract with them, sued the band and then lost. And Vinnie was again on bad terms with the band. Oh well, at least they tried. There was another Kiss connection on this album as the boys from the band Black ‘N Blue were brought in to help with backing vocals. They would be Jaime St. James and Tommy Thayer. Tommy is now the current Kiss guitarist for the band. This brings the count to 7 Kiss members that worked on the album…Gene, Paul, Eric S., Eric C., Bruce, Tommy and Vinnie. Pretty cool!

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Kiss – “God Gave Rock And Roll To You II” (1991) – 12″ Picture Disc (The Kiss Review Series)

Prior to the release of their next studio album, Kiss was asked to due a song for a movie. That movie was Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. Yes, one of cinema’s finest movies, I know. The song was a cover of “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” by the band Argent, but the lyrics were changed up so much, they added the “II” at the end to signify it was a little different than the original. So that meant, not only was Russ Ballard’s name on the credits, it now had Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and producer Bob Ezrin who the band was working with at the time for the new album. The single was released on August 22, 1991.

What was special about this song and release is that is the last Kiss single to feature Eric Carr. Eric wasn’t healthy enough to do the drums at the time, but he is featured in the background vocals. And luckily he was healthy enough to be in the video. Eric was extremely ill as he had been diagnosed with heart cancer. He had become so ill, he was no longer able to play, so the drum work on the song was handled by Eric Singer, who also did the drum work on the band’s next album, ‘Revenge’. Eric Carr made his last public appearance with the band shortly after the video at the MTV Musis Awards in September 1991. Shortly thereafter, Carr suffered an aneurysm then a brain hemorrhage and never regained consciousness. He later died on November 24, 1991 which was sadly, the same day Freddie Mercury of Queen had died and that overshadowed his death.

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Kiss – 40th Anniversary World Tour (2014) – Tour Book

In 2014, Kiss toured their 40th Anniversary World Tour and the opening act was none other than Def Leppard. Yeah!  That is right.  The 2 bands I have seen in concert the most were playing together in the same show.  Wow!!  My family and I had just moved to Charlotte, NC that year and my brother, my sister and her husband drove up to Charlotte to see them with me.  That meant a lot that would come up and see us and go see a show. I would’ve driven down to Atlanta to see that show, but it was a weekday which meant work. My sow on July 19th, 2014 in Charlotte was a Saturday!!

If I am being honest about the show, Def Leppard was absolutely amazing.  Probably the best show I have seen them do.  They actually blew the doors off Kiss. Kiss has become a well organized, choreographed Las Vegas show and it felt forced.  It did not have the excitement as did Def Leppard’s. There was an electricity type energy in the crowd for Leppard that was not there for Kiss. Don’t get me wrong, Kiss was still great and it was still an awesome time. I am also so glad my family came up to see it with me.  I can’t find a stub, but I have a shirt and some pictures!! My pictures are pretty bad as my camera was an old iPhone that took shitty pictures.

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Kiss – ‘Hot in the Shade’ (1989) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

It had been two years since the last studio album, ‘Crazy Nights’ and still the band wasn’t working on a new album. Gene Simmons was out producing bands on his record label and Paul Stanley decided that in early 1989, he was going to go out on a solo tour. People were freaking out as was this the end of Kiss. Paul’s solo band on the tour had two major Kiss connections. On guitar was Bob Kulick and on drums was future Kiss drummer Eric Singer who would take over after the death of Eric Carr. Paul even went so far as to sing and record the title song to the Wes Craven movie ‘Shocker’. Kiss in my eyes, seemed doomed.

But it wasn’t the end. In mid-1989, the band got back together and finally started working on the new album. They had a very small budget for this album so instead of going in and fully recording a new album, they grabbed a bunch of demos and re-worked or even overdubbed them to turn them in to the album we have here. ‘Hot in The Shade’ has a crazy number of songs with 15 and the album was about an hour long. This was the late 80’s when bands felt they needed to fill up the entire CD and as a result, we got a lot of bloated albums at that time. If you knocked a few songs off this album, it would be a lot better but still suck.

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Kiss – Alive / Worldwide Tour (1996-1997) – Tour Book

In my quest to get all the Kiss Tour Books in my collection, I have now come to my fifth in the Tour Book Series.  This is one of two that came from the Kiss Alive / Worldwide Tour from 1996-1997.  You might remember I already did one from that tour, but that was a special edition book during the 1997 part of the tour which included the Giant 1997 Poster Calendar and had a silver cover. It was a replica of the European Book. Plus, all the pictures were different.  This is original Tour Book with the Black Cover.

I bought this book right at the beginning of the pandemic. A friend of my brothers was selling it and so he reached out to me and I said, yes, buy it for me (I did pay him back). I asked my brother to hold on to it and I would grab it the next time I was down in Atlanta which would’ve only been about a month or two after I bought. 9 months later and I still hadn’t gone down thanks to Covid. I finally asked him to mail it on up to me and he graciously did.

One of the interesting things about this book is that it was bought at the October 1, 1996 show at the Omni in Atlanta. How do I know, the ticket stub was still inside. That for me is cool to know which show it was purchased because I was actually at that show. I can’t believe I have a book from the actual show I attended. What are the odds of getting one 25 years later. Our ticket stubs are below.

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Kiss – ‘Smashes, Thrashes & Hits’ (1988) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After Kiss released the greatest hits package ‘Chikara’ to Japanese and European audiences, the U.S. finally got its own greatest hits package. This was now the fourth greatest hits set the other two being Killers and Double Platinum. Of the four, the U.S. only saw two official releases. ‘Smashes, Thrashes & Hits’ was released on November 15, 1988. Kiss wasn’t doing much at this time. They were done touring for ‘Crazy Night’, they wouldn’t start working on their next album for about at least half a year or more, Gene had his side projects of his own record label and the band was in limbo.

The album sold pretty well selling over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. The album did have two brand new songs to help drive fans to buy it (and it worked, I bought it). And like the compilation, ‘Killers’, the two new songs were solely done by Paul Stanley. Gene was not involved yet again as he was too busy. Paul saves the day yet again. The album did contain 15 tracks, but the European release of this album saw 16 tracks which the extra track was “Crazy, Crazy Nights” from the album ‘Crazy Nights’. Apparently in the U.S., they thought that album was too new to include a song on the compilation I guess.

Now my copy of this album is very special. It was autographed by Lori if you look in the Kiss logo on the front cover. I don’t know who she is, but I bet she owned this record many years ago. All I know her signature actually isn’t worth much because it brought down the price of the album by around $50 and I only paid like $15-20 for it. Thanks Lori. You saved me a lot.

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