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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Ace Frehley – ‘Frehley’s Comet’ (1987) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After Ace Frehley left Kiss in 1982, it took him awhile to get going on a solo project. Where Peter had a solo album out within a year of leaving Kiss (if not sooner), it took Ace 5 years before his first bit of music was released. There was a reason for that. When Ace left Kiss, he still maintained a 1/4 share in the band and was not able to release anything until at least 1985. He basically had a non-compete contract for a limited time. However, around 1984, he did start piecing together a band and of course he started with drummer Anton Fig. Anton had played on Ace’s 1978 solo album and had done a few things with Kiss as well on some of their records. After Anton, he recruited John Regan on bass and Richie Scarlett on guitar and vocals. Ace now had a band.

The band recorded some demos in 1984-85 with famed producer Eddie Kramer, who had produced Ace’s 1978 solo album as well as other Kiss album, and actually played their first live show on November 30, 1984. He wasn’t releasing any music yet, so not breaking his contract. The band played some more in 1985, but in the end, Richie Scarlett wanted to pursue his own solo career and left the band. Not a good start so far.

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The Original Vs. The Cover – “New York Groove”

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

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.

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