Kiss – ‘Chikara’ (1988) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Kiss were plugging along and everything is still right in the world. In 1988, as they were preparing for their Tour of Japan, the label and the band decided to release a greatest hits compilation. The CD was issued on May 25, 1988 and was limited to only 100,000 copies and only released in Japan. The was the 2nd greatest hits package to not be issued in the U.S., the first being 1982’s ‘Killers’. For that fact, this is a hot collector’s item for Kiss collectors and I didn’t even know about it until years after its release and I still don’t have a physical copy of this release (but I will get one someday).

The Japanese character on the back of the case and on the CD might look familiar. It is the same symbol that was on the bottom of the cover art for the band’s 1974 album, ‘Hotter Than Hell’. Eric Carr also used that symbol on his drum kits for quite some time. Chikara is the Japanese word for Power if you are interested in knowing that fact. And when you are looking to buy this CD on ebay or somewhere, the prize to get is the OBI strip with all the Japanese writing. A lot of the ones I’ve seen out there don’t have that strip anymore.

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Chikara’ (1988) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Vinnie Vincent Invasion – ‘Vinnie Vincent Invasion’ (1986) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After the Lick It Up Tour with Kiss, Vinnie Vincent was officially let go from the band. Except can you call it official since technically never signed his contract so I guess he was never officially in the band. However you want to look at it, by mid-1984 Vinnie Vincent was gone from Kiss. And since my goal in the Kiss Review Series is to review the first thing the former band members put out after leaving Kiss, we are going to discuss Vinnie’s debut release with Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion. After being let go, Vinnie decided to go see the world and upon his return, he was ready to make music. His paths crossed with Dana Strum who had worked with Ozzy. Dana knew Vinnie was out of Kiss and was looking for a good guitar to play with so he searched out Vinnie and they finally connected.

Now the band needed a drummer and they found that in the muscle-man himself, Bobby Rock. The main band was now together and all they needed now was a singer. They looked no further than the former lead singer of the band Journey. No, Steve Perry hadn’t left Journey (yet), they found the guy he replaced, Robert Fleischman. And the band was now complete. The band got a record deal with Chrysalis…okay, it wasn’t really the band, it was actually only Vinnie that had the deal, but we are splitting hairs at this point. And they were off to make a new album.

Continue reading “Vinnie Vincent Invasion – ‘Vinnie Vincent Invasion’ (1986) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘Creatures of the Night’ (1985 – Reissue) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

You saw the title to this and you are probably saying to yourself, “John, you’ve already reviewed ‘Creatures of the Night’. Have you lost your rocker?” And the answer to that question is YES! I have reviewed ‘Creatures’ and I am off my rocker. The thing is, the band re-released the album in 1985 for some strange reason. The new line-up of Kiss with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick was riding high. The fans loved the line-up, the last album was successful, the tour went off well, so all was good in the Kiss world. Someone, somewhere in the Kiss camp thought, “Hey, we should re-release the album ‘Creatures of the Night’ because why not.” I have no idea the rational or reasoning behind this at all as it makes no sense.

If you are going to re-release it, why not put a brand new cover on the album with the band without make-up. Check! Why not stick a picture of Gene’s Ass on it in tight-fitting leather pants. Check! Here’s the thing. The picture of the band without make-up has Bruce Kulick on it and if you aren’t aware, he didn’t play on the album. I guess that isn’t a problem because the original picture on the album had Ace Frehley, and if you read my review earlier, you know he didn’t play a note on the album either. So in the end, I guess it doesn’t matter whose picture is on the cover. And here’s the other thing, it was never fun looking at the back cover because there was a giant ass staring you in the face. You felt a little grossed out looking at that….thing!!

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Creatures of the Night’ (1985 – Reissue) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Wendy O. Williams – ‘WOW’ (1984) – Album Review (Bonus Edition – The Kiss Review Series)

No, you are not reading things wrong. This is part of the Kiss Review Series. You may ask yourself why because Wendy O. Williams was a part of the Plasmatics, she wasn’t in Kiss? How can this possibly be a part of this series? There are so many reasons why and I will go on record and say that this might be the best Kiss album that is not a Kiss album. WTF??? Am I smoking some weed, have I been drinking? The answer to both of this is None of your business. I guess I need to explain myself a little.

This is part of the Kiss series because nearly every member of Kiss at the time was on this album, most songs were written by members of Kiss and Gene Simmons was the producer of this album. Basically, it is a Kiss album. The bass player on this album was named Reginald Van Helsing who was actually Gene. And a funny point about the bass playing…Gene played Bass on more of these songs than he has on any Kiss album around this time period. What other Kiss members were on this album? Here is the list…

  • Paul Stanley
  • Ace Frehley
  • Eric Carr
  • Vinnie Vincent

So, yes…this is part of the Kiss Review Series!

Continue reading “Wendy O. Williams – ‘WOW’ (1984) – Album Review (Bonus Edition – The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘Lick it Up’ (1983) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Right after the Creatures of the Night Tour, the band went back in to the studio to complete the follow-up album. Michael James Jackson would stay on board as the producer as the sound he got on “Creatures” was amazing and the band wanted to continue that harder sound. Vinnie Vincent was now an official member of the band as he was on the cover. However, he actually wasn’t an “official member of the band” as he never signed his contract which became an extreme soar spot with Vinnie and the band which we will discuss a little later on in our story.

The ‘Lick it Up’ album, which came out on September 23, 1983, garnered way more attention than ‘Creatures’ for one main reason. The band finally took off the make-up which is something they had been talking about doing since at least the ‘Music from the Elder’ era. They finally did it and the big reveal was on MTV during primetime. I remember this vividly as this was event TV for me as I was a lifelong Kiss fan at the time (and still am today). I remember seeing each member in make-up and then without and I remember thinking, “PUT IT BACK ON!!! OOOOH THE HORROR!!!” No, it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty cool. And just like that Kiss was back in the public eye and they had some songs that could back it up.

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Lick it Up’ (1983) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘Creatures of the Night’ (1982) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Kiss had to get back to their hard rock roots after the disaster of their last studio album ‘Music from the Elder’. The band had been on a downward spiral since ‘Dynasty’ with their sound going softer, Peter Criss leaving the band and now Ace was pretty much done. Due to his disillusionment the last few years with the band, the fact he had no say in anything, his alcohol problem and his prescription drug problem related to a car crash, Ace was done. He was so done in fact, he does not show up anywhere on this album. Well, that isn’t entirely true. Kiss still credited him as a member of the band, his picture is on the cover and he made some public appearances in support of the band including appearing in the music video for ‘I Love it Loud” which he didn’t even play on. After that video shoot though, Ace was no longer in the band.

Kiss was basically a trio for this whole album. Additional musicians and songwriters were brought in to help them write and record this album. Michael James Jackson was brought in as the producer and Michael had worked on the four new songs used on the ‘Killers’ album early in the year. They went in to the studio with the sole purpose of bringing back the heavy rock. Paul’s writing friend, Adam Mitchell, was back to help as well as Jim Vallance, Bryan Adams and Mikel Japp. All these guys co-wrote on the ‘Killers’ album, so it stands to reason that all these songs for both ‘Killers’ and ‘Creatures’ were part of the same writing sessions.

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Creatures of the Night’ (1982) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Slaughter – The Albums Ranked Worst to First

Founding members Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum were in a little band called Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion.  When that imploded due to its namesake, they decided to form a new band and they liked Mark’s last name and so it became Slaughter.  The decision was easy because the VVI label, Chrysalis, just transferred the Invasion contract to them and let them form a band. Pretty easy!!  They added guitarist Tim Kelly who has since passed away in 1998 and drummer Blas Elias.

The band put out 5 albums over their career from 1988 to today.  The band showed up on the scene with their first album in 1990 and their second came in 1992. The problem was not the albums, but the timing.  The market was so oversaturated with these 80’s Rock bands that the tide was turning. Grunge showed up on the scene and wiped them out of existence on MTV and the radio.  But they didn’t stop.  The continued to release albums throughout the 90’s and maybe someday we will get a new one.  For now, we will discuss and rank their 90’s output.  I hope you enjoy.

THE WORST – ‘FEAR NO EVIL (1995):

The band’s third album was called “Fear No Evil” and released in 1995.  I had already checked out by this time and didn’t even know they had an album.  Listening to this now, it really isn’t that bad.  They don’t really have a terrible album. This one sounded like the first two, but I think the biggest problem was Mark’s vocals were a little more shrill then usual.  Mark’s vocals are a little different and not for everyone. They never really bothered me except this one was a little too much. Continue reading “Slaughter – The Albums Ranked Worst to First”

Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review

A month ago, local record shop Hardy Boys Records bought a Kiss collection and offered up for sale. Everything was going to drop on that next Saturday at 10am. I got up, showered, dressed and headed out the door and arrive about 9:50 and luckily only one person was in line ahead of me.  Great conversations were had about our love for Kiss. I picked up 6 different Kiss pieces that were not in my collection one was this Bootleg called The Tickler.

‘The Tickler’ is an independent released bootleg of the bands concert from the Scandinavium which is in Gothenburg, Sweden.  The show was on the Lick It up Tour and dates to November 18, 1983.  It isn’t the full show as that show had 17 songs.  This one is only 8 songs and 2 solos including Gene Simmon’s bass solo and Vinnie Vincent’s guitar solo.

The bootleg is limited to 500 copies (no, it’s not numbered).  It has the green cover as there is one with a red cover floating around as well.  The packaging is very limited.  you get the horrible black & white photos on the front and back of the album jackets is blank.  The labels on the vinyl are pretty basic black with an A & B on each side and the name of the label, Roxy Records.  No special inserts or any bonus items.  Plain and simple.  My guess this came out in the 80’s.  Now the copy I bought was sealed, but to me that is a complete and utter waste.  I want to hear it, so I opened it and played it…SUE ME!!! Continue reading “Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review”

The Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Years)

Thanks to the Kiss Box Set Series I reviewed and most especially, Disc Four (which covers the 80’s), I have been on a Non Make-Up Era Kiss fix of late..  I have been playing all the albums and I am even getting Greg Prato’s book “Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked” for Christmas (Review in January 2020).  So, I figured why not do a list of my favorite Kiss songs from that time and here we are.  I am going to cover the albums from ‘Lick it Up’ in 1983 to ‘Carnival of Souls’ in 1997 and although I included the cover to “Thrashes, Smashes & Hits’ on the post header picture, there are no songs from it as the two new songs are really, really bad.

So, why wait any longer.  Here are what I say are the Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Era)…

#20 – “Master & Slave” off ‘Carnival of Souls’ (1997)

I had to have one song from ‘Carnival of Souls’ which is not a good album, but there was one song I did like and that is “Master & Slave”.  It was written by Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Curtis Coumo.  When you hear it, it is not normal Kiss.  This is dark, brooding and completely centered in the Grunge era (which was a couple years too late).  I liked the biting guitar work from Bruce and it is something completely different.

#19 – “Thou Shalt Not” off ‘Revenge’ (1992)

I really like a lot of Gene’s songs and there are quite a few on here despite Paul still leading the pack.  The ‘Revenge’ album was a return to glory for Gene as he seemed lost for a few years.  This is Gene, plain and simple.  It is heavy and sounds evil which is just what the doctor ordered.  The guitar solo is just as menacing as the rest of the song (good job Bruce).

Continue reading “The Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Years)”

Kiss – The Box Set – Album Review (Part 1 of 6)

I didn’t buy this when it originally came out as I was not a in a good music place at the time.  My music buying was limited.  So, now that I wanted it, I had to search for it, find one in good condition and find it at the right price as some of the prices were RIDICULOUS!!!

Lo and behold, I was at a record show here in Charlotte and a guy had one for sale.  Actually, he had two.  One was in the guitar case, CDs still sealed and had the hard back book, but I didn’t want to spend that much dough, when I could get this version for a fraction of the price. Plus, I wasn’t paying a premium for sealed CDs as the seal doesn’t last long on my collection. I listen to my music.  As much as I want the guitar case version, my wallet decided this was the better way to go. Sometimes my wallet is smart and other times, he wants to spend, spend, spend.

The Box Set by Kiss was released on November 20th, 2001 and consists of 5 CDs spanning their entire career (up to that point) and a paperback photo book which we will get to in a minute.  I will review all 5 CDs individually over 5 different posts over the next couple of months.  For now, we will talk about the overall box set and the packaging.

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The CD’s span different eras of the band and there are 5 discs full of music.  The Box Set includes 94 tracks,  which consists of 30 previously unreleased band and solo demos as well as outtakes and live recordings.  The other 64 tracks are songs selected from each of the band’s albums except for Gene’s solo.  From that one you get a demo.

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That is a lot of stuff.  Here are the discs…

Disc One: 1966-1975

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Disc Two: 1975-1977

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Disc Three: 1976-1982

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Disc Four: 1983-1992

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Disc Five: 1992-1999:

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PHOTOBOOK:

You also get a 120-page color booklet that contains track-by-track commentary by the band, detailed track information, photos and essays.  I loved the commentary and getting all the tidbits of information on the songs.  The pictures are stunning and the book is really high quality as it is with everything the band does.

Here are some pictures…

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I had to have my daughter hold it open to take the pictures as the book hadn’t really been viewed and was nice and stiff.  I was able to edit out her fingers.

The package comes in a nice box with a red velvet insert to hold the disc.  It is really a nice little set up.

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And then on the spine of the box, the Kiss logo is in engraved into the fabric for a nice shiny feel.  You can feel the grooves.

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For the packaging and the photobook, I will give the set a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars.  It is what you would expect from a Kiss Box Set. Now for the music, I will review over the next 5 posts and rate each disc separately and then a final Overall Score on the last post.  There will be 6 parts overall (this is part 1) to this series and I hope you enjoy them all as much as I will going through them.  Thanks for stopping by and until next time, have a great day!

The 6 Part Series:

  1. The UnBoxing
  2. Disc One: 1966-1975
  3. Disc Two: 1975-1977
  4. Disc Three: 1976-1982
  5. Disc Four: 1983-1992
  6. Disc Five: 1992-1999