Posts Tagged ‘Paul Stanley’

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Where’s the firing sqaud ? Critics take aim….

1989 was indeed the year for hidden hearts. In that year, there were four artists alone who released versions of the Desmond Child/Paul Stanley penned epic, ‘Hide Your Heart’ – yet which one is the best ?

Hide Your Heart – although co penned by Stanley – is total Desmond Child, which means it sounds a lot like Bon Jovi – which is why Paul wanted in. In the second part of the 80s, he badly wanted KISS to be as big as Joisey’s finest.

Ironically, “Hide Your Heart” was originally rejected for Kiss’ 1987 album Crazy Nights, with Stanley offering the song to other artists, with Bonnie Tyler recording it first for her album Hide Your Heart. Kiss’ version of “Hide Your Heart” is the third of four versions released in 1989. The first version was by Molly Hatchet on their album Lightning Strikes Twice, released on September 6. The second version was by Ace Frehley, featuring on his fourth studio album, Trouble Walkin’, which was released only four days before Kiss’ Hot in the Shade.  The last version of the song was by Robin Beck, released on November 9 on her album Trouble Or Nothin’.

The most two well-known versions of the songs are of course Kiss’ version, which appeared on their god awful album from 1989, ‘Hot In The Shade’, and Bonnie Tyler’s version, which was her biggest hit since ‘Total Eclipse Of The Heart’ – can’t have too many songs with heart in the title one might say. Tyler’s version was released on 9 May 1988, and was  produced by Desmond Child. Recorded in Woodstock, I think Joe Lynn also provided back-up vocals on her album. Bonnie’s version is good, but it’s not the best. You wanted the best ? As much as someone like Michael Brandvold would have you believe, Kiss’ version is not the best version of the tune nor a KI$$ classic. It was however, probably the best song off the Hot In The Shade album, and objectively, was the best thing Kiss had done since Animalize, although some pundits would also argue that Kiss had released nothing of significance after they took the grease paint off. ‘Hide Your Heart’ was a sign of better things to come for the unmasked marauders, with the Revenge album soon to follow, clearly Kiss’ strongest and most consistent album throughout the entire 1980s shootin’ match. Blinkered Kiss drones will no doubt disagree, but albums such as Animalize, the horrendous Asylum and Hot In The Shade were patchy at best. As has been written elsewhere on this blog, rock trailblazers in the 70s they may have been, Kiss were a featureless hard rock band in the 80s who followed the trends set by Bon Jovi. Desmond again.  Kiss were out of ideas, and with Hot In The Shade, were digging deep into the cliché bag. Gene produced such enduring song writing masterpieces as ‘The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away’, ‘Cadillac Dreams’, ‘Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Boomerang’. Bob Dylan eat your heart out.

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Kiss in Cairo? World Slavery Tour this ain’t.

In the live environment, things didn’t improve. Not only did you get the highly hackneyed Farter Pussycat opening the show, when the house lights dimmed, the large sphincter, I mean Sphinx on stage, opened its mouth and hundreds of laser beams shot out, while our four rock warriors stood posing number 9 in the silhouette…………and the children dance to the Pipes of Pan – Stonehenge. I guess Stanley figured that Maiden had had success with Egyptian mythology, so he reckoned this may be the path to take. Yet Paul forgot that Maiden were top shelf song writers, and lyricists, in a class all their own. Powerslave is based on Egyptian history. Kiss put sunglasses on the sphinx. Nuff said.

Hide Your Heart IS total Bon Jovi. How can it not be when it was penned by Desmond Child and follows his same successfully proven formulae of ‘big chorus rock anthem’.  If Desmond had of co-written this one with Jon and Richie – as opposed to Stanley – hypothetically, Hide Your Heart may just have climbed all the way to number 1. It is in the same league as Bad Medicine, You Give Love, Livin On A Prayer etc etc. I love those first two Desmond Child & Rouge albums by the way, Runners In The Night from 1979 in particular. I used to own both on vinyl and played them to death. Runners In The Night is a great hard rock record, clean hard rock with a stack of melody and originality, massive femme chorus’ AND three smoking hot brunettes. What was not to like ?  So Kiss’ version is better than Bonnie’s, and Paul probably thought he was headed for the pointy end of the hit parade with Jon and Richie – yet there were another couple of versions of ‘Hide Your Heart’ that surpass KISS’

Southern Rockers Molly Hatchet included a version of Hide Your Heart on their 1989 album, Lightning Strikes Twice, that stays pretty true to the original- yet is anything but southern rock, although the solo shreds. Incidentally, this was the first Molly Hatchet to be released without founding member Dave Hlubek, who recently passed away. Godspeed Dave.

Kiss’ former and most famous axeman – Ace Frehley included a version of ‘Hide Your Heart’ on his Trouble Walkin’ LP. Ace is not the world’s best vocalist – and his version of the song is not as polished as his former band mates, and that’s what gives it more appeal.

For a start – you can tell its Ace playing – it sounds like his Les Paul. Eddie Kramer’s production is not as lush as Desmond Child or as overproduced as Ron Nevison, thank God, and that gives his version more coarseness. Possibly, Ace was sozzled and not up to writing a decent hit – as the first two singles off this album were covers, Hide Your Heart, and ‘Do Ya’ an ELO cover. Just saying. As this was released at the same time as Kiss’ it caused Kiss konfusion in many circles – yet maybe Ace thought he too was gonna have a big hit with it. One can only wonder how both Ace and Kiss came to release versions of the same song on separate albums only days apart. Clearly there was no communication happening. Even the Beatles and Stones used to communicate with each other to make sure they didn’t  drop new albums at the same time. It mattered little. Ace would soon return to the clubs for a few more years before the 1996 KI$$ reunion.

Before I get to my preferred version of this tune, let’s put the magnifying glass over the third song writer of the tune – one Holly Knight.  Holly Knight was a native of the Big Apple, and was in a band called Spider in the early 80s (with Anton Fig on drums – there is always a KISS connection). Spider were managed by Bill Aucoin (more connections), and were on Dreamland Records, the record company of Aussie Mike Chapman, who encouraged her to move to LA and hone her skills as a songwriter. And that she did. She penned hits for Tina Turner, “Better Be Good to Me” and ‘The Best’ as well as Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield” . Amongst a slew of other songs she wrote, she also wrote a tune for Barnesy, “Between Two Fires” and the Divinyls ‘Pleasure and Pain’ which Mr Rockbrat probably already knew.

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Image (c) R. Beck

Which leads me to the version of the song which I consider to be the best – and that is Robin Beck’s version. Like Knight, Robin Beck was also from the Big Apple, and had been in the scene since the late 70s. She topped the singles chart in the United Kingdom in 1988, and Germany in 1989, with her single “First Time”, which had come to the public’s attention via its use in a Coca-Cola commercial. It has a big chorus, and is a big power ballad with a strong hook. Beck spent several years as a backing singer, supporting Melissa Manchester, Chaka Khan, and (Aussie) Leo Sayer.  Beck also contributed backing vocals to Cher’s “If I could Turn Back Time. Beck’s album from 1989, Trouble Or Nothin’ was, not surprisingly, produced by Desmond Child – so it was even less surprising that he snuck a version of ‘Hide Your Heart’ on there. Roll the dice again, surely one version has to fly right ? If not Bonnie, or Kiss, then maybe Beck ? Child  was no schmuck. Ca-ching. Incidentally – one of Child’s other tunes Beck recorded for this album was “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)” which Child wrote, and was recorded by Bonnie Tyler for her 1986 album ‘Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire’. The song was re-written as “You Give Love a Bad Name” for Bon Jovi after he was dissatisfied with “If You Were a Woman (And I Was a Man)”‘s chart success. Double ca-ching. Tommy and Gina, Tito, Johnny, Rosa – it all starts to get a little muddled after a while- yet not if you are picking up the song writing cheque. Plagiarism is not plagiarism if you are re lifting your own song right.

Beck’s version of Hide Your Heart  has considerable guitar muscle, but is not overly produced – and is lifted above the other versions due to her strong and gutsy vocal. She really belts this out. There is a lot of solid material on Trouble Or Nothin, and it’s worthy of your attention. She has a sturdy classic rock voice, and continues to release new music to this day. Its a shame her version of ‘Hide Your heart’ stiffed in the charts – no doubt cos there were so many other versions doing the rounds – notably by KISS who did get some chart action with their version. Couple of fun facts to finish with. Beck’s ninth album, ‘Love Is Coming’, will be released on October 13, 2017, and her husband is James Christian of House of Lords. For those with longer memories, Christian was in a Connecticut prog rock band in the 70s called  Jasper Wrath who were contenders for a while there.  Check out http://www.robinbeckrocks.com

So there you have it: In order

5. Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse of, I mean, ‘Hide Your Heart’ –

4. KISS – Hide Your Heart  

3. Molly Hatchet – Hide Your Heart

2. Ace Frehley – Hide Your Heart

1. Robin Beck – Hide Your Heart

 

 

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sladestToday I am giving Slade’s 1973 record ‘Sladest’ a thorough inspection – and damn it’s good. Actually it’s extraordinary ! What you are in fact all looking at folks – is the very first record I ever bought. See, me and the Cowboy used to spend many Saturday mornings as kids – perusing local school fetes, and it was on once such occasion, when I – at around 10 years old – shelled out around 50 cents for this guitar-charged classic. Suffice to say, when I got the wax home and spun it, I was addicted for life. The quality of hook-laden songs contained here is incredible – and I spent many hours as a kid – greedily drinking from the Slade well, whilst simultaneously reading over the booklet contained in this gatefold album.  Funnily enough, I have a distant memory of one of my sisters – (the one who let the side down when it came to rock cred) – mocking Dave Hill’s haircut. This misguided slur – made by someone who had dodgy albums by the likes of Bony M and Hall & Oates wedged in her K-tel Record Selector (not to mention sporting a do not unlike that of John Oates) – was most unwelcome. All hail Dave Hill – he has penned some of the most recognisable riffs of all time and is waaaaaay underrated. But where was I?  Oh yeah – just get a load of some of the tracks on Sladest: Cum on Feel the Noize, Look Wot You Dun, Gudbuy T’Jane, Skweeze Me Pleeze Me, Take Me Bak ‘Ome, Coz I Luv You, Get Down and Get With It, Mama Weer All Crazee Now. I mean, I know this was a Greatest Hits’ album, but sheesh – all tracks really are wonderful rock n roll songs, good time tunes, party tunes – a couple of them are bonafide anthems. No wonder that Slade were hugely influential on Simmons and Stanley from Kiss (not to mention helping themselves to the ‘Alive !’ title for their err live opus from 75 – Slade Alive ! was released three years earlier).  And as we would see some two decades later – Noel from Oasis would display his love of Slade through his music and songwriting.

In the 80’s – LA’s Quiet Riot would have massive success with a couple of Slade songs – main man Kevin Du Brow’s  vocals eerily like Noddy Holder. Not that I cared – I loved QR as much as Slade – and if you don’t own 1983’s Metal Health and 1984’s Condition Critical may the “Man With The Metal Mask” track you down. Fun fact: Quiet Riot form in 1973 – same year as ‘Sladest’ was issued. This record went to number one in both UK and here in Australia – and justifiably sat there for some time. Apart from Quiet Riot – I know of a couple of other bands to have tackled Slade tunage such as the aforementioned Oasis with Cum on Feel the Noize (which rivals the original) – and the horrendous Britny Fox who butchered ‘Goodbye T Jane’ back in 1988.

So there you have it folks – ‘Sladest’ – the first record I bought which ultimately has led me on an incredible rock n roll journey – which continues to this day. Go buy this and start your own   journey now !

Without a doubt – the BEST KISS album of all time, is quite possibly Paul Stanley’s ‘bootleg solo album from 2005.  From the man who penned such Dylan like lyrics as ‘You Make Me Rock Hard ‘, and ‘Uh All Night’  comes an album chock full of the man’s stage banter. Released in 2005, this  fan-made disc compiles 70 tracks worth of Stanley’s distinctive song introductions and on-stage banter. If it’s one thing KISS do well – its the cliche. Their music is cliched, their interviews are cliched, and of course, the on stage banter has more cliches than you can shake a stick at.  Just for you – ‘PEOPLE’. I said ‘ JUST FOR YOU PEOPLE!’ HERE IT IS – The best and only KISS album you really need. Get it here.  You can Google the artwork.

Just recently I re-read Cherie Currie’s bio, ‘Neon Angel’ and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was about to start reading Dee Snider’s ebook, when the cover of Bobbie Brown’s new kiss ‘n’ tell book caught my eye, as it would most red blooded males. Who says you can’t judge a book by its cover? Not in this instance anyway. The book is stacked with gossip and scandal, stories of sex, drugs and rock n roll – Hollywood style. For anyone who has fond memories of the late 80’s Hollywood hair metal scene – you may enjoy Brown’s recollections from that period. She was a little late on the scene though – following the path set by Tawny Kitaen and then, to a lesser extent, Susie Hatton. In fact, if you recall Poison’s ‘Fallen Angel’ video clip, where Hatton arrives in LA on a Greyhound Bus (no clichés there), gets into modelling, drugs and the decadence of the time – it could have almost been scripted for the real life Brown. A small town Southern girl from Louisiana, a Miss Teen winner who thought she’d try her luck in Hollywood in 1989 as a model. She was certainly the MTV video vixen – appearing in videos for Hurricane, Great White and famously, Warrant’s ‘Cherrie Pie’ – THE video that everyone remembers from that period right? It certainly made an impact and pissed her then girlfriend, I mean boyfriend Matthew Nelson off considerably. It had immediate impact. She was the video vixen that all the girls wanted to be – and all the guys wanted to nail. I remember seeing Kings Of The Sun once back then, and this video was played on the TV screen immediately before they came on stage. Everyone was glued to the screen. Yet like the hair metal scene, the blonde bombshell with the silicon boobs was soon gonna fall a long way. Unlike grunge though, which basically killed off the Hollywood Aqua net glam scene, it was drugs and a series of poor relationship choices that caused her to crash n burn (I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a tremendously original Sunset Strip poseur band by that name so go google it). You could argue that the pages are overfilled with a certain sameness – stories that revert between sex, drugs, sex, drugs, lousy relationships, sex, and drugs – and it could be considered to be somewhat shallow – but I doubt she ever intended to be a literary giant that would have her book disected by a weekly book club meeting. Yet if it’s juicy stories about rockers you want – then it’s a worthy read. There’s stories about Jani Lane, (who struggled to accept that there was no place for him in the shifting music landscape and battled his own personal demons), and Tommy Lee, (IMO – one of the most obnoxious scumbags of all time – with WAY over stated relevance), her nemesis and also silicon enhanced Pamela Anderson, Rod Stewart, Dave Navarro and plenty of others. She talks about parties with Kevin Costner, constantly being wasted on blow, how she thought the effeminate Paul Stanley was gay, and dalliances with the supposedly endowed Leonardo Di Caprio. At times it’s funny, at times it’s pitiful. How some have a moment in the sun and are on top of the world – and within a few short years it all slips through their fingers (or up their nose). The astute ones recognise their time is fleeting and squirrel some $ away – others don’t. I do have some degree of pity for Jani Lane, and the way his life turned out. He comes across as quite a pathetic, naive figure in many ways ie: splitting song writing royalties with all band members, his ‘friends’ – even though he wrote all the material – He drowned his demons with alcohol. She doesnt declare the incident he had been hiding for many years that was one of the root causes for his alcoholism – probably due to litigation threats. For what it is – this is her life story, and in spite of whatever else she has achieved in her life – she will always, most famously, be remembered as the ‘Cherry Pie’ girl. 5 out of 10.

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Finally – Mr Rockbrat finds the key to unlock Kiss’ ‘Asylum’

I was driving down the road doing 95 miles per hour recently, whilst streaming a Kiss radio station – as you do – broadcasting outta Greece no less (and before any Kiss zombie thinks ‘why is he listening to Kiss, when he is AWOL ? Fact is, obedient  Kiss-drone – that I still enjoy listening to the songs of the time when they were the ‘real deal ‘eg 73-79 – you geddit ? and seeing as how I know the back-catalogue, well, backwards – at least up to ‘Psycho Circus’ – it is good harmless fun). Lo and behold something recent was aired which I did not know – and I all but drove off the road  – it  musta been off ‘Monster’ and my god-it was hideous – filled with the absurd, rhyming clichés of which only the fat-winged, bass-playing tycoon could come up  with. Hilarious ! Don’t ask me the title either as researching it woulda meant devoting precious time to Kiss which is something I no longer do (apart from  scrutinising their back-catalogue – Ed). Anyway, as I was laughing out loud I thought ‘man, Simmons has written some stinkers over the years’ – and as I imagined  him in his castle – at his desk – surrounded by his gold records, with milk, cookies and thesuarus at the ready, I zeroed in on the ultra-weak ‘Asylum’ album (and primarily the sub-standard and cliche-ridden songs which he offered up at the time). You know folks the proof really is in the Kiss pudding – and it’s high time someone had a serious look back at this recording ! But first some vital facts – I indeed queued up and purchased this vinyl record (and cassette) the day it was released..late in 1985..and I loved it ! Put it on the Rockbrat Sanyo stereo when i got home I did, which is where it stayed for weeks and weeks. I was in Kiss heaven.Thing is, I never really questioned the material back then – it was Kiss, so it ruled, and that was that. Times have changed.  Apart from some blazing,  well-written Stanley-penned classics, I look back and shake my head at the thing. Hands up if  you play this album whilst running your hand over your Kiss albums ? Fess up Kiss-oids.

Thinking back – the band were really building up momentum in the mid 80’s….Lick It Up was  a solid – no-paint offering, followed up by the well received ‘Animalize’ (not surprisingly it was Stanley’s great songs which pulled it through) – and then, just when it was time to release a massive – non-makeup album…they relaese a record which sounds rushed and – dare I say it – as if not all team members  were giving their all. Klein….see me after school. How selfish of Simmons to think he could juggle an acting career, management company et al, whilst writing and producing other bands – AND also squeezing in time for Kiss ! That was not fair on the fans – and we deserved better … Shame on you. Some of the bass parts on this recording were even laid down by Paul and Jean Beavouir – (and to think Genie once stated that Frehley was not a team player). Anyway, this is pretty much a Paul Stanley solo album is it not ? Let’s open the box kids and take a look !

Opening track: ‘King Of The Mountain’  ? Great. Eric Carr’s thunderous drums were an amazing way to start the album. Song kicks major ass too – with some sizzling guitar work via Bruce Kulick, who co-wrote this with the Eisenite and Desmond Child. Actually, if Kulick had a ‘signature’ sounding solo style in his Kiss days, it is on this track. Second track in and surprise surprise, a B-Grade offering from Simmons. Plod plod plod, the tune begins with standard HM riffing and goes nowhere – no hook or chorus – and very un-memorable – except of course for Simmons retarded lyrics…are you sitting down folks ?…’I know you wanna cross the border and you know the doctor’s orders Well it’s better late than never, can’t stay innocent forever’. A genuine literary giant was at work here folks… but wait – there’s also ‘Why settle for seconds when you can have the best, So let me be your king bee, I want your hornets nest’ – it’s hip to quote Spinal Tap, so now seems like the right time – …treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry. Indeed.

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Kiss compete for most garish stage costume – Liberace just out of shot (photographer unknown)

‘Who Wants to Be Lonely’ is next up and you know something ? it’s simply brilliant – I loved it back in the day and it sounds superb in 2013 – aging very well indeed. this is one of Paul’s better vocals moments – shame he can’t sing like this anymore. Slotting Stanley’s well-crafted songs next to Simmons’ cliche-ridden demo’s only highlights how far apart the two Kissers were/are when it comes to penning memorable rock n roll songs. You can quote me on that. Like night and day. Case in point is Gene’s dreadful  ‘Trial By Fire’ –  lots of lyrics about rolling dices and tons of ‘oh yeahs’ – kinda ironic that he sings ‘Can’t listen to nobody else You just got to believe in yourself ‘, when in all reality Paul really shoulda said to him in the studio at that time  – ‘the songs you are offering up for this record are shit !’ Side A ended with ‘I’m Alive’ – not one of Paul Stanley’s better moments – too many  Kulick dive-bombs and annoying guitar wankery. I scratch my head when I think that astounding Stanley songs like Sword and Stone have never been officially released and could replace bran muffins like this track – which actually sounds like something he penned whilst writing ‘Under The Gun’ the year before. The song however, does includes some of Paul’s most heart-felt lyrics in ‘don’t need no doctor puttin’ me to bed – give me the nurse and I’ll make sure that she’s fed’ P-lease. Time to flip the vinyl kids.

Fortunately, there are only two Simmons songs  – but unfortunately, one of them kicks off Side B. Yes Kiss-guru, I am aware that  the tune
‘Love’s a Deadly Weapon’ had been around for some time, apparently as an ‘Elder’ demo from 1981. So can I surmise from this, that he only had old demo tapes to offer ? Simmons really brought nothing of any quality to the studio for Asylum did he, apart from a bag of shit (his big fat book of clichéd songs). This song is average hard rock at best – something you’d find on any faceless metal band’s album of that era –  and it is laced with more of Kulick’s annoying widdly widdly, fast-fisted antics. Horrendous stuff.  Yet once again, Paul Stanley’s Tears Are Falling – the album’s first single – saves the day. One of the best thing Eisen ever wrote. An out an out rock n roll classic .  The final Simmons stonker is ‘Secretly Cruel” . How can someone be ‘secretly cruel’ anyway ? What exactly does this nonsensical phrase actually mean ? This is without a doubt one of Kiss’ most woeful recordings. Plod plod zzzzz – it’s about as interesting as watching golf on TV – and as for his immature lyrics – these are some of his most cringe-worthy: ‘I saw my pictures hangin’ on her wall  She cut it out of that magazine It was a hot day she wore lingerie  And nothin’  else in between’. Huh ? In between ? Since when do women wear apparel under lingerie ?! Rhyming ‘between’ and ‘magazine’ – good effort there Shakespeare – it makes no  sense, but if it rhymes, who the hell cares ? It gets better – ‘She had long hair and thigh high, snake-skin boots, And she was all over me like a cheap suit’. Vomit. His half-arsed  contributions to Kiss at this time can be seen in his lyrical efforts from Asylum. Want more ? ”Then she bared herself, and stripped my soul, Began to shake, rattle, and  roll, Then I took control’ – of course you did – you big-wigged stud. ‘She began to shake rattle and roll ?’ What, she put some Bill Haley on the turntable ? huh ??? The most embarrassing  lyrics are at the end – with ‘Well she grabbed my hair(!)  and I began to rise, I could  tell what she wanted by that look in her eyes –  I said, “Come here babe and make it quick” She said, “Not so fast” and had a drink’.  Woeful. What was he thinking ? Maybe a studio prankster hid some hash in his cookies ? A baby gibbon could conjure up something better than this uninspired crap. ‘Simple Simon met a pieman going to the fair’ – yet I digress.

‘Radar For Love is another unnecessary filler and if I wanted some Led Zep-inspired tunage  I’d go play Great White or Kingdom Come and not this. Hard listening. Track ten “Uh! All Night” is musically fine – but lyrically absurd…..on a song which would’ve had the good Reverand Gilstrom shaking his head – ‘gonna drive my long steel missile, down on your love channel – deep deep you’ll beg for more, raising hell and serpent score, feel me feel me’. Fun-nee. Rock n roll / sex lyrics are often non-sensical, but what was Stanley meaning – something about  ‘well there’s just one thing that money can’t buy ?’ All Charlot the Harlot asked for was 15 quid. Right ? Whatever. Kulick’s solo is a ripper by the way.

And there we have it. A (former) Kiss fan who finally is speaking the truth about Kiss’ Asylum album. In all honesty,  I would give this record 4 out of 10, if only for the Stanley-written numbers, and that is being really generous. What do you devoted Kissers think ? C’mon, be honest now ? One thing I have always found amazing about Kiss fans (and I was one of them).. is that they are so loyal, so accepting…. even if some of the bands’ material is substandard, like here on Asylum. Why is that ? Surely Kiss are not above criticism. Right ?  Right ? I am not going to mention the fashion sense of the band during this time period either. Cos, you could write a whole book on that subject ! 1985 was a long time ago – a lifetime ago, but it’s easy to see why kids were attracted to albums like Metallica’s  ‘Ride the Lightning’ over this crap… that’s not fair is it. Mr Rockbrat only speaketh the truth. Gene Simmons has written some anthems over the years and is a fine songwriter – however, the 1980’s were not some of his better years, lyrically at least. He also produced rubbish on 1984’s Animalize (Burn Bitch Burn, Lonely Is the Hunter, While the City Sleeps, Murder in High-Heels, and continued his run of sub-standard  fillers on the album which followed Asylum, Crazy Nights (“No, No, No”   “Hell or High Water”  Good Girl Gone Bad”). But I have gone on record as saying that it wasn’t until I first heard the track ‘Betrayed’ from 1989’s Hot In The Shade that I knew Gene Simmons was ‘back’, and I stand by my comment. Most of you would agree with me. I personally think he reached his creative peak as a (non-make-up era) songwriter on Revenge. As for Asylum – it sure has it’s moments, both good (Paul) and bad (Gene) but let me end the review with a question. If this was indeed Kiss’  first ever recording, do you seriously think they’d still be around today? Answer =  ‘No, No, No’ !

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hang onto your wigs – we’re doing a ‘live’ video

Some facts – I owned this thing back in the day. The day – as in 1985. Can I say that ? I wonder how that rates in this world of ‘Kiss cool’  where, it is how old you were when you got into Kiss, which gives you the serious cred amongst your fellow Kissers…you know what I am talking about here – the ones who fudge the truth a little (the Cowboy wrote about it recently and you hear it now and again on Kiss podcasts) “I got into Kiss in 1975 when I was five years old” Sure you did. Most children that age are still content to play with cars, crayons and horses, yet it would seem some supercool kinderbrats – (back in 1975 at least), had their ears to the ground   and were dissected the Dressed To Kill album. P-lease. So what if you got into Kiss in 1988 ? Where’s the shame ? Ahhh I get it, gotta look the goods amongst the older (and no doubt wiser) Kiss fans/disciples  who jumped on board the Kiss train in the 70’s …..but Mr Rockbrat digresses.  This fondness for the make-up era attracted a large part of the Kiss audience in the 80’s, be in no doubt about that. As a Kiss droid, I recall seeing an advert for this in a copy of Circus magazine and all but peed my pants. Apart from a seldom-seen VHS copy of the Kiss film venture ‘Attack of The Phantoms’, there was nothing ‘officially’ released to slam into our family’s video player. So when I bought this, I was indeed – in heavy metal heaven. Last night, I decided to re-watch this show – step into my DeLorean as it were – the date set to 8th December 1984 and the place – Detroit’s Cobo Hall. Ponder this – only the year before – Kiss were still recognisable head turners – stomping around in platform boots and face-paint on the Creatures of the Night Tour. Flash forward a mere three months later and they play their first ‘unmasked’ show – in Lisbon, of all places. The capital city of Portugal, rich in culture and history/kisstory – and setting for the very first Kiss show without the costumes. That tour was in support of the Lick It Up record, followed by the Animalize platter…which brings us back to winter in Michigan in 1984. Kiss were – though I couldn’t see it back then – let me use the ‘F’ word – faceless. Just another hard rock band out on the road trying to get bums on seats. As you will have gathered – laughter (piss taking) is something Mr Rockbrat takes great delight in, especially with New York’s finest – and there is plenty to scoff at here:
Spinal Tap was released in March of 84. If $immons saw it, he was surely dozing through it and missed the joke. Though I bet Stanley didn’t get the joke. Serious business the one he’s in.  reckon that around this time period, only Krokus, Quiet Riot and Pretty Maids (along with Biff and pals in Saxon of course) rivalled Kiss in the field of looking ridiculous. I’ll get to the frivolity in a moment, but first, let’s go over the set list:

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It ain’t a crime to be good to yourself…

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Kiss my ass – indeed !

‘Detroit Rock City’ was the obvious opener, but the Frehley-penned  “Cold Gin” at second song was not. It remained in the set for years and I ain’t really sure why as it was never a stand-out. I couldve done without  “Smell The Glo…err I mean “Fits Like a Glove” and also ‘Under The Gun’ from the record they were touring. As for airing b-grade HM fodder like Young and Wasted ? Unnecessary – especially when you think about the amazing back catalogue of tunes they got to choose (ahem) from. oh that’s the old Kiss, I geddit. The excruciating I Still Love You is like watching paint dry and by continually including it in the Kiss set year after year, indicates that an egomaniac (with a purple aura) was at work. Black Diamond is one of my favourite Kiss tunes and it is great here, unlike the tiresome ‘Love Gun’  or their anthemic set-closer, which I will not name as I am sick to death of it. Simmons used to have that annoying way of singing it too – veering from the original recording with his own – “we’ll drive you (pause) cray…..zeh”. Overall a fairly weak set, though back in the day I wore out the tape. It ruled man – or unreal – as we used to say (that’s late 70’s speak for ‘fully sick’). Little did I know, as we all didn’t, that some of the audio was apparently touched up in the studio. More Kiss trickery from wizards Gene and Paul. Still, when you’d faked Alive! and Alive 2, what did it matter anymore ? According to some sources, some  (if not all) of Stanley’s vocals were overdubbed for a cleaner audio sound. Is it any wonder with all the dancing and prancing he used to carry on with back then ? He can barely stand still at the mike. Actually his dancing is fucking ridiculous and at times he resembles an epileptic string puppet. He is constantly kicking and prancing and it is damn hysterical. No one takes themselves more serious than the Eisenite. The Cat (in his excellent new book) mentions that Paul would strangely grab his own ass on stage at different times – like tonight. Check the Starchild out when, during his long-winded Love Gun intro, he actually turns his backs to the audience and fakes making out !? Like Ralph Malph used to do on Happy Days sometimes. Bizarre. Maybe he was lost without his black star and diamond vest ? His bass playing buddy sure as hell was. $immons must be the least athletic guy in town so him performing those high kicks is a riot. Shame he didn’t fall on his ass and dislodge that dead cat he was wearing. Bruce Kulick was competent but had the stage presence of an oak tree….amd his solo’s have no feeling…compare the solo in Black Diamond to Frehley’s (actually no one will ever fill Ace’s boots or match his sound). Eric Carr – as always gave his all….even during an unneccesary drum solo – nothing against Carr, I am just against drum solo’s full stop. As for solo’s, could Paul Stanley get away (ahem again) with a guitar solo ? I mean, really ? Yes, he was far more competent in 84 than 74, but since when do rhythm players get a solo ? I will not even mention Gene’s (are they leather diapers he is wearing ?) boring bass solo. A bass solo !? Billy Sheehan ? Sure. Stanley Clarke. uh-huh. Gene Klein ? No way….and he needs the accompaniment of the former Fox to come to his rescue. Should I mention the women’s underwear ? I mean really – there is so much of it draping the mike’s and guitar necks that they could’ve opened a lingerie shop. Ladies and Gentleman, Spinal Tap. Note that at one point Stanley tells the crowd ‘this place looks like a damn zoo’. Yet when it came to that tour’s stage threads,  the band in fact are wearing more leopard and tiger print garb than the big cats at the nearby Detroit Zoo (which is an improvement on the spandex and knee pads from the previous tour). Yes, Kiss Sherlock , I am aware Animalize had animal skins on the jacket sleeve…. Looking back this performance is good at best. I was fond of this line-up – they were together for a few years, but looking back – the charisma just ain’t there. Criss, Frehley and the 70’s peak were a looming shadow, and long since passed. Kiss had morphed into a faceless heavy metal act – a stereotypical HM band cranking it out for largely male dominated audiences.. In 85 I dug it, but now I can see through olderize. It is fun to watch, though I could not get through all of it. Before any Kiss drones get all flustered about my thoughts – don’t take it all to heart. After all, they’re just another rock n roll band. Merry kissmas folks.

Credit: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images Europe

Hang onto your wigs folks – this price tag is gonna hurt ! Credit: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images Europe

Clever Australian comedian Norman Gunston – (when interviewing then KISS manager Bill Aucoin on the 1980 tour) cheekily asked if the band wrapped the price receipt inside the package when KISS merch was sold. Amusing and not that far off the mark.  Just when you thought it was safe to smash open your KISS piggy bank and count your hard-earned coinage, bankers $immons and Stanley are laying in wait with the tempting and weighty new KISS Monster book.  Launched recently in the UK, this 4 foot book is yet another example of a band sadly out of touch with what their fans want. Were fans really crying out for an item like this ? I mean, didn’t Kisstory 1 and 2 said all there was to be said ? So what are the contents of this latest piece of KISS ingenuity ? According to the press release  ‘a larger-than-life journey through 40 years of KISS, the greatest rock band in history!’. Greater than the Beatles or Stones ? Yeah right. Who the hell wants to see pictures of the two  imposters ? ‘It’s an investment’ reads the press spiel. No, that would be putting your cash into a high interest bank account. ‘Each book individually numbered and signed by the band !’ zzzzzz. Back in the mid-80’s you could start your own crappy Kiss fanzine and had easy access to Gene and Paul, but that all changed in 1996 when they became superheroes again). Limited edition flag designs – choose yours now ! (sorry only ten countries available) – if you are a Kenyan or kiwi Kiss drone I am afraid you miss out….buy if you live in Norway and Russia you get a flag cover….but Spain does not ? Have Kiss ever toured the USSR ? Another bizarre decision from the brain of the tycoon toad bassist. “Three feet tall and two and half feet wide! As tall as a guitar!” screams the headline ! Talking about Spinal Tap. Ridiculous. Where the hell do you store something like this ? Guess you won’t be reading  it on the bus ride to the office. Speaking of $immons, he has delved into his rich bag (ahem) of cliche’s to offer the accompanying quote “WHEN THEY SAY SIZE DON’T MATTER, THEY’RE LYING!” . His tired and worn-out one-liners are about as fresh-sounding as Kiss songs ‘Love Gun’ or ‘Shout It Out Loud’. I feel genuine pity for him nowadays. Thinking of buying one of these books ? Oh yes the price. How does a whopping US $4250 grab you ? Postage kindly included!  Words fail me. Personally, I can live without this and would be far happier spinning ‘Alive !’ and looking through the enclosed booklet from that.

oh and I don’t want to say I told ya so, but I can only say that if their upcoming new album Monster, is anything like the first single  ‘Hell or Hallelujah’ which was average at best, then Mr Rockbrat’s well-applauded prophecy – that this tired old gaggle of glam grandfathers should retire in 2012, will be accurate !