Many KISStorians argue that Vinnie Vincent saved KISS but, any you way you slice it, it was ERIC CARR who saved KISS. The ride he took manning the drum fort on behalf of The KISS ARMY proves Carr was a true ‘Rock Soldier’ and, as The Elder would no doubt agree, indeed ‘worthy of the fellowship’.
And as much as he gave it his all for KISS and their fans when playing live, Carr’s studio work is what makes him “King Of The Mountain” as savior of the band. Shit, take any track off Creatures Of The Night — It’s Bonham meets the Demon & The Starchild and it sounds invincible! Even when KISS went soft rock on Crazy Nights, Carr remained heavy. He also wrote, sang, played bass, and made arrangement contributions on KISS material throughout his tenure with the band.
Even when the KISS experience soured for Carr personally, he never let it affect his level of devotion to the fans. He never, ever sucked. He was a pros pro and, by all accounts, one of the nicest guys on the planet. His only fault may have been that his heart was a big as his bass drum and he wore it on his sleeve. So be it, amen Eric.
Anyway, I moved recently and found this: my angry letter to Rolling Stone for ignoring his career. I share it with you on the Anniversary of his passing to give thanks to Eric for hanging tough when everyone else was jumping ship, Vincent included.
Me and my bro Rich were talking about Paul’s recent rather disparaging comments about Gene’s material in the 80’s. I can’t argue with his assertion that Gene was mailing it in here and there in terms of material and over all effort in the unmasked 80’s. It’s a pity Gene was so distracted after removing the facial facade because he simply contributed less tunes than Stanley with very few truly great tracks and certainly no workable singles …..but clunkers? The true measure of the quality of material is how it holds up today. Let’s see:
LICK IT UP – I can no fault with either the Starchild or Demon’s offerings on this mega rock opus that may be the best hard rock record of 1983, period.
ANIMALIZE – Some will roll there eyes here ‘cuz this album is so land-locked in the 80’s it’s hard to have any perspective on it that isn’t absurd but the only Gene cut here that really wears on me is “Lonely Is The Hunter” (even though it’s got the best guitar work on the record compliments of Bruce Kulick behind the scenes). I would say Paul’s “I’ve Had Enough” is a bit of a dog in on the LP also. “Burn Bitch Burn” may be a low point for Gene in terms of lyrics but I gotta say people, it rocks. Score: 1 to 1.
ASYLUM – Pretty cool album. but I’ve always hated “Trial By Fire” because it’s just so shitty, save the fun bridge which does makes one want to do the Demon head and tail wag a bit. “I’m Alive” is also a bit too much: we may enjoy it, but I would say it’s borderline at best. Score: 2 to 2.
CRAZY NIGHTS – Again, Gene’s output here is weak, but in terms of truly walking the plank, this is Paul’s baby and “My Way” and “Bang, Bang, You” are sub-par KISS cuts no matter how much gloss was added by Nevison. That said, they are over shadowed by the grim reality of Gene’s god-awful “No, No. No”….mercy. Score: Paul 4, Gene 3.
HOT IN THE SHADE – Welcome to the jungle people, it’s thick in here with KISS near hits n’ misses but the two pigs that really stand out to me today, as they did upon first listen, are “Cadillac Dreams” (Bruce, you we’re so right!) and desperate abomination that was “Read My Body”. The rest is survivable though the chorus of “Love You To Hate Me” and irksome but I’ll let it slide lol.. Score: Paul 5, Gene 4
SMASHES, THRASHES & HITS – Then of course we have the Stanley womanizers “Let’s Put The X In Sex” and “Rock Hard” but both tunes are catchy enough to escape banishment here I think. Since Gene contributed nothing here it’s hard to dock points. He was the only one of the two punching in at the office apparently.
In conclusion, sure Gene was AWOL and brought little to the table ‘unmasked’ that stands out today (save “Hell of High Water” and maybe “The Street Giveth” (Tommy Thayer take a bow)) but in the Demons wanderlust absence the Starchild birthed his own collection of 80’s muts. That said, I cut him slack and offer a tip of the hat because did what had to do to get us all through the 80s, though a tad darkly at times.
I bought this bootleg in London in 1986 and its a live recording from Wembley Arena December 14th, 1984. Fairly grim sound at moments but earphones on and the volume up helps quite a bit (duh). All n’ all they sound tight and Animalize spastic good. My bro and I refer to the speed at which they played on the Animalize tour as “habitrail mode” because it’s as if they had been set loose in a new habitat, running up and down ramps etc. like revved up guinea pigs on a mission to make the best of their ‘environment’. Both Gene & Paul are in strong throat though and singing with considerable gusto. Highlights include the intro with English Police sirens going off, a spirited “Detroit Rock City” as the opener, a Gene growl during “Cold Gin” that recalls the real Demon circa ’77 and a jaw-dropping (albeit shortish) version of “Whole Lotta Love” worth hunting down people. I don’t think Paul has ever sung it better. As the song ends, Paul screams out jubilantly ‘SEE YA TOMORROW!” It’s very rock & roll.
Congrats on BK3Bruce, are you happy with how it has been received?I am very pleased with the CD and the reviews and the fans reactions. They could all tell I really put my best foot forward shall I say. It has distribution but at the same time you can buy it from me. What concerns me are the BK fans who don’t know about it! They are missing out.
What is your favorite hook on the record?So many really…. I think “No Friend Of Mine” has a great hook and John Corabi really sells the song with his vocals.
How does the writing process work for you?It is different all the time, but it does usually start with just jamming something on the guitar and things start to happen. When I collaborate, things can really pick up speed quickly and suddenly there is a song.
Gene’s son Nick Simmons sang on the single “Hand Of The King”, is there any irony in that?I guess you could say the title has something ironic in it! He did a great job and it was his lyrics.
You have had a long relationship with ESP Guitars, why ESP?They are really like the LEXUS of guitars. Quality and durability. I have been using them for many years now.
Is Brian May of Queen an influence of yours?He is one of the best of the best. What tone and note choice. YES.
Have you gone full-on digital or is there still a place for analog in your world? I have my turntable out now! But recording-wise it is digital. I do use lots of vintage gear to record though…
Do you have a favorite Beatle? I would have to say Paul for his amazing body of work and talent, but John is there only a fraction behind him.
Any tips on surviving a world tour? Don’t eat the mayo! Seriously. Take care of yourself, and pace yourself. Traveling is hard sometimes.
You are ‘tweeting’, how’s that going for you? Good… I don’t do obsessively like some, but I do update things that are going on for me. Not the “what I had for breakfast” kind of tweets! But people want to know what’s up ~
Okay… Kiss fans are gonna freak on me one way or another but, when your a fan like I am, sometimes things in your KISSuniverse boil up on one topic or another and we feel the need to reach out to the Kiss Army; I now believe this to be normal. The web has its victims.
I was watching Animalize Live & Uncensored the other night for no other reason than, well… it was time to do so (again). Any way, I had an epiphany in Kiss /Bruce Kulick terms. Contrary to many a Kiss fans insistence that Revenge is the high tide mark for the humble shredder, I believe Kulick’s finest hour (minus the Blazefest in Chicago in which I heard him settle in a way that I wish happened more often) may just be this very hyper piece of Kisstory. Talk about a fuckin’ pro, Bruce Kulick stands tall like a redwood on this classic 80’s concert vid.
Bruce’s Achilles heel to me, and Gene & Paul might admit it if we were on a stuck together on the ‘Kiss Clipper’ headed for the eastern rim, is that he’s not a true “closer’. Maybe just ‘cuz he’s a mellow guy and not an type-A personality. Often the most important thing you say isn’t actually the first, especially in show biz and rock & roll. All the greats from Page on have asked, “but how do I get out” when they’ve got something going but know it’s all about how you end it. Guitar solos that is. Closing was Ace Frehley‘s forte = big space boots. This was the first time we were seeing Kiss on tv live, without make-up, without Ace and Bruce kicked ass.
For my buck, Bruce is better in the studio than live ….not on this Animalize evening in Detroit in 1984. Ironically, he almost seems more comfortable with the idea of being a random gunslinger than he was after being handed the lead duties full-on w/Asylum (even though, yes I know… take it easy, Bruce was already in the fold on Animalize the disc and played on a couple cuts, the best stuff on the disc too lead wise (see “Lonely is The Hunter”)).
At this stage of the game, Bruce had not a lot of time to think about it and played it straight from the heart — the result is Kiss at their 80’s finest on a particularly “hot nite for rock & roll!”. It’s so cool to watch now ‘cuz Bruce was literally “Under The Gun” on that Animalize tour: For outsiders, ‘BK’ was originally a fill-in for the late Mark St. John who, in a strange twist of fate, acquired a rare disease that affected his hands to the extent that he could no longer play guitar …just after having learned to play Kiss music on the bitchn’ Stanley-fueled Animalize. Go figure. I think most of us were excited about Mark at that point and figured Gene & Paul had done their homework and we were all systems go, then another Kiss-hiccup It took a while for that news to get out and so it was kinda like… uh, is that Mark St. John?
Bruce’s tone on the show isn’t my fave but at least he wasn’t overriding a chorus as he was later prone, practically a vocation for guitarists in the 80’s. At times though he sears and showcases some impeccable timing and picking. He’s super fucking well-versed in all things rock guitar, old school to the tapping that ruled the day MTV in the mid-80’s.
But know why he shines on this show most? Because he is playing the very role he was born to play – the underdog. Ace was similar in that regard, ultimately becoming a rock god “spacing out and having fun” in the role and big shadows of mega front-men Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley. Fans were always generally rooting for Ace, still are. Similarly, Bruce had nothing to lose and a sincerity about him that comes off his fretboard, especially here as he walked the “Kiss gauntlet” (Gene’s words) . To the KISS ARmy , Bruce was just some dude we didn’t even know, and thus Animailze Live & Uncensored a very cool live introduction, one in which he both rocked and didn’t suck; hard to do in ’84 when you think about it. Though it’s over simplifying things a bit, this is the day he won the gig for all intents and purposes. KISStory indeed!
In some ways Bruce Kulick saved Kiss when he became the lead player. He was the team player us Kiss fans could love and still miss Ace because, above all, it was clear Bruce ‘got it’ on every level. The storm was over and we felt secure again as fans. The ‘who-the-fuck-is-going-to-be-our-lead-guitarist’ crisis finally averted, Kiss would get back on an even keel with set line up until the loss of Eric Carr to a brain tumor in 1991. With Bruce now in place, Kiss was a true ‘band’ again for the first time since the original line-up really. In the wings, current guitarist Tommy Thayer must have observed Bruce’s low-key approach and used it to his benefit in filling in for the Space Ace.
Not one damn misstep best I can tell on this whole concert which was “GOIN’ OUT LIVE ON THE RADIO / BEING FILMED FOR AN MTV CONCERT!”. Best solo’s on it? Well, a few were semi-mimicked in one way or another but, over all (always gotta qualify shit with Kiss fans) Bruce does whatever the hell he wants to Kiss classics one after another, basically kicking the shit out of the material. I recommend “I Still Love You, “War Machine”, “Under The Gun”, “Thrills In The Night” and perhaps his laser tare on “Love Gun”? His playing “Black Diamond” is interesting too if not downright blasphemous: maybe his best ever solo w/ Kiss save “Hell or High Water” or “Tears Are Falling”. “Turn On The Night” and “Rise To It” are other Kulick favs of mine.
It’s clear on this show that Kulick locks in with the band seamlessly and, given the circumstances, never looks nervous or like he’s unsure he fits in. Not an easy gig to pick up. In modern terms, he really owned it. There must have been high fives all around backstage that night and later when they watched the show, Bruce made the grade in spades. Go ahead >>> log off and Animalize! back to ’84 for the best Kiss non-make-up era concert money can buy. Kiss fans owe a debt to Bruce …raise your glasses, people.