KISS – Heaven, Hell or Houston?

Who better than KISS to round out a 40-year catalog with no less than 5 songs with HELL in the title.  Indeed with KISS, even “Heaven’s On Fire”.  Like a lotta rock, KISS bleeds biblical references, consider offerings like “‘Thou Shalt Not”,  “On The 8th Day”, “Unholy” and “God Gave Rock & Roll To You”.  KISStorian ranks KISS’s journey ‘Runnin’ With The Devil’.

HOTTER THAN HELL — Street-wise Stanley burns ya like the mid-day sun … KISS’s industrially murky “Cross Town Traffic” has one of the best outros in rock history with the duel-panned Frehley solos wailing out on the fade … Yes, HTH is as close to KISS HEAVEN as HELL gets, rivaling ACDC’s “Highway To Hell” as the best rock cut with HELL in the title, all-time. The groove on the live version on Alive is KISS at it’s very best …rip rip, rip & destroy!!!

ROCK & ROLL HELL — Gene seems to think it’s his destiny, whether he wrote it or not, and sings RR HELL like he owns it,  perhaps because he really did want out of the KISS biz circa ’82. Certainly Ace left to save his soul, leaving Dr. Love to contemplate who was Saint and who the Sinner. One could argue that Creatures of The Night marks the Demon’s final serious salvo …soon he would wander the wastelands, no longer Lord.

I’LL FIGHT HELL TO HOLD YOU — Pure 80’s super-Paul travels to the brink to be bye your side in this diabolically good Crazy Nights cut…There was never a video made for HELL TO HOLD YOU, but one can easily visualize it’s cinematic MTV potential appeal …I see Paul braving heavy terrain, high winds, torrential rains, eventually reaching the mountain top, searching for the lost Xanadu. The Starchild has our backs.

HELL OR HIGH WATER — Gene’s best cut off Crazy Nights and my favorite Bruce Kulick rock hunt, HELL OR HIGH WATER may be the only Simmons song in which he admits having his feelings hurt. But nobody puts Gene in the corner, he let’s you know in the festive, feel good doo-wop bridge ….”Baby don’t doubt it, ain’t no doubt about it” …considering he’s willing to brave HIGH WATER potentially, I find it down right heart-warming that the ‘Man of 1,000 Faces’ considers facing HELL to boot if need be.

SOMEWHERE BETWEEN HEAVEN & HELL — Gene’s put you in purgatory, and he’s so hungry… ‘SOMEWHERE’ somehow worked on Hot In The Shade but the lyrics are so cheap novel cliche Simmons, and the hook so KISS sleepy, that it made us all long for days of yore when Gene was a Demon, not the ‘Albatross’.

 

10 worst KISS songs of all-time

Behold, the ying ‘n yang of KISS; the clunkers that have become the KISS Army’s crosses to bear. Sure, there are others that deserve mention but these each have enduring cringe-worthy moments that are hard to shake. I spared the boyz their solo efforts out of respect for all that is humane. What are your ten worst?

“LONELY IS THE HUNTER” (Animailze)  I too get a cold KISS reading (ha-ha, ooh-yeah!). So you’re my one and only AND lonely is the hunter?

“NO, NO, NO” (Crazy Nights)  ‘Nuff KISS stuff said …please stand down, Demon.

“BANG BANG YOU” (Crazy Nights)  Paul plays the KISS villain where loves a crime, like this KISS chorus.

“MY WAY” (Crazy Nights)  See, again, in the KISS danger zone (IE with Nevison behind the board) it’s a fucking jagged edge we climb people.

“CADILLAC DREAMS” (Hot In The Shade)  A cool KISS concept but a lousy KISS ride.

“KING OF HEARTS ” (Hot In The Shade)  I do get KISS happy feet in the verses like with most Stanley numbers but this chorus is a bridge to far.

“TOUGH LOVE” (Revenge) “KISS hot-line, hello? I’m sorry …you were calling Dr. Strangelove or Dr. Feelgood?”

“EVERY TIME I LOOK AT YOU” (Revenge)  To me this is KISS Kryptonite and with it, no powers.

“YOU WANTED THE BEST” (Psycho Circus)  An Ill-conceived farce of a KISS song only just saved by Ace’s guitar.

“NEVER ENOUGH” (Sonic Boom)  A very good KISS album without this damning ode to, of all posers, Poison.

 

 

KISStorian ranks the ‘unmasked’ studio albums

KISS_LickItUp-costumes2Helmets tight KISS Army …I sat and looked at the album covers, accessing the part of my brain that governs KISS related decisions to figure out which album I really wanted to listen to most, and 2nd most, and so on and so forth. A short blog piece on a Herculean task. Please forgive me.

LICK IT UP > back on the streets  …hey, hey have you read the news? this album is as good as Creatures of The Night and is the make-over that saved the KISS brand.

ASYLUM > alive n’ kickin’ …guh-guh, guh-guh, guh-guh, guh-guh get the message sugar: Asylum is Kulick/Carr KISS hitting their best 80’s stride.

ANIMALIZE > once bitten, twice shy …Stanley’s triumph in fret-frenzied St. Johns wood; had Simmons given a damn, or Vincent remained on-board, Animalize might have been as good as LIU.

REVENGE > cult of personality …KISS was cool again but I’de give the album higher marks were it not for Stanleys somewhat labored contributions under the rose w/ Ezrin.

HOT IN THE SHADE > these happy days are yours and mine …KISS lighten up to become almost human with “Forever” and a fun album.

CRAZY NIGHTS > desperate, but not serious …KISS buffed to 80’s money-shot oblivion by the grace of Nevison’s hand. 

CARNIVAL OF SOULS > return to sender …unmasked KISS fade to black with a grungy dirge.

 

 

 

 

KISStoric time travel now possible!

KISS Time Machine4Sources close to KISStorian.com are reporting that Abner Devereaux is back to his old tricks and has been working feverishly on a machine in which he will be able to travel back in KISStory!! Long exiled for his transgressions at Magic Mountain, it is now feared that he may make good on his promise to “derail this Psycho Circus whatever it takes”. I hereby implore the KISStoric Galactic Council as well as our friends at KISS Army Alpha Minor (and all their affiliates) to hear ‘n take heed of this very real ‘Abner Alert’. I have a few coordinates of my own I wouldn’t mind punching into Abner’s fantastic machine:

kiss-portrait-1977-photo-GCJanuary ??, 1973 > Oh to time traveler back to the first time all four original KISS founders jammed together when Ace Frehley auditioned for the band.  Imagine hearing “Deuce” with Bob Kulick on lead and watching a spaced Frehley, in two different colored sneakers, walk over nonchalantly and plug-in mid-song to the dismay of Gene & Paul. “Sorry curly” Ace was reported to have said when rebuffed by the even-then domineering Simmons. In No Regrets Ace admits he chugged a couple tall boys before venturing in to try out for the role of “guitarist with flash and balls”.  Good thing Abner has been unable thus far to intervene via his time machine and introduce a Bob Kulick clone with long hair for it may alter KISStory forever …AWK!!

o_kiss-live-1983-san-francisco-creatures-tour-cd-r-7774April 3rd, 1983 > Ah, the last date of KISS’s ’10th Anniversary Tour’ in support of Creatures Of The Night with the new line-up and, most notably, no Ace Frehley on lead (despite his being on the album cover). Given the poor attendance of the tour and tepid sales of the record, it would be interesting to check-in on the vibe backstage after the show in San Francisco that night. Sure, KISStory tells us that they would still play a few South American dates in their face paint before their true unmasking on Lick It Up but this Creatures US jaunt was almost curtains for the band. Simply have Abner flip a switch and this might have been the last KISS concert ever, in the US or anywhere. San Fran was no treat for the Sex Pistols either who played their final show there in January of ’78. Pretty vacant.

thNovember 27, 1984 > What a long strange trip it’s been …. especially in the Animalize portion of KISStory with when KISS briefly had two lead guitarists in the late great Mark St. John & now long-time KISS’r, Bruce Kulick.  This evening in Baltimore seems a little like an alternate KISS universe. It was the night that both Kulick & St. John played with the band, ultimately joining each other together on stage to take the encore bows with Gene, Paul & Eric ….as a 5-piece!!!! Whether there were actually 5 KISS members playing on stage together at the same time at any point seems highly unlikely but, if you were there, please set us straight dude!. It’s reported that St. John only played three nights stateside before being ultimately let go. This would have been the last of those three and apparently enough pudding for Gene & Paul to make a decision. Foiled again, Abner.

2d37aeddcabbcda78b86599bd82e2ab7March 8th, 1985 > Ace’s first show after KISS with Frehley’s Comet at the L’Amour Club in Brooklyn. The bootleg was a childhood prized possession I got on cassette by mail from the New England Kiss Collectors Network back in the day. I love when Ace says “like dig it man ….it’s like such a ….great pleasure …to play for you people … I haven’t been on stage in years … it’s the fucking worst!! … but the reception I’m getting from you people just makes it all that much better” .. early Comet, before the album, with Richie and Arthur and Anton and John. A hot night for rock & roll. The energy in the room may have been enough for Abner to defect and become a ‘Rock Soldier’ …or did he spike Ace’s drink?

March 30th, 1986 > I was actually at this show, but wouldn’t mind going back! No sign of Abner, but we felt his presence as there was a snake there that night (but it was opener King Kobra). This was the night on the Asylum Tour that KISS played Hammond, Indiana. Only problem was it was Easter Sunday and local Church officials rallied to protest the show and all things KISS. Me and my bro tried to talk to a few of the ‘church elders’ about our ‘KISS Elders’ but they weren’t having it. KISS was, as they put, “what’s wrong with America”. Abner’s sentiments exactly.  The universe handed me a free photo pass that night so, had I seen Abner backstage, he would have been a goner or at least questioned severely … “okay, Abner, what are you doing in Hammond man?”

It’s no wonder Abner wants to go back in KISStory: he may be the only one among us who could accurately see the future; a KISS with no original members.

5 best BRUCE KULICK KISS solos

As acropped-scan0014-51.jpg matter of fate, unfortunately Bruce Kulick is slightly land-locked in the 80’s because he had to wear so many fret-defying hats in KISS‘s post make-up, hair band phase. But Bruce is a guilty pleasure with no bad after taste who has done some excellent guitar work with KISS and beyond, especially on his solo disc BK3. But, as it relates to our furry fab four, these are this KISStorians’ top 5 of all time:

“HELL OR HIGH WATER”  – You get sizzle & steak on this ripping solo from Kulick. The high point is the Hendrix-infused long high bend that is, to me, the hottest shit he’s ever laid down. Say what you will about the production on Crazy Nights, in some ways it’s Bruce’s most succinct and dialed in 80’s sound. It’s consistent through-out and one of the most pleasing elements of the album. The fade out riffage is hot also. It reminds me a lot of his brother Bob to be honest and, by all accounts, this take is the Demon’s favorite Kulick shred on tape. Ripping Kulick.

“TEARS ARE FALLING” – Off the semi-screechy Asylum opus from ’85, Bruce’s solo here is A1, top-notch, super-melodic and ends on a searing jam of high notes that removes bras at Paul’s request (yeah, he produced it). The harmony guitar line is so cool — instantly singable, hooky, and a big part of the tunes appeal. Pure melodic 80’s Kulick.

“KING OF THE MOUNTAIN” – Also off Asylum, the Kulick solo here, and the extended outro jam out, is hairy and yet slick thanks to what seems like a long leash from Paul. Bruce managed to do some sweet Van Halenesque tapping and yet infuse the blues into his playing like the classics Clapton, Page, Beck, Hendrix and, dare I say, the original ‘Spaceman’ Ace Frehley. Majestic Kulick.

“FOREVER” – Though slightly saccharine for this KISStorian’s tastes as a number, Bruce really shines on an acoustic solo that elevates the song nicely (if not the entire Hot In The Shade album). I don’t think it could be improved on (though who wouldn’t love hearing the electric version he apparently did that ended left on the cutting room floor in favor of the keen radio-friendly approach). I am especially fond of the descending phrase at the end of the figure.  It’s so tasty a solo in fact that it is, musically speaking, a legitimately KISStoric highlight/moment. Classy Kulick.

“I WALK ALONE” – Bruce’s swan song on Carnival of Souls, and his only lead vocal with the lads, “I Walk Alone” is down right epic and recalls the guitar work of Queen’s Brian May. You can really feel the love on this track, perhaps more than any other KISS/Kulick effort. It’s a great song that is somehow in KISS’s wheel house and yet a little farther reaching in scope. If God Gave Rock & Roll to You and I, the fact that “I Walk Alone” made the record is a miracle of Biblical proportions; must have been the 8th Day? Amen. Epic Kulick.