As a 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.
A little personal but hey, it’s a blog, not business. This is me and my bro Rich in a rowdy rock & roll moment at the KISS Rock The Nation Tour at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin, one of the greatest outdoor venues on mother earth. We were bummed Ace wasn’t playing but couldn’t pass on seeing them at outdoors at Alpine.
Together the two of us have seen every tour since ’84. This one would be on the bottom of the list if it weren’t for the fact that it was another chance for Rich and I to take another rock trip for rock & roll (people).
Like with a lot of you KISS fans, for me it is a family affair. Rich and I must have had some of the most cogent, long-lasting discussions of KISS known to mankind. We decided to pass on the urge to share our madness via the podcast medium as tempting as it was to unleash ‘The KISS Brothers’ but, alas, we leave that to the real “rock & roll fucking lunatics!”as Paul would say.
Anyway …..Alpine is where I had caught countless Dead and Allmans shows over the years and even a Bob Dylan & Tom Petty show. In fact my bro was there at SRV’s final show, when he closed the night with a monster blues jam between he, Clapton and Buddy Guy. It would be his coda. I remember talking with Rich about the show the morning after and then, when I grabbed the newspaper off the driveway, our total dismay at the news: while Rich was driving back to Illinois that night SRV died in a foggy helicopter crash.
back to KISS: Tommy Thayer did a fine job (as always) but some of the magic was lost; when the solo came I now found myself watching Paul or Gene, not ‘Ace’ as it were. If only the jackasses screaming “ACE!” weren’t there at all man ….I tried to tell them, but KISS is (by design) a medium for the masses not the enlightened, or ‘KISStorian’, among us.
Peter sounded dead to me and, at one point in “Firehouse”, Tommy came back to ‘jam’ with him and Peter would not look at him. It was a weird moment but, as I look back now, essential KISStory worth sharing.