KISStorian w/ LISA WHELCHEL on COLLECTORS CALL

KISStorians, I appeared on Easter on COLLECTORS CALL starring Lisa Whelchel, which airs Sunday nights at 9pm Central on MeTV nationwide, please check your local listings. I played an expert at KISS fanatic Zach & Melanie Vege’s home to help evaluate the total value of his hard-core KISS collection, a real treat for any KISStorian! WATCH KISSTORIAN / COLLECTORS CALL EPISODE

Zach had just about everything I don’t, I was transfixed by the scope of the presentation; a full basement dedicated to the history of the band. My favorite part of the day was when Zach unveiled his custom made KISS road case in which he cherishes all of KISS’s albums, on vinyl. Though not a fan per se, Lisa was struck by the fact that the guys had done 4 solo albums at the zenith of their true heyday in 1978, remarking “wow … so that had to have caused some friction in the band … whose sold best? Ahh… from the mouths of babes. Zach was quick to explain the situation.

I really hope the show is a huge success because Lisa and everyone involved in the production are awesome, please share with your friends!

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FREHLEY still celestial on “Spaceman” (E-One)

Now that the gloves are off, I thought it a good time to finally weigh in on the ever-rocking Ace Frehley‘s latest voyage, the self-produced Entertainment One release Spaceman, yet another aural sortie that finds the celestial one in a good place making vibrant new rock.

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, or have given up on new rock & roll altogether, you may need a wake up call — Ace Frehley is one of the few old school true hard rock cats left carrying the torch with any efficiency. In the past decade, Frehley has put out (countem’) four albums, all with stellar cuts & euphoric rock moments worthy of his ever-ascending pedigree and any playlist.

Reality is, a lot of folks sold out, gave up or can’t quite give a fuck enough to figure out how to get their fans new music. Ace …you know, the notoriously lazy drunken lay-about, decided when he got truly sober years ago to take over the main command deck, learn the new tech cold and bring it on home ….to his home studio. He’s cut out the flack and has been doing what he loves to do most, and you can feel it in his records; Ace is in his element. With what he’s endured, it’s a miracle he’s alive, not jaded and is still in love with rock & roll.

Spaceman may not be the very best of the four, but it’s f-close at moments and is as endearing as anything he’s ever released. In fact, when the final chapters of KISStory are written, I believe there a number of songs, sentiments & performances on Spaceman that will end up as major notches on the time capsule.

Relistening to it here today, a smile came over my face as I found myself breaking on through the turbulent atmosphere to the other side …kinda like the gravity that used to hold me down somehow just didn’t exist no more?!

The album features long-time, par-excellence Ace Frehley Band member Scot Coogan on drums on most of the record with the exception of the re-appearance of Anton Fig on “Pursuit of Rock & Roll” and guest jams by Matt Starr on “Rockin’ With The Boys’, “I Wanna Go Back” & “Quantum Flux”. Ace plays most of the guitars and bass, minus Gene SImmons’ singular playing on “Without You I’m Nothing” …count down’s comin’ on, here we go:

WITHOUT YOU I’M NOTHING > A ballsy, earnest rocker co-written with former band mate Gene Simmons that wouldn’t have worked (ie – been convincing) coming from Simmons or KISS. Frehley though knocks it out of the park with a great lead vocal, edgy semi-autobiographical verse lyrics and a bitchin’ solo that quickly re-affirms why you developed a taste for the Blue Koolaid way back.

“Now through the years, I’ve hit some walls, with no regrets .. when we’re apart I get the blues”” 

ROCKIN’ WITH THE BOYS > More straight talk from Ace delivered with customary ‘don’t sweat it’ chill. This one grows on you like a new pair of favorite jeans and the comfy feel continues into the solo as Ace eases back on the throttle, laying in behind the beat to get ‘back’ in NY groove.

We’ve had our differences, now don’t make a fuss, we’ve had the best of times” 

YOUR WISH IS MY COMMAND > Co-written also with Simmons, ‘Wish’ features a similarly luke-warm Simmons chorus / title benefiting again significantly from Ace’s well-honed pop sensibility on the verse melody & lyric. An ill-fated reunion of sorts, no surprise this is the only tune on the album that feels a little forced. Like with most old flames, you often find once is enough.

Seen many miracles, don’t be concerned, so few are chosen”

BRONX BOY > More street cred and a great P&L statement from Ace that takes us back to the ‘hard times’ as a teenage gangbanger that he may not have escaped were it not for his guitar & considerable swagger, drunk or sober!

“I’m just a street kid, we seek and destroy, I lived so much of it, I’m just a Bronx Boy.” 

PURSUIT OF ROCK & ROLL > A rock anthem to rival KISS’s many arena driven-forays over the years. Ace’s ‘State Of The Union’  is a rocket ride with Anton Fig burnin’ up the drum kit and Frehley high on the fumes, literally shouting out to The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and even The Beatles.

“Don’t want no strife, ‘cuz it’s the enemy, that gets into your soul” 

I WANNA GO BACK > It’s almost impossible not to love this cover of the Eddie Money hit. The choice, and Ace’s delivery of the bitter-sweet Money lament, is flat-out charming, further illuminating Ace’s range and deep love for a great hook, regardless the artist or era. It wasn’t a guitar tune until now, and it’s a fucking cool departure.

I wanna go back, and do it all over, but I can’t go back I know”

MISSION TO MARS > Were I Ace’s manager I would have tapped the glorious  “Mission To Mars” as the lead single (or “I Wanna Go Back”?) as it’s perhaps Ace’s best vocal since “Rip It Out” and tracks us on radar somewhere between ’74’s “Parasite”, ’89’s “Lost In Limbo”, 2009’s “Outer Space” and Elon Musk’s flying Tesla. Wonder how many times Frehley left the pavement in his DeLorean?

“My ships off course, by some unknown force ….Between heaven and earth, you know we’ll always be first, and that’s why”   

OFF MY BACK > Even if it’s now clear Ace never heard Spinal Taps’ “Bitch School”, this tune is super catchy and boasts the hottest solo on the album. If not Ace’s rawest Frehley fret  attack ever from the get-go, the solo outro shifts to urgent blues phrasing reminiscent of Leslie West of Mountain or Rory Gallagher!

“We go in circles with no end in sight”

QUANTUM FLUX > The closer is, as is tradition for Ace, a continuation of the instrumental epics that started in ’78 with the haunting powerhouse that is ‘Fractured Mirror’.  No exception to the fleet, ‘Flux’ is transcendent and takes Ace and us out of orbit into emotional time-scapes, reverberating key influences Jeff Beck & Jimmy Page while remaining pure Ace Frehley through and through.

The crazy thing is that, with Ace, you can go back. He still gives me that feeling. There’s ‘Space’ on board …Ace’s got you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

KID KING KISS (aka Jason Roberts)

How do you rank the studio albums by the original four?  I’d give them all 10’s!!

What got you hooked on KISS as a kid?   The first time I saw the cover of KISS Alive II with the blood all over Gene.
What was your favorite live KISS concert experience?  Revenge … my uncle Dennis bought us tickets, it was my first show … it was the UIC Pavillion …it was my favorite … just seeing all the adrenaline and the bombs and the pyrotechnics just made me feel like a kid again!
Who is your favorite member of the original four and why?  Has to be Gene because he just tells it like it is and he holds no punches even though his mouth gets him in trouble sometimes, but he’s got to learn too.
What’s your favorite 80’s KISS record and what are your favorite 5 KISS songs of the 80’s?  Asylum … “Uh All Nite”, “Let’s Put The X In Sex”, “Silver Spoon”, “Who Wants To Be Lonely” and “Heart of Chrome”.
You are a huge Elvis fan, what do you think KISS and Elvis have in common? They were all cool back in their day, he had his worst times with the movies and the Army and he had everything taken away and KISS had their day with non-make-up records and the disco era — they both had their non-cool phase.

What’s your review from the Chicago Open Air show this summer at Toyota Park?  I think they need to really quit — I had to say but they need to quit or do a one year reunion tour with everyone whose alive and just call it a day.

If you met someone who wasn’t (yet) a KISS fan, what 5 songs would you play them to try and enlist them in the KISS Army?   “Dr Love”, “Do You Love Me”, “Kissin’ Time”, “Love Gun” and “Deuce”.

You have a weekly feature on KISStorian in your Jason‘s Kisstoric Flashback — how do you decide each week what video to pick?  It’s not very hard, I just go with how I feel that week, whatever song I feel like throwing up there.

If somebody bought you the Gene Simmons Vault and he was gonna come and hang out for a bit, what would you wanna do and what would you talk with Gene about?  I would talk him about why is he letting KISS continue to play live and ask him to consider just making more studio records because that’s probably what the fans wanna see most at this point … I would just like to spend the day with him and see what he’s like.
You are asked to write Ace Frehley‘s set list for the next tour … what songs are essential for him to play live that he hasn’t been playing?  “Do Ya”, “Trouble Walkin'”, “Talk To Me”, “2,000 Man”, “White Room” and “Foxy & Free”.

What is your favorite moment in KISStory?  Gene’s appearance on the Mike Douglass Show or the Tom Snyder Show interview.

What would you call the next KISS studio album, please give us three working titles Jason? Maniacs, Tear It Up or Worlds Apart.

KISStorian ranks the original studio LPs

#1 > LOVE GUN – Eddie Kramers KISStoric sonic masterpiece, the punchy Love Gun boasts Ace’s first vocal, some of his best leads and the original line-up’s finest studio hour. Best snare sound found on any KISS studio recording save the non-live side 4 of Alive II, compliments again of Kramer.

#2 > ROCK & ROLL OVER – Meaty, beaty, big & bouncy, and again with Kramer at the wheel, Rock & Roll Over is a bombastic rock record that captures the band getting back to what they do best, rock. The debut EP should probably have this spot but the band is so much more developed by ’76’s RRO .

#3 > KISS Almost as pristine as “Christeen Sixteen” herself in sheer simplicity, KISS is loaded with more of the bands live staples than any other and, If you don’t like “Kissin’ Time”, you’re probably in the band because Ace’s solo on it is fierce, capturing on his frets the bands frustration in being forced to record the number.

#4 > DRESSED TO KILL – Shortish but tight, Dressed To Kill is a surprisingly crisp sounding album given it was practically self-produced …DTK features a notably improved Peter Criss and a number of now classic KISS rockers for the subsequent tour and Alive!. Turns out that giving the band more control, at least at this juncture, enabled them to produce something that represented them better than the debut and HTH, employing acoustic guitars to add texture for the first time. 

#5 > DETROYERThe bar and the band raised to the high ‘n mighty Bob Ezrin standard, Destroyer is KISS’s first successful foray into mainstream pop hot on the heels of the radio explosion of the Alive! version of “Rock & Roll All Nite”. Although many argue it’s KISS’s best studio effort because of their expanded scope with Ezrin producing, the overblown fascism that is “Great Expectations” gives us their first truly cringeworthy moment and a snapshot of the shape of things to come.

#6 > HOTTER THAN HELL – A delightfully dark ‘n dirgy, balls-to-the-wall album that includes a number of my all-time favorite KISS deep cuts, HTH is a major cornerstone of the KISS cannon. Were it not for its muddy production and dead drums, I could even put it above Destroyer because its definitive stuff. No place else would the sludge blues-rock of “Mainline” have made the cut nor  “Goin’ Blind” & ” Strange Ways” fit in so well with classics like “Parasite”, “Got to Chose” and the title cut.

(( KISStorians note: I have left off Dynasty & Unmasked because they, by & large, feature Anton Fig as ghost drummer. Had I included them, Unmasked would have come in last place, Dynasty somewhere in the middle ‘cuz its state-of-the-art KISS! ))

 

STAN PAULEY of PHAT KISS

How did your relationship with KISS begin? It all started when in was a kid digging through my older brothers record collection. I found Kiss Alive II and then knew my life would never be the same.

Can you explain why being a KISS fan is typically a life-long affliction? I have no idea why being a fan has lasted all my life. It would be impossible to pin down just one reason. But if I had to narrow it down I would say It’s their raw energy.

PHAT KISS return to LIVEWIRE on HALLOWEEN, do you have anything special planned for the KISS Army? Definitely have a few tricks up our sleeves for the LiveWire show!!

How did you show in Berwyn at Cigars & Stripes BBQ Lounge come about? A friend of ours works at a BBQ place and found out there was this Halloween BBQ fest in Berwyn on the Saturday the 28th there  …We love BBQ and Berwyn’s the home of the Son of Svengoolie. How could we refuse?!

Who is in PHAT KISSOur current line up is Stan Pauley guitar / vocals, Beans Simmons bass / vocals, A.C. Crisps drums / vocals.

You have a dual role in the band — you’re the ‘Starchild’ but you also play all the leads. Is there room in PHAT KISS for a ‘Spaceman’ at some point?  We are definitely open to finding an ‘Ace’, It’s very important to us to find someone that will fit with our chemistry.

What’s your live set up in terms of amps & guitars? Marshall stack, Gibson guitars, though I do use a Iceman here and there.

What are the staples of your set and which cuts seem to go over best consistently? We try to do a mix of the hits and deep cuts  As far as shows are concerned …”Love Gun”, “Strutter”, “Detroit Rock City” and “I Was Made For Loving You” always get a great crowd reaction!

Are there any songs you tried live that were soon to get nixed? We’ve done some 80’s stuff like “I love It Loud” and “Tears Are Falling” but they never seem to stay in the set. We are still exploring some of that, I think we’re probably gonna throw in “War Machine” here soon.

What’s your favorite KISS album?  Kiss Alive II will always hold the top spot. That open guitar riff on “I Stole Your Love” just rips!

What is the best KISS concert you ever attended?  I’ve seen them maybe 10 times but I would have to say the last one at Chicago Open Air festival this summer rocked. They have so much material it went on for over 2 hours and their stage show always gets progressively better. Absolutely nothing beats when Gene flies during “God Of Thunder”.

Do you have a KISS ‘happy space’ you would share with fellow KISStorians? I don’t know what you mean by ‘happy space’ but for some reason KISS always sounds best to me cranked up while driving.

Did Vinnie Vincent save KISS?  There is a case to be made for Vinnie, but ultimately it’s Paul and Gene who are the driving force of KISS.

If you were mod your Harley Davidson KISS style, what would you do to it in a perfect KISS world?  Such a weird question …The only way to go there if I had to would be some sort of demon bike with glowing eyes and so its fire from the tail pipe like some tricked out 70’s chopper.

What’s your favorite track by each original KISS member?
Paul – “Love Gun” ….Man it’s “Love Gun”!!!
Gene – “Cold Gin” …Just a nasty riff and all the hoopla that goes with it.
Ace – “Rocket Ride” …Just a driving song that keeps pushing the limits and some really clever guitar work. Also, it’s about getting a blow job.
Peter – “Black Diamond”.

Do you believe KISS will continue without Gene or Paul as stated for years by both original founders? Epic. KISS will live forever, if not the original band In some way shape or form but in bands like us willing to carry the torch of The KISS Army. 

Do you think they ever deputize / co-brand KISS cover bands worldwide? I’d like to think there is some kid out there right now learning the solo for “Detroit Rock City”. Man …I have no idea what they would do.

This is your chance for a shout out to the boys because they are reading this — what say yee? All I know is we’ll keep doing it as long as the crowd is into it. Take us on THE KISS KRUISE!!