Hot In Oklahoma City 1990

The best part about YouTube.com for this KISStorian is the fact that one can find diamonds in the rough almost weekly like the full live concert vids that seem to keep coming like the mail!

So many great moments on this recent find; a KISStoric Hot In The Shade Tour show from Oklahoma City that finds KISS at their most compelling sans make-up playing their best set list and sounding considerably less frantic than on the prior two tours with Kulick & Carr. By 1990, the ‘new’ KISS is a seasoned unit, hitting on all cylinders, reclaiming territory.

For a hand-held bootleg, the sound is surprisingly warm and not only is Bruce Kulick on fire ‘n tasty throughout, but Gene Simmons is smooth and singing better here than on most of the HITS tour stuff I’ve heard.

It also nicely illuminates the bands evolving groove with Eric Carr and their take on semi-shelved KISS classics like “Strutter”, “I Want You” & “I Stole Your Love” with ‘The Fox’ on drums.

More centrally though, this is our rock & roll party because it captures Paul Stanley at his very finest as a live performer, singer and one of a kind rock star. No one can move while playing guitar like Paul does. He really gives every moment a whole lotta love and can be downright artful at it, bringing a passion, joy and style to the stage rarely if ever achieved by less dedicated artists.

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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’.

 

KISStorian ranks KISS’s ‘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.

 

 

 

 

KISStorian’s 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.