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.
In fact, he was never even in the band (save performances, recordings and songs), let alone a ‘fan’ if you get my drift. Through years of futile legal wrangling with his masters (KISS) for alleged royalties due, we had long known that Vinnie Vincentnever signed his contract with KISS. But, in a recent episode of the perennial KISS-podcast‘Three Sides of The Coin’, former New England drummer Hirsh Garner added some long-needed color to the murky period in KISStory by dropping a bomb shell: Gene Simmons & Vincent were still talking after the Lick It Up Tour and that, if his memory serves him, Simmons was negotiating to keep Vinnie in the line-up?! OMG!!
I am not alone in KISS country when I say that we had always been led to believe that Vincent was fired (or since he wasn’t actually on the books, “let go”) immediately after the Lick It Uptour. It had been, to hear KISS co-founders Gene & Paul Stanley tell it, a unanimous decision, he had to go …but apparently that was not the case, not initially anyway. In KISStoric terms, this is nothing short of revelation for, on the 8th day, it appears Vinnie still had at least one of the two KISS leaders ears in the Demon; Gene Simmons.
Who knows if Stanley was even in on this conversation? Knowing what we do about the cunning head-strong Simmons, it’s entirely possible he sought to right the ship mono-e-mono, get Vinnie on board, and then reach out to Sir Paul with the (tempered) good news that the shrew had in fact been tamed. But, of course, it’s entirely possible also that Paul was in on the convo and told Gene something along the lines of “if you can get him in line, have him sign the deal, and I don’t have to deal with him moving forward ….I’ll give him a final chance with the new record and see how that goes, otherwise I am done with Vinnie”.
Either way, it’s now clear Vincent must have put quite a strain on the already flagging relationship sans make-up between the Starchild and Demon. Chances are Gene & Paul were not on the same page because, after Vincent left, Gene went semi-MIA for Animilize, leaving Paul to teach guitarist Mark St. John how to hit a mark and then cobble together the album on his own while Gene chased dragons in LA and beyond.
And who knows where Gene’s head was as he sat on the phone with a now AWOL Vincent who was cutting new songs with members of New England? It’s possible Gene was considering cashing in his chips on KISS entirely if he couldn’t get Vinnie to stay. It would of course have been a betrayal of KISStoric proportions that would have weighed heavy on his mind at the time. Sure, LIU had been a success on several levels, but another change at lead guitar? when they had just re-invented the band and brand and saved their (the) Elder worn hides by finally unmasking? The fact is half the KISS Army had already defected long ago, and new, more fickle MTV generation fans wouldn’t actually care who was on lead in KISS on Animailize. Still, must have been a serious concern ….. jeez, how we gonna spin this one?
It’s also possible that Gene just wanted a few of Vinnie’s tunes for the next record, as a compromise deal if Vincent was in fact leaving. Vinnie had significantly updated their sound and Gene may have come to believe they really needed him. For all we know Gene threatened him with his royalties as the ante? In any event, both he and Stanley had leaned on Vinnie hard for tunes on Creatures of The Night as well as Lick It Up. Heck,they would even bring him back in to the fold again to co-write on the bounce back Revengein ’92.See, Vinnie wasn’t in KISS but, for all intents and purposes, strangely was KISS in 1983. It must have been a scary time. I believe Gene feared the worst; that losing VV would be their death knell.
Almost unbelievable to learn now that Vincent wasn’t so much involuntarily discharged from the KISS Army as he was a defector. He had had a choice and what fascinates me most is where his head was at the time, or all along. Thanks to Gardners’ inadvertent revelation, it now seems to me that from the very start Vincent simply saw KISS as his ticket. When he got involved with the band circa-Creatures he saw a sinking ship. He would use what wind was left in their sales to gain personal notoriety and, once he had destroyed the Simmons / Stanley alliance from within, leave KISS in smouldering ruins as the sole survivor to launch the insane vision that would become the Vinnie Vincent Invasion, a telling moniker in hindsight. He probably felt he had saved the band and, my best guess is, may have pushed for equal partnership and it backfired? In any event, he thought he could play Gene & Paul off against each other and ultimately hold them for ransom, and it almost worked. Were it not for cooler heads, KISS might literally have been KISStory because, with Vincent, it seems Armageddon was just a matter of time …plus, everyone knows, three’s a crowd. But don’t listen to me, Vinnie gives us the finer points in this interview from ’86 …”the common denominator” >
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.