A splendid time was guaranteed for all …always has been KISS‘s charge: to deliver the ‘Greatest Show On Earth’ and bang for the buck, even when it wasn’t in the budget you know?
Step right up to KISS’s ongoing 40-year, often magical mystery tour of mother earth, circa 2016. Yes, roll up for the Freedom To Rock Tour, it’s an invitation. KISS are a visual treat but they have now also become, like it or not, a downright heartwarming rock & roll celebration and they gave a lot of renewed love to the presentation of this show, on every level.
Beyond the amazing lighting, lasers, screen graphics, smoke & bombs, it was the best sound I have ever heard at an in-door KISS show, but we were directly next to the sound board (on purpose). They were not as loud as usual, and that worked as far as I’m concerned. Everything was distinct, damn right warm in fact. It was a rich sound.
A quick, but needed, tip of the Firehouse hat to MVP Tommy Thayer for having now settled in so nicely in to his Spaceman boots. I thought he really brought more of his own feel than ever before to the signature Ace solos and let it all hang out for the majesty of rock. His tone, timing and vibe were really nice and, along with Eric Singer, the two have become the bedrock of KISS in ways that Ace & Peter once were. To me, after last night, they are KISS, not impostors as once feared. I guess I’m back in the New York Groove after all?
Anyway, I’m still digesting some of the cool new wrinkles and the many magic KISStoric moments from last nights show but here are some pix from The Bradley Center in Milwaukee !
The amplifiers start to hum …the carnival has just begun …you’re in the Psycho Circus!
What a life it is KISStorians to have time free on a Saturday afternoon to contemplate the finer things in life, like combining KISS’s Sonic Boom &Monster discs into arguable one of the best KISS albums of all time, a playlist I refer to as ‘Sonic Monster’. Try this at home and get it the car stereo pronto hombre because listen up, and listen good … Sonic Boom and Monster are pretty damn good rock & roll records so, yeah, old school gripes aside people, a tip of the proverbial ‘Firehouse’ helmets to Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer for manning the barricades …all for the glory of the KISS Army. This would be a cool KISS delux release remixed by a special guest like Phil Spector (via web) or Bob ‘The Elder’ Ezrin himself? Maybe the boys would have fun turning it in to a live album with Eddie Kramer? 🙂 Don’t be afraid to dream.
‘SONIC MONSTER‘(2016): Modern Day Delilah – Wall Of Sound – Outta This World – I’m An Animal – Say Yeah – Hell Or Hallelujah – Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect) – Shout Mercy – When Lightning Strikes – Long Way Down – Danger Us – Stand – All For The Love Of Rock & Roll – Back To The Stone Age – Last Chance
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.
This is super hush-hush but sources close to KISStorian.comare reporting that Gene & Paul have been orchestrating a chance to Animalize themselves and are soon to announce a partnership with A&E & Oprah to, get this, ‘find Bigfoot’!!
Reached for statement via satellite the band co-founders & CEO’s Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were characteristically glib about what the nay-sayers might say:
“Why not KISS to find Bigfoot?… we don’t delude ourselves, but sometimes over the march of time things becomes real apparent, whether it’s with a band, a relationship or finding Bigfoot …it’s simple really ….sometimes one has to take things into their own hands if they want results, that’s why I produced the last two KISS records Sonic Boom and Monster, so they wouldn’t suck.….Kidding aside, I am quite sure Gene & I are not alone when we tell you that we have zero faith that Bobo or Moneymaker are the guys to find Bigfoot…. Frankly, we’d give Ace & Peter better odds; at least they’re nocturnal!(laughter) …..listen, KISS has always done things our own way, this is just a continuation of the core KISS principle that no one can tell us what to do, or what’s cool.. We are still cool, and so is Bigfoot .. I see it as an inevitable and yet natural marriage.”
Simmons didn’t miss a beat when he concurred: “We’ve made a living making magic but Bigfoot is one myth we think we can solve, or dispel … it’s gonna be big-time mommy … all those critics out there who don’t believe in KISS, or Bigfoot, are gonna be blown away when they see how the Demon handles this furry fella … we aren’t goin’ out there like (Sammy) Hagar the barbarian without a net …this is not kid stuff, this is serious business….this guy, if the reports are accurate, dwarfs me, even in my battle gear…….KISS is already known for bombast but this time I think the fans, and non-fans, will see our true stealth …..Right now it’ll be the initial 5 episodes on A&E, unless we find him sooner, and we certainly believe we can. Our KISS scientist are not to be second guessed, except by Paul & I, and that’s a …good thing”
When asked if new(ish) band mates Tommy ‘Spaceman’ Thayer or Eric ‘Catman’ Singer will be joining the festivities Stanley is his usual guarded if bemused self: “They are both naturals to help us too but we are working all that out ….to be honest, not everyone is as into the subject as Gene and I so, like everything KISS, it’s a process …that said, Eric truly is like a cat in the woods and Tommy does a have a few special powers that could be handy: for one he has been known to communicate with infra-sound on stage but, I gotta be honest, it’s Gene I am looking forward to seeing out there, out of his comfort zone … he’s not a big fan of bugs or tents or apex predators for that matter, wild hogs aside (more laughter) … we’ll see how it goes because, spoiler alert, Gene’s bark is bigger than his bite” chuckled the Starchild, adding defiantly: “see, KISS doesn’t take on anything unless we plan to do it right, so we will be on a mountain somewhere or down in a holler, whatever it takes, doing the dirty work, finding Bigfoot …there will be no room service… we may put Gene in charge of the plaster-casting of the foot prints”
Hilarity ensues as the Demon interjects laughingly: “Let’s be clear: it’s not me that needs to be worried, it’s Sasquatch, all of them … KISS is coming for you if you are tuning in ‘Sas!! …“pay-up or miss the show big fella —- I am bringing my Gene Simmons Axe Bass!”
When asked if KISS’s foray into Squatching is a ‘no-kill’ enterprise, Stanley took the question as Gene leaned back in his chair with a deep sigh: “Look, no one wants to get hurt out there …KISS is about having a good time, leaving your troubles at home, and sometimes that involves tents and BBQ’s and a Bunsen burner, so what?? ….we’ll have fun either way. To think that KISS wants to kill anything or anyone is the height of absurdity … I am not saying we won’t defend ourselves if we have to…..we just want to give Bigfoot a chance to introduce himself to KISS fans world-wide, and that’s what we are going to do. Like it or not, it’s a KISS planet and Bigfoot is now just another part of it …there’ll be a video, a new single “Squatchy Lady” and some other surprises ….a cartoon adaptation and so on …..we can’t say too much right now”
When asked how Oprah might figure in the effort, Gene was quick to dot the i: “C’mon …everyone knows KISS have had a long and happy relationship with Oprah and she wants to help us find Bigfoot? ….should we have said “No Oprah, you can’t help us find Bigfoot?!” ….Oprah will be our eyes and ears and I suspect a calming influence in camp as well as a big help managing the considerable logistics, and ballistics, of such an undertaking ….So, yeah, again ….it’s an exciting time to be KISS! …it was this or a one-way trip to Mars! …even KISS has to make choices and we are staying on earth for the time being”
Reached for comment moments ago, former-KISS members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were less jubilant about the impending Simmons/Stanley announcement: Frehley joked “Who knows? maybe they’ll finally find a replacement for Gene out there?” and Criss vented “God save us all …I hope they do find Bigfoot and he kicks their asses!” – KISStorian
This is a Herculean task and one I don’t take lightly. Some of you will be upset at my choices but here are some gems to reconsider from the original Spaceman’s significant body of work. The envelope …silence please.
SHOCK ME – ’nuff said really, the first echo of Ace’s evolving sound, getting rounder and more driven with each successive release off the band’s studio master-stroke, Love Gun.. This tune is like an Ace clinic really; uses the whole arsenal. To enter true orbit, the live version with extended solo off KISS Alive II is sure to set the stereo aglow.
CHARISMA – off Dynasty, the solo saves the song, as so often Ace did. Even if you didn’t dig the tune, you would dig Ace’s solo, always. Paul always criticizes Ace for “not growing at an artist” and yet, listen to this? listen to the rest of Dynasty? or Ace’s solo record? Even Unmasked? steady progression through all the records frankly. Check the solo on SAVE YOUR LOVE off the same record for more clarity on the subject. All quality, all fitting.
BUMP & GRIND – off the Gene Simmons produced Wendy O. Williams W.O.W. album, Ace has never sounded more urgent, as if the Spaceman was determined to send the Demon to Jendell for a spell. Fairly awful song, like some KISS numbers. but Ace propels it quickly into the hard rock ozone. Fierce.
ROCKET RIDE – when I want to turn someone on to Ace Frehley this is typically the tune I would pop on. I hear a reworking of Hendrix’s “Manic Depression”, with a dash of punk and probably the coolest ending to any KISS song. Ace’s first wah-pedal solo and spot fucking on. Pure adrenaline.
STRUTTER ’78 – the redo on Double Platinum is absolutely devastatingly Ace, and arguably louder in the mix here than any KISS solo on any KISS record. One is finally allowed to bask in sheer Ace riffage. Good times.
SNOWBLIND – cool tune? check. bitchin’ rock solo? check. the closest one gets to Jimmy Page? check. If a little stiff and white, Ace can really pick when he’s in the mood …or snowblind.
100,000 YEARS – Ace’s solo on this Paul Stanley KISS classic doesn’t sound like anything or anyone else. Totally original. Typically Ace wore his influences on his sleeve but this solo was entirely of his own creation. Completely overlooked.
GOT LOVE FOR SALE – Ace just shreds this tune up and so almost more in command than any where else on record. It’s probably the hottest shit he’s ever played. Seriously. He does the same of HOOLIGAN. Some of his best super-pro work is on Love Gun.
INTO THE NIGHT – I love this solo. When it arrives it’s like someone lets Ace out of shackles. He ashes out with sheer rock fury. He’s done the same over and over again throughout his career on solo offerings on killers like INSANE, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, REMEMBER ME, GENGHIS KHAN, TROUBLE WALKIN’, SHOT FULL OF ROCK, PAIN IN THE NECK and so many others in the comets’ catalog.
KISSIN’ TIME – I know, it’s a real clunker, but not the solo bro. Ace is like a closing pitcher. He only needs a few pitches. It’s all in the delivery. At this stage of the game he was developing his craft and, if my Spidey senses serve me right, is stretching out a bit on this one. I feel like Ace and the boys decided it had to at least rock since they were all bummed about being asked to the cut the song in the first place and well, surprise, Ace’s instincts are right on. An early glimpse of Ace’s singular vibrato and his keen ability to build a lead that seals the deal, played like it’s all that matters in the universe.
It is as if Ace is so easily detached and distracted, or out of it, that a 2-bar solo is really what he is all about – a shot full of rock. Ace Frehley is the guitar solo, personified. ‘Scuse the soapbox but listen to the last two KISS records with Tommy Thayer: Ace is ‘the KISS sound’ they are going for — lock, stock & barrel. Stanley/Simmons really ought to come clean on that much. I don’t mind it, just don’t pretend it isn’t so. Would it kill Tommy to say “I try to emulate that classic Ace Frehley, early KISS tone and vibe”. To me, Ace is like the 300 pound gorilla in KISSroom, like it never happened. Truth is, it never would have without him.
What a relief huh? It could not have gone better. Gene was classy and set the tone nicely, Peter was heartfelt but held it together, Ace was at ease, lucid and funny, and Paul laid down the rock & roll law with final defiant words on behalf of the band and the fans.
Remarkably, even without their instruments, make-up, or a show, it was classic KISS because, as nature would have it, the four personalities remain intact. In fact, standing there together again, the undeniable force of their dynamic tension and unique chemistry was in clear evidence.
Paul was right: this was” vindication for our fans” and, were not a fluke. They had the talent, a vision, drive, attitude and belief. Funny thing is though, for all their keen planning over the years, you create four divergent characters by design and then expect them to assume the roles and get along? Eventually you have the runaway rock & roll roller coaster that was KISS circa ’79. That engine had proven to need a lot of fuel and the track a lot of grease(paint). And so it goes …..two of the pistons got fried, and all for the love of rock & roll I might add.
Unlike other bands that fell by the wayside in the 40 year span that is KISSTory, KISS learned to evolve like any successful enterprise, outsourcing to plug and play. If they hadn’t, the glory that was this induction may never have happened. Maybe the Rock Hall gave up waiting for them to quit but, as KISS fans have known all along, the word is not in Gene or Paul’s vocabulary. They stood tall to make us proud, our intrepid champions ….the Hottest Band in The World, then and now: KISS!
Here we are, on the night before the KISSRock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, and I must admit I am feeling almost unhinged about KISS finally taking a long overdue bow for the new revolution. It feels like the night before KISSmas frankly.
In true KISS form, intentional or not, the lead-up to this has been one of the most riveting rock & roll dramas of all-time and juicy, sheer entertainment to fans and haters alike. Fitting it is (thanks Yoda!) that KISS’s motto is essentially ‘bang-for-the-buck’ because, no matter how you want it to play out, we’ve already gotten more than our money’s worth in the past month or two.
You gotta admit, they’ve got a knack for gravitas and this is the KISStory bonus round people. Like when Evil Knievel tried to jump the Grand Canyon, (or when KISS took their audiences and headliners by surprise early on), no-one really knows what’s going to happen.
The only thing that is for sure is that each of the original four band-mates will have a chance at the mic tomorrow night. They’ll also be in the same room, and then on stage together presumably, for the first time in a decade or more if my fragile KISStory memory serves. Who cares if they’re gonna play or not at this point. As a guilty pleasure for a life long fan, I admit, beyond the respect, I want to to see the dynamic between the four under the mainstream hot lights. Everyone does.
I presume Gene & Paul will play nice but I do worry that Ace may (still) angle for an opportunity to re-ignite the KISS Army’s hopes for one last junket, regardless of the less than subtle hints advising otherwise by both the Starchild and Demon.
My only wish is that they all take the moment for what it is: an honor to be in the room and the final capitulation of the establishment. (I imagine the beards will have grown longer overnight?)
With Paul & Gene at the helm, KISS have done here, and all along, just as The Who had suggested and treated the new boss same as the old boss. I tip my hat to the new constitution.