Part 32 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!
VARIOUS – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (Official tribute album, 1994)
Kiss My Ass (you just knew they’d use that title eventually) was released in several formats: LP, CD, and a cool almost unrelated DVD too. I’ll talk about it all.
In the 90’s if there wasn’t a tribute album for your band, you didn’t matter. But Kiss had one out before Zeppelin and Sabbath. Kiss put it together themselves, which isn’t a bad thing — Black Sabbath and Robert Plant participated in their own tribute albums, too. Kiss My Ass or A** (available with and without profanity) is an enjoyable, diverse listen from start to finish, leaning heavily on stars from the 90’s, but also reaching back in time to a handful of earlier legends.
Up first is a great, very different version of “Deuce” by Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder. Stevie plays some seriously honkin’ harmonica on the track. It’s completely unlike the original but if you like Lenny Kravitz (which I do), it’s awesome.
The Garth Brooks track is probably the most interesting on the album. Not because it’s Garth — Garth could probably do “Hard Luck Woman” in his sleep, it’s right up his alley and the world knows what a huge Kiss fan he is. It’s his backing band, who appear here uncredited. You may have heard of them. A little band called Kiss. Kiss even performed the song live with Brooks on late night TV.
Anthrax (with John Bush on vocals), who are also diehard Kiss fans and have done many Kiss covers over the years, simply pummel “She” to a pulp, and once again it’s great. Incidentally, produced by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.
By now you’ve heard three diverse tracks by three completely different bands, so you’ll be excused if you find the ride a little bumpy now.
The Gin Blossoms played it very straight on “Christine Sixteen”, but Toad The Wet Sprocket really shook it up on “Rock And Roll All Nite”. You have to admire their urge to experiment with the most famous of all Kiss tunes, but really, who spiked their water with Valium? I snooze through this one every time. It sucks.
“Calling Dr. Love” is performed by supergroup Shandi’s Addiction: Tom and Brad from Rage Against The Machine, Billy Gould from Faith No More on funky bass, all topped by the unique vocals of Maynard James Keenan. How much more 90’s can you get? None, none more 90’s. I can’t say this track is a winner but it sure is different. You’re forced to keep listening out of sheer curiosity. It sounds like a mash of all three bands which is pretty unimaginable.
Dinosaur Jr. turn up one of the best performances on the disc with a dour, lush “Goin’ Blind”. This mournful version is true to the spirit of the muddy original, and J. Mascis just nails it. Heh…Dinosaur Jr! Yeah, it must have been 1994.
At this point, I’m realizing that Kiss My Ass is just as much a tribute to the bands of the mid-90’s as it is to Kiss!
Extreme turned in a slowed down but groovy version of “Strutter”, complete with Nuno’s own sweet harmony vocals. Great track by a great, underrated band.
I could do without The Lemonheads’ version of “Plaster Caster”, but it is very faithful to the original song. Once again, kids today will ask “Who are the Lemonheads?”
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones really had balls to open “Detroit Rock City” the way they did. It opens with a phone call from Gene Simmons explaining that they could not perform “Detroit”, as Ugly Kid Joe and Megadeth were already fighting over who was going to do the song. Gene advises them to pick another song, right before that bone-crushing opening riff kicks in. And this is truly a great version, if you dig the Bosstones’ unique style of vocalizing. Ironically neither Megadeth nor Ugly Kid Joe made the cut for this album. Nor did Nine Inch Nails, who recorded “Love Gun” (still unreleased).
The final track on the domestic CD is a beautiful orchestral version of “Black Diamond” by someone called Yoshiki (X Japan). This is a great instrumental, and the ideal way to end an album such as this. The album, diverse all the way through, ends on a very different note from that which it began!
Import and LP versions have a bonus track, “Unholy” by some German industrial band. I haven’t heard it because I never opened my LP, but for those interested, it is the only non-makeup song included on the album.
I mentioned a DVD release. It’s badass. It’s basically a third DVD, along the lines of Exposed and X-Treme Close Up. It’s loaded with vintage clips and has some interviews with Paul, Gene, Bruce, and Eric. They briefly show Anthrax in the studio cutting their Kiss cover, as well as Gin Blossoms. There’s even a preview of the cover artwork for the forthcoming Kiss album to be called Head…
Lastly, I even have a rare, rare, really really rare promo Kiss My A** On the Radio CD. I have no idea what this sucker is worth today. It is the only audio release of some of the best live tunes from the Kiss My Ass DVD, seven of them, along with tons of Gene and Paul talking.
4/5 stars all around.
The track lists can be found within the photo gallery below: