Today, a treat: Part 0 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster! Yes, part 0. Today we go right back to the beginning: Wicked Lester.
Before forming Kiss with Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, Gene and Paul had a five piece band called Wicked Lester that cut one album for Epic. That album has never been released, although a couple tracks turned up on the Kiss Box Set.
You might recognize two songs: “She” and “Love Her All I Can” which were both recorded much harder on Dressed To Kill. One song, “(We Want To) Shout It Out Loud” is a Hollies cover that later inspired the title of the classic hit from Destroyer. The sound is very hippy-dippy and directionless. Flutes and strings and overly sweet harmony vocals mire what might have ended up being some cool songs. Indeed, “She” is about as vastly different from the sludgy version on Dressed To Kill as you can imagine.
The CD bootleg copy that I have is pretty lo-res. It includes as bonus tracks the five songs that Kiss cut on their original Eddie Kramer demo, that got them their record deal. These are fully realized rough and loose versions of the songs on the albums, and once again two have been released on the Box Set. Some are quite a bit longer, with extended solos.
The cover art is the original art that the band were going to use. The boy is supposed to be Wicked Lester, their intended mascot. The artwork was later used by a band called Laughing Dogs.
1/5 stars (Wicked Lester)
4/5 stars (Eddie Kramer Demos)