Getting closer to the end…Part 45 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!
KISS – Jigoku-Retsuden (2008) (Translated from Japanese: Intense Transmission from Hell)
After touring for several years with a lineup consisting of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer, Kiss finally layed down a studio album, their first with this lineup.
Except it wasn’t a studio album of new original material. It was re-recordings of past hits, and only available in Japan. It was recorded so Kiss could use these new versions any time they wanted to commit a song to a film or TV commercial without Universal taking a slice of their pie. From a business point of view, it made sense. And later on, the band ended up giving this CD away for free, as a bonus disc called Kiss Klassics within the Sonic Boom album.
I firmly believe that the original versions sound superior (except for, arguably, “Hotter Than Hell”) because they are more raw and have individual character. The original recordings all had different sounds or flavours to them. This is partly because they were all recorded in different studios for different albums, years apart, and sometimes because the band members varied from track to track. Here, they all have roughly the same sound which I would describe as “sterile”. Not bad, certainly, just lacking in something special.
Most crucially, there are bits and pieces you miss from the original recordings. Eric Carr’s signiture “1-2-3-4” drum thunder in the second verse of “Forever” was a highlight of that song for me in its original guise, and nobody else plays it like he did. Gene and Paul’s voices, while still strong, are noticably different. The vocal parts vary enough that you will miss certain nuances that you have emotional attachment to. On the positive side of the vocal front, Eric Singer sings his very first lead vocal on a Kiss studio album, (“Black Diamond” to be specific) which is cool. Tommy Thayer also nails pretty much all his solos, regardless of the originator.
Some versions included a DVD with concert footage previously released on Kissology 2, from Budokan Hall 1977. This (of course) is the original Kiss lineup. The tracklisting for it is in the gallery below; this DVD is region 2 encoded.