Part 152: Carnival of Lost Souls


RECORD STORE TALES Part 152:  Carnival of Lost Souls

The Year:  1996

The Place:  Dr. Disc, Hamilton Ontario

The Guilty Party:  Me

Remember when the original Kiss reunited back in ’96?  It was a huge deal.  Everybody was talking about it.  What very few people were talking about was the studio album that the previous Kiss lineup (with Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick) had completed prior to the reunion.  That album, Carnival of Souls, was shelved to avoid confusion.

It was, however, leaked.  Or, at least most of it was.  It revealed a new, grungier Kiss ready to take on the likes of Alice in Chains and Soundgarden.  Not a bad album in fact, and some songs such as “Hate” and “In My Head” were downright vicious.  A buddy of mine, Len Labelle, hooked me up with a poor-sounding cassette.  It was better than nothing.

Both Gene and Paul pooh-poohed the idea of a release.  You’d read things like, “We don’t know when it’s coming out,” or “We have no plans to release it right now.”  But I was digging that tape and I wanted a CD, dammit!

T-Rev, Tom and myself were at a record show in Hamilton, and we stopped at a local Dr. Disc.  I went over to the Kiss section.  I saw two discs, both at $30 staring me in the face:  the ultra rare Japanese import Chikara, a greatest hits album, and a bootleg copy of Carnival of Souls

I had a limited budget and could only buy one.  I chose Carnival of Souls.  I’ve never seen a copy of Chikara again.  And Kiss officially issued Carnival 9 months later, rendering my bootleg obselete.  I can’t give it away, today.

It was a bad call, Ripley!  Bad call!

So what about this bootleg that I bought?  Well, it has a few notable features.

  1. The title is wrong.  The title on the bootleg is Carnival of Lost Souls.
  2. The wrong lineup is on the front and back covers.  They show the original Kiss, in makeup.
  3. Even though it says it’s “the complete 11 track version” on the front cover, Carnival of Souls has 12 tracks.  Missing is “I Walk Alone”, the lone Bruce Kulick lead vocal.
  4. The songs are in the wrong order, and most have the wrong titles.

For example:

  • “Hate” = “Hate (Is What I Am)”
  • “Master & Slave” = “Tell Me”
  • “Rain” = “I Think It’s Gonna Rain (Down On Me)”
  • “It Never Goes Away” = “It Never Ends”
  • “In the Mirror” = “(Take A Look) In the Mirror”
  • “I Confess” = “You Confess”

At best, this is now just a weird oddity that sits in my closet, unlistened to, unwanted, unloved, for the rest of eternity.  There’s $30 I’ll never get back again.  Yeah, like I said, it was a bad call!




  1. Dr. Disc! Man, when I was in university I was in their shop in Windsor all the time! That’s where I bought my copy of End Of Silence!

    Hey, how come you didn’t tell this story when you did your series of KISS reviews?

    You know, there’s only the decision you made at the time. And at the time, the right decision, to you, was to pick up this CD not Chikara. Sure, in hindsight, you can wish you’d gone the other way. But in that moment, you made the right decision for you. So it wasn’t wrong!


    1. Easy answer to this: I forgot I had it. I literally did dig this up out of a closet. I actually forgot all about it, dug it up and said, “Ahh yes. There’s a Record Store Tale in this.”

      At the time I questioned the decision, but went with it. I should have questioned longer!


  2. I pretty much had the same experience with this. Shitty cassette first… slightly less shitty bootleg CD next… then the official release. Loved all of them! The cassette didn’t even have song titles so I had to guess them (which is what the bootleggers seemed to have done too)!


  3. I can’t be bothered hauling out my copy of KISSTORY… but do they call it “Carnival of Lost Souls” in that? I thought they did. There’s a page where they preview the cover of a skull strangling itself (or something). Maybe I misremembered!


    1. It was always Carnival of Souls but you got the album cover right. Gene wrote a song called “Carnival of Souls” that was supposed to be a bonus track on Alive III but held back for the next record. It wasn’t even released there, as you know — but Gene did release it on his Asshole solo album.

      If you hear the song, you will understand why it kept getting rejected. It’s not very good.


        1. Me too, weirdly. I guess because it’s Gene and you have to hope next time you listen to it, you’ll “get it”. Sadly…it hasn’t happened yet. I recall Paul insinuating in an interview that he found it embarrassing.


        2. That’s true. Gene’s never been too kind about Paul’s lyrics too.

          I get the feeling that the friendship wore out many years ago. Lucky for us the partnership remains.


        3. I saw Paul on Gene Simmons Family Jewels, and they did seem pretty chummy. They have to tour together. I mean, I’m sure they don’t hate each other. But I’m also sure Paul doesn’t pop by for Christmas like my friends do!


        4. Paul appeared on that show? Cool.

          I’m sure they get along. They just don’t mince their words. They call it like they see it. Neither is a yes man for the other and I think that’s one of they keys to their success together.


        5. Paul did appear. I didn’t like the episode, actually. Eric Singer “disappeared” before an Australian show and they couldn’t find him. Then he turned up at the end ready to play. Yeah, sure. I don’t buy it.


        6. Yeah I didn’t get very far in to it at all. I did quite like the Rock School show he did in the UK. He came across well and the sight of him in village pubs and Lowestoft (home of The Darkness) was pretty bizarre.


  4. I remember at the time it was widely bootlegged. I bought it once it was released,not bad for time,but I could not believe that Kiss was following trends when it was recorded. I thought that Nikki Sixx followed trends but so were the Kiss fellas….gonna have to dust this one off…and give it another go round!


    1. I was into it at the time. I think for metal bands in the mid-90’s, it seemed like the only way to get anybody to pay attention. Ultimately that mindset failed and bands realized the best thing was to stay true to their sounds.

      I like the album, obviously or I wouldn’t have paid $30 for a bootleg…but I like it less than I did in 1996!!


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