CRISS – Criss Special Limited Edition (1993 EP, TNT Records)
At long last, Peter Criss was releasing new music, for the first time since 1982’s Let Me Rock You, over a decade prior. Tellingly, it was a mail-order only release, on a small California label called Tony Nicole Tony Records. It ran me over $40 Canadian (with shipping) to order it. It was a limited edition, all copies to be numbered and signed by the Cat himself.
An angry letter and six months later, I finally received my Criss EP to find that the hyped signature was just printed on. Yes, it was numbered (mine is #2408), but for $40…come on.
I overlooked the sad artwork of Peter’s face, half painted in his old cat makeup, and hair bleached blonde. I cracked the seal, put the disc in and hit play.
I was struck immediately by the poor production. The drums sound awful. For a solo EP by a drummer, I was hoping for better sounding drums than this. Peter’s singing was OK, but the lyrics? He does this section near the end of the the first song, “The Cat”, that was just…stinky.
Listen to this one now.
Gene and Paul went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Gene fell down and broke his crown,
And Paul came tumbling over.
And then his does this weird high pitched shriek that is so embarrassingly terrible, that I couldn’t believe it made it only to the album. Well, it could only get better from there.
The same awful sounding drums, rapping, and another awful lyric:
Planes, trains and limozines,
So what? What does it mean?
We’re burning down like Mercury,
God bless the Killer Queen.
This time the singer isn’t Peter, but a fellow with a mohawk called Mike Stone. This same Mike Stone would later end up in a band called Queensryche. And if anything was worse than Peter’s shrieking on track one, it’s Mike Stone’s singing on track two. And the song sucks, too.
“Good Times”, an electric ballad with a soulful vocal from Peter, is pretty good. It has the vibe of something that would have fit onto Peter’s 1978 solo album, without the schlock. OK, one good song. At least there’s one.
But then Mike Stone rears his ugly mohawk again, on a song called “What You’re Doing”. No, not the Rush tune. It’s not a bad song, but Stone’s truly awful singing renders it unlistenable. Finally, Peter saves this drowning EP with an acoustic remake of “Beth”. It must be remembered that up to this point, an acoustic version of “Beth” had never been released. It was presented that way in the Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park movie, but until this EP, you couldn’t buy it like that. So this is cool, and slightly different from the version that later ended up on the Cat #1 album.
I have no doubt this is very rare today, and I’ve never seen another copy. If you can find it, great. But you may not need to listen to it.