REVIEW: Criss – Criss (1993 EP)

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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.

Nope.

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.

1.5/5 stars

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28 comments

  1. As a drummer who once dressed up as Peter Criss for Halloween (there’s a great photo of me with a wig & makeup at my drums…I was around 10 or 11), I’ve always wanted to like his solo material, but his best work was within Kiss (including his underrated first solo album). I remember seeing ads for this EP at the time (I thought it was a full album…hard to believe they charged $40 for just an EP). Based on your review…and common sense…I have no need to hear it. I’m surprised you gave it as many as 1.5 stars.

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    1. Hey Rich! That sounds like an amazing photo. Great story. I enjoy Peter’s first solo album too, I think I rated it a 3/5. I used to play it to try to get my mom into Kiss!

      $40 includes shipping and the currency exchange which was much worse at the time. I’ll edit the article to reflect that!

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        1. There’s that Puff Daddy/Jimmy Page CD I have, but I only paid $3 for that. There’s a Mike Patton solo album I’ll never play again, paid $24 for that. Nope, Peter Criss may in fact be the winner with this disc right here.

          An album did follow this, and it was just as bad. It had one good song, “Blue Moon Over Brooklyn” about his mom. But it was co-written by Phil Naro from Talas, who is a very talented writer, so that’s why.

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        1. Well there you go! I have all of Peter Criss’ solo material, believe it or not, and they only go downhill from here.

          I must be some kind of masochist. We just finished talking about Quiet Riot albums that stink, that I bought anyway.

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  2. Poor Peter. I did hear an audio interview with Mike Stone about this period. He seemed to really enjoy working with The Cat. Can’t say much about this except that the track I heard was unquestionably awful.

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    1. And the full length album was more of the same. Except Blue Moon Over Brooklyn. That’s a good song. Bad People Burn In Hell wasn’t bad either, but again, both songs were written by Phil Naro.

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      1. I kinda liked Good Times. I think Criss knows a good ballad when he hears one. Other than that and maybe that Blue Moon song, this album isn’t that much to put in your Christmas tree, so to speak…

        I also thought I already commented this review. I’m getting senile…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m speechless but I’ll type anyway. I’d never heard of this EP, although after the first Peter Criss solo album, which I bought upon release along with the three from the other KISSers, I must admit to never having gone looking for more Cat music. The scary thing after reading your post however is how badly I now want to own this! At what point does “collecting” become obsessive-compulsive disorder?

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    1. Well Victim, I crossed the line into OCD a long long time ago! If you read along with me as I go through my collection and see exactly what I mean!!!

      At the time I had high hopes for this EP, the hype was that Peter was returning to his “rock roots”. But unfortunately he did not learn how to write songs along the way.

      Wanna see something even worse? I bought Peter’s last solo album All For One, too!

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      1. Yeah man, I’m definitely following along! I guess collecting the joy-giving gift that is ROCK is better than ceramic pigs, eh?

        Looked up “All for One” on allmusic.com; not much there but a mention that Paul Shaffer (of David Letterman fame?!) played on the album. Egad!

        Also saw in a past post that you got The Cat’s book in December. Read it yet? It is staring at me on my Kindle but I haven’t gotten to it yet; currently working through the Clockwork Angels book…

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        1. I liked Clockwork Angels. I like that kind of imagery.

          I have not finished the Cat’s book. I got stuck on the amount of whining inside. I picked up Dee Snider’s book recently though, so that’ll be started soon.

          Paul Shaffer did appear on All For One. I…can’t remember much specific about that album, except that it sucked and I paid too much for it (over $20).

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    1. Thanks for the comment Geppetto! I was curious if anyone else also got sucked in by that. I was trying to find the original ad (I kept many of my rock magazines) to prove that it did say they were supposed to be hand signed and numbered by the Cat. Glad you recall the same thing!

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  4. Just finished the Peter Criss book last night. All the way through I kept thinking “poor Gene and Paul having to put up with this sour puss.” Maybe any author that can make a reader feel bad for Gene Simmons has some actual clandestine mad writing skills…

    That said, the last two chapters won me back to the Cat’s side temporarily: his description of his breast cancer experience and depression over the tanking of All for One made me want to give him a big hug and bring him some warm milk.

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    1. Awww!

      Yeah my impression of Peter’s book was pretty much the same. Very whiny. The whole time I couldn’t help but think, all you had to do was not rock the boat too much and you were set for life. I’m sure working with Paul and Gene ain’t no cakewalk, but those who have put ego aside have done well with them.

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