There is so much more to Kiss than just the original members. Sure, you may think Ace Frehley rules, and that his solo albums are awesome. You’d be right — I’ve reviewed every single Ace Frehley album. But let’s not forget about Bruce Kulick, who humbly held down the fort from 1984-1996. Today, Kulick’s rocking the house with Grand Funk, and doing a fine job of it. But just as there is more to Kiss than just the original members, there is more to Bruce than just Kiss or Grand Funk. Bruce has always treated Kiss with respect, and his solo music shows the same care and love put into it. BK3 is my favourite of his solo albums, including Audio Dog and Transformer.
Surely one of the draws to this Kulick record has to be the big name guest appearances. The best of these is the late Doug Fieger (The Knack) on “Dirty Girl”, an incredibly catchy radio rocker. So good is it, Classic Rock magazine listed it as the 29th best tune of 2010. Hey, that’s a proud moment! If I didn’t know it was Fieger singing, I wouldn’t have guessed. I figured it was some young unknown with a great voice. As great as this song is, and how hit-worthy it could have been, I don’t think it would have suited Kiss. It’s too pop for Kiss, I think, but it’s not sell-out in any way, because Kulick makes sure the guitars are sweet, crunchy and loud. Other guest shots include Steve Lukather, dueling with Bruce on the only instrumental “Between the Lines”. Tobias Sammet shows up to sing the grinding “I’m an Animal”, and on drums is Kiss drummer Eric Singer. As if that’s not enough, there are not one but two Simmons on this album. The old man sings “Ain’t Gonna Die”, a heavy Kiss-like armor plated beast. Then the Son of Simmons, young Nicholas, sings on the even better “Hand of the King”. Almost a dead ringer for his old man, Nick lends the song a demon-like aura.
There is one more cool guest shot that needs to be highlighted. There are 3/4 of Bruce’s old late-90’s band Union, on a great tune called “No Friend of Mine”. John Corabi lends his unmistable gravel to this melancholy rocker. With shades of acoustics and ripping lead vocals, this as good as anything in the original Union catalogue. I still think their debut album was incredible. Canuck Brent Fitz is on drums, also from the Union days but probably on a break from Slash. Only bassist Jamie Hunting is missing, but it’s safe to say that this song could easily fall under the Union umbrella. Kulick’s shredding on this one is insane, used sparingly but effectively.
BK3 is also diverse. Bruce sings the rest of the material, but the most interesting is the closing ballad “Life”. It sounds like a King’s X track circa Faith Hope Love, augmented with violins and the flute! This is truly is an outstanding ballad. Bruce would be the first one to say “I’m not a singer”, so it takes courage to do the lead vocal on a track like this. Bruce’s voice has his personality in it: it sounds like the Bruce Kulick we know and love. It’s a very human sound, and he does a great job. His voice is similar to Steve Vai’s, another artist who is not afraid to sing lead.
If you appreciate great rock music, meticulously and lovingly assembled, then give BK3 a shot. There are so many great songs on here. If you’re a fan of Kiss, The Knack, Motley Crue, or any of the other guests, then this purchase is somewhat of a no-brainer!