Some Kiss fans are willing to pay money for every burp and fart that Gene or Paul have committed to tape. Deadly Demos (or Deadly Kisses according to the CD itself) definitely has some material that is difficult to listen to quality-wise. It also has some decent versions of rare tracks that Kiss fans are seeking. When it comes to collecting Kiss, the band occasionally cough up official versions of heavily bootlegged rarities. The Kiss Box Set gave us a number of these tracks, as did Kiss 40 and the Love Gun deluxe edition. That may sound generous, but there are so many more Kiss demos out there that the band could easily compile onto a few CDs worth of decent tracks. Gene has always said “don’t worry, they’re coming”. Impatient fans have had to settle for shoddy unofficial discs like Deadly Demos to get their fix.
“Nowhere to Run”, originally from Kiss Killers, is an early version of the song, but the demo is unfortunately hampered by the too-fast tape speed. This can easily be fixed digitally, but the track suffers from high static and low clarity. It’s too bad because the demo version sounds fiery. “Secretly Cruel” (Asylum) is better and rocks harder than the album version. Because these are demos, you have to expect a certain lack of clarity, but it’s cool hearing slightly different arrangements and lyrics. “Nobody’s Perfect” is a great little song that didn’t appear officially until 2009’s Sonic Boom, heavily re-written, but the chorus was intact a long time ago. Another Gene demo “It’s Gonna Be Alright” just has a drum machine and simple guitar part, but it would be one of Kiss’s pop rock classics if they ever decide to commit it to album.
A Paul demo (“Get All You Can Take” from Animalize) breaks up the Gene party, but it is an instrumental version. It has a heavy Zeppelin sound without the vocals, but the sound quality is pretty poor. When these guys were recording demos like this, it was mostly just to get the idea down onto tape so you could show the others what your idea was. Fidelity was not considered essential, and a lot of these tapes had been copied many many times before they were finally digitized onto CD. “Thrills in the Night” is probably from the same source. You can hear other music leaking through too. The sound is atrocious, but what is cool here is that it gives you an idea how Paul Stanley writes. The music and melody are all but complete, but the lyrics are not, so Paul sings it in “doo doo doo” vocals. It’s incredible how intact the song already was at this stage, including a guitar solo that is clearly by Mark St. John. An earlier song, Paul’s “Deadly Weapons” from the Kiss Killers period would have been a fun hard rocking addition to that LP. Some of the lyrics were used on Gene’s “Love’s A Deadly Weapon” from Asylum, which is the reason it has a Stanley/Simmons/Swenson/Beech writing credit. Paul and Gene weren’t writing together for pretty much all of the 80’s, but Gene lifted some words from “Deadly Weapons”.
Populating the demos from the late 80’s, “Hide Your Heart” is outstanding, very close to the album cut, and has decent audio. However the real holy grail is “Sword and Stone”, the track Paul wrote but was recorded by Bonfire for the Shocker soundtrack. Having it on bootleg is not as good as having an official quality release, but this will have to do for now. Kiss really should have put out this version on something back when it was recorded. They shouldn’t have given it away. As such it’s become a fan favourite over the years. (Maybe Kiss should considering re-recording some of these old songs and releasing an album like Van Halen did.)
Other interesting tracks include “Let’s Put the X in Sex”, which isn’t even a demo. This sounds flat out like a bad remix of the album version. There are three “Let’s Put the X in Sex” remixes on this disc. These are supposed to be promotional dance-y remixes done to get the song some club play. While it’s nice to get tracks like this, the disc is called Deadly Demos, not Deadly Misc. Rarities. Come on people. The sound quality isn’t even a vinyl rip, so the origin of these remixes is questionable. A much better (though still not a demo) inclusion is “Hard Luck Woman” performed on Leno by Kiss and Garth Brooks in 1994, to promote the Kiss My Ass tribute album. From the same period, it’s Gin Blossoms and Kiss doing “Christine Sixteen”, on Letterman. There are a few other live tracks, from unknown (broadcast) origins, but you can tell it’s Eric Singer on drums, so it must have been the 90’s.
The most infamous Kiss outtake of all time is the song “Feels Like Heaven”, which Peter Criss actually recorded himself on his second solo album, Let Me Rock You. It’s an urban funk/soul combo but what exists on tape is just a snip of the song. The reason it is so infamous is that Gene ends the song with a pretty crude statement that I won’t even reproduce here! (And I’m a guy who’s written multiple articles about poop and pee!) Oh Gene, you smooth talker you.
In order to rate a disc like this, you have to remember that it doesn’t simply boil down to numbers. There are some valued tracks here, such as “Sword and Stone” and “Deadly Weapons”. There is also a lot of material that will strain you just to listen to it. As always, spend your money appropriately.