This review is for reader Juan, from Spain — thank you for reading!
KISS – Monster (Japan Tour Edition, 2013 Universal Japan)
In my 32 years of collecting music, I have learned a number of immutable laws of the hobby. The Three Laws of Collecting are:
The First Law: Japan shall always get the best stuff.
The Second Law: Anything worth releasing is worth re-releasing.
The Third Law: Kiss fans shall buy anything, often more than once.
The Three Laws of Collecting are why I now have purchased my fifth copy of Kiss Monster. The album came out in 2012, meaning I have bought more than one copy per year since its release: Original CD, vinyl, iTunes, Japanese CD, and now this 2 CD Japan Tour Edition, which has all the tracks from all the versions, and then some.
This is not a review of Monster; we have reviewed that album twice now (once by Mike Ladano and once by Tommy Morais). Rather this is a review of the Tour Edition’s second disc, which is a pretty cool “best of” collection covering a very nice chunk of Kisstory. What can another greatest hits possibly offer? Believe it or not, the Monster Tour Edition has a slightly different slant that might be interesting to die-hards.
This is the first time “Psycho Circus” has opened a Kiss compilation. It was their tour opener in 1998-99 and so naturally fits this slot. It was one of the stronger tracks from Psycho-Circus itself, which was otherwise a pretty disappointing reunion album. Mainly because Peter and Ace barely played on it. Indeed, on this track you will get Kevin Valentine on drums and Tommy Thayer on guitar, uncredited. That said, the track still kicks ass and has proven to be the only song from that album that still gets played now and then.
I’m always happy to hear oldies like “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll” on a hits CD. The same goes for “Black Diamond”, one of the more epic Kiss tracks. These old album cuts might not be as well known to casual fans and might surprise even Kiss haters. However, no casual fan or Kiss hater is going to be hearing the Monster Tour Edition. So the die-hards again will be hearing “Shout it Out Loud”, “Rock and Roll all Nite”, “Detroit Rock City”, “God of Thunder”, “Love Gun” and “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” for the umpteenth time. Mixed in among these are some of the second-tier hits from the 80’s: “I Love it Loud”, “Lick It Up”, “Heaven’s On Fire”. The exact mixture of ingredients is different, but these songs have been on best-of CDs by Kiss before.
The one unique inclusion is “Say Yeah” from 2009’s Sonic Boom, its first appearance on a hits disc. Its place here is deserved. Sonic Boom represented a strong return to the studio for Kiss after a decade long absence. “Say Yeah” was one of three songs played live in concert, and sounds the most like a timeless Kiss anthem. (Sonic Boom was represented on the last greatest hits compilation, Kiss 40, by “Modern Day Delilah”.)
Finally there is the riffy “Right Here Right Now” which was previously the iTunes bonus track for Monster. A physical copy is always better, and a Japanese high quality HMCD is even better than that. And don’t worry — the original Japanese bonus track, a live version of “King of the Night Time World” from the Rock the Nation tour, is still intact on disc one. (More on that in the video below.)
This version of Monster is finally the definitive one with all the tracks in one place. The bonus hits disc is some pretty awesome icing. When you have as many hits discs as Kiss do, you may just wonder “what’s the difference”? Each one is different in its own often minor ways, and fans who appreciate this stuff will enjoy hearing a couple unique tunes for a change.
The only flaw with this HMCD reissue is that it lacks the original 3D lenticular cover. That is a bummer. I simply kept my original cover (it is a separate piece you can take out) from a prior version of Monster which I later gifted to a friend. In fact that friend reviewed the single disc Japanese Monster!
I must add another law to my Three Laws of Collecting:
The Zeroth Law*: You shall always have some buyer’s regret.
It is true. I had all these songs before. The only one I didn’t have physically was the iTunes download “Right Here Right Now”. But I “had” to have it. I could question that. “You could have put that money towards some new tires”. The CD could have paid for a week of lunches at Harvey’s. A fool and their money?
I’m fine with that.
*I didn’t make that word up. Isaac Asimov added the Zeroth Law of Robotics to his Three Laws in 1985.