The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 24: New bonus review!
For the first time in my life, I bought a CD that sounded so shitty, I couldn’t even stand to listen to it. I knew that the bootleg CD, Kiss Demos 1981-1983 wasn’t going to sound terrific, because my neighbor George had a version of this on LP way back in the day. I didn’t know it was going to sound this horrid.
Demos 1981-1983 collects some Kiss and assorted tracks, from some very dubious sources. It sounds like 12th generation cassettes, complete with music bleeding through. You can actually hear “Tokyo Road” by Bon Jovi bleeding through on track 7. Enjoy the tape drop-out and inaudible drums too. There are some interesting bits here, and some useless ones.
You can divide this CD into three sections. The first six tracks seem to be Vinnie Vincent demos. They include “Boyz Are Gonna Rock”, which evolved into two separate songs. The verses became “And on the 8th Day” by Kiss, from the 1983 album Lick It Up. The choruses became “Boyz Are Gonna Rock” from Vinnie Vincent Invasion’s debut LP. These demos reportedly feature Vinnie himself on lead vocals, and he does a fine job of it in fact. Why did he even need a lead singer? Another curious track is “Back on the Streets” which Ace Frehley was known to play live before his first Frehley’s Comet album. In fact the Comet band covered it on the tribute album Return of the Comet, and Vinnie put it on the first Invasion album. Finally there is the track listed on the back as “Your Baby”. This is actually “Baby O” also from Invasion’s debut.
Moving on from the Vincent tracks, there are a few Kiss demos supposedly from The Elder sessions. These include titles that are probably made up: “Heaven”, “The Unknown Force” and “Council of the Elder”. They are accompanied by an instrumental demo of “A World Without Heroes” and the original Frehley version of “Dark Light”, called “Don’t Run”. These are actually really cool skeletons of tracks. The one titled “Unknown Force” is a bass-led instrumental, and it has a funky little guitar part that is insanely nifty, but it’s just one idea that needs to be fleshed out. Then there is “Heaven” which fans today know better as “Carr Jam” (on Kiss’s Revenge) or “Breakout” (on Frehley’s Comet). Eric Carr wrote this riff for The Elder sessions and though Kiss didn’t use it, Ace did. “A World Without Heroes” is an instrumental on which you can barely hear guitars. Finally there is the track called “Council of the Elder” which could be the best of the lot. It has a Zeppelin-y beginning reminiscent of things like “Thank You”, before it blasts into a cool riff that I don’t recognize from anywhere else. Only a small part of the song seems to have been used, in “Only You”.
The third chunk of songs focuses on Lick It Up demos, a boring bunch of inaudible crap, all but one snippet called “You”. It’s just a few chords and a vocal melody idea that Paul and Vinnie came up with, but it’s cool to hear them harmonize. It’s possible this track evolved into “A Million to One” as the chords are similar.
The most inexcusable inclusion on this CD is “Young & Wreckless” which claims to be a Lick It Up demo with vocals by Vinnie Vincent. This inclusion is an error that goes all the way back to the vinyl versions of this bootleg that circulated in the 80s. The immediately obvious issue is that it’s not Vinnie Vincent singing, it’s Brian Vollmer. That’s because “Young & Wreckless” is a Helix song, and this track is lifted right from their 1984 album Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge! Like the rest of the CD, it sounds like an 18th generation cassette copy.
This disc is for die-hards only. What I’d like to see is an official release of the demo tracks from The Elder period, which are great. Next box set, boys?
To be continued…