The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 41: Eric Carr solo #1.
It’s back and picking up right where we left off: the death of Eric Carr. The previous chapter of this series was posted November 8 2017, with the intention to talk about Eric Carr’s demos next, before moving on to his replacement. When Eric died of cancer in 1991, he left behind several tapes of unreleased material that have since been issued on CD. Likewise, the Kiss Re-Review Series was derailed by Mrs. LeBrain’s cancer diagnosis, but will carry on now that she is well. Thank you for your patience!
The late drummer Eric Carr was frustrated towards the end. He was writing good material, but it was always being rejected by Paul and Gene. In the press, Eric would tow the company line and explain that everybody else had such good songs, that there was no room for his. In his heart, he was hurt and felt shunned.
Eric Carr wasn’t just a drummer. He could sing lead, and he could write. Kiss’ single “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” was an Eric idea. He co-wrote “Don’t Leave Me Lonely” with Bryan Adams. Although his writing credits on Kiss albums were sparse, he had plenty of material in the can. 2000’s Rockology is a series of those demos, some in a near-finished state and some left incomplete. Much of this material was intended for a cartoon Eric was working on called The Rockheads. 10 years later, Bruce Kulick finished recording some guitar parts and mixed it for release. He also wrote liner notes explaining the origins and Eric’s intentions for each track.
Eric didn’t have a particularly commercial voice, falling somewhere south of a Gene Simmons growl. There’s no reason why Gene couldn’t have sung “Eyes of Love” from 1989, which has more balls than a lot of Hot in the Shade. This demo has Eric on drums and bass, and Bruce Kulick on guitar with a solo overdubbed in 1999. It doesn’t sound like a finished Kiss song, but it could have been tightened up to become one. Same with the ballad “Everybody’s Waiting”. It sounds custom written for Paul Stanley. But it was 1989, and nothing was going to displace “Forever” from the album, nor should it have.
Many of the demos have no words. “Heavy Metal Baby” features Eric scatting out a loose melody. This heavy and chunky riff would have been perfect for the later Revenge album, had Eric lived. In a strange twist, several of the best songs are instrumentals. The hidden gem on this CD is the unfinished “Just Can’t Wait”. It could have given Journey and Bon Jovi a run for their money. Eric, Bruce and Adam Mitchell wrote it for Crazy Nights, and you can almost hear a killer chorus just waiting to leap out at you. This potential hit could have been the best song on Crazy Nights, had it been finished.
“Mad Dog” has nothing to do with the Anvil song of the same name. The chorus is there but the verses are a work in progress. This hard rocker from 1987 was probably too heavy for what Kiss were doing, though it would have added some much needed groove. “You Make Me Crazy” is in a similar state of completion and boasts a tap-tastic solo by Bruce. Apparently this demo was originally called “Van Halen” and you can hear why. Two versions of a song called “Nightmare” exist, including a really rough one without drums. This incomplete song could have really been something special. It has a dramatic feel and different moods, and was probably too sophisticated for Kiss, though any number of 80s rock bands would have been lucky to have such good material.
The last batch of tracks show off the Rockheads material. Whether Eric’s cartoon idea ever would have happened or not, the advent of bobble-heads and Pops would have made marketing easy. The songs are virtually complete though the drums are programmed. “Too Cool For School” is a little cartoony, which is the point, right? For keyboard ballads, “Tiara” showed promise. It’s not the equal of “Reason to Live” but it demonstrates a side to Eric unheard before. Next, Bruce says that they always wanted Bryan Adams to cover “Do You Feel It”. It would have fit Adams like a nice jean jacket. Not that Adams really needed the help, it would have been awesome on Waking Up the Neighbors. The set closes with “Nasty Boys”, nothing exceptional. It sounds like a song called “Nasty Boys” would sound…or anything by 80s Kiss really.
Before you spend your hard-earned dollars, remember that these songs are definitely unfinished. They are as polished as possible given some of their rough (cassette) origins. Eric’s talent still shines, but you have to be a fan. Especially a fan of 80s Kiss. They will find it to be a crucial companion piece to their collections.
Long live the Fox!
Original mikeladano.com review: 2014/04/24