KLASSIK ’78 – Side One and Side Two (2017 EPs)
When I was a kid buying new Kiss albums likes Crazy Nights, I used to say “Kiss should go back and make a full album that sounds like Side Four of Alive II.” Either that or Kiss Killers. I thought either direction was worthy of re-visiting, since they were small collections of songs, not full albums.
The guys who created the original band Klassik ’78 read my mind, and decided to do something about it. In the spirit of the Kiss sound circa Alive II, Klassik ’78 took it upon themselves to write and record a “lost” Kiss studio record that could have followed Love Gun. Imagine Kiss didn’t split to make solo albums or return with a Disco record. Original Kiss, not ghost musicians. Klassik ’78 aimed to create an album from that exact year in that precise alternate universe. The remarkable thing is that they actually succeeded.
The Side One EP has a bangin’ opener: the Paul-styled “Standin’ Tall”. Paul-vocalist “Joe” nails the Starchild’s mannerisms, while the riff mimics that kind that Paul was writing around the time of Rock And Roll Over. A slaying Kiss-like chorus drives it home. Klassik ’78 member “Tom” rolls out a Gene-like song as authentic as the Demon’s long tongue. “Please n’ Tease” is a “Love ‘Em Leave ‘Em” styled sleaze rocker just like Simmons used to write them. There’s even an Ace-y solo that burns like the Spaceman’s rockets. “Mean Business” definitely nails the Alive II vibe, kind of like a sequel to “Larger Than Life” with a guy who’s doing his best to sound raspy like Peter Criss. Another perfect faux-Frehley solo is the ideal topping. “Passion & Love” is obviously a “Paul” song, a mirror image of “Mr. Speed” and a nearly perfect vocal. Every “Ooh yeah!” is spot-on. There’s a good chance you could fool any casual fan into thinking “Passion & Love” is an actual lost Kiss song from 1977. “Rock and Roll You” is another Gene-like vehicle, right in that Kiss pocket. Finally, with a title like “Streetwise”, you’re probably already expecting a track like Ace Frehley. That’s exactly what you get, with a crunchy Ace-like riff, sharp licks, and the same kind of spacey vocals (also by “Tom”). “I grew up in the city, spent my time on the street.” Every lyric on Side One is crafted to fit the Kiss member it’s for. The attention to detail is remarkable. Certain moments of the “Ace” guitar solo have bits inspired by Frehley’s 1978 solo album. It’s uncanny.
The important thing is that these are not just tracks that sound exactly like Kiss songs. These are songs that sound exactly like good Kiss songs. Could Klassik ’78 deliver another six tracks to make it a full, good album?
“Joe” in the Paul Stanley guise opens Side Two with a stunning “World on Fire”. It is in the style of Stanley’s ’78 solo disc, but with the Frehley guitar fills of Kiss instead of Bob Kulick. Time for a “Gene” song next with “Ain’t No Fool”, kinda similar to “Mad Dog” as released on the Box Set. Another obvious Ace title is “Jendell”; I say “obvious” because hard core fans know that Ace Frehley supposedly comes from planet Jendell. “I was sent on a mission, light years ago. To help the human condition, for how long I didn’t know.” Yep, it’s a “Space Ace” track and a good one at that, once again with tones inspired directly from the Frehley solo album. Back to Alive II (think “Rockin’ in the USA”), it’s another “Gene” song with “American Made”. The title alone is perfectly Simmons. “I”m American Made, and all my dues have been paid.” In the vibe of “Makin’ Love”, it’s a Stanley-like “Hot On Her Heels” next. Once again, you could easily fool friends into thinking this is actually Kiss. Closing Side Two is “Victims (Nosferatu)”, implying a Kiss Demon epic. Think “Almost Human” from Love Gun, but with more heft. Klassik kloser, pardon the pun.
I’m not going to bullshit you. If the Klassik ’78 album was a real Kiss album from 1978, it would be considered one of their best, with the original six. Obviously Kiss have no intention of ever making an album like this, so why not let Klassik ’78 have some fun with it? Clearly the fans responded, because the limited run of CDs (re-titled The Un-Originals) sold out immediately.
Check out Klassik ’78 on iTunes, put on your old jean jacket and set your time machine back to 1978. This album will transport you back.