I call this a “non-review” because I’ve never actually listened to this CD. I’ve never even opened it. This disc is one of dozens of Russian imports sold to us by a guy named Serge. Ah, Serge — part time Russian CD distributor, part time male model. And a total pain in the ass. Most of what he tried to sell us was utter shit. “This is really big in Europe”, he would say about just about every dance CD that I would pass on. Because this CD is more a curiosity than anything else, I’d like to keep it sealed. These compilations are so shady that Discogs won’t even allow them for sale. Think of them as bootlegs. It’s not the real Kiss logo at the top and that should be cautioning. Because I don’t want to open it, I’ll just listen to the songs on other albums, and review it that way.
The track “Psycho Circus” is a logical opener for a CD released in 2000. The Psycho Circus album was Kiss’ most recent, and they opened their shows with the title track. It’s the closest thing to a classic from that album. Never mind that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss aren’t really on the song; that was typical for Kiss. It just takes one play and you know it’s Kiss. Nobody else sounds like this. Kiss basically ripped themselves off on this song.
Off to a good start, but then things go a bit strange. “Charisma” from 1979’s disco album Dynasty follows, and by contrast to “Psycho Circus”, the band has never played it live. (The internet will tell you they played it in Mexico in 1981, but this was just miming for a TV performance.) The Russians then dropped “Detrot Rock City” (yes, that’s how they spell it) in the third slot. Then it’s “God of Thunder” which works really well immediately following “Detroit”. Strangely, back to disco next. It’s the hit “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”, before it gets even weirder. Sandwiched between “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and a slew of tracks from the Kiss solo albums is the ballad “Beth”. Granted, “Beth” is pretty out of place no matter where she is placed. It’s also strange that three of Kiss’ biggest hits are crammed together in a small group like this. It’s even stranger when you look further down the tracklist and realize that one of the biggest hits (“Rock and Roll all Nite”) is completely absent in any form.
The only thing more jarring than hearing Gene Simmons’ solo track “Radioactive” immediately after “Beth” is when the painkillers start to wear off in the middle of a root canal. Were the solo albums big in Russia? All four solo albums get a track on this CD, though not all were singles like “Radioactive” was. Frehley’s “Rip It Out” is arguably a better song than his single anyway (“New York Groove”). “Rip It Out” is more than welcome here since it so rarely makes it onto compilations. It’s only on two others: Best of Solo Albums, and Ikons. Stanley’s next with “Ain’t Quite Right”, an interesting choice since it’s such a laid back track. His album has so many better songs for compiling. Last of the solo tracks is Peter’s single “Don’t You Let Me Down”, a nice ballad, but as you’ll see this CD already has enough ballads.
Back to the mainstream Kiss songs, “Do You Love Me” works really well as a transition out of the solo stuff. Then it’s time for some Elder. “A World Without Heroes” isn’t shunned like it used to be. It’s been on a few compilations, like Kiss 40, Icon 2, and the Box Set. Another hit from the disco era, Frehley’s “2000 Man” (a Stones cover) is a welcome addition. The only other compilation it’s been on was Ikons (not including live). Here’s a fact for you: a Kiss compilation is only strengthened by more Ace. Fortunately this isn’t the last.
As we get close to the end, “Shout It Out Loud” is rolled out, which makes up for the lack of “Rock and Roll all Nite”. Then the Russians go full Chernobyl by including the weak ballad “I Finally Found My Way” as the last song in the set. Why? Was this a hit in the motherland? Was it a hit anywhere? Peter sings it, but he didn’t write it. Paul did. And Paul was writing a lot of shit ballads back then.
Russian imports usually had “bonus tracks”. Sometimes they’d use tracks from live or solo albums. They went live in this case, with three tracks from the Psycho Circus bonus CD. Ace sings on “Into the Void”, one of those undeniable Frehley riffs. “Into the Void” was a highlight from the disappointing Psycho Circus, and this live take swaggers. “Black Diamond” is dramatic as ever, but where I give the Russians the most credit is closing the CD with “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll”. Think back and realize, that’s how the original Kiss Alive ended too.
I’m not going to bother giving this CD a rating (what’s the point?) but I will point out that the Russians go all over the place, from genius to asinine, with this track list. Sometimes it feels like they just threw a bunch of stuff to the wall and didn’t wait to see what stuck. At others it sounds well thought-out. It’s probably just random.