Christine Sixteen

Gallery: First New Arrivals at LeBrain HQ for the of Summer 2017

We have had a solid rain in Kitchener, Ontario. Not only are the banks of the Grand swollen to the limit, but there has also been a steady rainfall of new arrivals at LeBrain HQ! Summer has officially arrived, and what is summer without new rock?

First we have some gratuity for Mr. Geoff “1001” Stephen. Some surprise mail arrived from him this week: two 7″ singles and some Leafs memorabilia. As Mrs. LeBrain said, “Thank you Geoff Stephen for the wonderful surprise this morning. The calendar brought back so many memories of my favourite hockey year. Go Leafs Go!”

For myself, a Kiss “Christine Sixteen”/”Shock Me” single, which alas is too late to fit into my Love Gun re-review!  Those two songs make it virtually a double A-side.  The other single he sent has a similar standing:  Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town”/”Jailbreak”.  Two singles, four amazing cuts of rock history.

On the same day, I received this from a Discogs seller in Japan:  a CD that has been on my wishlist a long time.  Despite the long wait, I managed to hold off from buying the domestic edition of Ghost’s debut Opus Eponymous all this time.  A sealed copy finally came up on Discogs within my buying threshold, so I jumped at it.  For my rewards, I got “Here Comes the Sun”, Ghost’s Beatles cover…and a very different one it is.

We will jump briefly to new arrivals in the toy department.  Thanks to J. at Resurrection Songs we recently covered the ins and outs of Third Party products.  Behold!  Badcube has released their take on Masterpiece Transformer Insecticons.  These are heavy, heavy toys with lots of diecast and G1 accurate insect modes, with robot modes an homage to the cartoon.  Check them out with their leader Megatron (third party Apollyon) and their original 1985 toys below.  These, by the way, are deluxe collector’s editions with clear plastic and chromed parts for added value.  I’d love to compare them to an official Hasbro Masterpiece Insecticon, but such a thing does not exist.  That’s why third party companies have a niche.  Labels by Toyhax.

Apollyon by X-Transbots with Evil Bug Corps by Badcube

Badcube Claymore and Transformers G1 Shrapnel

Badcube Hypno and Transformers G1 Bombshell

Badcube Kickbutt and Transformers G1 Kickback

Last new entry in the toy Department: I found some new Star Wars Black Series 6″ releases kicking around at the local Toys R Us on Sunday.  I should have grabbed more of the Imperial AT-ACT driver, that one being a Target/TRU exclusive, but sometimes you find those to still be warming the pegs a few weeks later.  The Imperial Death Squad commander will look great with my Stormtroopers, but I feel to ask $30 for one little tiny Jawa figure is a bit much.  They should have included two Jawas or a droid in there for that price.

 

The same day as the Toys R Us trip, I also dropped in at the newly re-opened Sunrise Records at Fairview Mall, which is really starting to come along with great customer service and an improving selection.  I couldn’t browse long, so I leaped immediately to the metal section and grabbed two CDs that I was missing by The Sword:  Low Country (2016) and the new live album Greetings From… (2017).   I am slowly getting caught up on that band — loving everything I have heard so far.

A wonderful week to be sure, but it’s time to stop buying music and toys for a short while, and get ready for Sausagefest 2017.  I finished recording my parts yesterday, and I have inside information that suggests that this Sausagefest countdown will be pretty awesome.

Stay tuned.

 

 

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RE-REVIEW: KISS – Love Gun (1977)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 9:  

LOVE GUN DELUXE_0002kiss-logo – Love Gun (1977 Casablanca, 2014 Universal reissue)

By the late 1970s, Kiss had achieved more than most bands do in an entire career.  In 1977, Marvel comics released the first ever Kiss comic.  Famously, as a publicity stunt, each Kiss member had a vial of blood drawn, and poured into the red ink.  “Printed in real KISS blood”  proclaimed the front cover.  Can you imagine such a thing in 2017?  In 1978, the toy company Mego marketed the first set of Kiss action figures.  The phenomenon of Kiss was almost eclipsing the music.  Perhaps it would have completely, if Kiss didn’t continue to release excellent albums on a biannual basis.  Their first album of 1977 was the legendary Love Gun.  Even the Ken Kelly cover art depicts Kiss as demi-gods of some kind.  Inside, the merchandising spilled over to the album.  Kiss were determined to give their fans a little extra, and so the album was packed with little cardboard “love guns” that you could assemble yourself…accompanied by a Kiss merch mail-away form.

 

The music brightly outshone all the flash and trimmings.  Again with Eddie Kramer in the producer’s chair, Kiss sought to make a focused heavy rock record.  Their material had rarely been stronger.  Paul Stanley was becoming handy at writing opening tracks that defined what an album was going to sound like.  “I Stole Your Love” cranked it fast with one of Paul’s most thunderous riffs.  The tribal sounding drums by Peter Criss are an apt example of what made him great at the time.  Criss was not a technical drummer, but he had the right feel and a knack for the perfect fill.  Ace Frehley soars in and dive bombs with an unforgettable lightning solo.  Gene Simmons is there in the back, adding the thump.  “I Stole Your Love” in a mere three minutes encapsulates everything about Love Gun that makes it great.

Gene Simmons’ demon character had another side; that of the “creepy old man”.  “I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you coming out of school that day, that day I knew…I knew!…I’ve got to have you, I’ve got to have you!”  Probably from the perspective of a highschool senior, but still, it came from Gene’s mouth.  The less said about the words the better, for “Christine Sixteen” is one of Gene’s most perfect musical moments.  Eddie Kramer provides the piano for a vintage rock and roll sound.  A Kiss classic it is, and Peter once again has the perfect fills for the song.

 

Moving on to “Got Love For Sale”, the lecherous Simmons now “has love, will travel”.  Uptempo sleeze is perfect for Kiss’ friendly demon, but Frehley is the real star here.  Speaking of whom, the Space Ace finally worked up the courage to sing his first lead vocal on his trademark Kiss song “Shock Me”.  On the prior tour, Ace nearly electrocuted himself on stage when he touched a railing that wasn’t grounded properly.  “Shock Me” is a humorous reference to this.  Any Frehley track has a unique flavour.  He attacks his Gibson and assembles chords and riffs in a style all his own.  “Shock Me” showed he could sing too, finally adding a fourth voice to a Kiss album.  For the first time, Love Gun has all four Kiss members singing lead.  The first side was bookended by another Paul Stanley track, the killer “Tomorrow and Tonight”.  Piano and Motown-style female backing vocals give the track a classic feel, and Paul once again came up with a sweet candy-coated chorus.  Echoing a previous hit, Paul sings “We can rock all day, we can roll all night.”

The most well known track from Love Gun is the title track itself.  It has been in the set regularly since 1977 and is generally considered one of Paul Stanley’s best songs (if not his very best).  All the ingredients click perfectly.  “Love Gun” kills and cannot be improved upon.  Even if, when you think about it, “Love Gun” is a metaphor for “penis”, and the lyrics amount to singing, “You pull the trigger of my…penis, penis, penis”.  Substitute “penis” every time Paul sings “Love Gun” and see.  Paul Stanley is an absolute genius, because he has gotten stadiums full of thousands of people to sing an ode to his cock, and that’s cool.


“See Ronnie? His dick is the gun!”

Peter Criss only had one track on Love Gun, a Stan Penridge co-write called “Hooligan”.  It was good enough to get some live performances, though it and Gene’s “Almost Human” occupy the lower rungs of the Love Gun album.  The best thing about both “Hooligan” and “Almost Human” is that both perfectly fit the personas that sing them.  Peter has always emphasized his tough street upbringing, but as the lovable cat character, and that’s “Hooligan”.  “Almost Human” is 100% the sex-crazed demon, almost a theme song.  The bass thumps, but there is some interesting percussion stuff happening too.  Simmons continues looking for love in “Plaster Caster”, his encounter with the legendary Cynthia Plaster Caster.   One can assume that Gene Simmons’ wang is among those on her display.  “A token of my love for her collection.”  “Plaster Caster” rocks hard (pun intended) and has balls (also intended).

Love Gun surprisingly closes on a Phil Spector classic, “And Then She Kissed Me” (gender reversed) by the Crystals.  Paul Stanley helms it, a romantic number perfect for Kiss content at weddings.  The Kiss-ified version is almost comically guitar heavy, but Kiss have managed a number of unusual covers over the years.  Adapting it to their sound, Paul owns “And Then She Kissed Me”, especially when topped by an awesome and appropriate solo.

The Love Gun tour that followed this album is one of Kiss’ most legendary: the dual staircases, levitating cat drums,  and of course the big Kiss logo in behind.  Kiss were huge.  A gallup poll put Kiss as the most popular band in America, over Zeppelin, Aerosmith and the Stones.  When bank accounts inflate, so do egos.  With success comes cost.  Though the Love Gun period is all but universally lauded, it was also the last unified album before some members became liabilities.

Today’s rating:

5/5 stars

See Ronnie?  His dick is the gun!


Uncle Meat’s rating:

3.5/5 steaks 

Meat’s slice:  This was Peter Criss’ last album with Kiss for a long time.  Love Gun is a hit and miss record in Meat’s opinion.  Or maybe better put…hit and somewhat miss.  I think there are simply too many forgettable songs on this album.    “Then She Kissed Me”, “Hooligan”, “Got Love For Sale”, “Tomorrow and Tonight” and “Almost Human” are all average at best.  That’s half the album right there.  There are also standout songs. Obviously the title track is a Rock and Roll classic now, the album’s opener “I Stole Your Love” is a hot tamale, and I have always loved the catchy “Christine Sixteen”, especially that chorus.

However, Love Gun is a very significant Kiss album simply because of one song.  I don’t know a Kiss fan that doesn’t love “Shock Me”.  The debut of Ace Frehley as a “singer-songwriter” so to speak, made many wish he would have sung a few more before things all fell apart.  Some of the songs coming up in the next few albums, including his solo album, are some of Kiss’ best material in my opinion. 

Maybe they just ran out of ideas.  Should have been half an album of Ace songs instead.

Favorite Tracks:  “Shock Me”, “Love Gun”,  “I Stole Your Love”, “Christine Sixteen”

Forgettable Tracks:  Look above


To be continued…

Original mikeladano.com review:  2012/07/011
Deluxe Edition review:  2014/11/09

REVIEW: KISS – Love Gun (2014 Deluxe Edition)

NEW RELEASE

KISS – Love Gun (2014 Universal Deluxe edition, originally 1977 Casablanca)

Mrs. LeBrain picked this CD up for me on Friday November 7 at the local HMV store, an adventure in itself that we will tell in a future Getting More Tale installment.  Love Gun is the first ever Kiss Universal “Deluxe Edition” to be released, hopefully the first of many.  You can understand why it would have been chosen first.  In 2012 they already released the newly remixed Destroyer (Resurrected), and the second most beloved studio album in Kisstory may well be Love Gun.

Like other Universal deluxes, Love Gun is a 2 CD digipack, with liner notes, rare photos, a fresh remastering and bonus tracks.  One of these bonus tracks is previously released.  The demo “Reputation” was only released a few short months ago on the commemorative Kiss 40 compilation.

First, let’s talk about disc one, the remastered Love Gun.  This sounds about as definitive as it gets.  The cymbals sound nice and crisp to me, not fizzling out in the distance.  I am very pleased with the sound.  You can see that it is not overdriven.  You can hear plenty of nuance in the instruments.  I hope this is about as close as you can get to the sound of listening to Love Gun in the studio control room.

GOT LOVE FOR SALE

2014 remaster of “Got Love For Sale”

For a more detailed review of the original Love Gun album, you can check out my original from my 2012 Kiss review series.  I rated it 5/5 stars.  From that review, “The classics here are among Kiss’ all time best. ‘Shock Me’, ‘I Stole Your Love’, and ‘Love Gun’ are still played in Kiss’ set circa 2012…’Tomorrow And Tonight’ and ‘Christine Sixteen’ were on Alive II.”  On the other hand I also said, “there’s a little bit of filler on here. I’m not a big fan of ‘Almost Human’ even though Gene is, and some people dislike ‘Hooligan’ although I love it. I could also take or leave ‘Got Love For Sale’.”  Since writing that, I’ve changed my tune on “Got Love For Sale” which I like a lot more today.

And yes, I did have “And Then She Kissed Me” played at my wedding.  I’m very proud of that fact.

The rarities here include some goodies that I have never heard before.  “Much Too Soon” is a slower Beatles-esque rock ballad.  Although I think it’s a pretty cool Gene Simmons experiment, it was clearly not suited to the heavier material on Love Gun.  If Gene had released it on his 1978 solo album, it would have been one of the stronger tracks.  The aforementioned “Reputation” is another decent tune from the Love Gun sessions.  In my review for Kiss 40, I said, “You can hear that aspects of this song later made it into other Gene Simmons compositions such as ‘Radioactive’.  This is one of those song titles I’d read about for years, but have never heard until now.  Cool.  While the song is definitely a demo, and not quite as good as most finished Kiss songs, it does boast a cool dual guitar solo and rocking piano a-la ‘Christine Sixteen’.”  The third and final unreleased song is called “I Know Who You Are”, which is actually a demo version of “Living In Sin” from Gene’s solo album, with a different chorus.  The verses are the same, and I think I might prefer it to the overly funky “Living In Sin”.

IMG_20141108_091221

Other unreleased goodies on the deluxe are 1977 demos of familiar songs.  “Plaster Caster” is pretty tight in terms of how the final version went.  Paul’s “teaching demo” of “Love Gun” is interesting.  He’s naming and recording the chords from the song as he goes, presumably to show the other members how to play it.  It’s in inessential track, interesting only to fans, but cool nonetheless.  This leads directly into an unreleased band demo of the song.  You get to hear the evolution in motion.  This band demo is all but identical to the final version, right down to the shimmering Frehley chord effects.  Then there’s a great instrumental demo for “Tomorrow and Tonight”.   Of the demo tracks, this is probably the greatest treasure.  I love hearing the bare guitars and drums of the four classic Kiss guys just playing together as only they can.  Ace Frehley’s solo is a work in progress but some of the key hooks are already in place.

Three 1977 live unreleased tracks are also quite the treat.  These are from December 20 1977, in Landover Maryland.  This was the second of a two night stand there.  If you ever wished the Alive II album wasn’t as polished sounding as it is, then you will be happy with these three tracks.  Yes, you get “Love Gun” four times, but who freakin’ cares?  It’s “Love Gun”.  You also get “Christine Sixteen” and Ace Frehley’s “Shock Me” complete with guitar solo.  So suck on that.

LOVE GUN DELUXE_0006The final audio bonus is a 7-minute Gene Simmons interview from 1977, from a radio station in Montreal Quebec.  It’s an interesting interview, but I’d be happier if more demos were on the CD rather than an interview.  However, let’s be honest — reasonable Kiss fans know that the Simmons/Van Halen demo of “Christine Sixteen” was not going to be on here.  Like Eddie and Alex want that to happen.

The packaging is great, with commentary from the musicians and writers involves, and artist Ken Kelly.  (These comments are re-printed from other sources.)  Also included is Ken Kelly’s original concept for the cover art, which was rejected for not being as grand and large as Kiss felt they were.   Finally there’s a two page essay by Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, who says he’s seen them play “Love Gun” live over 40 times, so I’d say he’s qualified.  Elliott waxes nostalgic about the days when bands used to release two albums a year.

A final note:  The Love Gun deluxe edition is supposed to come with a fridge magnet, but many have been opened and found to be missing the magnet.  I have already contacted Universal about a replacement.

4.5/5 stars