Marco, Tim and I had a blast taking a deep dive into Kiss’ Creatures of the Night album, box set, and tour! Marco presented a collection of four Kiss bootlegs from the Creatures era. Tim brought the vinyl and cassettes. He even had a related 8-track tape. I dove deep into the Kiss box set: the book, the goodies, the music, the stories and the packaging! (For those asking me for a box set review, this is pretty much it!) Additionally, Uncle Meat stopped by with his memories of seeing the Creatures tour at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Finally, “Ask Harrison” returned with two of the best questions for my Aussie co-host yet. Harrison doesn’t have much in the way of Kiss but did present some interesting stuff in terms of Slade, Deep Purple, Def Leppard, and more.
GRAB A STACK OF ROCK…with Mike and the Mad Metal Man Episode 5: Special guests Marco D’Auria and Tim Durling
Week five of Grab a Stack of Rock, and the Kiss Creatures of the Night box set has finally arrived! And it’s awesome – the best Kiss box set to date. We’ll tell you why tonight. Additionally, Marco D’Auria and Tim Durling from the Contrarians will be on hand to show off some of their own Kiss goodies. D’ya think Tim will have 8-track tapes? What are the odds?
The popular “Ask Harrison” feature also returns, with two of the best questions yet. Let’s hope our boy from Australia is ready!
– Creatures of the Night(1982 Casablanca, 1985 Polygram reissue, 1997 Mercury remaster)
The internal problems with Kiss continued full-bore into their next album, the surprisingly powerful Creatures of the Night. Ace Frehley was on the cover, and in the music video, but like Peter Criss before him, he didn’t play a note. In the midst of recording with new producer Michael James Jackson (Red Rider), they were also auditioning new guitarists to replace the Ace.
As a result of the embarrassing failure of their concept album fiasco Music From the Elder, Kiss had little choice in what to do next. If they had any hope of survival as a musical entity, they had to return to rock. What may have come as a surprise given their recent history including two pop “Kissco” albums was that their new music was really, really heavy. Kiss were unleashed and went full-bore heavy metal.
Aiding and abetting this: drummer Eric Carr was unchained on Creatures of the Night. His drum sound, inspired by the massive slam of Zeppelin’s John Bonham, was completely off the hook. These are by far the biggest sounding drums on any Kiss album. Also helping the band get heavier: a new songwriting partner. Vincent Cusano wrote and played on several tracks on Creatures. His talent was evident to all.
In fact there is a school of thought today regarding Mr. Cusano, later redubbed “Vinnie Vincent”. A large vocal group of fans proclaim today that “Vinnie Saved Kiss”. And that theory does hold some water.
Other contributors to the LP included Canadian writing team Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance. Adam Mitchell and Mikel Japp also wrote with Paul and Gene. Guitarists Robben Ford, Steve Farris and Adam Mitchell lent chops and solos to the album. One guy who Gene claims came to the studio, but did not play, was one Eddie Van Halen. According to Gene Simmons, Eddie came down and poured his heart out complaining how miserable he was in Van Halen…and then asked to join Kiss. Believe it…or not?
The incendiary title track “Creatures of the Night” is powerful and instantaneous enough to be used as a concert opener. The metallic chug was new to Kiss, but not alien to them. This anthemic Paul Stanley rocker had the goods. Kiss were back, and in a big way. Just listen to those opening drums! It’s as if Kiss knew that Eric Carr still needed a more suitable introduction, and they gave it to him.
Creatures is notable for one major “first”. It was the first of many Kiss studio albums to only feature two lead singers, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Gene’s debut on Creatures is the incredible “Saint and Sinner”, heavy but low-key and based on a killer verse melody. “Get me off this carousel, you can do as you please…you can go to hell,” sings an angry Demon. And that’s Vinnie, absolutely smoking with a brilliantly melodic guitar solo. What a player…but only when he can control his instincts to play too fast.
Paul turns up the sex on “Keep Me Comin’” (har-de-har har!), a sleazy Kiss rocker with a heavy Zeppelin groove. While not quite filler material, “Keep Me Comin’” and another Paul track called “Danger” are definitely on the lower rungs of this album. “Danger” is the prototype for a kind of speed metal Kiss rocker that Paul threw on all the albums from this point to 1985.
One of Paul’s best songs, and longest lasting in concert, was the ballad “I Still Love You”. This is one heavy ballad, but Paul’s singing is completely over the top. Again, it’s more like a heavy Zeppelin blues ballad. A track like this proves why Paul is considered one of the greatest hard rock singers of all time. Not too many can do it like Paul on “I Still Love You”…and that’s Eric Carr on bass, by the way. Gene doesn’t play bass on most of Paul’s songs. Jimmy Haslip (ex-Blackjack featuring Michael Bolton and future Kiss member Bruce Kulick) and Mike Porcaro took over bass duties on “Danger” and “Creatures” respectfully.
As for Gene, Creatures really sounds up his alley, with tunes like “Rock and Roll Hell”, “Killer”, and “War Machine” suiting his dark persona. And what tunes these are, particularly “Rock and Roll Hell” which simmers with a midnight intensity. The song rides the basic bassline with not much in the way of additional crunch, into chorus time. The interesting thing is the song is actually a thorough re-working of an old Bachman-Turner Overdrive song written by Jim Valance. In fact, Valance claimed that Simmons only insisted on reworking the song in order to get writing royalties. Either way, “Rock and Roll Hell” just burns like an ember. Then in another interesting twist, the song was later covered by Ace Frehley (Origins Vol. 1)! A Kiss cover of a Kiss song he never played on.
“Killer” reeks of Vinnie Vincent. One of the key guitar riffs sounds quintessentially Vinnie, and kind of similar to his later solo track “Boyz Are Gonna Rock”. It’s a brilliant track, right up Gene’s alley, with intense speed and hooks. The female backing vocals in the outro are a surprise. “War Machine” on the other hand sounds purely Gene, even though it’s a co-write with Valance and Bryan Adams. Something about it personifies the “monster plod” sound that Gene specializes in. It’s apocalyptic Kiss metal for your nightmares. It’s strong and relentless.
The single was, of course, the overplayed “I Love it Loud”, which in turn was transformed into a killer music video featuring Ace Frehley miming Vinnie Vincent’s guitar. “I Love it Loud” is insanely catchy and unshakeable during its first several listens. After that, it’s too simple to maintain interest too long. It’s kind of baffling how this song has remained in set lists well past its sell-by date, especially when tracks like “Killer” and “Saint and Sinner” are not.
In 1985 this album was reissued with new non-makeup cover art. On the cover they replaced Ace Frehley, who never played on the album, with Bruce Kulick…who never played on the album. Three songs were remixed: “Creatures of the Night”, “War Machine”, and “I Love it Loud”, but only “Creatures” was included on the 1985 album. The remixed “I Love it Loud” was later issued on a compilation, and the remixed “War Machine” has yet to be released. The remixes by Dave Wittman generally toned down the awesome drum sound, weakening the experience overall.
Vinnie Vincent joined the band officially after Creatures was recorded, and was given his own makeup design: The “Ankh Warrior”. A strange choice for a new character; perhaps Kiss were plain out of ideas or just didn’t care. It’s the only Kiss makeup design to never be seen on an album cover. Then, Kiss embarked on their first American tour in years, the 10th Anniversary Tour. It featured a stage with a tank for a drum riser. “Killer” indeed!
Uncle Meat’s rating:
Meat’s slice:When Creatures of the Night was released in 1982, Kiss had been on the back burner for me for a couple years. Obviously still loved the classics, but 12 year old Meat was starting to become a huge fan of Heavy Metal music. Two different friends of mine and I were discovering new music together. Albums like Ace of Spades, Maiden Japan and Saxon’s Denim and Leather were the gateway drug for me on my way to being addicted to Heavy Metal. So when Creatures came out I recall being so into it, primarily because this was a “Heavy Metal” Kiss record. What’s not to like? The video for “I Love it Loud” was awesome and renewed my love for the band at the time.
So I listened to Creatures from stem to stern the other day, 35 years after it was released, and my take on this album is now quite a different story. I am expecting that many will disagree with my slice on this one, but circumstances dictate my review. Metal music just doesn’t inspire me the way it used to. The love is still there but the lust is gone. Obviously there are staples that I will always love, and new exceptions pop up all time time, but the truth is I would rather put on stuff like Steely Dan, Sly and the Family Stone, Grand Funk Railroad, Yes, Steve Earle, Drive by Truckers etc etc.
If I would have done these Meat Slices let’s say…20 years ago?…I probably would have panned Unmasked and praised this album. But now it is the opposite. The album’s title track, “I Still Love You” and “I Love it Loud” are still enjoyable to me, but pretty much every other song sounds very forced and downright boring to me. This is what happens when a band, who was used to ruling the world, tries to regain said status by joining the new Heavy Metal revolution. Trying to be something they are not. The albums previous (with maybe the exception of the song “The Oath”) and the albums that followed were not Metal albums. The following albums have some heavy songs, but are definitely not Heavy Metal records. You have to fast forward a decade until they released Revenge, and even that album had some different styles within it. It’s so strange to me that a Kiss record that sees Kiss trying SO HARD to be a heavy metal band, turns to Bryan Adams for inspiration? What’s Metal about that? Hello. McFly?
Rating this album was tough for me. I had to consider how much I loved it when it came out, and that the Creatures of the Night tour was my first Toronto arena concert. I can’t say I dislike the album, but I can say that of all the Kiss records I have revisited doing these slices, it’s this album that truly disappointed me because I went into the listen looking forward to hearing it again.
My final thoughts are this. Would diehard Alice Cooper fans consider Flush the Fashion a classic Alice Cooper record? It’s an album I owned on vinyl and I like the album, but it’s a blatant grab at the New Wave market and sounds nothing like the rest of his career. Celtic Frost has done everything possible to erase the memory of the deplorable Cold Lake, since it is a very un-Celtic Frost like record for the band. Creatures of the Night is not genuine to me. Most of the album sounds like the inspiration for Spinal Tap’s album, Smell the Glove. Especially the song “Heavy Duty”, and not surprisingly it was released not long after this in 1984. So, to end this slice I will refer to the immortal Derek Smalls and put it like this. Creatures of the Night is a disingenuous collection of head banging bullshit that to me is forgettable. It sounds square, clunky and has way too many forgettable songs on it. I would rather listen to Bryan Adams’ 1983 album Cuts Like a Knife. But Kiss…I still love you.
Favorite Tracks: “I Love it Loud”, “Creatures of the Night”, “I Still Love You”
Forgettable Tracks: The rest
LeBrain’s rebuttal:You’re Wrong on Creatures
For this Kiss Re-Review series, I have purposely avoided reading Uncle Meat’s reviews, and vice-versa, until they are ready to post. We wanted to avoid influencing each other. Creatures is an exception. Meat sent this to me a couple weeks ago, long before I even started my review. And now that I have read it…I feel like crying a single solitary tear of sadness, just like the one Gene shed in the video for “A World Without Heroes”.
Uncle Meat has a point about the switch to heavy metal music seeming like an act of desperation. I don’t doubt that if The Elder had been a hit instead of an abject nearly career-ending failure, Kiss would have continued in that direction. But we are talking about Kiss here. This is a band that have usually been followers, not leaders. Were they the first to wear makeup and heels? No. Did they invent disco with “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”? No. Going forward into the future, you will see Kiss continuing to chase other people’s sounds, such as Jon Bon Jovi and Alice in Chains. Even Revenge, which Meat mentioned above, seemed like an effort to bring things in line with what was happening in rock and roll.
Having listened to Creatures again for what must be the 30,000th time, my love for it is still strong. I’ve bought Creatures five times over the years. Every time I play it, I’m a 13 year old again. I sink into the guitar tones, which Vinnie just nailed on this album, and enjoy the booming echo of the drums. “I Love it Loud” no longer pitches my pup tent, but mostly due to overexposure.
On this, the Meatmaster General and I will have to agree to disagree. It’s something we often do when it comes to music, but the benefit is that it generates rich discussions, just like this one. — LeBrain
“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” – Bram Stoker
For decades, trips to the cottage and music were synonymous. When I was a younger fella, I would bring all my music with me. That usually meant five or six tape boxes, full of cassettes, and a walkman. I even brought my turntable with me for a couple summers.
As the music collection grew, I’d have to pick and choose tunes for the trip. It’s sad to admit it, but true nonetheless: I spent hours picking music, far more time than I used to pack clothes and essentials. It wouldn’t be unusual to find I didn’t pack enough pants, but plenty of Deep Purple.
It’s much easier today. Load up some flash drives, or better yet, bring all the music I have ripped so far on my 2T external hard drive. In the olden days, we didn’t even have a phone or cable TV. We had radios and a big TV antenna that could pick up two channels. It was a cavalcade of classic Ontario television: Bowling for Dollars, the Hilarious House of Frightenstein, and Trivia Company with Johnnie Walters. Now, we have five or six devices fighting for the Wi-Fi signal, with me usually streaming Netflix. We have multiple computers, several phones, and of course cable TV. Talk about roughing it! In the 1980s, my sister and I would struggle to pick up any radio station that wasn’t playing country. Now, I just set my browser window to my home station of 107.5 DaveRocks. Unbelievable!
The interesting thing is, there are already plenty of sounds available to listen to if you don’t bring your own music. People used to spend tons of money on “nature sounds” CDs, but at the cottage you can get that for free.
You haven’t lived until you’ve gone to sleep with the sound of crashing waves coming through your open window. Nothing can put you to sleep faster, even when it’s just an afternoon nap. The sound of children playing in the lake only makes the afternoon snooze that much more peaceful. In the evening, the waves pick up intensity and are augmented by nocturnal woodland creatures. These “children of the night” can be heard pitter-patting around the deck, and in the branches just outside the window. Soothing sounds. Nothing to be afraid of, even in the dark. The only thing to fear would be a wayward skunk poking around looking for garbage. I used to like pitching a tent in the back yard and sleeping there. I used to bring a Walkman in there to listen to tunes on the earphones, but sometimes in the night I’d be woken up by a raccoon sniffing around for scraps.
The absence of city sounds can be strange for those not used to it. In the city there is a constant backdrop of automobile sounds, planes flying overhead, and trucks hauling their freight. Even at night, there is a dim background hum of traffic, and of electric lights buzzing overhead. At the cottage the quiet is amplified by the dark. We are so used to the light pollution of the city, that the pitch black of a cottage night can be quite striking, especially during a late night stroll.
Bringing music to the lake is still mandatory. It’s important to turn it off now and then, and just listen to the creatures of the night.
FACT #1: Covers albums rarely have enough fuel in the tank to get an engine running.
FACT #2: Ace Frehley has never done a covers album before.
The main thing is that Ace Frehley is still alive and making music. He’s never been the most prolific writer in Kiss, hence this diverse assortment of covers. In the pot are songs from bands that influenced Ace, a few Kiss covers (including one that Ace never played on originally), and a guest shot by Paul Stanley (among others). Sometimes it’s hard to feign interest in a covers album, but these factors make Ace’s enticing. Not to mention, it’s a clean and sober Ace playing these songs.
Ace and drummer Scot Coogan play everything on Cream’s “White Room”, with Coogan singing the bridges. This guitar-heavy version takes what Clapton did, and “Aces” it up. It’s guitar solo nirvana, though the Stones’ “Street Fighting Man” takes a few minutes to get to that same point. Ace has always done well with Stones covers, and it seems he can identify with songs like “Street Fighting Man” due to his rough past. It’s a fun excursion but the solos are the draw. Imagine the Stones but with the bright fun Gibson stylings of Ace Frehley. Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic” is a natural choice since Ace’s speak-sing style always seemed influenced by Jimi. Purists may scoff, but Ace’s take on “Spanish Castle Magic” is pretty enjoyable and guitar-heavy (John 5 on guest guitars).
The online hype focused on Paul Stanley’s return to Ace’s orbit. While Ace plays all the guitars, Paul ably takes all the vocals on Free’s “Fire and Water”. As Kiss fans are well aware, Paul has suffered from some serious vocal issues in the last few years. Live, Paul can be a bit of a mess. In the studio, he makes it work. Paul lacks the power he had back in the Kiss days, but his singing here is great considering. It’s over far too quickly. Paul singing Rodgers is quite a moment.
Ace is well suited to Thin Lizzy, a band you don’t think of as influential to Kiss since they were contemporaries more or less. “Emerald” has gone down in history of one of Lizzy’s heaviest favourites. Predictably, the highlight of “Emerald” is the solo section. Lizzy were a two-guitar band, so Ace got Slash to come in and solo back and forth, answering each other like Gorham and Robertson. The two go toe-to-toe in a blur of Gibson Les Pauls.
Led Zeppelin had a serious impact on young Kiss, and Ace’s covering of “Bring it on Home” is inspired and transformational. Lord knows what guitar effects Ace has up his sleeve, but he nails this Zep classic without any missteps. Ace sings the bluesy intro, but drummer Scot Coogan ably handles the higher main vocal.
One of the most notorious and difficult songs to cover without sounding like an asshole is “Wild Thing”, 51 years old and still inspiring cover versions. Lita Ford makes a surprise appearance on both lead guitar and vocals, and she sounds amazing on both counts. There is just no good reason to cover “Wild Thing”, because the Troggs did that definitively in 1966 and that’s that. More significant is Frehley’s update to his own “Parasite”, a song originally from 1974’s Hotter Than Hell. Gene Simmons sang it originally, though Ace wrote it. Speaking of “definitive”, it’s very tempting to think of this as Ace’s conclusive statement on “Parasite”. After all, Hotter Than Hell was sonically pretty disappointing. Plus Ace had 40+ years to grow as a guitarist since then, and believe it — Ace blows the doors off “Parasite”. This is a song worth buying the CD for.
Unfortunately “Parasite” is book-ended by two songs that didn’t need remakes, the first being “Wild Thing” and the second “Magic Carpet Ride”. Ace does inject it with his trademark fun style, but it’s all very unnecessary. Brilliant playing though.
A second Kiss update is “Cold Gin”, featuring Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. Like “Parasite”, Gene Simmons sang the original, but “Cold Gin” was one of the first stone cold classic Ace-written Kiss tunes. Ace has every right to try and reclaim it as his, a difficult task since the Kiss Alive! version is the only one you will ever truly need. Now with Ace doing the vocals and more soloing added, this version can perhaps be considered the second most important take — the one with Ace singing.
A pretty standard Kinks cover (“Til the End of the Day”) works fine. You can trust Ace to know how to treat the Kinks. The final and possibly biggest surprise is the final Kiss cover. The odd thing about it is that Ace never played on the original version of “Rock and Roll Hell”. This tune came from the batch that Kiss wrote with Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance in the early 80’s. It was recorded for 1982’s Creatures of the Night, the album that Ace didn’t participate in, before leaving the band. He appeared on the cover, he appeared in the videos, and fans didn’t know any differently, but Ace didn’t play or write anything on Creatures. In fact Ace never heard “Rock and Roll Hell” until recently. When coming up for ideas of songs to cover for Origins Vol. 1, Ace’s label rep Ken Gulick burned Ace a CD of tracks to listen to for consideration. (The CD contained two Who songs, two Cheap Trick songs, and mind-blowingly, two by Rush.)* Because Gulick felt that Ace had some unfinished business with Creatures of the Night, he also included two songs from Creatures on the CD. The ballad “I Still Love You” was the other track. Frehley apparently went bonkers for the Simmons-sung “Rock and Roll Hell”, and now we finally get to hear what might have been if Ace hadn’t left Kiss when he did. Perhaps if Ace was in good enough shape, Simmons could have given him “Rock and Roll Hell” to sing, and it would have sounded something like this. Matt Starr’s drums are given a similar echoey treatment to replicate Eric Carr’s sound from the original LP.
Does this close the book for Ace making amends with his Kiss past? I sure hope note. Vol. 1 implies a Vol. 2. If Ace were to continue covering Kiss tunes he never had the chance to sing in the studio, that leaves “Strange Ways”, “Comin’ Home” and possibly more that he could consider updating with his stamp. Although Origins has some “blah” moments as most covers albums do, among the highlights are undoubtedly the Kiss tracks. They push the album out from being a mere curiosity, to a must-have for any Kiss fan.**
** Made a double must-have by the low low price. I paid $12.88 at Wally World (plus I scored a“holy shit, jackpot”load of rare Star Wars figures). HMV were charging $15.99, and had him filed under “Ace Freshley“. HMV – the music store – has Ace’s name spelled wrong. Yet one more strike against the once-mighty HMV chain! See below for the evidence.
“ACE FRESHLEY” at HMV
Jackpot at Wally World
For Jon Wilmenius’ excellent review of this album, click here.
Part 7.5 in my series on Ace Frehley, sorta! Plenty of Ace related coolness here. For the last part of the Ace series,12 Picks, click here.
A World With Heroes – A KISS Tribute for Cancer Care – A 40th Anniversary Celebration
Cancer sucks. Kiss rules. Agreed? Buy this CD.
Mitch Lafon executive produced this sucker, and I suspect that means a hell of a lot of work. I have never in my travels discovered a cooler Kiss tribute album. Do you really need to buy another Kiss tribute album? Do you? Yes, you do. Why? For the following reasons:
Profits benefit the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence in Hudson, Quebec.
Obscure track selections.
Rare Kiss related gems, such as two Peter Criss Band demos with Phil Naro.
Superstar performers including Mark Tornillo of Accept, Russ Dwarf, Don Dokken, Bonfire, Sean Kelly, Vinny Appice, L.A. Guns, Doro, and many more.
Members of the Kiss family including Eric Carr, Peter Criss, Frehley’s Comet (minus Frehley), Bob Kulick and Phil Naro.
I can’t say enough good things about this compilation. Upon first sight, it had enough rarities from artists I liked, as well as Kiss obscurities, to make it a must-have. Hearing it, I’m blown away repeatedly. It is a heady brew of hits and deep, deep cuts. Since there are 51 tracks in total, I can’t go into too much detail. I’ll point out some personal favourite moments.
I’m a huge fan of the Revenge album, and I’m a huge fan of Accept. Hearing Mark Tornillo do his thing through “Spit” was awesome. I think the man’s vocal cords must be made of steel or something for him to sing like that. I also loved “Sure Know Something”, although I don’t know Chris Buck & Anthony Cardenas Montana. It’s a slinky version, very true to the original but with a Rod Stewart vibe. Jeff Paris does a pretty authentic “Shout Mercy” and I give him full points for doing a Monster tune, the newest Kiss song on A World With Heroes.
I’ve loved Brighton Rock since I was a kid, but I never expected them to unplug “Creatures of the Night”. This twist takes a moment to get used to, but their haunting arrangement is very original and cool! “Larger Than Life” from Alive II is revisited by Brian Tichy and friends, and they do it pretty straight to the original, almost lick for lick. It’s great. I love that Ron Young from Little Caesar sings “Little Caesar”, a nice wink and a smile there. A band called Shredmill contribute their original song “Outerspace”…which was later covered by Ace Frehley on his Anomaly album (giving himself a writing credit). Shredmill’s version is more Danzig, where Ace’s was more Ace.
On the second CD, surprises and highlights continue. Ron Keel and friends from Tesla and Cinderella knock it out of the park on “Rock N’ Roll Hell”, with a nod at the start to Keel’s own “The Right To Rock”. Rick Hughes of Quebec metal masters Sword helps blow the doors off “The Oath”, a favourite from The Elder. The L.A. Guns guys (Phil Lewis included) tackle the difficult “Master & Slave” from Carnival of Souls, and it smokes. They do it authentic to the grungy original but with Phil’s snarky vocals.
As a Killer Dwarfs fan, I’m always pleased to hear Russ Dwarf’s nasally twang, and he turns in a decent “Hard Luck Woman”. (Meanwhile, another bunch of L.A. Guns guys did their own version on disc one.) Bonfire contribute a live version of Paul Stanley’s unreleased song “Sword & Stone”, from their Live at Wacken CD. I don’t really know who American Dog are, but I love that they covered the Paul Stanley version of “God of Thunder”, not the Gene Simmons take from Destroyer. They do it the speedy rocked-up way that Paul originally demoed. Jim Crean does justice to “Magic Touch”. He’s almost Joe Lynn Turner style on this one.
The second CD ends with two takes of “Beth” (Chris VanDahl sounding like the hoarse Peter Criss on Alive II, and Phil Naro). This is in addition to Michael Lardie’s (Great White) version on disc one. Naro’s is easily the best of the three.
But wait, that’s not all, folks. iTunes are selling a 51 track version of A World With Heroes, including 11 exclusives. Thankfully, you can buy these exclusives separately if you already bought the CD (like I did). Once again, highlights are many. Doro contributes a 2013 re-recording of “Only You”, which she had a previous hit with back in 1990. Russ Dwarf returns with an outstanding “God Gave Rock and Roll To You II”. There are two previously unreleased demos by the Peter Criss Band with Phil Naro. These feature Peter on drums, but believe me, you can hear that it is the Cat Man and no one else. In addition, there’s a third song from this period, but recorded by Phil in 2013. There is also a second version of “Larger Than Life”, this time by somebody called Robot Lords Of Tokyo. I don’t know who Robot Lords Of Tokyo are, but I love “Larger Than Life” and I have no problem with another version of it. This one’s done quite differently, and heavier too.
But wait! There’s still more! Pledgers who pre-ordered the CD got four bonus tracks. I missed the boat on these, and you can’t get them anymore. I’m bummed about that, but for the sake of completion, the four bonus tracks are:
‘Calling Dr. Love’ – Performed by: Crash Kelly
‘Comin’ Home’ – Performed by: Sudden Flames
‘Heaven’s On Fire’ – Performed by: The Feckers (ft. Irene Slade)
‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’ Performed by: Alain Pernot
I’d love to have these, especially Crash Kelly, but alas. The project is still awesome and worth your coins. Especially if you’re a self respecting Kiss fan. Get it.
EDIT: I now have the tracks. Crash Kelly’s is awesome! Fun and awesome.
‘Psycho Circus’ – Performed by: DDRIVE (Phil Naro, Don Mancuso, Dave Sessions, Jt Taylor & Bobby Bond)
‘Spit’ – Performed by: Ken Dubman, Jimmy Callahan, Scott Metaxas, & Mark Tornillo
‘Deuce’ – Performed by: Bill Leverty, Kevin Valentine, John Regan, & Russ Dwarf
‘Sure Know Something’ – Performed by: Chris Buck & Anthony Cardenas Montana
‘Detroit Rock City’ – Performed by: Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, Rex Brown & Brian Tichy
‘Eyes Of Love’ – Performed by: Eric Carr, Benny Doro & John Humphrey
‘Shout Mercy’ – Performed by: Jeff Paris, Troy Lucketta, Eric Brittingham Jeff Labar
‘Creatures Of The Night’ – Performed by: BRIGHTON ROCK
‘Larger Than Life’ – Performed by: Rex Brown, Brian Tichy & Mark Zavon
‘Cold Gin’ – Performed by: Don Dokken & Tommy Denander
‘Love Gun’ – Performed by: Tony Harnell, Mark Kendall, Scott Snyder, Sean Michael Clegg, Kevin Valentine & Tommy Denander
‘Little Caesar’ – Performed by: Ron Young, John Regan & Tommy Denander
‘Hard Luck Woman’ – Performed by: Chris VanDahl, Stacey Blades & Adam Hamilton
‘Outerspace’ – Original demo later covered by Ace Frehley on his Anomaly album – Performed by: SHREDMILL (David Askew, Jesus Mendez Jr, Jaime Moreno)
‘Goodbye’ – Performed by: IMPERIA & BOB KULICK (J.K.Impera, Matti Alfonzetti, Tommy Denander & Mats Vassfjord) – Additional Guitars by Lars Chriss
‘See You Tonight’ – Performed by: TODD FARHOOD & MYSTERY (Todd Farhood, Michel St-Pere, Sylvain Moineau, Jean-Sébastien Goyette, Francois Fournier & Benoit Dupuis)
‘Beth’ – The Grand Piano Version – Performed by: Michael Lardie
‘Tomorrow’ – Performed by: DRESSED TO CHILL (Matt Bradshaw, Rav Thomas & Rhys Lett)
‘Anything For My Baby’ – Performed by: SLAVES ON DOPE (Kevin Jardine, Jason Rockman, Seb Ducap & Peter Tzaferis)
‘Unholy’ – Performed by: Fred Duvall, Glenn Belcher, Mark Slaughter (Guitar Solo), Rob Zakojc & Russ Dwarf
‘Breakout’ – Performed by: Tod Howarth, John Regan & Kevin Valentine
‘Rock N Roll Hell’ – Performed by: Ron Keel, Troy Lucketta, Eric Brittingham & Jeff Labar
‘Nowhere To Run’ – Performed by: DRUCKFARBEN (Phil Naro, Ed Bernard, William Hare, Troy Feener & Peter Murray)
‘The Oath’ – Performed by: Rick Hughes, Chris Buck & Bob Richards
‘Master & Slave’ – Performed by: Adam Hamilton, Scott Griffin, Stacey Blades & Phil Lewis
‘Calling Dr.Love’ – Performed by: BURNING RAIN (Keith St John, Doug Aldrich, Sean McNabb & Matt Starr)
‘I Stole Your Love’ – Performed by: S.U.N. (Brian Thomas Tichy, Sass Jordan & Tommy Stewart) With Derek Sharp (Of The Guess Who)
‘Reason To Live’ – Performed by: Johnnie Dee & Derry Grehan of HONEYMOON SUITE with Michael Foster & Bill Leverty of FIREHOUSE
‘Hard Luck Woman’ – Performed by: Fred Duvall, Glenn Belcher, Rob Zakojc & Russ Dwarf
‘Forever’ – Performed by: Terry Ilous, Sean Kelly With Jeff Paris.
‘Sword And Stone’ – Taken From Bonfire Live In Wacken – Performed by: BONFIRE (Claus Lessmann, Hans Ziller, Chris Limburg, Uwe KöHler, Harry Reischmann)
‘God Of Thunder’ – Performed by: AMERICAN DOG (Michael Hannon, Steve Theado & Keith Pickens)
‘She’ – Performed by: RAZER (Chris Powers, Chris Catero, Jordan Ziff, Paul Sullivan, Eric Bongiorno & Chuck Alkazian)
‘New York Groove’ – Performed by: SLAVES ON DOPE (Kevin Jardine, Jason Rockman, , Elizabeth Lopez & Peter Tzaferis With Marty O’Brien)
‘Magic Touch’ – Performed by: Jim Crean, Phil Naro, Vinny Appice, Steve Major & Stan Miczek
‘Tears Are Falling’ – Performed by: Willie Basse, Bruce Bouillet, Scott Warren & Mike Hansen.
‘Rock N Roll All Nite’ – Performed by: Harley Fine, John Regan & Atom Fellows
‘Shandi’ – Performed by: Dani Luv, Scott Griffin & Matt Starr
‘Beth – Bonus Track’ – Performed by: Chris Vandahl & Scott Griffin.
‘Beth – Bonus Track’ – Performed by: Phil Naro, William Hare & Ed Bernard
‘No, I’m Not Afraid’ (Previously Unreleased Peter Criss Band Demo from 1991) – Performed by Peter Criss and Phil Naro
‘Wait For A Minute To Rock N’ Roll’ (Previously Unreleased Peter Criss Band Demo from 1991) – Performed by Peter Criss and Phil Naro
‘Back On The Streets’ (2013 Mix originally from Return of the Comet) – Performed by Richie Scarlet, John Regan, Tod Howarth, Arthur Stead & Steve Werner (The Comet Band)
‘Only You’ (2013 Recording) – Performed by DORO
‘God Gave Rock N Roll To You II’ – Performed by Russ Dwarf
‘I’m An Animal’ (2013 Mix originally from Return of the Comet) – Performed by the Comet Band
‘Let Me Go Rock N’ Roll’ – Performed by The Oddfathers
‘Surrender In The Name Of Love’ (Written by Peter Criss & Phil Naro) – Performed by 24K featuring Phil Naro and Mladen Alexander
‘Love Gun’ (Tommy Denander Guitar Solo Mix) – Performed by Tony Harnell, Kevin Valentine and Tommy Denander
‘Larger Than Life’ (2013 Remaster – Robot Lords Of Tokyo version) – Performed by Robot Lords Of Tokyo
‘Cold Gin’ (2013 Remaster from L.A. GUNS’ 1998 Wasted EP) – Performed by L.A. Guns
A treat for you boys & girls today! A guest shot, a vintage concert review, and a significant one at that. Remember when Metallica was just an opening act for mediocre bands? Meat does. And he’s back to tell you the story. Enjoy the first guest shot of 2013, by Meat!
W.A.S.P. w/ METALLICA and ARMORED SAINT – January 19, 1985
I was lucky at a young age to have the opportunity to see some great concerts. The first concert of my life was at The Center in the Square in Kitchener, Ontario. It was The Monks (remember “Drugs in my Pocket”?) and I went with my childhood friend, Scott Hunter, and his mother. I also saw the almighty Black Sabbath play the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium, three days before my 12th birthday, on the Mob Rules tour on November 19, 1981. I saw Triumph on the Allied Forces tour play the Center in the Square, with my father not long after that. But really my early concert experiences were mostly, and most memorably, with the aforementioned Scott Hunter. I believe it was his uncle who had connections with a concert promotion at the time called CPI. He would leave free tickets at Will Call for us at Maple Leaf Gardens or wherever the show was. We saw the last Kiss tour with makeup at the time (Creatures of the Night tour) on January 14, 1983 with The Headpins opening. Also saw the first ever Kiss tour without makeup (Lick it Up tour) on March 15, 1984 with Accept as the opening act. As well as Motley Crue on the Shout at the Devil tour on June 10, 1984, at what is now the Ricoh Coliseum, also with Accept as support. Many of these shows are quite memorable and monumental, but none so much as the first time I saw Metallica live.
I remember the first time Scott and I heard Metallica. We would have a sleepover at his place every Friday night specifically because Toronto radio station Q107 had their “Midnight Metal Hour” on that night. We would have first heard Metallica (“Seek and Destroy”) either late 1982 or early 1983, before Kill ‘Em All was even released. Obviously it was an instant shot of Metal Up Our Ass! Kill ‘Em All was released on vinyl and cassette on July 25, 1983. I specifically remember (but not exactly when) walking into a record store downtown Kitchener called Records on Wheels and buying that album, Anthrax’s Fistful of Metal and Van Halen’s 1984 on vinyl, all during the same visit. I also remember buying Metallica’s second album, Ride the Lightning, the day it was released. Thanks to the World Wide Web, I know now that date was July 27, 1984. Starting grade ten that September, I was pushing Metallica on anyone that would be open to it at my high school. There were a very select few of us who were die-hards and would have Sony Walkmans stuck to our heads at every opportunity possible. Now I cannot recall if we got free tickets for this particular show, but I do remember how pumped I was when I knew I was gonna see Metallica live.
The bill was as follows: Armored Saint (with Anthrax’s John Bush on vocals), Metallica and W.A.S.P. Yes you read that right. Metallica was opening up for W.A.S.P. I do know that further along on the tour, Metallica and W.A.S.P. would trade headlining sets due to the obvious buzz around Metallica at the time. Here is a picture of an actual ticket stub of this show. Note the price ($15.00) and Armored Saint being spelled wrong on the ticket.
One thing I will add before I go on. Of all the concerts and bands I have seen multiple times live, it is kinda strange I only saw Metallica live twice ever. One of the reasons for this is quite obviously that after their album Load (otherwise known as Mighty Load of Shit), I never really had a great interest in seeing the band live again. But it is worthwhile noting that I have seen Metallica live twice and BOTH TIMES they were opening for someone else. (The second time being the strange bill of The Black Crowes / Warrant / Metallica / Aerosmith on June 29, 1990 at CNE Exhibition Stadium in Toronto) Again, note the ticket price for this. This was before The Eagles ruined ticket prices for all acts with the ridiculous prices for their shows. To quote “The Dude” I hate the fuckin’ Eagles.
So there we were, January 19th 1985 standing in line in front of the late great Toronto concert venue named The Concert Hall. It was freezing cold out, and windy too. So since this was a General Admission event, standing in line braving at least -15 Celsius weather, you can imagine how cold and bitchy people were. I recall the rush of metalheads being ushered quickly into the venue. The second I got in there I went straight for the merch booth and bought a Ride the Lightning tour shirt for me and a high school friend named Joe DeLeo. After that, like seemingly everybody, I had to take a wicked piss. After doing that, I was horrified when I tried to zip my probably really tight jeans back up, and couldn’t because my hands were numb from the cold. My embarrassed horror turned to laughter as I turned my head to see dozens of much older and much larger long-haired headbangers all having the same problem. Only in Canada I guess eh?
Sometime later, Armored Saint took the stage. I remember them being great and how loud it was in there. They were received well and that venue was filling up. While enjoying their set my buddy Scott gets my attention and points to the much-shorter person beside me. Immediately I recognized him as Russell Dwarf from the Toronto band Killer Dwarfs. Their name was very apropos considering this band consisted of nothing but short dudes with long hair. I can only imagine how this band got together. Wonder if an ad went out that said. “Metal musicians needed. Must not be over 5 foot 6 inches tall and have long hair”. I loved that first album. If you don’t know of them, here is their first single and video.
It was time for the Mighty Metallica. They started out with the first track off Ride The Lightning, the classic riff-monster “Fight Fire With Fire”. At this point I was probably about mid-way to the stage in a sea of metalheads. This was before the days of the “moshpit”. This was more of a Hair Swarm packed with long-haired sardines covered in denim and leather. It would have been about half-way through the show that I wormed my way to the front of the stage. This was no easy task as I am sure you can imagine, however being only 15 and much smaller than the masses (with the exception of the Killer Dwarfs of course), there I was literally feet from what would become the best-selling metal band of all-time. This brings me to a memory I will cherish forever. The seemingly monstrous Cliff Burton was right in front of me. I reached out and had in my hand, the bottom leg of his ragged bell-bottom jeans. He tried to kick me in the face, and thankfully missed. Can’t blame him either for trying to kick my head off, and honestly it was the first thing I thought of when said legend died in a bus accident a year and a half later in Sweden on September 27, 1986. R.I.P. Clifford Lee Burton. Check out this YouTube audio clip I found of Metallica playing “Seek and Destroy” from this exact show. Gotta love YouTube.
Check out this set list of the show the next night in Buffalo at some place called the Salty Dog Saloon. (I couldn’t find the Toronto set list online but I am sure it is identical)
“Fight Fire With Fire”
“Ride the Lightning”
“(Anethesia) Pulling Teeth”
“For Whom the Bell Tolls”
“The Call of Ktulu”
“Seek & Destroy”
“Am I Evil?”
Which brings me to winding down this novel of a concert review. How could W.A.S.P. possibly follow Metallica? Well, I do remember chants of “you suck”. I remember that the front was nowhere near as packed as it was for Metallica. Maybe Blackie thought he could follow them by drinking fake blood out of a skull (which he did). Here is a quote from Mr. Blackie Lawless comparing separate tours with both Slayer and Metallica and musing about this particular tour.
Blackie: I’ll tell you what was worse – us and Metallica. It was our first or second U.S. tour. It was us, Metallica, and Armored Saint. When they (Slayer) went out with us, they were still an up n’ coming band, didn’t have a lot of fans, so there was a pocket of division every night. With Metallica, I kid you not, it was like an invisible line was drawn right down the middle of the room, and half was theirs and half was ours. It didn’t matter what we were doing on stage. It looked like two opposing armies. Sometimes we just stopped what we were doing and watched. It was a war.
I realize that the merit of music is subjective and it is all in the Ear Of The Beholder. But lets face it. W.A.S.P. really does kinda suck. Some good moments but really not much to speak of. During their set myself and others that with us were just kind of mulling about as most others were really. It was during this time that a guy we were with named Kevin B. (nicknamed Little Dude) said that he saw Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson leaving out a side door during their set. Now to give some perspective on this, this person was a known bull-shitter. None of us believed him. True story: Kevin years later had trans-gender surgery and now is known as Treva. But anyways, we shrugged this off as yet another lie from Little Dude. It was months later reading a Blackie Lawless interview in Circus magazine that I read this quote. “Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson were actually at one of our shows in Toronto last year…. But they were not there to see us.” A classic example of the Little Dude who cried wolf.
Part 19 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!
KISS – Creatures of the Night (1982, 1985, 1997)
Creatures Of The Night is one heavy, over the top & loud Kiss album. Very very loud. Hot on the heels of The Elder and Killers, Creatures was a defiant “we’re back!” from a band who was written off by the end of 1981.
It is important to note that there are several versions of Creatures floating around. At one point in 1985, shortly after Asylum, it was reissued with new (non-makeup) cover art with Bruce Kulick instead of Ace Frehley. Interestingly, neither played on Creatures. The reissue with the non-makeup cover has the songs in a different order, and they were remixed to bring down the loudness of the drums. I guess someone in the mid 80’s decided the album was just too loud, and the remix was done. Thankfully, the original loud drum mix was remastered in 1997, finally available on CD.
Interestingly, the 1985 remixed version featured a picture of Gene’s ass in leather pants on the back cover! See below for a gander at Gene’s buttocks.
And yeah, the drums are loud alright! They sound awesome, like John Bonham shooting cannons off the back of the stage. They are the cleanest, most powerful, natural and clear drum sounds this side of Led Zeppelin, and Kiss had a lot to be proud of. Just listen to “I Love It Loud”. Wow.
Creatures really is a stellar album featuring songwriting by Bryan Adams, Mikal Japp and a guy named Vincent Cusano, better known by his stage name Vinnie Vincent. Guitars were by Paul Stanley, Bob Kulick, Vinnie Vincent, Rick Derringer, Steve Ferris, and who-knows-how-many-others. Kiss claim to have lost track due to the process of auditioning and recording at the same time. Eric Carr, who had no songwriting credits this time, played bass on Paul’s “I Still Love You”.
“Creatures Of The Night” is an amazing fast paced opening, starting off with a barrage of Carr’s toms. I think The Elder was a dissapointing way to introduce the new drummer. Creatures overcompensates, and I am sure Carr was very happy. The main riff and guitar lick in “Creatures” is driving and catchy, and the chorus will stay in your head for days. This is Kiss’ statement of purpose.
Gene takes the tempo down a bit with “Saint & Sinner”, a rebellious one about standing your ground: “Get me off this carousel, you can do as you please, you can go to hell. Put my back against the wall, well, I’m not gonna fall on my knees, no, not at all.” At this point Gene was trying to sing in his low “monster” voice more, and this is such a great song. Shame it has not been resurrected live.
“Keep Me Comin'” is a pretty self-explanatory Paul title. The riff is very Zeppelinesque, and Zep was a seemingly huge influence on this era of Kiss. It has some serious groove to it and Paul sings his ass off.
“Rock And Roll Hell” was a song that was played live a couple of times on the 1982 tour. I would describe this Gene song as a slow burner. It seems to be about a kid who “might even steal a guitar” to get out of his rock and roll hell, and make the big time. Very cool groove and lyric.
“Danger” is probably the weakest song on the album. It’s another fast Paul track with a somewhat weak chorus. It would be followed in the exact same album slot (last song side 1) by similar Paul songs on later albums: “Gimme More” on Lick It Up, and “I’m Alive” on Asylum. All three songs are below standard and interchangeable.
Side 2 begins with “I Love It Loud”. Everybody knows “I Love It Loud”. Your grandma knows “I Love It Loud”. At the time as a kid, I thought this was the greatest Kiss song ever. That drum beat, that chanting, and Gene’s awesome lyrics about taking no crap — yeah! That’s what every grade 8 student felt like! Unfortunately the novelty wears off after a couple of days and today I feel it’s one of Kiss’ most boring songs. After all, there’s not much to it. Shame it still finds its way into setlists in 2012, while other songs have fallen by the wayside.
The sole ballad “I Still Love You” is next. When Kiss used to play it live (the last time was the 1995 Unplugged concert), it became Paul’s vocal centrepiece. It’s a slow with not enough dynamics, but Paul again sings his ass off. As mentioned, Eric Carr on bass.
“Killer” (probably written at the same time as Killers?) is a really cool Gene Simmons song that has lots of interesting riffs and twists. I can’t believe how cool this song still is today. It’s fast, it has interesting backing vocals, and is insanely catchy.
The album ends with Gene’s plodding epic, “War Machine” which still gets played live to this day, despite being retired briefly during the reunion tours. Gene wrote the song with Bryan Adams which would be a surprise to Adams fans. Who knew he could get so heavy? The lyrics are pure, vintage Gene: “Strike down the one who leads me, I’m gonna take his place, I’m gonna vindicate the human race.”
Creatures wound up being the first Kiss studio album to have only two lead singers: Gene and Paul. Sadly this would remain the case until Eric Carr got his first album vocal much later in 1988. I am glad that the Kiss of today have decided to let all four members sing, as that was one of the factors that got me into the band in the first place.
This would also prove to be Kiss’ final album in makeup. They had grounded themselves musically once again, while their biggest change was yet to happen….
Normally I wouldn’t post something so self-glorifying, but I won’t edit a word out of any of my guest shots. This one comes from the infamous Sausagefester, ex-record store alumnus, and music connoisseur, Meat. He sent this to me by surprise this afternoon, so I had to post it. Enjoy.
RECORD STORE TALES PART 78: Meat on LeBrain
Today is Lebrain’s 40th birthday. Today seems like a good day to give you all my thoughts on the man…the myth…the legend…Michael Ladano.
I would have first met Mr. Ladano in I believe late 1998 or early 1999. I was working at a record store and really didn’t know anyone at other locations. Since there was a fair amount of phone activity between different stores, it was inevitable that our paths would cross. I kept hearing about the manager of another store that was something of a music aficionado, and the biggest Kiss fan in town. Considering myself of the same ilk, and a long-time Kiss fan myself, I was looking forward to the inevitable. I don’t remember the first conversation we had honestly, it was probably some sort of inquiry about an Anita Baker stock transfer , but anyways, I do remember the first time we talked about Kiss. I remember his genuine enthusiasm hearing that I had seen Kiss on the last tour with makeup (Creatures of the Night) and the first tour without makeup (Lick it Up). He proceeded to tell me that Ace Frehley was not actually in the makeup on the first aforementioned tour (something I already knew) and a bunch of other obscure Kiss facts. Needless to say we immediately hit it off. We worked together only once at his location. He actually has a better memory of that one shift (Meat’s memory is randomly hazy…gee I wonder why) but I do remember that the shift literally seemed to go faster than any shift I had worked previously.
[LeBRAIN’S NOTE: I do remember that night very well. I remember driving Meat home, talking about Metallica’s medley of Mercyful Fate tunes. As it happens, I had that tape in the car, so we rocked it!]
I am lucky to know many guys who are self-proclaimed and ordained-by-others as music experts. The mighty Tom has been mentioned in this blog before. Others include Scottie Geffros…Scott Hunter and more. Michael Ladano trumps them all in both knowledge and actual music collection. No one loves music more than LeBrain. I certainly disagree with a lot of music that Ladano loves, and have been very vocal to him about that, but I guess that’s just part and parcel with being “LeBrain”. But most importantly, Michael Ladano’s greatest trait is simply being himself. If there is someone who is more truly sincere and kind, I have not met them. No one treated complete strangers better during his record store days than Mike Ladano. No one loves his wife or significant other more than Mike Ladano. The truth is everyone likes Ladano. As a matter of fact, there are only a very, very select few that I know that don’t like him. Literally a few select people that all hang together and work together. Not-coincidentally these people are sincerely some of the worst people I have ever encountered in my life. Truly lacking character, substance and kindness of any sort, they should be ashamed of themselves. It says something that only the worst people in the Tri-Cities are the select few that don’t like him.
I really enjoy this blog Mike and try to read every entry. Even old Meatdogs can learn new tricks, and I appreciate reading and learning about musical artists, bands and albums that I thought I already knew everything about. Your love of music is infectious and impressive, but not as impressive as Mike the friend, the person and the husband. Is this blog-entry just alot of over-blown Maudlin? Of course it is. If anyone I know deserves Maudlin, its Sir Michael Ladano. Remember, when the rest of you are sleeping comfortably at night…LeBrain is rolling in his sleep anticipating the upcoming Kiss and Darkness albums. You gotta love the guy.