dave thomas

BOOK REVIEW: KISS Still On Fire – Dave Thomas & Anders Holm (1988)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 37: bonus book review

 Still On Fire – Dave Thomas & Anders Holm (1988 Melody Line)

In the 1980s, there were generally no Kiss books on the market.  If you found one, you bought it.  The only widely known Kiss book back then was 1978’s paperback Kiss by Robert Duncan.  I was lucky to find Kiss Still On Fire in Stratford Ontario on December 27, 1990 in a great little store called The Book Vault.  Still On Fire is very very unofficial, but it was unequalled in its time:  130 magazine sized pages, mostly in full colour, loaded with pictures, facts and a few errors.

Peppered with old interviews and article snippets, Still On Fire takes a balanced look at the band and isn’t afraid to get critical when it’s warranted.  It also attempts to take a crack at who played what on some of those tracks where it wasn’t quite clear.  For example, Ace Frehley is pictured on the front cover of Killers, but didn’t play on any of the new songs.  Still On Fire quotes a Paul Stanley interview.  Was it Bob Kulick playing lead on these tracks?  “Bob did come out, yes, but he didn’t play.  When I couldn’t handle things — and I don’t consider myself the ultimate lead player — another friend of ours came in and gave us a little help.”  The book states this friend was Robbin Crosby of Ratt, a claim that is not backed up in other sources.  Did Crosby play on Killers?  Who knows, but according to this book, he did.  Other books such as Julian Gill’s Kiss Album Focus claim Bob Kulick did play some on Killers.  In other words, if you read something interesting in this book that contradicts what you’ve read elsewhere, take it with a grain of salt.

There’s a bit of content here about what Gene was doing in the 1980s outside of Kiss:  producing bands such as Black & Blue and EZO.  Gene was responsible for EZO’s fantastic single “Flashback Heart Attack”, co-written by James Christian of Simmons Record act House of Lords.  Gene was also working on movies but was having trouble finding the time.  Apparently Sergio Leone really wanted Gene Simmons for Once Upon a Time in America in the role of Max, ultimately played by James Woods.  Can you imagine?

Besides the ample photos, the most impressive feature of Still On Fire is the discography.  Though incomplete, Still On Fire attempts to document myriad Kiss bootleg recordings, including cover art.  There are also interesting promo and foreign releases, such as the Special Kiss Tour Album and Kiss – The Singles.  Side projects and solo albums are included, from major (Frehley’s Comet) to obscure (Bruce Kulick’s band The Good Rats).  A variety of singles, picture discs and videos are on display, fully illustrated.  All of this was completely new to me then.  Not to mention the titles of unreleased songs!  What the heck were “Don’t Run” and “The Unknown Force”?  (The Elder demos.)  This is also where you’ll find the most typos and spelling errors.  (I really want to hear this song called “Pick It Up”.)

Still On Fire isn’t definitive nor is it definitely 100% accurate, but it should still prove to be a valuable resource for your Kiss library.

3.5/5 stars



REVIEW: Bob & Doug McKenzie – Great White North (1981)

Good day, eh?  This will be the last post before Christmas!  LeBrain’s Blog will be taking a rare break for Christmas.  We’ll be back soon, so don’t worry eh?

I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and happy holiday whether you celebrate it or not, but most importantly a safe holiday.  Be careful on those roads.

And now for Christmas, I leave you with a very special review. Enjoy!


BOB & DOUG McKENZIE – Great White North (1981)

Cooooo, loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo!

Merry Christmas, eh?  All Canadians (aka, “Hosers” for my international readers) celebrate Christmas every year with the classic tune, “Twelve Days of Christmas” by our national treasures, Bob & Doug McKenzie.  A sample lyric?

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
4 pounds of back bacon,
3 french toast,
2 turtlenecks,
and a beer, in a tree.

Twisted Sister, eat your hearts out.  This is the best version (ever!) of this Christmas classic.  All Hosers should know the words off by heart, just as well as they know “Oh Canada”.

This Christmas classic can be found on Bob & Doug’s album, Great White North.  A spin-off from their successful SCTV segment, Kanadian Korner, it wasn’t long before somebody at Anthem records thought the boys should make an album, eh?  Basically half an hour of rambling about back bacon, smokes, donuts and beer, it’s not much of an album.  Bummer.  It doesn’t sound like it was scripted.  It’s hard to stay tuned in for the entire length, although it did somehow go to #1 in Canada.  Much of the album is taken up by welcoming to the listener to different segments, and the boys fighting over what in fact they should be talking about.

One of the funnier segments is regarding “Elron McKenzie” and his church.  The sermon that day was about not killing bugs.  The sermon was a big success, even though people had to drive through 8 feet of snow, eh.

Disappointing was “Black Hole” which features a backwards message.  Using the magic of Audacity, I did play the segment backwards.  I was hoping for something a little more mindblowing, like a recipe for the perfect donut or back bacon sandwich, but no such luck.

All of this is offset not only by the Christmas tune, but perhaps one of the greatest songs in Canadian history:  “Take Off”.

“Take Off” features lead vocals by Geddy Lee, of Canada’s Rush.  Geddy did the single for the princely sum of ten bucks.  This song is not only a must for all Hosers, but all Rush fans worldwide.  The incredible lead vocal may blow your speakers.  As Geddy himself says on the track, “I’m a professional, eh?”

5/5 stars for the two singles

but only 2/5 stars for the album