Detroit

#1003: Animalize Live Uncensored

RECORDS STORE TALES #1003:  Animalize Live Uncensored

36 summers ago, I taped Kiss Animalize Live Uncensored off next door neighbor George.  I recorded the video (which he recorded from a rental) onto a VHS, and the audio onto a 90 minute blank cassette.  For that summer, Animalize Live was my Kiss live experience.  I only had Alive on vinyl, which wasn’t portable.  I didn’t have Alive II yet.  My cassette copy of Animalize Live was constantly in my ears all summer.

I knew every word of every Paul rap.

“Detroit let me tell ya something just between you and me.  That baby had the longest fuckin’ tongue I ever seen in my life!”

“Paul, what are you doing with a pistol down your pants?”

“Eric may look like a baby, but he’s built like a man.”

Paul did a striptease, and the guys hung the panties that they were thrown by girls in the crowd from their microphone stands.  The concert dripped of raw sex and I was like a kid in shock.  I had never seen anything like this before.  I didn’t even know if I wanted to!  But there it was in full glory, Paul Stanley telling stories about his “Love Gun” and me sitting there watching it multiple times a week.  The summer I had mono.  I couldn’t do much else.  I watched a lot of videos and a lot of them were Kiss.

Listening today, I remember every note of every solo.  Paul went first with a guitar solo.  Bruce Kulick, the new kid, was standing in for Mark St. John and didn’t even get an introduction or solo.  Eric’s drum solo was second, and Gene’s bass solo last.  I liked the bass solo.  It actually seemed more musical than the other two.  Its simplicity is one thing…but I was humming the bass solo hours later.

I still know every vocal divergence each song takes in this live incarnation.  Like old muscle memory.  And you know what?  There’s something to be said about 80s Kiss.  They were playing things faster and Eric Carr added his own unique elements to Kiss, as did Bruce.  On some songs the speed works.  I was just thinking that if they came out playing “Creatures of the Night” this fast today in 2022, people would lose their minds.

On my Walkman, I went for cottage adventures with this concert in my ears.  It was the worst recording possible; a cassette copy of a VHS copy of a VHS copy, in mono.  Bootleggy as hell.  But there I sat in the grass, as Paul Stanley told us of the women who wanted to “mother” Eric Carr.  And I had no idea what, specifically, “mothering” Eric Carr meant.  I knew it meant sexy times of some kind, but…nope, right over my head.

Animalize Live Uncensored was my Alive III from a time when we didn’t think we’d get an Alive III.  Or at least, I didn’t.  It was several albums and several years before we did get one, and Eric was gone by then.  I liked it.  I still do.

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – The Breadcrumbs EP (2019)

ALICE COOPER – The Breadcrumbs EP (2019 Edel)

Alice Cooper wanted to do a Detroit garage rock record and pay homage to his roots.  And so we have The Breadcrumbs EP, six tracks of stripped down goodness, ironically produced by Bob Ezrin.  The 10″ vinyl is limited to 20,000 copies.  Somehow, by the grace of the black widow, we scored #48!

For these special songs, Alice is backed by the MC5’s Wayne Kramer, bassist Paul Randolph, Grand Funk’s Railroad Mark Farner, and Detroit Wheel Johnny “Bee” Badanjek. A remake of Alice Cooper’s “Detroit City” (from The Eyes of Alice Cooper) is an appropriate starting point:

Me and Iggy were giggin’ with Ziggy and kickin’ with the MC5,
Ted and Seger were burnin’ with fever,
and let the Silver Bullets fly,
The Kid was in his crib, Shady wore a bib,
and the posse wasn’t even alive.

That’s some rock and roll poetry right there.  Not one of Alice’s finest songs but worthy of a second chance.  Then “Go Man Go” is a new original composition co-written by Wayne Kramer.  It’s punk rock Alice, as authentic as the bands he’s paying tribute to.  Bob Seger’s “East Side Story” closes the side on a steady groove, right out of Hendrix’s version of “Gloria”.

A really funky “Your Mama Won’t Like Me” (Suzi Quatro) is the centrepiece of the EP.  Horns blastin’, Alice hasn’t been this funky since his dance-oriented Alice Cooper Goes to Hell in 1976.  “Devil With a Blue Dress On” (Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels) is the soulful side that Alice occasionally shows.  It’s merged with “Chains of Love” (J.J. Barnes) which pulls everything back to rock.  Finally “Sister Anne” by the MC5 puts the snot on the nose and the grime in the rock.  Kramer’s simply awesome riff is perfectly complemented by Cooper.

If copies are still available, get one.  Cooper fans will love the change of pace, while rock and rollers will adore the authenticity.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: DC Drive – DC Drive (1992)

DC Drive – DC Drive (1992 EMI of Canada)

I saw DC Drive (from Detroit, get it?) open for Harem Scarem back in spring 1992. They were good live: the first single “You Need Love” rocked well enough, and lead singer Joey Bowen did “the worm” across the stage. He was a good frontman for a band like this. Their gimmick was that they mixed “rock and soul” and had a full time sax player. However, there is nothing overly special here, nothing that Little Caesar didn’t do, and perhaps better. I recall in a M.E.A.T Magazine interview that DC Drive boasted that they had more genuine soul than The Black Crowes; I would take issue with that.

Notably, DC Drive was produced by Vini Poncia, probably best known to rock fans as producer of the Kiss disco-era albums*.  Poncia has several co-writing credits here as well.  It’s a pleasant CD, fairly keyboard-heavy, with a couple good songs, but quite a bit of filler. It’s funky, but in that radio-friendly way that you remember from a couple decades ago.

The lead single “You Need Love” was good; “Streetgirl Named Desire” likewise. I also enjoyed the ballad “Fool In Love” sung by bassist Doug Kahan.  I like the shameless pop of “All I Want”.  If Bryan Adams recorded it, it would have been a hit. But the biggest problem with this album is how dated it sounds.  A “rock and soul” band shouldn’t sound pigeonholed to eras past like this.  It sounds like backing music to a 1991 buddy cop comedy.  Joey Bowen has the goods when it comes to putting feeling into his singing, and guitarist Michael Romeo has a sweet tone.  Unfortunately what the album really lacks is memorable songs.

DC Drive came out of the ashes of a previous Detroit band, Adrenalin.  One odd thing about DC Drive:  Even though they were from Michigan and were signed to a big label (Capitol), they were only signed to a Canadian record deal.  The album wasn’t released in the US for another year, with a different track order, and minus one song (“Get Up and Dance”).  The Canadian release enabled the band to at least get a footing in right next door to home, but it wouldn’t help in the long run.

Basically, the only reason I own this CD is because I saw the band live and it’s sort of a souvenir. Plus I found it for under 2 bucks. Otherwise this is pretty limp and bland, despite the sax (which isn’t always audible) and soulful Detroit roots.

For 90’s hard rock completists or anybody who remembers the song “You Need Love”. Otherwise don’t bother.

2/5 stars

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* Poncia was brought into the Kiss family by drummer Peter Criss.  Peter was probably inspired to work with Poncia due to his prior resume with Ringo Starr.