RECORD STORE TALES Part 173: Gene Simmons’ Asylum Demos
Back in 1994-95, when I was working at our original store, I would always proudly fly the Kiss flag. This was before the mega reunion, and on the heels of the Revenge album, which I was really into.
I had a small online presence back then, I had created our very first online ads in 1994. I was talking about music on every single BBS (Bulletin Board System) in the area, and on one board, called Wanderer’s Rest, I had a forum for my reviews. I was going by the online name “Geddy” (hah!) back then, and I was extremely prolific. Very little has changed since!
One guy, name long forgotten, messaged me. “Hey, I’m a customer at your store. I have some rare Kiss demos. Do you want to do a tape swap?” Of course I did. For him, I made a copy of the March 25 1974 show in Washington at the Bayou club. It was a cool show because they played an unreleased song called “You’re Much Too Young”.
For me, he made a tape of Gene’s Asylum demos, on one of our Maxell UR60’s that we sold in our store. Gene is a very prolific songwriter. Not everything he comes up with is gold (clearly!) but he usually submitted a dozen tunes or more for consideration on each album. Judging by this cassette, Asylum was no exception, even though he was very distracted by Hollywood at that time.
The tape, which unfortunately did not survive the years very well at all, contains 13 of Gene’s demos, 3 being instrumental ideas, and a bonus track. A couple songs made the final album. I tried to listen to the tape, to see if I recognized any ideas. Unfortunately, this tape now sounds terrible and is unlistenable. I ripped only one song, which was “Russian Roulette”, to see if it resembled the version that later ended up on 2009’s Sonic Boom album. From what I can tell, only the title survived to Sonic Boom.
Musically however, the song was recycled on the Monster album, as “Eat Your Heart Out”! It’s the same riff. Although you can’t make out the lyrics on the demo version at all, you can tell they are completely different.
See the pictures below for the tape made for me by the Mystery Kiss Fan back in ’94-95. If you know any of these Gene songs, please comment below! We can hope that good quality versions will come out on Gene’s “Monster” box set, if it ever comes out!