When this video debuted on MuchMusic in spring of ’89, everybody but Harrison Kopp (who was not born yet) and John Hubner (who was not Canadian) said “Wow that singer really sounds like David Coverdale from Whitesnake!” The VJs said it and the kids said it. Do you agree? Does Ray Gillen resemble Coverdale in any way? Do you hear it too? Let us know in the comments.
REVIEW: KISS – Off the Soundboard – Virginia Beach 2004 (2022)
– Off the Soundboard – Live in Virginia Beach (July 25, 2004 – 2022 Universal)
Some might question the logic of releasing a 2004 live release with the Stanley/Singer/Simmons/Thayer lineup in the official Kiss bootleg series. Necessary? We already have live material from this lineup, such as Kiss Rocks Vegas. Fans could be forgiven for skipping this, the second instalment of the Off the Soundboard series of releases. (It’s a little late now, but it would have been cool if Kiss numbered these releases!)
Opening with a sluggish sounding “Love Gun”, Paul Stanley is in good voice. The cracks were beginning to show but there is no comparison to the Paul of today. If you want vintage Paul, this is not the album for you. If you want Paul before things went to hell, this is just fine. Gene goes second with “Deuce”, also sounding a big sluggish. Eric Singer is busy on drums, which will be either to your taste, or not.
It’s Tommy Thayer who fails to thrill in the night. Something about his solo work here just falls short of lighting the spark. It’s one of those things that’s not quite right, on the quantum level. Your brain knows the solos, knows how they usually sound, and that’s with fire and a touch of reckless abandon. Say what you will about Tommy Thayer, but nobody uses the word “reckless” to describe his playing. Ace Frehley, on the other hand, had a song called “Reckless”. You see where we’re going here. It’s that touch of professionalism that these solos don’t need. Tommy is welcome on backing vocals, where he helps thicken things up with Eric, such as on “Lick It Up”.
There are a few tracks here that are played live less often, which is one reason to pick up the disc. “Makin’ Love”, “Tears Are Falling”, “Got to Choose”, “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” and “Unholy” are fun when you get ’em, though “Unholy” always sounds a bit awkward live (Thayer butchers the solo). One of the best of these tunes is “Got to Choose” which benefits from the backing vocals of the newer Kiss guys. Creepy as it may be, “Christine Sixteen” is always fun, but Gene doesn’t need to keep augmenting the song with things like “I like it!” And check out the sly Mott the Hoople melody in “God Gave Rock and Roll to You”!
We could all probably do without “I Love It Loud” at this point. “War Machine” can be tiring. As much as we love Eric Singer, he does overplay some songs. “Shout it Out Loud” has a few fills that just don’t need to be there. Yet somehow, “Psycho Circus” is refreshing and “King of the Night Time World” is never a bad thing.
There are two lengthy “jammers” on this album that make for good listenin’. “100,000 Years” and “She” both steam on with the familiar Kiss instrumental bits that you know and love. “Do you feel alriiiiiight?” screams Paul, and damn, he could still really sing. Vocally, Kiss were really good at this stage. Gene was kickin’ ass, Eric and Tommy were the solid backing, and Paul was still 90% there.
This lineup hadn’t been together long, and the members sound more comfortable in their roles today. You won’t be reaching for Virginia Beach 2004 often when you reach for a live Kiss album. It’s a good setlist for the most part though, and it’s good to have for that reason. The sonics are also pretty decent, though obviously short of live album standards. It’s an official bootleg, not Alive XIII. You can hear every flaw and mistake, and that’s a good thing. When you listen understanding that this is indeed 100% live, with Paul Stanley jumping around and his guitar banging erratically, then you realize, shit, Kiss are a pretty damn good live band! A lot of the set sounds like the billionth time they’ve played the songs…but they don’t sound bored doing it. There’s not a lot of that looseness, but plenty of excitement.
REVIEW: KISS – Off the Soundboard – Tokyo 2001 (2021)
– Off the Soundboard – Tokyo 2001 (Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan, March 13, 2001 – 2021 Universal)
Hell yeah, Kiss have started releasing official bootlegs. Proving that they “get” the concept, the first in what we hope will be a long series, is a lineup never before heard on any official Kiss release. After the lengthy reunion and Psycho Circus tours, Kiss embarked on a “Farewell Tour” that really wasn’t. It was just the farewell to the original lineup, and specifically Peter Criss. Ace Frehley stayed on board for the time being and Eric Singer was brought in as the new Catman. This lineup lasted until Frehley left and Criss came back for the Kiss Symphony, but was never documented in any official capacity.
Confusing? Just know three things:
- This is really valuable to fans.
- ACE FREHLEY, LEAD GUITAR!
- Paul Stanley was still in great voice back in 2001.
Alright, Tokyo. You wanted the best, you got the best. Let’s have a listen.
An electrifying “Detroit Rock City” opens, and immediately you can hear the pitter-patter of the new Catman making itself evident. Stanley is in fine form, high energy. And the sound is damn decent. Sure, you could wish the vocals were mixed louder and the bass a little lower, but the “official bootleg” is a more honest experience than a polished-up Alive album. And Paul really nails it.
“Deuce” has plenty of those Frehley solos and fills that we miss so much today. Gene is fully engaged and frankly, you don’t miss Peter. Paul says a quick hello in Japanese, and teases the crowd in expert frontman fashion. Then it’s “Shout It Out Loud”, a pretty standard version. Frehley’s “Talk To Me” from Unmasked is the real treat. It is not the first live version released (there was an earlier live take on The Box Set with Eric Carr) but it is rarely heard.
Paul always asks the crowd “How we doin’ so far,” and the pace is slowed down for “I Love It Loud”. This version has particularly good backing vocals in comparison with others. Then Paul needs to know if the crowd is having a good time, just before he pulls off some impressive soulful bellowing. It’s time to call the “Firehouse”, another solid version. Eric Singer’s drumming is noticeably more regimented but the fills are big and bold. It’s just great to have Ace on lead guitar.
Kiss setlists are often safe, and a steady stream of Kiss standbys roll out: “Do You Love Me”, “Dr. Love”, “Heaven’s On Fire” and “Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll”. It’s a Kiss concert; none of these songs vary much from night to night. None of them suck; Kiss were sounding good and Eric Singer helps beef up the vocals. The extended intro to “Heaven’s On Fire” really highlights what a truly exceptional singer Paul Stanley was. Gene on the other hand is pretty ragged on “Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll”, not being able to decide what voice he’s singing in. Great to hear Ace take a long solo on it though, all the while Eric Singer filling the backdrop with snares n’ toms.
Frehley takes the spotlight once more on “Shock Me” with his feature solo. Gimme a Frehley version of “Shock Me” any day over a Tommy version. Ace does a weird “Shock Me-ee-ee” thing on the chorus. After telling the crowd that “Tokyo rocks,” he blasts through the fanfare of “Also sprach Zarathustra” on his Gibson. It was indeed the year 2001! Frehley’s solo (almost 10 minutes of it) is a CD highlight for those who miss the Spaceman.
Ending the first disc, “Psycho Circus” was the only track from the most recent Kiss album left in the set. It is always reliable, sounding like classic Kiss, even more so when Ace plays the lead solo (which he didn’t on the album). Continuing on disc two, “Lick It Up” makes its appearance. This is a track that that rules completely with Ace Frehley. “Lick It Up” has always been, let’s face it, a bland song. When you add Ace soloing on it, it’s got some flavour. Could be that the Tokyo Dome version of “Lick It Up” is the best available take out there.
Gene’s bass break is boring without the visuals, but “God of Thunder” is pretty hot, Ace throwing in some squeals that remind you why the real thing was special. This track also includes Eric’s drum solo. Momentum is built on “Cold Gin”, and the monolithic “100,000 Years”. Raw and heavy Kiss with vintage Frehley? Again, outside of Kiss Alive itself, these are probably the best versions you will hear. Paul’s usual sing-a-long in “100,000 Years” is part of the party. “Do you feel alriii-iii-iight!” Nothing is edited out, even when Paul is busy handing out T-shirts and all you have is Eric keeping the beat. Fans appreciate that authenticity.
There’s still plenty of heavy tonnage rock left to go. “Love Gun” can’t be left out, fireworks blasting as Paul flies out over the crowd (which is why the song has an extended intro without vocals). Once Paul’s on his platform in the middle of the arena it’s off to the races. No place for hiding indeed!
The surprise is “I Still Love You” from Creatures of the Night. The only ballad, and a track that was rarely played after the reunion. It has always been a big Paul moment, and this is performed solo without Simmons, Frehley or Singer as part of the intro to “Black Diamond”. Speaking of which, “Black Diamond” is also an album highlight; a version with Eric Singer on lead vocals and Ace Frehley on lead guitar!
The pairing of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and “Rock and Roll all Nite” are an odd one, but that’s the closing duo that got the Tokyo crowd screaming.
Besides the couple rarely played songs, the cool thing about this Tokyo setlist is the pacing. It starts with a bang, and it never really lets go. Even the solo breaks are really just big intros or outros that amplify the moments around them. Then the whole show manages to even pick up the excitement at the end with stellar performances of “Love Gun” and “Black Diamond”. It is also encouraging that Kiss are realizing the value of past lineups, and official bootlegs. As long as they remain willing to highlight songs and band members from nooks and crannies in the band’s history, then the Kiss Off the Soundboard series is a promising one.
Sunday Screening: Trailer for KISS Off the Soundboard: Tokyo 2001
Just a quickie for you this Sunday. In rather cool news, KISS announced a new series of live soundboard albums. The first of these is Tokyo 2001, one of Ace Frehley’s last shows with the band. The lineup is one never before represented on any official releases until now: Stanley/Simmons/Frehley/Singer.
The vinyl can be purchased on black or “exclusive 3LP crystal clear vinyl with bone swirl”. Or for those of us not made of money, plain ol’ CD. Check it out.
1. “Detroit Rock City”
3. “Shout It Out Loud”
4. “Talk to Me”
5. “I Love It Loud”
7. “Do You Love Me”
8. “Calling Dr. Love”
9. “Heaven’s On Fire”
10. “Let Me Go Rock & Roll”
11. “Shock Me”
12. “Psycho Circus”
13. “Lick It Up”
14. “God of Thunder”
15. “Cold Gin”
16. “100,000 Years”
17. “Love Gun”
18. “I Still Love You”
19. “Black Diamond”
20. “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”
21. “Rock and Roll All Nite”
REVIEW: Paul Stanley’s Soul Station – Now and Then (2021)
PAUL STANLEY’S SOUL STATION – Now and Then (2021 Universal)
Reviewing Paul Stanley’s new album, Now and Then featuring his new band Soul Station, is probably the most challenging task I have ahead of me this morning. It’s difficult for several reasons, primarily three. Full disclosure.
- Paul Stanley might be my favourite artist of all time.
- His voice is in decline and this is always evident.
- How can I review Paul’s soul covers without comparing to the originals?
The truth is I like soul just fine, but the bulk of my collection is made of different grades of rock. I have an Etta James CD. I’m far from qualified to review this. But I have to, so I’ll try.
Paul’s band is 10 members (excluding himself) augmented by a horn and a string section. 18 musicians are credited total, with Paul as “lead singer”: the first time on any of his albums where Paul plays no instruments. Unexpectedly, Paul’s Kiss bandmate Eric Singer is Soul Station’s drummer.
There are 14 tracks: nine covers, and five originals. You can’t accuse Paul Stanley of taking the easy route.
Remember when Kiss were accused of going Disco in 1979? “Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” really sounds Disco, and certainly there’s nothing wrong with the flawless arrangement, from the lush strings to the punchy horns. In fact, Paul’s diminished voice is the only noticeable weakness. He covers for it pretty well. He used to belt it out all time; now he usually holds back in a soft whispery falsetto. A performer has to adapt to their limits at every age. Good tune. But this is a new Paul Stanley and he’s not the best singer in his band. He’s just the lead singer.
The first original, “I Do”, sounds like the real thing. It’s a light ballad, arranged with the strings and full band treatment to sound pretty much just like the covers. But the really surprising original is “I, Oh, I”, a terrific upbeat dance-y number. Not only does it sound authentic but it’s also catchy as hell. You could imagine it in a rock arrangement, and Paul points out in the liner notes that he wrote, arranged and orchestrated all his originals.
“Ooo Baby Baby” is a Smokey Robinson cover, and like the original it’s in falsetto. It’s one of the harder songs to listen to. “O-O-H Child” is better, though no substitute for the original. Paul does well on the upbeat tracks with plenty of melodic hooks. One of his backing singers take the lead on a few lines. And although Eric Singer does a mighty job on the drums, he is a rock drummer playing soul, and that’s evident in the fills. The groove of the 70s just isn’t something that can be recreated easily.
You can tell by the title that “Save Me (From You)” is a Paul original. Sounds like a leftover from the Live To Win album, jazzed up for the Soul Station. That said, it’s a pretty good track. It’s a nocturnal rumble that does really well standing up to the classics. It cannot be denied that Paul Stanley has a knack for writing a melodic song. All of his writing credits on Now and Then are solo credits.
“Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)” is not bad. It’s the falsetto again, but massaged in the studio, and backed by the Soul Station, this one makes the grade. Nobody doubts Paul’s genuine love of this music. In the liner notes he takes ample time explaining his roots with Detroit soul. And it was him that was hanging out in New York Disco clubs, when he decided he could write one of those songs for Kiss.
“Whenever You’re Ready (I’ll Be Here)” is a duet with one of his backing singers; upbeat, well done. “The Tracks of My Tears” exposes the weaknesses in Paul’s voice but there are plenty of backing singers to cover for him. That aside, it’s another great Soul Station cover. “Let’s Stay Together” (Al Green) underwhelms; I mean how can it not? The best thing I can say is that it’s better than Michael Bolton’s version. “La-La — Means I Love You” also kind of just sits there, threatening to send the listener off to sleepytime land. Fortunately, Paul’s original “Lorelei” revives the album, with upbeat melodic charm. Cool guitar solo on this one too.
Two more covers to get through — “You Are Everything” (no thanks) and “Baby I Need Your Loving”. Fortunately the latter song closes the album, on an earnest upbeat note with Paul giving the lungs a little exercise. Solid ending.
Observation: I enjoyed Paul Stanley’s Soul Station more the first three or four times I played it — as background music. When it comes to listening intently, it didn’t capture me.
Observation 2: Peter Criss got shit all over for trying to make an album somewhat like this back in 1978.
If Paul had released a mini-album (or extra large EP) with only seven or eight tracks, I think we’d be praising his originals and taste in covers. Unfortunately chinks in the armour appear too frequently on the bulk of the album. Good background music, but not an outstanding set.
Paul’s originals – 4/5 stars
Covers – 1.5/5 stars
Kiss Fan Fanatic Score – 100/5 stars
Realistic Score – 2/5 stars
#825: Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls
GETTING MORE TALE #825: Klassic Kwote – Carnival of Souls
We were encouraged to put stickers on CDs to draw attention to them at the Record Store. When Kiss’ Carnival of Souls was released in 1997, I put a sticker on there that read “FINAL ALBUM WITH BRUCE & ERIC”. Because why not. Other stores did things like that. Stickers are fun. Bosses didn’t like my stickers, but I was the store manager and I wanted to make stickers.
A dude picked up the CD and asked me, “What does this mean? Final album with Bruce and Eric?”
I didn’t know how to respond so I simply answered, “It’s the final album with Bruce & Eric.”
“Oh OK,” he said and put it down.
Ask a stupid question?
REVIEW: KISSworld – The Best of Kiss (2017) – PLUS Kiss Re-Review Series complete directory
The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 47: The Conclusion
Two years ago, I bought this CD to use as the final review for the KISS Re-Review Series. I hadn’t played it. I hadn’t even opened it. I wanted to save it for our conclusion…so here it is. A lot happened since we started, most notably the current End of the Road farewell tour. Let’s wrap this series up in a bow. And to do that properly you’ll find links to every single part and supplement to the KISS Re-Review Series below!
– KISSworld – The Best of Kiss (2017 Mercury)
You know what KISSworld makes me miss? The good old days when bands would bribe you into buying their new hits compilation by including something you didn’t have already. In 1978, Kiss re-recorded “Strutter” for Double Platinum. In ’82, Kiss recorded “I’m A Legend Tonight”, “Partners In Crime”, “Nowhere To Run” and “I’m A Legend Tonight” for inclusion on the UK compilation Killers. And in ’88, Paul Stanley produced two new songs (“Let’s Put the X in Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard”) for Smashes, Thrashes & Hits. Not great songs, but new ones at least, so you felt less foolish for handing Kiss more of your money. By the time of 1996’s Greatest KISS album, they tacked on a new “live” version of “Shout It Out Loud”, and from that point on they pretty much gave up giving you any added value. True, they did record “Samurai Son” for 2005’s KISS 40, but that was a mere blip in the overall pattern.
So in terms of reviews, all you can really talk about is song choice and running order. It looks like KISSworld is just a revamping of various versions of KISS 40. The running order is no longer chronological, but the songs are the same. Opener “Crazy Crazy Nights” was on the single CD KISS 40. “Unholy” was on the double CD version of KISS 40, albeit live. “I’m A Legend Tonight” was on both, and so on. It would have been nice to hear something you don’t get very often, like “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” or “Got to Choose”, but nobody expects bravery from a Kiss tracklist or setlist these days.
Fans who were buying Kiss albums during the peak years probably miss the excellent packaging Kiss would throw in for free. Look at the mirror finish of the original Double Platinum LP, or the posters and masks and booklets that came with other albums. Buy a Kiss CD today, get nothin’! KISSworld has one vintage 1974 black and white photo inside, song credits and nothing else. Granted, we know that Kiss doesn’t come up with these releases, it’s the record label. And we keep buying them and buying them, “for the collection”, even though we know we’re going to be disappointed. The label isn’t thinking of us when they issue this stuff. They think of it as a part of their latest marketing push, aimed at people buying their first Kiss (or first Kiss in decades). But they know — they know — that we fans are buying these things too. They can’t throw us a bone? What is there here for us?
Nothing, except another CD to file in the appropriate slot, making our collections “complete” again. Will you listen to it? Maybe, if you’re tossing coins and can’t decide which greatest hits to play on this particular road trip. It is, however, the most complete of the in-print, easily-acquired hits CDs. For a first timer, it would appear to make sense to grab this over Double Platinum or one of the other choices at the CD shop. You’d be getting a good variety of tunes from over their entire career. But you’re not getting something assembled with any logic or care, nor are you buying a fair representation of their best stuff. In fact, this CD only has one song from their first three albums (“Rock and Roll All Nite”) You could make a greatest hits just from their first three albums! KISSworld‘s ill-considered tracklist is its downfall.
THE COMPLETE KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES
GETTING MORE TALE #551: “You’re Wrong on Unmasked“ (Introduction to the Kiss Re-Review series)
Part 1: Wicked Lester (1972) & the Eddie Kramer demos (1973)
Part 2: KISS (1974 Casablanca)
Part 3: Hotter Than Hell (1974 Casablanca)
GETTING MORE TALE #353: Hotter Than Hell
Supplemental: DUST – Hard Attack (1972) / Dust (1971) (2013 Sony Legacy)
Part 4: Agora Ballroom 1974 (2015 Go Faster)
Part 5: Dressed To Kill (1975 Casablanca)
Part 6: Alive! (1975 Casablanca)
GETTING MORE TALE #552: Alive!
Part 7: Destroyer (1976 Casablanca)
Part 8: Rock and Roll Over (1976 Casablanca)
Part 9: Love Gun (1977 Casablanca, 2014 deluxe)
Part 10: Alive II (1977 Casablanca)
Part 11: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978 Hanna-Barbera TV movie)
Part 12: Double Platinum (1978 Casablanca)
Part 13: Peter Criss (1978 Casablanca)
Part 14: Ace Frehley (1978 Casablanca)
Part 15: Gene Simmons (1978 Casablanca)
Part 16: Paul Stanley (1978 Casablanca)
Part 17: Dynasty (1979 Casablanca)
Part 18: Unmasked (1980 Casablanca
Supplemental: PETER CRISS – Out of Control (1980 Casablanca
Part 19: Best of Solo Albums (1979 Phonogram)
Part 20: Music From the Elder (1981 Casablanca, 1997 Mercury remaster)
Part 21: Killers (1982 Germany and Japan versions)
Supplemental: PETER CRISS – Let Me Rock You (1982 Casablanca)
Part 22: Creatures of the Night (1982 Casablanca, 1985 Polygram reissue)
Part 23: Lick It Up (1983 Polygram)
Part 24: Demos 1981-1983 (Bootleg)
Part 25: Animalize (1984 Polygram)
Part 26: Animalize Live Uncensored – audio portion (2015 American Icons)
Part 27: Runaway (1984 Tristar feature film)
GETTING MORE TALE #579: Entering the Asylum
Part 28: Asylum (1985 Polygram)
Part 29: Crazy Nights (1987 Polygram)
Part 30: VINNIE VINCENT INVASION – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986 Chysalis)
Part 31: eXposed (1987 Polygram VHS)
Part 32: Monsters of Rock (Bootleg from 1988 tour)
Part 33: In the Land of the Rising Sun (Bootleg from 1988 tour)
Part 34: The Ritz, NYC, 12th August 1988 (2015 American Icons)
Part 35: VINNIE VINCENT INVASION – All Systems Go (1988 Chysalis)
Part 36: Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988 Mercury)
Part 37: KISS – Still On Fire (Dave Thomas & Anders Holm (1988 book)
GETTING MORE TALE #608: Hot in the Shade
Part 38: Hot in the Shade (1989 Polygram)
Part 39: “Forever” (1990 Polygram EP
GETTING MORE TALE #690: Unholy Kisses
Part 40: “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” (1991 Interscope single)
Part 41: ERIC CARR – Rockology (2000 EMI)
Part 42: ERIC CARR – Unfinished Business (2011 Auto Rock Records)
Part 43: Revenge (1992 Polygram)
Part 44: Alive III (1993 Polygram)
Part 45: KISS My Ass – Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994 Polygram)
GETTING MORE TALE #697: Kiss My Ass
Part 46: Toronto – Scotiabank Arena, March 20 2019
Supplemental: KISS Playing Cards
Supplemental: KISS Crocs
Part 47: KISSWorld – The Best of Kiss (2017 Mercury)
AND THERE’S STILL MORE!
72 MORE KISS REVIEWS available by clicking this link!
REVIEW: Alice Cooper – “It’s Me” (1994 single)
ALICE COOPER – “It’s Me” (1994 Epic single)
The Last Temptation, Alice Cooper’s acclaimed 1994 concept album, spawned a couple collectable CD singles. Collectable, because 1) they had unreleased live B-sides, and 2) Eric Singer of Kiss played drums on them!
As far as Alice ballads go, “It’s Me” is not particularly special. The song fits into the story of the album, but it’s musically in the same vein as the ballads from Trash and Hey Stoopid. The mandolin is a nice touch, but Alice has more fondly remembered ballads. “It’s Me” works best as part of the album it was written for.
The two live tracks were recorded in ’91, which actually makes Eric Singer pre-Kiss in this case. “Poison” is stunning sounding live, but still with rich backing vocals. The chorus of “Poison” requires several backing singers and Alice’s bands are always equipped for the job. You can’t tell if Eric Singer is one of the vocalists, but you can easily recognise his style on the drums. That’s him alright! “Sick Things” is a strange one live; always has been. Here, it is inflamed by guitarists Stef Burns and Pete Freezin’ (Freisen).
Alice’s CD singles were hard to find in the early 90s, but thanks to the internet you can get them affordably. If you’re a Kiss collector, this is one to consider. If not, just enjoy a snapshot of Alice live during an era that is so far undocumented by a live album.
#750: KISS II
GETTING MORE TALE #750: KISS II
Kiss frontman Paul Stanley seems emboldened by the monumental success of their End of the Road tour. Why “emboldened”? Because they’re pulling it off with only half the original band. Ace Frehley has not shown up to sing “Shock Me” and Peter Criss seems happily retired. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer remain in the greasepaint and the spotlight. It’s proof that the majority of the masses don’t know or don’t care who is in a band anymore. The “fans” who refer to Thayer and Singer as “scabs” have had no impact on ticket sales with their boycotts.
Many bands have toured successfully in recent years without key members. AC/DC made headlines by replacing Brian Johnson with Axl Rose. Deep Purple are going strong with only one original member. Queen sell out with Adam Lambert taking Freddie Mercury’s place on stage, and bring home terrific reviews to prove it. Kiss too are doing just fine.
Would they be able to do it with even fewer original members? Like, say, none? Paul Stanley thinks so. He’s said so before and recently he raised the idea again:
“I think that Kiss has served a huge purpose and brings incredible joy to people on the End Of The Road tour. The shows are packed, and not only with the early followers of the band, but people who have heard the legend of what this band does live. And it’s something that’s more than music. It really is a preaching of self-empowerment and the idea that anything that you’re willing to work hard for, you can probably attain. And the idea of celebrating life. Things that may seem simplistic or overtly simplistic, but actually have a timeless depth to them. So when bands continue, ultimately the people in ’em need to change or have to, because of circumstances.
“So that’s a long explanation for me feeling that I would have an enormous amount of pride in knowing that we can continue the band once I’m not there anymore. That would be the ultimate test of its credibility and the role, I think, that it serves.
“I didn’t invent the wheel. I am the product of all the people who I looked up to, all the musicians who I respected, and it was kind of like a stew, and then I added my own ingredients to it. But there are other people who are out there who wouldn’t necessarily imitate me any more than I imitated my heroes. But there are people out there, I’m sure, who are well equipped to pick up the flag and run with it.”
Paul is correct to say that bands must sometimes change out of necessity. He is actually the best proof of this. Paul cannot sing anymore and has been miming a huge percentage of his lead vocals on this tour. We won’t go down that rabbit hole this time. Suffice to say, if this wasn’t the End of the Road, Paul couldn’t really continue singing lead in Kiss.
But replacing him? That’s a whole other bowl of Cheerios.
The idea of Kiss going on without Paul and Gene – let’s call the hypothetical band “Kiss II” – would certainly cross a line with me. Bands with one or two original members is one thing. Many bands have replacement members far more important than the originals. Phil Collen is a key member of Def Leppard, vastly more so than his predecessor Pete Willis. Same with Roger Glover and Ian Gillan in Deep Purple. Adrian Smith in Iron Maiden. The list goes on and on.
Could a Kiss II be a viable prospect with Eric Singer the longest serving member? With Tommy Thayer as band leader?
No. Paul and Gene control Kiss. The other guys have just been hired guns ever since the originals left. Kiss may have started as four guys, but for the last few decades it’s the vision of just two. (In the 80s, just one, as Gene went Hollywood.) You could imagine Paul and Gene controlling a Kiss II band from behind the scenes, but that is a hollow prospect. Imagine Stanley and Simmons discussing new costumes and approving setlists for a Kiss II tour without them. Would you pay to see that?
Kiss have already gone down in history, many times, for their accomplishments. Making the band immortal with all parts replaceable might also be historic, but not in a good way. There are guys out there who can sing better than Paul, and play better than Gene. Tribute bands have all the moves down pat. But you can go see a tribute band for $10. Kiss II would be, in essence, an “official” tribute band and with Paul and Gene behind the scenes they’d be charging a hell of a lot more than $10 per ticket.
I think Paul has lost perspective. Kiss has been successful, against the odds, in replacing Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. But there was precedent for that. Kiss made fantastic albums without either. That doesn’t mean you can remove Paul or Gene from the picture and still call it Kiss. Paul and Gene have always been the ones with the drive and the vision. They are not so easy to replace. Can you picture some replacement guy imitating Paul’s stage raps? There might have been a brief window in the late 80s when Kiss could have gone on without Gene, only Paul, since he had become the captain of the ship for a while. However that ship sailed long ago and it’s all but impossible to imagine the band without them both.
No, Kiss II is a lousy idea. It’s just a way to milk naïve fans in this era of hologram and nostalgia tours. Would they sell tickets? Sure, they’d sell some. These hologram tours are proof that people will pay to see anything. Would it be good? Hell, no!
GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: KISS – Toronto – Scotiabank Arena March 20 2019 by Uncle Meat
UNCLE MEAT: Well…I guess tonight I experience the controversy head on.
LeBRAIN: What’s tonight?
MEAT: Members of Black N’ Blue and Badlands.
LB: Kiss? You are going? If so you are REQUIRED to write something for me. Or else!!
MEAT: Old buddy, Scott Hunter, who I saw Kiss with twice in 1982 and 1983, messages me out of nowhere and has a paid-for ticket. Him and his buddy have VIP but only two, but who cares. They had the Vault Experience with Gene last year too.
LB: Go go go.
MEAT: Only been 36 years since I saw Kiss live. Mid-arena, 20 rows up.
LB: It’s gonna be sad I think. Just my feeling.
MEAT: Fairly good tickets. But yeah. The spectacle is the part to enjoy I guess.
LB: I hope you have a good time. But seriously if you don’t write this up for me, I am going to probably hurt you very badly. You won’t see it coming. Maybe we will be driving to the farm and I will punch your nuts so hard that you bleed from your ears. Just saying. Not that you “owe” me anything, you just have to. Or have your nuts tenderised. Your choice! You won’t see it coming but it will happen!
– Toronto – Scotiabank Arena, March 20 2019
Review by Uncle Meat
Kiss in 2019 was the best “show” I have ever seen. Easily.
What about the singing? I had watched a cool video the other day, where a guy pointed out in each song where Paul is lip syncing and where he is actually singing. Which was good because before that I thought it was pretty much all tape. That being said, I could notice both last night. It’s like he is trying some songs’ verses (or what have you) on different nights. But, 60% of the vocals (at least) were the same as they had been on other stops. I have heard the “Love Gun” track several times, how the verses have been re-recorded, and he does exactly the same inflections within the verses.
Truth is? 20 seconds in, and I didn’t give a shit. And while I hold the same opinion about it, it literally took ZERO away from a show I can only describe as almost perfect.
Gene sings 100% of his vocals, at least on the verses, and was kinda goofy all night. More aloof than he usually is. Less Demon. More Mike Myers. He is getting fat in the face though, wow…he looked like Bea Arthur in Gene makeup.
Paul still is on the very top shelf of frontmen, as per between-song banter. He had me right in the trenches, clapping along, laughing out loud several times, just fuckin’ entertaining.
Eric Singer was a great drummer. LOVED his voice in “Black Diamond”, and really really enjoyed “Beth”. Like alot. Surprising.
I was really blown away by Tommy Thayer’s guitar tone. Fucking powerful, and creamy. He changed just enough of the Ace solos to put his mark on it, but leaving the important parts of the solo in to suit the songs. Great set list too. “100,000 Years” and “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll” were serious highlights.
The missing 1/2 steak only because of the lip-sync stuff.