The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 42: Eric Carr solo #2.
ERIC CARR – Unfinished Business (2011 Auto Rock Records)
Even though 2000’s Rockology compilation released a treasure trove of unheard goodies for the fans, there is always more to sell. For the 20th anniversary of Eric’s passing, another batch of tracks were unearthed. Some are mere filler, some are pretty decent. Fans of the beloved drummer will have to sift through the bad to get to the good.
There are a couple Kiss songs here for the diehard fans. “No One’s Messin’ With You” is yet another demo of what would become “Little Caesar” from Hot in the Shade. A third called “Ain’t That Peculiar” was released on the 2001 Kiss Box Set. This is an almost completely different set of lyrics, although it does have the “Hey Little Caesar” chorus. In chronological terms, this version probably falls between the other two, with lyrics still a work in progress and a different verse melody. Then there’s “Shandi”, from Eric’s Kiss audition tape, with brand new acoustic backing music. Unfortunately, Eric’s shaky voice (or a warbly tape) makes this totally unlistenable.
One of Rockology‘s highlights was “Just Can’t Wait” which was crying out for a lead vocal to finish it off. This was completed by Ted Poley of Danger Danger. Though the backing track lacks the fidelity of a proper Kiss recording, the song has taken shape as the shoulda-coulda-been hit that it is. Eric would have been proud and very happy to hear it as a finished song.
The unfinished “Troubles Inside You” is a demo with regular Kiss collaborator and Beatlemania member Mitch Weissman. It was recorded at Gene Simmons’ house, but the old cassette must have deteriorated pretty badly. The music is barely audible, though hints of a good song shine through. Two more Kiss outtakes include the legendary “Dial L For Love” and “Elephant Man”. These were written for Crazy Nights and Revenge, respectively. Neither were finished by Carr. “Dial L For Love” has the bones of a good song with a unique riff. Eric only managed to finish the lyrics for “Elephant Man”, but here it is given music and life by a group of musicians including the late A.J. Pero of Twisted Sister, and ex-Europe guitarist Kee Marcello. Singer Bob Gilmartin did a great job of it, turning “Elephant Man” into a cross between ballad and rocker, and something Kiss totally could have done on Revenge. “Midnight Stranger” is another unfinished riff. Ex-Kiss guitarist Mark St. John was slated to overdub brand new solos for this instrumental, but he too passed before he could finish. This is the original cassette demo. The riff sounds like a brother to “Carr Jam”. They are definitely related.
“Carr Jam 1981” is, unfortunately, not the original unaltered Elder demo. It is a cover by drummer Joey Cassata, and a very authentic one at that. Same with “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose”. Just a cover, not a demo, by Cassata’s band Z02. Pretty good stuff, at least. New backing music was recorded for “Eyes of Love”, a song previously released on Rockology. The Rockology version with Bruce Kulick on guitar is superior.
Finally, some real serious archival treasures: an Eric Carr drum solo basement tape (same as his live Kiss solo), and a 1967 recording by Eric’s first band The Cellarmen! That’s Eric on lead vocals too. It definitely sounds of its time. Added filler include a few interview bits and clips, including one with former Kiss manager Bill Aucoin about Eric.
If the first Eric Carr CD release was best left to hardcore fans, it’s doubly true of the second one. This is a fans-only release, period. It is highly unlikely anyone else would get much enjoyment from this low-fi set.
Although Carr’s loss was devastating to both fans and the band, there was no question Kiss would carry on with imminent Revenge….