runaway

MOVIE REVIEW: Runaway (1984 – The KISS Re-Review Series)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 27:  Bonus movie review!

RUNAWAY (1984 Tristar)

Directed by Michael Crichton and featuring Gene Simmons

Being in  was never enough for Gene Simmons.  Dating Cher and Diana Ross gave him a taste of Hollywood stardom.  He saw movies as his next mountain to climb.  Gene secured an audition with novelist and sometimes director Michael Crichton.  Crichton asked Gene to communicate, without saying any words, his desire to kill him.  Whatever Gene did worked, and he scored the role without even having to read for it.

Crichton’s next film Runaway was a Tom Selleck sci-fi vehicle and Gene played the villain Dr. Charles Luther.  Turning his back on Kiss and leaving Paul Stanley to do all the heavy lifting, Simmons cut his hair and got filming.

Set in the “near future”, Runaway depicts an America in which robots are commonplace.  Every household has some, and they have failsafes built in to protect humans.  Selleck played Jack Ramsay, a veteran cop now on the “runaway squad”, a quiet department dedicated to capturing errant robots.  His latest case is a shocker.  A robot has committed the first ‘bot-human homicide in history.  What caused it to malfunction and deliberately kill its owners?  Ramsay discovers a strange chip inside designed not only to override its safety protocols, but also to order the robot to kill.  But who would do such a thing?

Who else?  The evil Dr. Charles Luther played by the God of Thunder himself.

Dr. Luther developed new templates that allow robots to identify and assassinate specific humans.  They are worth a fortune on the black market, and so Luther killed his partners and went rogue.  However his ladyfriend Jackie (Kirstie Alley) doublecrossed him and stole the chips.  When Ramsay and his cop partner Karen find Jackie, they narrowly escape Luther who was tracking her.  Not only does he have killer robots, but also a huge-ass handgun that has homing bullets that can even turn corners.  They try to set up him by having Jackie return the stolen chips, but in one of his best scenes, Gene Simmons stabs her in the back in the middle of a kiss.

Jackie didn’t turn over all the chips.  Ramsay still has some.  Being the evil genius that he is, Luther hacks the police computers and finds out where Ramsay lives.  This leads to a very typical final confrontation, in which Luther kidnaps Ramsay’s son and brings him to an under-construction skyscraper.  Of course he would.  It’s a standard movie cliche involving elevators and heights.  Conveniently, the movie establishes early that Ramsay has a fear of heights.  Of course he does!

Luther does have one neat gadget for this long and fairly boring ending.  He has robotic spiders that spit acid, programmed to kill anything that comes down from the building.  Tom Selleck eventually bests Gene Simmons as you knew he would, but Gene also gets one of the cheesiest movie after-deaths you will ever see.  You know those scenes when you think the villain is dead, but he’s not?  Gene gets to make a funny face and go “RAAAAHHHHH!” before dropping down dead for real this time.

Michael Crichton was certainly a fine science fiction writer, with titles like Jurassic Park and The Andromeda Strain to his credits.  As a movie director, he was less successful.  The Great Train Robbery (1979) starring Sean Connery and Donald Sutherland, and based on his own novel, was his best work.  Others point to Westworld (1973) as his best work as a director.   The main point is, nobody looks to Runaway for movie gold.  It’s sluggish, clunky and at times pretty goofy.  As a science fiction film, it utilized intelligent concepts and envisioned a future that was very different for the cinema in 1984.  Runaway had a story idea.  Jack Ramsay was a complicated character, with a cliche but workable back story.  It was just poorly executed.  One redeeming value is its Jerry Goldsmith score, which was his first all-electronic soundtrack.

While Runaway isn’t considered Michael Crichton’s best film, it might be Gene’s.  His next roles were less flattering.  He played a transvestite villain in Never Too Young to Die with John Stamos.  There was a cameo in the horror cult classic Trick Or Treat.  Opposite Rutger Hauer, he played a stereotypical terrorist in Wanted: Dead or Alive.  His last film before returning to Kiss full-time was an early George Clooney film called Red Surf.  Gene was a friendly weapons dealer.

Meanwhile in Kiss, Paul Stanley had clearly taken over leadership.  All the singles were his.  Since Gene had short hair, he wore a pretty silly wig on stage with Kiss.  None of this helped his image in the eyes of fans.  He did earn a good review for Runaway from Roger Ebert, but otherwise the movie was a dud.

2/5 stars

To be continued…

 

REVIEW: Bon Jovi – Bon Jovi (1984, 2012 special edition)

Part one of a Bon Jovi two-parter!

BON JOVI – Bon Jovi (1984 Polygram, 2012 special edition)

With Bon Jovi sucking quite a lot of ass lately, there has never been a better time to go back and check out some old Bon Jovi.  Join us in taking a look at the band’s very first LP, Bon Jovi from 1984.  It didn’t do much in terms of sales.  The music videos are kind of funny to look at today.  But there is an honesty and innocence to early Bon Jovi, that is completely gone from the band now.  Then, they were five hungry guys trying to make it together.  Today they’re three guys — one boss and two employees.  Today we will look at the 2012 reissue, with four live bonus tracks.  This is notable since Bon Jovi rarely if ever played these songs after they hit it big.

Jon Bongiovi had been working at Power Station recording studios, having got a job there thanks to his cousin Tony Bongiovi.  Several demos from that era have been released on compilations such as Jon Bon Jovi – The Power Station Years.  The studio time evolved into a band with a record deal.  They soon set down to record nine songs for their debut album to be called Tough Talk, however the label convinced them a self titled debut was the way to go.

The first track and single was actually an older song: “Runaway”.  JBJ had a local hit with it, which he recorded with the “All Star Review”, five local studio guys.  Among them was bassist Huey McDonald, who later went on to play bass with Bon Jovi themselves. It’s an instantly catchy rock song leaning heavily on keyboards. Even from this early track you can tell that young Jon Bon Jovi had a hell of a talent for writing catchy hooks. The immaculate backing vocals are obviously not those of Richie Sambora. Just wait until Jon goes for the high notes at the end though!

It was 1984, the peak of the “post-apocalyptic wasteland” setting for music videos.

Moving on to “Roulette”, we now get a song that is a little harder-edged. Richie has a chunky guitar riff that gives the song some weight. Jon pours it all on, and it’s clear even on this first album that Sambora was a serious talent. His style has evolved considerably over the years, but at this stage he was already capable of writing great songs with memorable guitar solos.

“She Don’t Know Me” was also a single, but this one has not aged so well. Sounding like a New Jersey version of the lighter side of Journey, “She Don’t Know Me” is a lil’ too sappy for most adults. It’s not terrible but “She Don’t Know Me” is just too heavy on the syrup. It is at least upbeat, with a Sambora solo right out of the Neal Schon book of tricks!

“Shot Through the Heart” is a forgotten song, since its title was used as in the chorus of “You Give Love a Bad Name”. This is a hard rock heartbreak, the kind of thing Jon does so well. The balance comes from Sambora. Without him, there’s no edge. He brings a very special guitar quality to the table, not to mention songwriting.

The first Bon Jovi album’s biggest weakness is an over-reliance on sad sounding love songs. “Love Lies” is another one, a dusky piano based ballad. David Bryan (known here as David Rashbaum) co-wrote it with Jon, and like all the other tunes it does have quality to it. It’s just too much heartbreak for one side of vinyl.

“Breakout”, also written by Rashbaum, is a hard enough rocker to open side two. Jon has found some backbone, telling his ex that he’s “better off on my own”. That’s better, Jon! Let’s stay strong buddy, and crank out a rocker. “Burning for Love” continues the hot streak. Now we’re cooking with gas. Richie really nails it on the axe. Then is a song called “Come Back”. You might expect by the title that Jon has lost his balls again. Thankfully, his pal Richie is there to keep him standing. “Come Back” is a bit of a broken-hearted rocker, but Sambora’s pick scrapes keep it rock and roll.

One last rocker was all you needed to call it an album back then. Of all the songs on Bon Jovi, “Get Ready” sounds the most like what Bon Jovi would become famous for: good time rock music! Guitar, piano, bass and drums: that’s all you need for a rock and roll party. This really sounds like Bon Jovi.

That’s a pretty solid debut album right there, for a band in Bon Jovi’s league. I have no idea why they (he) won’t play so many of these songs anymore. They’re better than most of the stuff he’s been putting out lately. And we still have the four bonus tracks to discuss.

The four live songs come from various shows, 1984-1988. Each is heavier than its studio counterpart. “Runaway” benefits from the full band treatment, as opposed to the studio cats. Having Richie there singing it with Jon makes all the difference. (This is not the same version as the B-side from “Lay Your Hands On Me”.) “Roulette” is a solid inclusion. “Breakout” keeps it rolling, but you gotta love that “Get Ready” was also included, ending the album as it always has.

3.5/5 stars

2010 Special Edition bonus tracks
1. “Runaway (Live Le Zenith, November 20, 1988)”
2. “Roulette (Live BBC Friday Rock Show)”
3. “Breakout (Live Super Rock ’84)”
4. “Get Ready (Live Japan Tour 1985)”

REVIEW: The Traveling Wilburys Collection (Bonus 12″ and DVD)

This series is dedicated to my mom! Not only did she a) buy me this box set, but b) introduced me to the artists in the first place. My mom’s favourite Beatle was George. She saw Roy Orbison live, at the old Glenbriar Curling Club on Weber St. in Waterloo. Later, she had these Traveling Wilburys albums on cassette.

Today is the final installment: the DVD and bonus 12″ EP.

For Vol. 1, click here.
For Vol. 3, click here!

 

THE TRAVELING WILBURYS – Bonus 12″, DVD (The Traveling Wilburys Collection 2007 Rhino)

As mentioned in the last two reviews, The Traveling Wilburys Collection came stuffed with bonus tracks — and more if you bought vinyl.  Unfortunately, these bonus tracks (seven total) do not encompass all of the Traveling Wilburys rare tracks and B-sides.  The missing tracks include:

  • “New Blue Moon” (instrumental version), from the “She’s My Baby” and “Wilbury Twist” singles.
  • The original mix of “Runaway” from the “She’s My Baby” single.

The tracks included feature a few B-sides and unreleased songs.  I seem to recall in the 1980’s that extended mixes were very popular.  The Wilburys released two as B-sides:  “Handle With Care” and “End of the Line”.  Both tracks are included with the vinyl version of the Collection.  Basically, this involves adding instrumental sections throughout the song.  Throw on some extra echo here and there.  Each song is extended by about 2 minutes.  With a vocal-heavy band like the Traveling Wilburys, this is actually quite a treat.  It’s a chance to hear some of the bare acoustic instrumental tracks that are overshadowed by harmony vocals.

IMG_20140808_180434Exclusive to the vinyl version of the Collection, and previously unreleased, is the remix to “Not Alone Any More”.  I have made no secret of my love for this song.  This version emphasizes the lead vocal of Roy Orbison front and center.   Also unreleased, but included on the CD version, are “Maxine” and “Like a Ship”.  Both tracks were old recordings, finished in 2007 for this release.  Dhani Harrison and Jeff Lynne sang additional backing vocals, which is more than appropriate.  You can tell both are from demo sources, by hints such as George’s “Alright, that’s it,” at the end of “Maxine”.  “Maxine” is the better of the two songs; “Like a Ship” is a slow Bob Dylan trawl that gets decidedly Beatles-y by the end.  Dhani Harrison plays the guitar solo, which is a standout.

Then there is “Nobody’s Child”, originally from the Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal CD.  I’ll admit I’ve never been fond of this sad song.  This was the Wilburys first recording after the passing of Roy Orbison, and I’m glad to finally have it, but it’s not a favourite.  Incidentally, George covered this song way back when he was in the Beatles, too.

Del Shannon’s “Runaway” is a favourite of mine.   I love that “I wah wah wah wah wonder” chorus.  I dug when Queen + Paul Rodgers covered it, but I doubtless first heard this in the movie American Graffiti.   It is said that when Roy Orbison died, Del Shannon was considered as a replacement.  Unfortunately Shannon himself would soon be gone too; he never lived long enough to see the release of the Wilburys’ cover of “Runaway” in 1990.  (He did however live long enough to hear Tom Petty mention the song in his 1989 hit “Running Down a Dream”.)  Jeff Lynne sings lead on the Wilburys version, and he does a bang-up job.  I like this version so much that I’m going to track down the “She’s My Baby” CD single so I can get the original mix too.

Included with the CD version of this set (but not the vinyl) is a DVD with a 24 minute documentary called “The True History of the Traveling Wilburys”. This fascinating inside look at the first album is well worth having.  How often do you get to be a fly on a wall during a jam session like this?  Never.  It’s also very cool to see all five Wilburys recording vocals together in one room.  Also included on the DVD are all of  the Wilburys music videos, including “Inside Out” which I had never seen before.

The vinyl box not only has extra music, but also a poster and six postcards.  Just paper, I know.  The vinyl itself are presented on 180 gram records, which are always delightful to listen to.  Take my word for it when I say that all three records sound amazing on my system.

The Wilburys never went on to record together again after Vol. 3, but a lot of fans consider Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever to be something of an unofficial Wilburys album.  Jeff Lynne’s first solo album Armchair Theater also has some Wilbury connections, and some of that jangly sound.  All the Wilburys with the exception of Bob Dylan appeared on Roy Orbison’s last album, Mystery Girl.

As for The Traveling Wilburys Collection as a whole?

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Bon Jovi – Greatest Hits: The Ultimate Collection (2 CD)

Part 1 of a 2 part Bon Jovi series.

ULTIMATE BJ_0001BON JOVI – Greatest Hits: The Ultimate Collection (2 CD)

I guess Bon Jovi were due for a new “hits” CD. Crossroads, after all, was 16 years old at that time, and Tokyo Road was only made available in Japan. Ultimate Collection isn’t the ultimate collection that I would have put out.  If you’re going to do two CDs, you have room for great also-rans like “Last Cigarette” and “Something For The Pain”.  Still, it’s not a bad Bon Jovi collection. Listening to it front-to-back, I was pleasantly reminded of all these hits, and man, Bon Jovi had a lot of hits. From early stuff like “Runaway” to the New Jersey classics such as “Born To Be My Baby”, to the newbies like “Have A Nice Day”, this has pretty much all the key Bon Jovi radio hits. Unfortunatly, you’re going to miss out on second-rung hits like “Dry County” and “Joey” but for the uninitiated, or those who just want a good sized Bon Jovi collection, this is the place to go.  I think it’s important to explore albums such as New Jersey (the review of which is Part 2 in this series) and Keep the Faith, as well as hits.

Almost every Bon Jovi album has hits included here, right up to The Circle. The song flow is excellent, hitting you with hit after hit after hit, landmark ballads sprinkled in between. And I give credit for the inclusion of “Blood On Blood”, a song that was never a single but has been a huge concert favourite due to its real life story of JBJ’s childhood. Not to mention it’s just a great song.

ULTIMATE BJ_0003The four new songs create feelings of moderate indifference to great dislike. “What Do You Got?” is another trademark Bon Jovi ballad, certainly nothing special, outshined to a great degree by all the other tunes here. It’s easily forgettable and feels tacked-on as an afterthought. But two of these new songs — “No Apologies” and “The More Things Change” are just awful songs. Cheesy, contrived, choose whatever words you like, they’re juvenile and awful and really don’t fit in among the classier hits. To me these are B-sides and perhaps should have been held back as B-sides.  Or just deleted completely.

Packaging is not the greatest. There are full songwriting and production credits, but they are arranged in such a way as to make finding information difficult. Performance credits are even harder to find — I couldn’t find bassists Hugh McDonald or Alec John Such’s names anywhere in the credits, and their pictures are also not included. There are a few more recent photos of the main four guys. No liner notes.

On the whole, despite the fact that I don’t really like the four new songs, I don’t regret this purchase. It’s going to be a great road CD. It is a good way to hear tunes like “We Weren’t Born To Follow” without listening to the album it came from, which I wasn’t too keen on. So, no regrets. I think most fans will like the album, they might even like the new songs.  Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom enjoyed it in the car and commented that she knew many of the songs.  Newcomers would be wise to pick this up as it has a great hit-per disc ratio!

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Queen + Paul Rodgers – “Fire and Water” (The Cosmos Rocks bonus track)

SAM_2063

QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – “Fire and Water” (The Cosmos Rocks Amazon.com bonus track, 2008)

When I reviewed the full album, The Cosmos Rocks, I was frustratingly missing one song:  “Fire and Water”, their Free cover only available by download on Amazon.com.  The reason I was missing it, is that Amazon.com tracks can only be downloaded by people living in the United States.  I don’t know if they can tell by your IP address, or by where your credit card is registered, but only Americans can download this track.  I’d tried to acquire it via the dark recesses of the internet, but no such luck.

Aaron, being the good chap that he is, offered to ask his brother in law in the United States if he could help.  Unfortunately, this song being an Amazon exclusive, of course you have to buy the whole album to get the one track.  Anyway, Aaron’s bro in law was a good soul too, and did me that favour, sending me the track.

Am I a sucker for buying the whole album again for one song?  Let’s not get into that.  I’ve paid more for less in the past.  It was a quest long completed and that’s what matters to me.

“Fire and Water” is of course a cover of Paul’s classic Free song, written by Rodgers and Andy Fraser.  Unfortunately, Amazon didn’t advertise that this was a live cover.  I had assumed that, like the iTunes bonus track “Runaway” (a Del Shannon cover) that this was a studio version.  It is not.

This being a download, there are of course no liner notes, no way to tell where this song was recorded or when.  I’m working on the assumption that it was probably recorded at the same concert as the live iTunes bonus track, “The Show Must Go On”, which was the Super Live in Japan concert.

Anyway, I have it now.  And of course it’s great.  “Fire and Water” is a classic song, and I believe that Brian May does the guitar work total justice.  It’s a chance for him to deep dig and groove with Roger Taylor.  Paul Rodgers is perpetually young, although the song’s key has been lowered to accommodate an older voice.  I don’t think this detracts from the song, which is a pretty authentic rendering of a true rock classic.

I don’t have much else to say, I’m glad to finally have the track, completing my Cosmos Rocks album.  Right?  Right?

No!  Turns out there’s a very hard to get Japanese 2 CD edition of the The Cosmos Rocks, with a 15 track live disc of Super Live In Japan featuring “The Show Much Go On” and…yes…”Fire and Water”.

Now, none of this information was easily available before, which is what led me to this problem.  So for what must surely be an internet first, I give you the most comprehensive overview of The Cosmos Rocks available.  There’s all the tracks, and there’s the best ways to find them.

Ahh well.  A collector and his money are soon parted.

4/5 stars for the song

0/5 stars for Amazon.com

REVIEW: Queen + Paul Rodgers – The Cosmos Rocks (+ bonus tracks)

SAM_2063

QUEEN + PAUL RODGERS – The Cosmos Rocks (2008 Hollywood Records, iTunes + Amazon bonus tracks)

I was surprised as anyone else when, in 1997, Queen continued on as a three-piece (sans the retired John Deacon) with a new track called “Only The Good Die Young” (Queen Rocks). Since then, Queen has continued on with one-offs under the name “Queen +” with the name of the singer.  (Adam Lambert, you can fuck right off.)

When they started touring with Paul Rodgers, I salivated! I loved the live album Return Of The Champions, and I was chomping at the bit to hear some new music. Would I, as a long-time Queen fan, be let down?

Not really.

SAM_2067

There have always been Queen albums, particularly in the 80’s, that I felt had filler on them. Cosmos Rocks is like that. Some songs are awesome, worthy of the Queen legacy and a proud addition to the canon. Others are limp are dull. And, the best song didn’t even make the CD release! Read on….

The CD kicks off with what I consider to be some cheesy sound effects, similar to but not as good as “One Vision”. Then, Brian May’s guitar kicks in, and the first track “Cosmos Rockin'” really starts. This is a great track, a hard and fast rocker with May’s licks as fluid as ever. Paul Rodgers, perpetually young, is in fine voice. What a great start to a comeback album! Rogers and May ably handle all bass duties on this album.

Rodgers sings most leads on his own, with familiar sounding backing vocals by Roger Taylor and Brian May. On some songs, the lead vocal is split three ways, such as “Say It’s Not True” which is actually an older song from 2003. I like this touch, as it keeps the sound a little more rooted in old-school Queen which always had Taylor and May singing lead. When Rodgers sings, however, with his voice in full power, it is a brand new beast.

I have to say I was very happy with the choice of Paul Rodgers as lead singer, as he is simply one of the greatest rock vocalists of all time, up there with Daltrey or Plant. He is also a gifted writer, although I’m not sure his writing really gelled with Queen. Still, he is vastly different from Freddie, and nobody could ever replace Freddie, so I think this was definitely the way to go. Certainly much better than picking up some guy who lost American Idol…

Some of the other highlights on this album were the heavy-handed first single “C-lebrity” which seems to disparage the reality TV that Queen would later embrace! I prefer the disparaging sentiment! “Surf’s Up…School’s Out!” is another rocker that blows the doors off most younger bands. “Say It’s Not True” is a highlight, as it is the most Queen-like. Of course, with Freddie gone, his dramatic flourishes and piano was also gone, leaving Queen as a straightforward rock band with May & Taylor firmly in charge. What they once had in unique operatic flourishes has been replaced by hard rocking guitars, for better or for worse.  It is what it is, and nobody can be Freddie.

“Small” is a fantastic ballad, worthy of the Queen back catalogue.  May and Taylor join Rodgers on the lush outro.  I absolutely adore this song.  But then when you think Queen have lightened up, “Wayboys” assaults the speakers, a rare political statement with a military drumbeat.  “Call Me” is another great tune, very vintage Queen in style, sort of an electric campfire singalong.

There is, unfortunately, a lot of filler on this CD, slow-paced plodders that don’t go anywhere or stay in your memory. The thing about the Queen of old is that they were very diverse. You could have a nice jaunty flamenco song like “Who Needs You” on the same album as an epic like “It’s Late”. Queen + Paul Rodgers lacks that diversity. Well, it would have had more diversity if the best song had been included….

That best track I mentioned, that isn’t even on the CD, is available as an iTunes download only. It is a cover of Del Shannon’s “Runaway”, and it is worth the purchase, because it is amazing. I love the oldies, and clearly these guys do too. I wish it had been included on the CD. There is no shame in having a cover tune on your CD, especially when you also have over a dozen originals as well! The iTunes download also came with a new live version of “The Show Must Go On”, but I have no idea when or where it was recorded, except it is a different version from the one on Return Of The Champions. Maybe it is from one of the Queen instant live CDs, of which there are plenty, or maybe it is from the Super Live in Japan DVD that comes with some editions?

SAM_2066

There was another bonus track too, one I haven’t heard, because only American residents can get it from the Amazon.com site. Canadians are SOL!  “Fire And Water” (a live version), originally by Paul in Free, is that bonus track. Come on, Amazon! Let Canadians buy it too!

This actually really pisses me off.

(ADDED NOTE:  I have since acquired that bonus track.  Read all about it here.)

The Cosmos Rocks is not a perfect Queen album, but one that stands up in the back catalogue as an interesting and entertaining sideroad.  The big difference is that The Cosmos Rocks has more, and bigger, guitars than many Queen albums of the recent past.

3/5 stars.

REVIEW: KISS – Animalize (1984)

Part 21 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!  Still flushing out the last of the lo-fi cell phone pics, sorry about that.

ANIMALIZE

KISS – Animalize (1984)

Exit Vinnie Vincent.  Enter Mark St. John aka Mark Norton, a music teacher that came highly recommended, but had no touring experience.  Looking for the next young hot shot to compete with Eddie Van Halen and Yngwie, Kiss took a chance.

In addition to yet another lineup change and third lead guitar player, there were other fractures setting in.  Gene Simmons was dead set to become a movie star, and played the villain role alongside Tom Selleck in a movie called Runaway, written and directed by Michael Crichton.  Paul Stanley was left to produce the next album.

Paul and Gene recorded in separate studios, shuffling Mark St. John between them when needed.  Gene didn’t play bass on several of Paul’s songs, and studio musicians were brought in to add guitar solos, drum overdubs, and backing vocals.  All songs but one were co-written by outside writers.

Animalize is one of those albums that was hugely popular (2 x platinum I think?). It has a couple hot singles, a couple decent album cuts, but disappointly Animalize is mostly filler. Gene’s material is particularly forgettable and uninspired. It’s like you’re listening to half a band.
Mathematically, here’s how it breaks down:

1. I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire) – good song
2. Heaven’s On Fire – good song (but overplayed)
3. Burn Bitch Burn – bad
4. Get All You Can Take – great song
5. Lonely Is The Hunter – bad
6. Under The Gun – bad
7. Thrills In The Night – great
8. While The City Sleeps – terrible
9. Murder In High Heels – terrible

4 out of 9 good songs, and not one of them by Gene Simmons. All of Gene’s stuff on Animalize sucked, leaving the kids of the 80’s to think that he was a sideman and Paul was the main guy. Gene also has the worst lyric in Kisstory here: “I wanna put my log in your fireplace.”

However, a highlight of the album are some of the solos.  A fast neoclassical/jazz player, St. John was miles away from Kiss’ roots. It was the era of the fast classically trained player. Even so, when the band thought that Mark wasn’t nailing the feel, they asked Bruce Kulick to fill in on two songs.  He appears on “Lonely Is The Hunter” and “Murder In High Heels”.  So, technically Animalize was Bruce’s first Kiss album, although nobody knew at the time that Kulick was destined to replace St. John, who was struck with a freak arthritic condition that left him unable to tour.

Kulick wouldn’t be granted full member status until the next album, while the band felt him out.  Later, St. John too went on to make some great solo work — check out his Magic Bullet Theory CD.

Animalize is far from outstanding. I would rank it among Kiss’ three worst albums, the other two being Hot In The Shade and Psycho-Circus. It’s historically important because of how popular the tour and album were. Most of the good songs, however, can be found elsewhere such as the Kiss box set.

2/5 stars.

Mark St. John passed away in 2007.  Rest in peace.