Tag Archives: paul stanley

Ace Frehley-Space Invader

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In the lead up for release of his new album, Space Invader, Ace Frehley was saying he was going to out KISS, KISS. I got a chuckle out of it not because KISS’ latest release Monster was anything special. It was just that Ace does not have the best track record. From the Frehley’s Comets stuff up til Anomaly, there was some great songs but not a great album. Well Ace has broke that trend and really knocked it one out of the park with Space Invader.

Space Invader is 12 tracks of everything that is great about Ace Frehley. Hooky as hell hard rock with lots of his signature playing over it. From the jump there’s the title track, “Gimme A Feelin’”, “I Wanna Hold You”, three songs that Gene and Paul probably wish they did. “Gimme A Feelin’” might be one of Ace’s best songs ever. “Toys”,“Immoral Pleasures” and “Reckless” all seems to be Ace dealing with some of his past dalliances. I believe that he’s finally out of that dark tunnel so they all have a good feel to them.

The first track I heard from this album was a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” and I was not too impressed. It has a more laid back feel to it than the original plus the guitar is distorted as hell. However, as I’ve listened to this album over an over, I have since changed my mind. Now I absolutely love it and that laid back feel I mentioned earlier is more like a drunken singalong at 3am vibe.

The only complaint one might have is that he misses having another voice in the band. “Change” is a real good song but with it’s slower and heavier tone, a Todd Howarth or Ritchie Scarlet who are actual singers could have taken it to another level.

Singing is not what Ace is known for it’s what he does with a guitar. And this is some of his best guitar playing in a long time. I don’t know if all this Hall Of Fame drama stirred something up inside him but he has the sound and attitude that made me love him when I was a kid. But at the same time showing a lot of growth, especially on the the instrumental album closer “Starship”. While it does harken back to the “Fractured Mirror” tracks, it’s a lot smarter and mature than anything else he’s done.

Don’t know what’s gotten in Ace Frehley but hopefully it finds it’s way over to his ex-bandmates. This is a return to form that people were hoping for. Space Invader might be the best KISS related album in over 20 years,

Ace is back and he told you so.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-but it as a used CD
$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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KISS in the 80’s aka Scott looks back fondly on his teenage years

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One of my favorite podcasts, ROCK AND OR ROLL SHOW, just did an episode on KISS in the 80’s. In that episode they went over each KISS album from that decade, talking about each album plus all the band happenings. At the end of the episode, the two hosts chose their Top 10 songs from that decade of KISS. Me being a sucker of music lists, got inspired and decided to do one of my own. Please listen to the podcast as it’s very well done and has oodles of KISS trivia.
I grew up with KISS, they are my band. The band that no matter what they do you still like them. Even when you don’t. I remember my Uncle Brian giving me his copy of The Originals and being entranced. I watched the dreadful KISS Meets the Phantom Of The Park and loved it. Still do today but on another level. The big turn for me was the release of Dynasty. When my Dad said he liked a couple songs I knew something was wrong. Then the 80’s hit and my favorite band was just another act. When I looked at the cover for Unmasked and the comic has someone saying “They Stink” on it, it was telling. Line-up changes and dwindling sales turned KISS from being the “biggest band in the world” to just another rock act. So I re-listened to the albums from Unmasked through Hot In The Shade. Ironically the biggest selling album of the decade was Smashes, Thrashes, & Hits, a compilation with 2 new tracks neither I wanted to remember.

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The aforementioned Unmasked was released in 1980. It would be drummer Peter Criss’ last official album as he had one foot out the door. Like all of the 80’s albums, it is very hit or miss. The productions is way off. I don’t know if it’s because they just did the disco album or if producer Vini Poncia felt just like Peter.”Shandi” was the single and I bought the 45, it’s around here somewhere. In hindsight it is a very lackluster love song and I still have not met anyone named Shandi. Got to say I’m a little disappointed by that. My pre-teen mind did not understand but was still fascinated by some of the odd song titles, “Torpedo Girl” & “She’s So European”. That and the opening line of , cats drooling on the bar stool, from “Is That You” still makes me smile to this day. Although it took me years to realize he didn’t mean a feline when referencing cat. There are two songs from this album I still like. “Is That You” and “Tomorrow”. Both Paul songs with the second one being just a perfect pop rock gem.

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Next is the very odd Music From “The Elder”. This concept album was supposed to be the catalyst for a movie. Never happened and after listening you know why. Poor Eric Carr gets his big break in joining KISS and this is what happen. Also, over hyped and glorified one hit wonder Lou Reed did some writing with them insuring that this would be KISS” worst LP. I remember staying up late to watch them on the show Fridays. They did “World Without Heroes” a ballad where Gene literally sheds a tear and “The Oath”. The only song I really like is “I”. Very upbeat, uplifting rocker that is a motivational poster in audio. Plus having Paul and Gene both sings lead is pretty cool too.

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1982 ushered in another change for KISS. Guitarist Ace Frehley and his car lost a fight with a tree and he exits. Even though he is on the cover of Creatures Of The Night, he doesn’t play on it. Most of it is done by his replacement Vinnie Vincent who also co-wrote a bunch of songs. This album is a welcome return to the bands hard rock roots. “I Love It Loud” was all over MTV and “War Machine” became a staple of entrance themes for pro wrestlers. Watching Humongous use it coming to the ring back in the Mid-South days.

The standout track is the title track a full on metal song and one of the heaviest for the band.

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That was supposed to be a comeback album for KISS but it did not sell well. I guess The Elder put a stench on the band that could not be washed away so quickly. KISS ditched the makeup and released Lick It Up. The not too subtle named album was a big seller and had two big videos from it. The title track and “All Hell’s Breaking Loose”. Both featured a post-apocalyptic world that was in vogue back then.
Thank you The Road Warrior.
Lots of people, including the podcast, do not like “Breaking Loose” but I love it. Paul’s rap is so Paul that I don’t see how you could not like it. Plus it has an infectious guitar riff.

During this decade Gene started dabbling in other things and his songs really took a backseat. However, his sexual innuendo laden “Fits Like A Glove” I really like. Now it might be due to hearing this as I was going through puberty.

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1984 had the band replacing another member. Out went Vinnie Vincent and in came Mark St. John. Animalize is his only appearance as Reiter’s Syndrome forced him out of playing. “Heaven’s On Fire” was the hit but it was “too simple” for me. I did like “Thrills In The Night” but the album as a whole was kind of boring. They really missed having Vinnie Vincent as a writer. If KISS would have recorded some of the songs from his Invasion album…..

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The year of 1985 was same song, different day for KISS. Guitarist Mark St. John was out and Bruce Kulick was in. He had been touring in place of St. John but Asylum was his recording debut. The videos for this album are hideous. Bright colors, fringe, and volcanoes, just ewwww. Unfortunately those images are what people remember and not the songs. “Tears Are Falling” was the lead video and warning image. Nice song that featured curtains being ripped down which somehow became a staple in the 80’s.

Asylum was a showcase for Paul’s songwriting. The standout track for me was “Who Wants To Be Lonely?”. He just knows how to write a catchy love song.

Thankfully, with Gene dabbling in acting Paul made sure we did not go without a sex song. The working for the weekend anthem got turned on it’s literal back for “UH All Night”. The sex sells idea of the 80’s was on full display here. However I think this is where the “Paul Is Gay” rumors start. That captains hat paired with his open chest was a curious choice.

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Crazy Nights broke the revolving guitarist streak. The album reflected the band actually having a steady lineup. Still Simmons was off doing things so Kulick got more writing time. They even let him do some shredding on the lone good Gene track “No No No”. KISS also brought in Desmond Child and Dianne Warren. Yes that Dianne Warren, she of the Aerosmith ballad lame, I mean fame. The host of the podcast, BJ,  loved her track “Turn On the Night” but I found it too Bon Jovi with its keyboard popness.


The title track was interesting since the video had Gene and Paul putting the makeup back on. It was a pretty good song too even though the standing up for yourself lyrics had grown tired by then.


The other notable song is “Reason To Believe”. Paul and Desmond created a terrific ballad that is right in Paul’s wheelhouse. It fit in with the 80’s hard rock at the time but it was still KISS.

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Next up was the Smashes, Thrashes, & Hits compilation. For a greatest hits collection it was alright, it did touch on all their history. But it also had Eric Carr re-record “Beth” which he, and the fans, were not too fond of. Paul wrote both of the new tracks and they were as subtle as a pool party at the Hustler mansion. “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” and “Let’s Put The X in Sex” try way too hard and would have been better off left on the demo pile.

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The Eighties finished up with Hot In The Shade. Rolling Stone magazine made a list of Top 10 KISS records and they had this #10. To be fair there is some good stuff but is weighed down with 15 songs, about 5 too many. It has “Hide Your Heart”which former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley covered and was on his solo album that came out a week before KISS’. It is a Stanley/Child song that did not make it on Crazy Nights and was offered to other artists, but still. I do like KISS’ version a lot.

Paul’s love for ballads had him co-write a song with future white man of soul Michael Bolton on “Forever”. Another great ballad from Paul and it was a big hit for the band, even landing in the Top 10.

Interestingly, there are two Gene tracks that he co-wrote with future KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. Neither are worth writing home about. Eric Carr finally got the chance to sing on “Little Caesar”. It has a nice chorus but the riff is kind of generic. Shame he didn’t get a chance to sing more.
So there was the overview on the 80’s KISS albums. After sorting through them, warts and all, here is my….

Top 10 KISS tracks of the 80’s
10)-Fits Like A Glove
9)-Uh! All Night
8)-Is That You?
7)-All Hell’s Breaking Loose
6)-Who Wants To Be Lonely
5)-War Machine
4)-Forever
3)-I
2)-Tomorrow
1)-Creatures Of The Night
I’ve switched these around several times in the past day. If you asked my next week I might have a different list.
What do you think?

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KISS-Monster

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I know the 13 year-old in me is shocked that I was not looking forward to a new album from childhood idols KISS. If Monster was anything like it’s post reunion predecessors, I just couldn’t take it. The band released “Hell Or Hallelujah” as an early single. This was supposed to announce to the doubtful, that the band is back to its’ rockin’ ways. To emphasize it they proudly exclaimed that there were no ballads. Which was curious since the bands biggest hits were ballads. Anyway, back to the first song. Many in the rock world loved how it sounded like old school KISS. And I wholeheartedly agree with them, “Hell Or Hallelujah” does sound like vintage KISS. Unfortunately, it’s because the song sounds “eerily” like “I Stole Your Love”. But since AC/DC and Slayer have been playing the same song for decades so why not KISS? It is a good song after all.

But that is just one song out of an album of 12. While the opener is a good track, my favorite may be the closer “Last Chance. This song truly echoes the classic KISS sound without aping it. “Freak” is another keeper that has some beef to it and would easily fit with Revenge era material. Just like all their other releases, lead vocals are split almost evenly between Stanley and Simmons with Ace and Peter given one each.

Oops, I meant Tommy and Eric.

It is a tad curious that the one song that Tommy sings lead on is “Outta This World”. You don’t think that it’s just a tad coincidental that the guy now wearing the Spaceman makeup writes a song title like that do you? In all fairness it is a good tune despite is “curious” song title. Now, the Eric song is blatant bait and switch on Peter Criss’ legacy. “All For The Love Of Rock N Roll” has a very bluesy soulful sound that was right in the Catman’s wheelhouse. Tacky and not good either.

I want to talk about these two members without delving too far into the makeup controversy. While I’m not a big fan of it, I’m not outraged. Eric is a monster drummer so if that what it takes to keep him in the band I’m cool. Tommy is another matter. He is a very serviceable guitarist but KISS shouldn’t have serviceable guitarists. Put it this way, after Bruce Kulick left KISS he made two terrific albums with Union. Prior to joining KISS Tommy Thayer was in Black N Blue a 3rd tier glam band whose only notoriety was that Gene was their manager and on his own label. Not comparable.

After all is said and done Monster is a very spotty album. Couple good songs and a couple that have you hit fast forward. It is a somewhat success in that it’s a step in the right direction. Compare it to Metallica and Death Magnetic. Not their best effort but gives hope that the band can get back to their past glory.

 

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

 

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1st Annual Year In Metal Wrap-up (a little late)

Everyone has read countless lists of top 10’s or Top 20’s or whatever. While I love making and reading these lists as much as the next guy, I want to do something a little different. So here is the 1st Annual, even though it cannot be annual if it is the first, Year in Metal Wrapup.

Album of the Year


Bad City-Welcome To the Wasteland

I came across this album from the good folks at Metal Excess. They gave it a great review and I love it even more. It has to be one of the most fun hard rock albums I have heard in years. The closest example I can think of is when I first heard The Darkness. It has the same throwback 70’s rock feel but sprinkled in with a little 80’s esthetic, namely the “gang vocals” that permeate many of the songs. However, it does not sounded dated as quality knows no age. The cherry on this musical sundae is “Call Paul Stanley”. The four-and a half minute ode to rockstar dreams, name checks the legendary KISS frontman all the while paying homage in the best song of the year.  I cannot recommend this album enough and guarantee that you will like it. Not a money back guarantee because I am broke but you get the idea.  Go buy this album.  NOW!!

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Runner up-Overkill-Ironbound

Surprise of the Year


RATT-Infestation

With the 80’s hard rock nostalgia running rampant you had to wander if this was just a cash grab. The propensity for disaster was high. The last time anyone heard of RATT was with ex-Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl out front and former Crue-er John Corabi singing backups and rhythm guitar. Carlos Cavazo was recruited to replace Corabi and original singer Stephen Pearcy returned. The band could have easily done festivals and shows playing the old stuff. Thankfully what they did was hunker down in the studio and cranked out a terrific slab of hard rock goodies that serve as enduring legacy of the band. It hits you from the go on “Eat me Up Alive” with its’ sexually tinged lyrics and trademark Warren DeMartini riffs. Every song fits easily in to the RATT catalog and if you saw them live this past summer you can attest to that.

Runner up-Accept-Blood Of the Nations

Disappointment of the Year

Monster Magnet-Mastermind

Now I love me some Monster Magnet. I love that mainman Dave Wyndorf has stuck to a formula that only he knows. His brand of stoner/space rock is unique unto itself and the fact that his lyrics seem to be written as if they were from a stream of conscience acid induced rant, just seems to make it better. Mastermind is not a bad album per se, it is just not nearly as good as the previous Monster Magnet releases. There are several good tracks on here “Dig That Hole” and lead single “Gods and Punks” That track is accompanied by a terrific video. Those songs aside, the album just feels very lethargic, I know that may seem ironic since this is Monster Magnet, but  on all the other albums the slower stuff had a swing or a groove to it that drew you in. Mastermind just seems to sit there at times, leaving you very unfulfilled. 

Runner-up-Stone Temple Pilots-S/T

Best Metal Event of the Year

The Big Four Shows

As time has unfolded, the chances of seeing Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax all together has seemed very slight. While some had played with one another on previous tours, a package that included all the Big 4 of Thrash Metal just seemed like chatter. There were so many hurdles for this to come together. Metallica is the biggest band in the world and they do not need to. Megadeth, is burdened with Dave Mustaine and his public feuds with members of Slayer and Metallica. Slayer, had been feuding with Mustaine on personal and musical levels. Anthrax while always up for a show had gone through 3 singers in the span of a year. So when the good fortune happened that this came true, it was a headbangers dream come true. The bands played a series of festivals in Europe and the shows were  immortalized in a DVD set for all to see. They were even shown in theaters in the States and in true metal tradition, the cops were called. Although they did not make it here to the States all the acts have indicated that is something they would love to do. Hopefully the stars will aline for that.

Runner Up-?

Worst Metal Event of the Year

Ronnie James Dio loses his fight with cancer.

When word spread that Dio had died of caner is rocked the metal community. It was only a month before that he had said how good he felt and that his prospects were looking good. Fans had just seen him at the Revolver Golden Gods Awards and it seemed like he was going to beat it. However as strong as Dio may have been, cancer was much stronger. Losing anyone to cancer is horrible but when you lose someone that seemed liked a part of the family to millions worldwide it is devastating. His passing was sad because he was still singing great and releasing quality music. While that may be a selfish  attitude as a fan, Dio being there for as long as he did was an inspiration for many and provided enjoyment that cannot be measured.

We see musicians die every year, that is not a new thing. Losing Dio or legendary metal manager Debbie Abono to caner is sad. Seeing some junkie musician die at their own hands while sad in one way is not deserving of the same emotion. When people like the formers pass, it let’s us know how fleeting life actually is. We are coming upon a time where many of the founders are getting up in age and nature will take its’ course. The obits will start to fill as the legends pass on. And while we will mourn the loss and fondly remember of the joy they brought us, it will also remind us of our own mortality.

There has been some good come out of Dio’s passing. Outreach of cancer awareness in the metal community has come to the forefront. With Ronnie’s and others passing’s, more and more headbangers are hopefully having the necessary checkups done. Wendy Dio, is heading the Stand Up And Shout Foundation and raising funds for cancer research. They recently donated over $100,000 to M.D, Anderson Hospital in Houston, the facility where Ronnie received treatment.

Runner Up-Slash defacing his Guns N Roses legacy by having  that talentless ho bag Fergie sing on Sweet Child O’Mine.

Most Anticipated For This Year

New Mastodon album

This past year was a little light in “holy shit” releases. Last year there was new ones from Lamb of God, Megadeth, and Slayer, among other notables. With the possibility of the Georgia quartet delivering a new platter of metal goodness, I am a twitter like a schoolgirl seeing Justin Beiber. It will be a great day when I open the Sunday ad for Best Buy and see Mastodon listed next to whatever Youtube sensation or middle-class gangster wannabe.

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