CD Scavenger Hunt – August 2010 update

The buying never stops! Here’s a list of albums I picked up throughout August…..

Online

Cain’s Alibi – s/t (1996) – $25: I featured this CD in my Wanted column back in July 2009 and one of the band members, Paul Miller, was nice enough to leave a comment on the post. I ended up contacting Paul and he was kind enough to offer me a sealed original copy of the CD for $25 with shipping. That was a great deal! I’ve seen this CD go for over $100 many times since it became out of print years ago and Paul was cool enough to sell me one of his very few extra copies for what is basically an import price. Special thanks to Paul Miller for helping me add this to my collection.

Skullfist – Heavier Than Metal (2010) – $15: I have read a few reviews on HEAVIER THAN METAL and Skullfist sent me a press release email so I figured I would check the band out on their MySpace. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t give the music a ton of listens at the Skullfist MySpace page, I had it on in the background while I was doing something else and I just decided to buy the CD because they were a band I hadn’t heard of before. I paid $15 for a 5 song E.P. and it took about three weeks to get here from Canada.

Ebay
(price includes shipping)

Uncle Sam – Heaven Or Hollywood (1987) – $16: This album from Rochester, NY’s Uncle Sam is usually best known for it’s album cover. If you think the cover to the left is good, then you will like the original where the panties are gone and you see it all! I bought the CD, hence the censored cover art…..the vinyl has the original picture. Both formats of this album are rare and hard to find and I have been on the lookout for both for a number of years. I got this CD on the cheap because the auction ended during work hours for most people and I was able to snipe it in the last 30 seconds. I won this on my birthday, so Happy Birthday to me! The quest for the original vinyl continues.

Bangalore Choir – On Target (1992) -$10: I am one of those collector’s that always picks up those obscure, one-off albums by those obscure, one-off bands from the ’80s/early ’90s on major labels. For some reason Bangalore Choir has eluded capture for years. I used to see this album all the time at some of the old mom & pop record stores I used to hit in the late ’90s/early 2000′s but those places closed and with them went the used copies of ON TARGET. I have been watching Ebay for months since the announcement of this album getting a reissue but I never thought I would find it this cheap! Normally this is a $25+ CD!

Tokyo Blade – s/t (1983/1997 reissue) – $20: I have been collecting German reissue label High Vaultage’s releases since they debuted in 1997 but they are becoming harder and harder to find as the years go by. I also collect NWOBHM bands and Tokyo Blade is one of those bands that I like and am trying to complete their discography. This reissue came out in 1997 and includes the original album plus five bonus tracks that were originally on the MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS E.P. (1984). I found this album and won it at a decent price because the seller misspelled Tokyo as “Toyko”.

Eclipse – The Truth And A Little More (2001) – $8: I’ve known about Sweden’s Eclipse since this album debuted in 2001 and I saw it in the import section of my favorite record store. I never got around to buying the CD until I saw this album go for over $100 on another Ebay auction a few months ago. Turns out this CD is out of print and hard to find now so I started searching. Don’t the bidding war and skyrocket prices fool you, this album can be found on Ebay dirt cheap, I got mine for $5 plus $3 shipping and I was the only bidder!

Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982/2010 Deluxe Edition reissue) – $20: Deluxe Editions from Universal Music are things we have to come to expect in the age of reissues, remasters and cheating the consumer. If you already own the original releases, you are buying these for the expanded packaging and bonus tracks, it’s the fans that don’t own the original record that make out better. I’m a huge fan of Dio-era Sabbath so these Deluxe editions were interesting to me for the sole fact that one of the editions included a bonus disc of the LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH CD that was released in very limited quantities from Rhino Records in 2007. I didn’t order a LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH in 2007 and it’s sold out and hard to find at an affordable price. So why did I buy this LIVE EVIL deluxe edition when LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH isn’t included? Well, I thought it was! The seller listed that a copy of LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH would be included so I jumped on it. Maybe there was a 3rd disc? Maybe this guy is crazy and giving away the rare Rhino CD with LIVE EVIL? I got a CDR copy and it turns out that it’s actually on the MOB RULES Deluxe edition…..at least this is the original LIVE EVIL and not the chopped one I have from Castle Records in 1996.

Predator – Easy Prey (1985) – $10: This is the lone vinyl album that I bought this month, not that I have been buying up a ton of vinyl but I do like picking some up when the album never had a CD release. I have had this Predator album on cassette for years and it’s finally dead, I use it now as an “auto reverse changer” for my car tape deck so I can put my iPod cassette adaptor in. And just look at the album artwork…..classic! Sealed, mint, no cut holes…..worth the $10 and that’s with shipping included.

Stores

Buckcherry – All Night Long (2010) – $10: I’ve been a Buckcherry fan since I first read about them in 1997 in a Rock mag…..now it’s 14 years, 5 studio records and a live album later and I still love this band. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into BLACK BUTTERFLY (2008) until late 2009 so I’m hoping I latch onto ALL NIGHT LONG right away. I was going to pop the extra couple of bucks for the limited edition that includes a second disc of acoustic tracks titled RECKLESS SONS but it was priced the same as the regular edition. Saved $5 at Best Buy.

Black Label Society – Order Of The Black (2010) – $9: There was no doubt that the new Black Label Society record was going to be one of the most anticipated of the year. Just the controversy over his dismissal from Ozzy’s band is enough fuel to fire up the fans to buy this record. I would have bought it anyway, BLS albums are always high quality, high powered Heavy Metal. I also had to have the new BLS because Ozzfest was a week away in Mansfield (review coming soon) and I wanted to hear some new songs live…..unfortunately, the rain caused a full cancellation of the second stage and Black Label’s performance! Sale price couldn’t be beat and I saved $7 off the $16 regular price!

Jorn – Dio (2010) – $18: Whatever I saved buying the new Black Label Society got spent on the Dio tribute album from Jorn Lande! I had a digital promo from the label but I wanted my own REAL copy so I saw it and bought it. There’s no getting around the regular price on some Frontiers Records releases because they are technically European imports and it was a comparable price compared to buying online and paying the extra money on shipping. Click the link for the review.

The next four acquisitions were bought using a $40 gift card that I received for my birthday…..basically they were free so I will give you the prices I would have paid. I had a free $40 and I spent the exact amount including the sales tax!

Axel Rudi Pell – The Crest (2010) – $12: Axel Rudi Pell is one of those artists that always puts out great music but flies under the radar of many fans. It’s hard to believe that this is Pell’s 14th studio album as a solo artist. Add that to live albums and ballad collections, etc. and your talking 21 albums in 21 years! That’s a solid career and I’m not even getting into his time with Steeler…..the man is just consistent and one hell of a guitar player. Add Johnny Gioeli (ex-Hardline)back on the mic and Mike Terrana on drums and you’ve got a solid band. Saved $4.

Lillian Axe – Deep Red Shadows (2010) – $10: I’ve been listening to Lillian Axe since the first album in 1988 but I just haven’t gotten into the last two studio albums – WATERS RISING (2007) and SAD DAY ON PLANET EARTH (2009). For some reason I bought them the day they were released and they just sat in the pile waiting to be spun. I’ve listened to them but definitely not enough. This time around I’m planning on giving this album some regular play. I totally forgot that Lillian Axe had released a new album, I only noticed it when I made it a point to go through the New Release rack a second time…..I always hit the New Release rack first and grab all the new releases for that week  right away. This album came out at the beginning of August and it was still there! Saved $4 off the regular price.

Tarot – Gravity Of Light (2010) – $10: I didn’t plan on buying the new album from Finland’s Tarot until I caught a random song on a podcast a couple of weeks ago. I ended up writing the band name down and forgetting all about them. When I was flipping through the CD racks I happened to remember it and I couldn’t find it. I ended up finding it still in the New Release rack, where it had been since it’s July release! Further research shows this is their 8th studio album so if I like it I’m going to have to go back and check out the rest of the discography. For a new band (to me) I figured that I would take a chance while the CD was onsale rather than pay the full price later, I ending up saving $6.

Gene Simmons Family Jewels (The Complete Season 2) (2007) – $6: Aside from the first few episodes, I have never been a big Family Jewels fan. Maybe it’s because I don’t get the chance to watch primetime TV…..maybe it’s because I know that the show is staged…..maybe it’s because I don’t want to see one of my Rock heroes make a fool out of himself! It wasn’t until this past season that I watched the show religiously on the DVR and it really wasn’t that bad. I decided to start grabbing the previous seasons on DVD so when I saw this sealed for a meager $6 I snagged it. The steal of the month! Saved $14 assuming the regular price is $20.

Total = $161

Total (year) = $1206

Average price (per item) = $10.31

Total CDs (year) = 106

Total DVDs (year) = 3

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 2

KISS in concert at Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT) – 8/19/10

I went to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut for the second time in a week Thursday night to see my favorite band in concert…..KISS. This was my second show on “The Hottest Show On Earth” Tour, I saw the show in Mansfield, MA two weeks before, and the third in the last year promoting the band’s latest album SONIC BOOM (2009). Overall, this was the 18th time seeing KISS in concert dating back all the way to 1987! This time around I went to the show with a few friends, got a great meal again at Mohegan Sun and saw another awesome show.

Just like the Mansfield concert, KISS had two regular opening bands, The Academy Is and The Envy, and a band that won the Guitar Center contest for that show (that is actually from the Boston are and not Connecticut like I thought!), Tester. Just like the Mansfield concert, we opted not to go in for the opening bands and take our time at dinner. Showtime was 6:30pm and KISS doesn’t hit the stage until at least 8:45pm so there were 2+ hours to kill. After dinner and a walk around the casino, we headed in the arena and straight to the merchandise stand. With no kids this time around, I figured I could get myself another tour shirt but it turned out there were no XXL t-shirts at any of the booths…..I found out that the order for the show didn’t arrive. I wasn’t going to go empty-handed so instead of $45 for a shirt (XXL is $5 more!), I went with the $70 zip hoodie! Why not give Paul & Gene more of my money? I’ve been doing it since I was a kid! We actually got to our seats in time to see the last two songs of The Academy Is, we heard an original and a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’. Good thing they covered The Sweet because the original I heard wasn’t impressive! We were in the arena a good hour before KISS took the stage and I was a little worried that the arena wasn’t filling up, there were a lot of empty seats. What I didn’t know was that KISS was being inducted into the Mohegan Sun Walk of Fame OUTSIDE the arena and the band made an appearance in the mall area! It figures I would miss something cool like that! By the time KISS took the stage it looked to me like most of the seats were filled…..Mohegan holds about 10,000 people for events but, with the big stage and the back not being sold, I estimate there were around 8000 people in attendance. On to the show…..

KISS setlist:

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Firehouse (with Gene Simmons breathing fire)
Say Yeah
Deuce
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me (Tommy Thayer lead vocal)
(Guitar & Drum solo from Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer)
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
(Bass solo, blood-spitting and flying from Gene Simmons)
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
(Guitar intro/solo from Paul Stanley featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’)
Black Diamond (Eric Singer lead vocal)
Detroit Rock City

Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer lead vocal)
(Donation check presentation for supporting our troops followed by the Pledge of Allegiance)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Loving You (with Paul flying stunt)
God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

The show at Mohegan was the exact same show as the one in Mansfield and primarily the same show they are doing across North America. There were a couple of things of note: Paul Stanley’s voice was a little raspier compared to the Mansfield show and I thought the solo section by Eric & Tommy was a little less exciting than at Mansfield. I’ve noticed that the rest of the band have handled most, if not all, the backing vocals at the last couple of concerts I’ve seen, maybe that’s a way to conserve some of Paul’s voice? I think Paul is trying too hard with some of the higher shrieks he attempts during his between song raps with the crowd and that could be doing more damage than good. The again, Paul is getting closer to 60 yrs old! Also, I always like an arena show better than an amphitheater show but the crowd at Mohegan Sun wasn’t as loud or wild compared to the outdoor crowd at the Comcast Center. There was also another check presentation on stage to the Wounded Warriors Foundation showing the updated total of $184,743 donated. Outside of those few differences, the show was exactly the same. It was another good performance by the band, and even though I’m in favor of the original four members, I think this lineup with Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer is a solid performing band. Both guys did a great job playing and their vocals were really good for ‘Shock Me’, ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Beth’. The band performed ‘Beth’ again acoustically with Eric on vocals and I was really impressed again. Gene Simmons also really put on a solid performance, I thought his vocals were really great and he had a ton of energy. With Paul’s voice faltering a bit, it’s good to hear Gene sound so good…..back in 2003 and 2004 it was Paul who was stronger and gene who was weaker.

Like I said before, the concert was great, I don’t ever get sick of seeing KISS perform! I thought the three songs from SONIC BOOM came off well live again and hearing ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ a second time this tour was awesome. I’m a KISS diehard so the entire setlist was great but there were some KISS klassics that were highlights again: ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’, ‘Detroit Rock City’, ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Cold Gin, ‘Firehouse’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’. It was nice to see another solid performance from the band because this is was the last New England area show on this tour and it could be another couple of years before they come around again, maybe with a new record?

KISS in concert at Comcast Center (Mansfield, MA) – 8/7/10

I went to see my favorite band, KISS, in concert Saturday night at the Comcast Center…..this made the 17th time I have seen the band live. What made this concert special was that my wife, my two daughters, my two best friends and my best friend’s son were there to tailgate in the parking lot and enjoy the show. Everyone had a good time in the parking lot, especially my daughters, take a look at a few pictures from our tailgate…..we stopped a few fans that dressed up for some pictures.

The opening bands were The Academy Is and The Envy but there was also a third opener from Boston called Switchblade Suicide that won a Guitar Center contest to open the show. We didn’t bother going in for the openers so the kids wouldn’t get too tired, plus we had no idea who any of these bands were. Normally I am in the arena for all the bands but I’m going to see KISS again on 8/19 at Mohegan Sun so I will see some of them at that show. We got in, got all the tour shirts and got to the seats.

KISS setlist:

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Firehouse  (with Gene Simmons breathing fire)
Say Yeah
Deuce
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me  (Tommy Thayer lead vocal)
(Guitar & Drum solo from Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer)
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
(Bass solo, blood-spitting and flying from Gene Simmons)
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
(Guitar intro/solo from Paul Stanley featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’)
Black Diamond (Eric Singer lead vocal)
Detroit Rock City

Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer lead vocal)
(Donation check presentation for supporting our troops followed by the Pledge of Allegiance)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Loving You (with Paul flying stunt)
God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

We were about 30 rows from the stage, great seats. My oldest daughter was pumped up because she is now a Rock concert veteran having seen KISS in Boston last October and Twisted Sister last November. My wife hadn’t seen KISS since 2004 when they toured with Poison but the night belonged to my youngest daughter going to her first Rock concert. There was no one more excited than her to see KISS but when the first concussion bomb/firework went off, she was done. That was enough for here…..one song and out! My wife anticipated this so she took her to the grass lawn but by the end of ‘Cold Gin’ they were on their way to the car for a rest. I was a little disappointed because there were younger kids there but you never know how children will react to anything. Unfortunately, they missed a great show (my wife insisted my oldest daughter and I stay) but my youngest daughter was satisfied, she had seen KISS come out on stage and play a song. My wife was lucky because she heard the entire show from the parking lot because we were parked close to the arena. Aside from my daughter’s reaction, all went smooth for the show. My oldest daughter and I had a blast. My best friend and his son were two sections to my right and my other best friend bought his ticket that morning and was in the 9th row! We were six rows behind the soundboard and the mini-stage that Paul Stanley flies to during ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, dead center, so we had awesome seats. As far as the arena went, you could see that the lawn seats and grass lawn were spotty but it looked like the seating under the pavilion was packed, I estimate that they played to about 9000 fans, maybe 10,000…..not a sellout but a solid crowd.

The last tour was the ALIVE 35 Tour but this was THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH Tour so the setlist was changed a little: the band played 21 songs total and only 11 were in the previous tour’s setlist. There were three new songs from their latest record SONIC BOOM (‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Say Yeah’ & ‘I’m An Animal’) and they dusted off ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’, ‘Shock Me’ and an acoustic version of ‘Beth’ with both Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer handling the lead vocals very well. I was at the CRAZY NIGHTS show in Providence, RI way back on 12/12/1987 so it was a real treat to hear ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ after 22+ years and it’s also my daughter’s favorite KISS song so you know how she reacted. The band sounded great and I’m not just saying that because I’m a KISS diehard, I really thought that this lineup with Eric and Tommy put on a solid show musically and visually. I’m a KISS fan that prefers the makeup stay on Ace Frehley and Peter Criss but Tommy and Eric do a solid job, especially on the vocals! I thought that adding ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Beth’ (both Ace & Peter’s signature songs) were a huge mistake and sacrilegious but both members did a good job living up to the standard both Ace and Peter have set. Also, I thought that Eric did a solid job in singing ‘Black Diamond’ and the joint guitar/drum solo was one of the better ones I have heard in all my years of going to see KISS. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were right on the money as far as their performances and I thought that they were definitely better and more energized than when I saw them last October. At the ALIVE 35 Boston show, Paul’s voice sounded strained and hoarse but this time around he sounded a lot better. There were a few rough spots on the higher notes but the guy has been one of the better, and underrated, Rock singers for about 36 years…..I hope I move and sound that good when I am 58 years old!

There were a ton of highlights in the set…..I thought the three new songs were great live and it was good to hear people around us singing along. Paul Stanley was able to give the album a funny plug before ‘Say Yeah’ as “being available at Wal-Mart”. There were a lot of KISS klassics like ‘Firehouse’, ‘Deuce’ and ‘Black Diamond’ but the highlight of the show for my daughter and I (aside from ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’) was the triple attack of ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’ and ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. There is something uniquely satisfying about your daughter singing every word louder than you! If my youngest daughter had made it through the show there is no doubt in my mind that the whole family would have sung along together because these are the tunes they know by heart. As I mentioned before, we were 6 rows from the mini-stage that Paul Stanley flies to so when he came out for ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, both my daughter and I got an up close performance…..my wife would have loved that too. You also can’t have a KISS concert without their signature song and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ brought the house down with all the confetti, fireworks, lights and special effects…..a truly visual experience! I had a blast, my daughter had a blast and, when we got to the car, we found out that my wife and youngest daughter had fun too. All in all, it was a great night for the family.

Here is some footage I found on Youtube to give you an idea of what the show was like.

KISS announce North American Summer Tour 2010!

From KISSonline.com:

LEGENDARY ROCK ICONS KISS RETURN TO NORTH AMERICA WITH THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR

Throughout their 37-year career, KISS has sold 80 million albums, played in front of millions of people and become an integral part of American culture. Now, rock’s most iconic band is unleashing another assault on North America with The Hottest Show on Earth tour starting on July 23. KISS will perform such classics as “Detroit Rock City” and “Rock and Roll All Nite” as well as hits that they haven’t played in the US in many years.

The Hottest Show on Earth tour, produced by Live Nation, will trek through a mix of arenas and amphitheaters throughout North America. Tickets for shows produced by Live Nation go on sale to the general public in select markets beginning June 4 at LiveNation.com. Citi cardmembers can access presale tickets beginning Wednesday, June 2 at 10 a.m. local time through Citi’s Private Pass Program. For complete presale details visit http://www.citiprivatepass.com/. KISS is also giving back to the United States Armed Forces by donating one dollar from each ticket sold to benefit the Wounded Warriors Project.

Dr Pepper is a proud sponsor of the KISS tour and will be offering exciting contests and prizes in tour markets. Watch and listen for the Dr Pepper Cherry and KISS TV and radio spots that will be back on the air in late June.

KISS has given some of today’s now-legendary bands their first shot by opening for the band at sold out arenas and stadiums around the world — AC/DC, BON JOVI, RUSH, IRON MAIDEN, JUDAS PRIEST and many others. Now, the legendary rockers are partnering with Guitar Center, the world’s largest musical instrument retailer, for Guitar Center On-Stage, an unsigned band competition that will provide emerging artists the chance to open for KISS at 22 of the band’s tour stops. In addition, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will choose one grand-prize winner to receive a $10,000 Guitar Center shopping spree among other prizes. For more information, visit www.GCOnstage.com . Registration begins on June 1.

For the first time, KISS will host a live internet chat on Facebook via Ustream on June 1 to give fans an opportunity to speak directly with the band about the tour. Users can watch and interact by visiting the official KISS Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/KISS.

Stay tuned to KISSOnline for information on the exclusive KISS Army Fan Club presale for the tour. Click here to JOIN NOW!

DATE – MARKET - VENUE
Fri, Jul 23* Cheyenne, WY Cheyenne Frontier Days
Thu, Jul 24* Minot, ND North Dakota State Fair
Thu, Jul 29 Pittsburgh, PA First Niagra Pavilion
Fri, Jul 30 Cincinnati, OH Riverbend Music Center
Sat, Jul 31 Hershey, PA Hershey Park Stadium
Fri, Aug 06 Philadelphia, PA Susquehanna Bank Center
Sat, Aug 07 Boston, MA Comcast Center
Mon, Aug 09* Indianapolis, IN Indiana State Fairgrounds
Fri, Aug 13 Buffalo, NY Darien Lake PAC
Sat, Aug 14 Wantagh, NY Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Sun, Aug 15 Scranton, PA Toyota Pavilion
Thu, Aug 19 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
Fri, Aug 20 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center
Sat, Aug 21 Washington, DC Jiffy Lube Live
Fri, Aug 27 Virginia Beach, VA Virginia Beach Amphitheater
Sat, Aug 28 Charlotte, NC Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Sun, Aug 29 Raleigh, NC Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion
Thu, Sep 02 Milwaukee, WI Marcus Amphitheatre
Fri, Sep 03 Chicago, IL First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Sat, Sep 04* St. Paul, MN Minnesota State Fair
Fri, Sep 10 Toronto, ON Molson Amphitheatre
Sat, Sep 11 Detroit, MI DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sun, Sep 12 Cleveland, OH Blossom Music Center
Fri, Sep 17 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Sat, Sep 18 Dallas, TX Pizza Hut Park
Sun, Sep 19 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center
Wed, Sep 22 Sandy, UT Rio Tinto Stadium
Fri, Sep 24 Phoenix, AZ Cricket Wireless Pavilion

* These shows are already on sale.

—————————————————————————————–

— I will be attending both the 8/7 show in Mansfield, MA and the 8/19 show at Mohegan Sun Casino in CT.

Steve

Video clip of Gene Simmons on CBS television show – I Get That A Lot

There’s a CBS TV show called I Get That A Lot and it’s basically like a Candid Camera type of show with well-known celebrities posing as ordinary people at work. I’m not a big TV guy so I have never seen it but when I saw some news that KISS’ Gene Simmons was going to be on it, I wanted to watch it. Of course I forgot to DVR it! The episode aired on Wednesday 1/6/2010, and thanks to the power of Youtube, here is the clip…..

The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10)

We finally made it to the Top 10!

Something you may have noticed by now is that some of my favorite bands are missing from the countdown so far…..guess where they are?

2009 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I am still very lucky to have many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review, to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU! Without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection AND the album had to be released in 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is part 3, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1 – #10):

#10

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): I completely missed 2006′s BLACK FLAME so I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this latest album from Wolf. Needless to say, I was blown away and I immeadiately knew that this was going to be one of the best albums of the year. Wolf has this classic retro Metal sound with major influences from Iron Maiden, Helloween and Judas Priest so I ate this up immeadiately! The songs are all excellent and the twin lead guitars really make this album what it is, especially at the solos. I have been singing along, headbanging and playing air guitar to RAVENOUS since March and it definitely set the bar high to get into this year’s Top 10.

#9

Cheap Trick – The Latest (2009): THE LATEST album from Cheap Trick turned out to be the biggest comeback of the year from a band that never really went away! Cheap Trick has always been one of the most underrated Classic Rock bands coming out of the mid-’70s/early ’80s and I always make the huge mistake about waiting to buy their new records until a few weeks after they are released. This year was no different and I waited until I caught part of their opening performance on Def Leppard’s summer tour before I picked it up. The odds were against the band when they basically started the album off with a Slade cover (‘When The Lights Are Out’) but it turned out to be one of the best songs of the year for me! Cheap Trick has always been a band with excellent musicianship and songwriting skills and THE LATEST is just another example of how great this band is. If I could describe this album in one word: Beautiful. After I gave this album a full listen, I played it again to make sure my ears didn’t deceive me…..I knew immeadiately that this was one of the best records of the year.

#8

Sunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009): The Joe Lynn Turner factor! There is no doubt in my mind that JLT could sing me the menu at a McDonald’s and I would absolutely worship it! This is the best AOR/Melodic Rock album of the year without a shred of doubt…..it’s like it came straight from 1985. Now a lot of people are going to say that the album sounds too retro, too ’80s, too keyboard friendly but that is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Add in some awesome songwriter like Jim Peterik and Desmond Child lending a hand and you’ve got AOR gold, I swear if this record came out 25 years ago then it would have been a Top 10, multi-platinum album. The sound is Joe Lynn Turner meets Survivor meets Journey meets Pride Of Lions…..just plain old feel food melodic music that has great overall songwriting and musicianship (the guitars and keyboards complimenting each other perfectly) to go along with one of the greatest singing voices in all of Rock.

#7

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): One of my most highly anticipated albums of 2009, Heaven & Hell (or Black Sabbath if you want) did not disappoint with their first true full-length album since 1992′s DEHUMANIZER. As many of you know, my favorite incarnation of Black Sabbath is the Ronnie James Dio era and it’s safe to say that Black Sabbath as a whole is one of my favorite bands of all-time. When I gave THE DEVIL YOU KNOW it’s inaugural couple of listens I was a little disappointed by the lack of fast and furious Metal songs like previous classic ‘Neon Knights’ and ‘The Mob Rules’ but I kept listening and it turned out that this is one heavy Doom record with a few well-placed fast numbers (‘Double The Pain’, ‘Eating The Cannibals’) to break the heaviness up a bit. Tony Iommi continues to write the best Metal riffs and Dio continues to sing better than vocalists half, even two-thirds, his age! The rhythm section of Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice are still as high-powered and brutal as ever and hearing them in concert proved to be a thunderous experience. Say what you want about this album not being HEAVEN & HELL (1980) or MOB RULES (1981), THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is definitely a great Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell album that can easily sit alongside those classics.

#6

UFO – The Visitor (2009): Another one of my favorite bands…..one of Top 5 in fact! There is now way I could have a Best of 2009 countdown without putting in THE VISITOR because it was easily in the running for my favorite record of the year since I got it. You have to give UFO credit, they have been doing it longer than most of their peers (40 years and counting!) and they consistently put out solid records. Since the band reunited in 1995 with the classic lineup, there have been many lineup changes but the mainstay is founder and singer Phil Mogg who puts in a brilliant performance vocally and as a songwriter…..no one writes or turns a clever phrase quite like Phil. The lineup still isn’t stable with founding bassist Pete Way out again due to health reasons and founding drummer Andy Parker coming back again to replace Jason Bonham when he left for Foreigner. Vinnie Moore proves that hes is more than capable of handling the guitar duties and holding back the Michael Schenker legend while Paul Raymond continues to be an integral part of the UFO sound on keybords, guitars and harmonies. Not a bad song on the album and well worth checking out.

#5

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): I received the promo for INTO THE LABYRINTH in December 2008 and I reviewed it mid-January…..I almost declared this the album of the year right there! Saxon has been one of the most consistent bands from the early days of the NWOBHM movement and, since 1997, have released some great albums that combine pure Power Metal with that classic NWOBHM style. Take the first two songs from the album, ‘Battalions Of Steel’ and ‘Live To Rock’: the first is Traditional/Power Metal and the latter is pure NWOBHM as if it was 1981. What Saxon is doing is what I keep emphasizing throughout this year’s countdown…..they are expanding/enhancing their trademark sound. You have to evolve and Saxon is showing a lot of the younger Metal bands out there just how to do it. Any other year and this would be my favorite album but there was stiff competition this year and a Top 5 showing is not bad at all.

#4

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009): I had been reading all about Johnny Lima and this album for a couple of months before i actually broke down and ordered it from Johnny’s website. First, let me give Johnny a ton of credit for emailing me within 10 minutes of my order and personally thanking me and then sending the CD out same day including an autograph. Then he emails me a couple days later to make sure the album arrived! Keeping a connection with the fans is what it’s about and Johnny Lima gained an instant fan. And the music is good too! After spinning this once I knew this would be the best Glam/Hard Rock album of the year. If you like Poison, Def Leppard, early Bon Jovi, Dokken, Ratt, Cinderella and Motley Crue then you are definitely going to find a song on LIVIN’ OUT LOUD that could easily fit into any of the bands’ catalog. That’s not to say that the album is a carbon copy of what these big bands have done in the past rather it’s a statement that revisiting and reinterpreting the classic ’80s Hard Rock style is OK. That’s something that these bigger bands are afraid to do! Every song is catchy with a ton of hooks, big harmonies and great guitar…..this is the kind of record that is so infectious that you can’t help but sing along and have a great time. This was a major contender for the top spot for 2009.

#3

Sacred Oath – s/t (2009): Early in the year I started to read more and more about Sacred Oath and their forthcoming new album being an iTunes exclusive…..I don’t download, I buy CDs, so I didn’t pay much attention to the press releases. Then I read that the band was releasing the album on CD on their own label so I emailed the band for the release date. I received a promo copy in late May/early June and was completely blown away! Like I said in the review, if you took Metallica, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Judas Priest, Armored Saint, Diamond Head and Metal Church and rolled them all into one, you would get Sacred Oath. The band takes influences from all the great bands and blends them together for an American Metal feast that goes from Heavy Metal to Power Metal to Progressive Metal and then the NWOBHM. It’s a huge sound to live up to and the album does just that. Searing riffs, pounding rhythm section and soaring vocals added to great songwriting…..it’s a wonder why the band broke up 20 years ago, I’d bet they would have been huge. Well, they are huge this year because this was my #1 album hands down until the next two in the countdown showed up. This record is still in my weekly playlist, I don’t see it leaving anytime soon, and ‘High And Mighty’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#2

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of KISS and, with KISS being my favorite band, anything a current of former member of KISS does is a big deal. The last time Ace released a solo album was TROUBLE WALKIN’ in 1989…..20 years later ANOMALY has finally arrived! I have followed Ace’s career in and out of KISS since I was a little kid and he has talked about a new record since the early ’90s but nothing has ever come of it. Then there was the KISS reunion that lasted 6+ years and Ace started talking about a new solo record after he left the band in 2002 but nothing was released again. The only time I believed that Ace was releasing anything was when the album cover was released in June…..but would an actual record come out? September 15, 2009…..I was outside Best Buy before the store opened to get my hands on ANOMALY. One listen was all it took to hear that Ace Frehley had made a huge comeback with his solo career, ANOMALY is a well-written Hard Rock album and Ace sounds as focused as ever. Of all the albums he’s released as a solo artist or in Frehley’s Comet, ANOMALY ranks just below his KISS solo album. ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Pain In The Neck’ and even the cover of Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’ are all solid Hard Rock songs that are catchy and full of that signature Ace guitar tone. The surprises here are the acoutically driven ballads like ‘Change The World’ & ‘A Little Below The Angels’ that show Ace’s diversity. This whole album is top notch from the music, to the album cover Ace designed to the special digipak packaging that tuens into a pyramid. I gave this album a ton of listening time and I still haven’t taken it out of my daily rotation! When I started to make this year end best of list I installed ANOMALY near the top because I enjoyed it so much. The bottom line on this list is that I enjoy the album and, between the excellent songs and my KISS worship, Ace Frehley has gained the #2 spot for 2009.

One album to go everyone! The #1 album is next but before I get to it let me say again how great this year was for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal…..my Best of 2009 list, along with the other websites’ lists, will attest to that. I’ve listened to more new releases this year than any other year that I can remember and this year’s list was a hard one to make, there were so many really good albums that got left out of the countdown so maybe next year I will expand again to a Top 50. Let’s move on though to my pick for the Top Album of 2009…..

#1

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009)

So what album did you all expect? Of course my top album for 2009 is the new KISS record! I’m a KISS diehard after all! Seriously though, of all the 2009 albums I listened to this year, SONIC BOOM was the one I wanted the most, listened to the most, and enjoyed the most. Any year that your favorite band releases a new album is a good year but I had no hopes that KISS would actually follow through with releasing an album of all new material. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been saying that they weren’t interested in releasing a new album for the last 7 years and I had no reason to doubt their conviction. Who knows why they did now? Maybe Paul Stanley liked working on his solo album a couple years ago? Maybe the Wal-Mart deal was in place ahead of time? Maybe they were just bored? Who cares! The bottom line is that KISS has released an album that is their very best since REVENGE (1992) and it completely blows away the reunion album PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998). I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from SONIC BOOM because most KISS albums are half good songs and half filler. If the band was dead set against releasing a new record, why should they release a quality one? First thing the band did right was give Paul Stanley full control in the studio…..he’s the one that guided the band from 1983 to 1992 and his track record as a producer, performer and songwriter are proof enough. Ever notice that all the singles in the ’80s were Paul’s songs? After Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley is my favorite and I have always told people the he is the talent in KISS. The second thing the band did right was actually write. Paul & Gene actually wrote songs, and performed them, together for the first time in a long time in addition to what they brought in individually. The songs are high quality, catchy and there is an element of true ’70s KISS mixed with the KISS of today. Third thing the band did correctly was to involve Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in the writing and in the singing to make it a true band effort. Nothing beats a band unit, compare SONIC BOOM and the sham that is PSYCHO CIRCUS and the winner is clear. I bought this album at my local Wal-Mart on October 6 (day of release) and I have played it everyday, many times more than once. I have been a diehard KISS fan since 1978, I’ve lived and died with this band and I am actually proud of them for releasing such a great record. I haven’t felt this good about KISS’ future since REVENGE and the 1996/1997 Reunion Tour…..SONIC BOOM is my favorite album of 2009!

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Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009)

KISS - Sonic Boom (2009)

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009, KISS Records)

  1. Modern Day Delilah
  2. Russian Roulette
  3. Never Enough
  4. Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)
  5. Stand
  6. Hot And Cold
  7. All For The Glory *
  8. Danger Us
  9. I’m An Animal
  10. When Lightning Strikes **
  11. Say Yeah

*(Eric Singer on lead vocals)
**(Tommy Thayer on lead vocals)

Band Lineup:
Paul Stanley – Guitars & Vocals
Gene Simmons – Bass & Vocals
Tommy Thayer – Guitars & Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums & Vocals

Producers: Paul Stanley & Greg Collins

Country: USA

Total Time = 43:19

KISSonline.com
KISS FAQ

It’s been 11 years since KISS released a brand new album of new material. Back in 1998, the band released PSYCHO CIRCUS, the first album from the original KISS lineup of Peter, Paul, Ace and Gene in 20 years. The band was deep into their reunion success and the album came out to initial success…..then the power of the Internet took over and the project was exposed. PSYCHO CIRCUS was hyped as a unified band effort but plenty of information came out that not all the members contributed, some barely even played their instruments! The KISS machine took it’s first serious hit broadside and I never looked at my favorite band the same way again. Now I have SONIC BOOM in my hands, the first album with the current masked lineup including Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. The album is the first to be released independently by the band (with Wal-Mart distribution) on their own label (KISS Records) and it’s being hyped as “Klassic KISS” in line with albums like KISS (1974), DESTROYER (1976) and LOVE GUN (1977). Co-founder Paul Stanley has taken over the reins of KISS musically as producer and he basically forced all the members (Gene Simmons in particular!) to write songs and play their own instruments to make this a true band effort. To call SONIC BOOM a classic KISS record in line with the band’s roots is what the KISS hype machine usually says about any new album that comes out. KISS is always going to hype anything they do with their usual grandiose bombast so the band’s credibility is always on the line. After the Reunion Tour of 1996-1997, the band took a ton of shots with PSYCHO CIRCUS, the Farewell Tour, replacing Ace & Peter with Tommy & Eric, Gene’s reality TV series and tons of merchandise. Any normal band would duck tail and run for cover but to KISS any press is good press and they have remained in the spotlight despite all the criticism. Even the talk of never releasing a new album was all talk!

The opening track is the first proper single, ‘Modern Day Delilah’. Having heard this song the most with local radio airplay and seeing the band in concert pre-release date, I have to say it’s a solid KISS song. It’s like a cross between the CREATURES OF THE NIGHT & REVENGE eras with a driving bassline and solid vocals. The song has a typical thick chunky Thayer riff, Singer uses his double bass technique to the fullest and there are good background vocals. There are a couple of lead vocal lines that sound a little familiar and KISS has never been afraid to borrow from themselves. I can hear a slight similarity on a couple of lines to a line from ‘When Your Walls Come Down’ on CRAZY NIGHTS (1987). Paul also sounds a little strained when hitting the high notes just like he did in concert, that could also be the way the song is supposed to be sung. Many KISS diehards will recognize the song title ‘Russian Roulette’ as one Gene has been trying to use for years. He finally gets to use it on SONIC BOOM and it’s another pretty good song recalling  more REVENGE era. It has that heavy thick sound that defined mid-’90s KISS and you can hear some quick basslines that have similar counterparts in ‘Spit’ and ‘Paralyzed’ from REVENGE. It’s not a total copy, just a quick hit here and there, and Gene’s voice sounds pretty good considering that he’s had vocal issues live since 2003.

Every KISS album has an anthem and ‘Never Enough’ fits the bill perfectly. It kind of reminds me a little of ‘Raise Your Glasses’ from PSYCHO CIRCUS due to the song’s upbeat positive attitude and celebration of all good things. The problem is that the song sounds exactly like Poison’s ‘Nothin But A Good Time’…..seriously. The main guitar and vocal lines on the verses sound almost exact! I’ve sat there and sang the Poison lyrics and they fit. Paul had a problem like this on PSYCHO CIRCUS with ‘Dreamin’ because it sounded like Alice Cooper’s ‘Eighteen’ in certain parts. Eventually Alice sued and a settlement was reached, I hope Bret Michaels isn’t listening! Take the Poison connection out and you have a pretty good song, very upbeat ‘Shout It Out Loud’ style with a solid vocal from Paul. The return to the classic KISS style starts with ‘Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)’ with Tommy Thayer channelling Ace Frehley for his guitarwork and Eric Singer simplfying his drum style to do his best Peter Criss. The song is very Rock ‘n’ Roll, not Hard Rock, and it could easily be mistaken for a late ’70s KISS song. Another good vocal performance from Gene with the classic lyric of “it’s time to take off your clothes”. Listen to the guitar solo and tell me Tommy can’t do Ace to a tee and Eric has Peter down to a science with that small touch of cowbell. A very ’70s style song and that’s what Gene & Paul mean when they say “Klassic KISS”.

Paul Stanley guided the direction of the album this time around and his influence is heard on ‘Stand’. It’s a strong co-lead vocal between Paul & Gene, something that they did successfully throughout their ’70s heyday, but it has that modern edge that could have fit onto Paul’s recent solo album LIVE TO WIN (2006). Very catchy and melodic with good background vocals and a breakdown mid-song that reminds me a little of the harmonized part in ‘God Gave Rock ‘n Roll To You II’ but not as long. This is one of my favorites of the album. More sexual innuendo from papa Gene with ‘Hot And Cold’ and more cowbell from Eric Singer. This is another solid Gene song with a ’70s style because Thayer does another good Ace impression and Singer drums down to Criss’ level. The background harmonies at the end of the song give it a vintage sound that could place this song on one of the first three KISS records. I’m not sure I like the fact that Thayer and Singer do good impressions of Ace and Peter, I would much rather have them put their own stamp on the songs. Singer has a solid double bass drum sound and Thayer has always been a talented guitarist, I just wish more of their personal talents would be used but the Starchild and the Demon are in charge.

The first chink in the armor comes with the Eric Singer lead vocal debut on ‘All For The Glory’. The vocal is pretty good, anyone who has seen KISS in concert since 1992 knows that Eric sings well with his performances on ‘Nothin to Lose’ and ‘Black Diamond’ specifically. It’s just a weak song lyrically but the performance is good. ‘Danger Us’ is another Paul Stanley song that could have easily fit on LIVE TO WIN with it’s modern edge. It has a bit of ’80s era KISS to it as well but the guitar work from Thayer sounds like Ace again so it gives that classic Kiss sound again. I like the bass line from Gene, it drives along with the main riff and provides a good base. This would be any even better song if Tommy could use his own guitar tone. Gene Simmons is the “God Of Thunder”, he is “Dr. Love”, and he’s a “War Machine”…..now he’s an “animal”. ‘I’m An Animal’ follows the direction of those type of big Gene songs and it has the heavy CREATURES/REVENGE sound…..I’d say more CREATURES. Of all the Gene songs on SONIC BOOM, I like this one the best. Very heavy, good vocal, heavy drums and crunching guitar…..Tommy finally gets to do his own thing and not the Ace thing. He gets to do his own thing again when he makes his lead vocal debut on ‘When Lightning Strikes’. Tommy sounds a lot like Gene vocally and I almost couldn’t tell the difference, if you put Gene on lead it would sound almost exact. Tommy’s vocals are complimented well with the background harmonies and the song has a modern feel to it. The guitar solo continues with the Ace Frehley tone but the overall song sounds mostly up to date. If you compare ‘All For The Glory’ with ‘When Lightning Strikes’ the difference is the songwriting but I’ll give both new masked men credit for performing very well. The final song is ‘Say Yeah’ and it has that modern upbeat sound Paul used on his last solo record. It’s got a melodic hook on the bridge to get you singing along but the main chorus is a little simple with it’s “say yeahs”. More Ace inspired solo work from Tommy but the overall guitar sound is very thick and modern. Another favorite from the album.

Let me just take some time to also mention the packaging and bonuses. The 4 panel full-color glossy digipak is very similar to ROCK AND ROLL OVER (1976). The artist, Michael Doret, was brought back to give KISS a larger than life, iconic image in the same style as the ROCK AND ROLL OVER cover. A couple of added bonuses are also included: a second CD of re-recorded KISS songs and a bonus DVD of KISS live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 2nd disc is actually the 2008 Japanese release JIGOKU RETSUDEN and the DVD from Argentina isn’t a full show but it is from the band’s ALIVE 35 international tour and is a multi-camera Pro Shot show. For $15, that’s a lot of KISS. 

Bottom Line:
I bought SONIC BOOM at Wal-Mart on October 6 when it was officially released and it’s been my Album Of The Month for October. I’ve taken so long to review it because I wanted to live with it, listen to it daily and give a fair unbiased opinion. KISS fans are passionate fans and a lot of us always like to look at the positive aspects when it comes to our band…..even if it’s plainly obvious to everyone else that things aren’t always what they seem! If you take away all the issues surrounding lineup changes, the makeup, the merchandise and all the “final” tours and focus on the actual music then you’ll hear a very good, a very solid KISS record. The best thing that could have happened was letting Paul Stanley oversee the album, he’s been the talent in KISS and the driving force to keep the band going creatively since the early ’80s. If anyone knows what a KISS album is supposed to be, it’s Paul Stanley! By making the actual band members write and perform, Paul has given KISS more respectability. Overall, I would say that this is a strong KISS album. I would classify it as the natural progression from REVENGE (1992) and CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1997) and definitely better than the last KISS studio album PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998). There is a “classic” feel to some of the songs mainly due to Thayer & Singer performing as their masked couterparts Ace & Peter would, as well as, Gene’s songwriting. The “classic” sound isn’t limited to the ’70s era as you can hear plenty of ’80s & ’90s KISS influences and some of the more modern moments from Paul’s lst solo venture. For me, the strongest moments are when the band stays in the heavy modern range like on ‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Danger Us’ and ‘Russian Roulette’. The weakest songs are the two debut lead vocals of Singer & Thayer, ‘All For The Glory’ and ‘When Lightning Strikes’, and they aren’t even that bad! I also just realized that there isn’t a ballad included on SONIC BOOM, usually KISS throws in that ballad just to have a ballad but they’ve stayed the course with the heavier uptempo songs. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised with this album, I admit that even I was a little skeptical and I’ve been a KISS diehard since 1978! SONIC BOOM is very well done and is a good album, it’s definitely one of my favorites of the year.

Favorite Songs:
I like the entire album but the standout songs for me are ‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Russian Roulette’, ‘Stand’, ‘Danger Us’, ‘I’m An Animal’ and ‘Say Yeah’.

KISS and Buckcherry in concert at TD Garden (Boston, MA) – 10/5/09

Nothing is better than seeing your favorite band in concert and that was surely the case Monday night as I went to the KISS concert up in Boston at TD Garden (formerly the Boston Garden). There were a few factors that made this concert special:

  1. This was the first time KISS has properly toured the U.S. since 2004.
  2. It had been 11 years since KISS’ last appearance at the Garden, the last was the 2 opening shows on the PSYCHO CIRCUS tour in November 1998.
  3. The first tour featuring new material since PSYCHO CIRCUS in 1998.
  4. My 11 yr. old daughter was finally going to see the band, the spectacle, that her daddy had been telling her about since birth.

Armed with tickets, cash for t-shirts, and a love for all things KISS, My best friend, my daughter and I made our way to Boston for the KISS show on the eve of the release of the band’s new studio album SONIC BOOM.

First thing I noticed was that this was going to be a diehards’ show. The last time the band played the Garden, they sold out 2 nights with the original lineup including Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. The band had just come off a 2 year world tour for their reunion so interest in KISS was still at a high. 11 years and 3 more tours later and interest in the band is slightly waning. There wasn’t the usual huge crowd roaming the sidewalks on Boston or the concourses in the arena, it was a big crowd but you could tell it wasn’t going to be a sellout. The second thing I noticed was the souveneirs or lack there of. Usually, the KISS machine has a ton of good and different choices for shirts, hats, posters, etc. I was a little disappointed by the selection and I was hoping for a little more SONIC BOOM representation, most of the merchandise was for the ALIVE 35 Tour. It is the 35th anniversary of KISS and they’ve toured on that platform in other parts of the world so they are continuing it on this leg of the tour, I’m expecting a SONIC BOOM tour when the band announces their second U.S. leg in the Spring and/or Summer. The good news is that we had awesome seats on the Gene side of the stage and my daughter was extremely excited.

Buckcherry setlist:

Tired Of You
Next 2 You
Lit Up
Out Of Line
Talk To Me
Rescue Me
Highway Star
Everything
Sorry
Crazy Bitch

I’ve seen Buckcherry in concert back when they opened for AC/DC on the STIFF UPPER LIP Tour back in 2001 and they were very good. I have been a Buckcherry fan before most people even knew who they were. I remember reading a review in a ‘zine back in 1997 on their self-titled debut and I picked it up right away. This is before ‘Lit Up’ went to radio and they became the “next big thing”. The band was complete high energy and had the crowd going but I could have done with a more diverse setlist. Half the set was from their 2006 release, 15, and three tunes came from the current BLACK BUTTERFLY. That only leaves two songs for older material and everyone knew they were playing ‘Lit Up’, I was a little disappointed by the cover of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ but I understand they have to promote their affiliation with NASCAR. The best part of ‘Highway Star’ was when the 20-somethings in front of us were raving about how cool this “new” Buckcherry song was and my 11 yr. old daughter  told them it was a Deep Purple song. I’m a proud father! I kind of expected a few more from BLACK BUTTERFLY, especially ‘Too Drunk’, but you have to capitalize on success any way you can and 15 was a great (self-released) comeback for the band.

KISS setlist:

King Of The Night Time World
Deuce
Got To Choose
Modern Day Delilah
Hotter Than Hell (w/fire breathing)
I Stole Your Love
C’mon And Love Me
Parasite
She (w/guitar solo & rockets)
Watchin’ You
100,000 Years (w/drum solo)
I Love It Loud (w/bass solo, blood spitting & Gene flying)
Black Diamond (w/’Stairway To Heaven’ intro & Eric Singer on lead vocals)
Rock And Roll All Nite

Encore:
Shout It Out Loud
Lick It Up
Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
Love Gun (w/Paul Stanley flying)
Detroit Rock City

Like I said, nothing is better than seeing your favorite band in concert. The problem is that your enjoyment can cloud your opinion of the overall performance. There were plenty of people after the show saying it was the best KISS show they had seen…..this was my 16th KISS show and I can honestly say that this wasn’t their best performance. It wasn’t terrible but this concert didn’t live up to the standards the band has set since the Reunion Tour.

Paul Stanley billed the show as “a night of KISS Klassics” and the setlist was a combination of ALIVE & ALIVE II. Unfortunately there weren’t any surprises in the set, all the songs they played with the exception of ‘Modern Day Delilah’ have been rotated in and out of the set since 1996. The diehards like myself love hearing ‘Parasite’, ‘She’, and ‘Got To Choose’ but a truly special night would have been if they pulled out a couple tracks they never play, something they did back in 2004. The other thing I didn’t like was that they basically ignore the ’80s material except for ‘I Love It Loud’ and ‘Lick It Up’…..let’s hear something else from the ’80s and not ignore a pivotal and successful era of KISS! All complaints aside, I sang every word and cheered for every song. I’m a KISS fan and I still enjoyed the show. At least they pulled ‘Calling Dr. Love’ from the set, I can’t stand that song!

The stage was massive as was the giant video screen. The fireworks, bombs and fire all worked with perfection as did all the stunts and gimmicks. My problem was with the stage moves. Tommy Thayer is a talented guitarist and a good fit for the band but does he have to try and imitate all of Ace Frehley’s moves? I understand he has to play like Ace but does he have to do the staggering and off-balance walking too? Ace Frehley actually walked like that in the platform boots in real life and Tommy is doing an imitation, it’s not a character trait or stage move. The stage moves with the band up front swinging their guitars or having Tommy/Ace on his knees playing in front of Gene & Paul all seemed forced. Even Paul’s dance moves looked forced but he gets a pass due to his new hip. Like a true KISS fan, I cheered for all these things anyway. The sound was very good. Musically the band sounded tight and energized but the vocals were a little rough. Most KISS fans know Gene Simmons lost his vocal range back on the 2003 tour but his vocals were pretty good, it was Paul Stanley’s voice that concerned me, it sounded like he was straining and was hoarse. It’s possible that at age 58 he has lost some of his vocal range but he sounded good in 2006 at age 56 on his solo album and tour. My concerns were backed up when I saw the performance the next night on TV during the David Letterman Show. Maybe Paul needed to warm up because he sounded better as the set went on after ‘Modern Day Delilah’ but some of the higher notes were rough. Still, it’s something to worry about when the major person of talent in the band doesn’t perform well. Eric Singer did a solid job singing lead on ‘Black Diamond’ and it was good to hear the new ‘Modern Day Delilah’ live.

Despite my criticism of the performance, I really enjoyed myself. When the band was playing I was pumping my fist and having a great time singing along. My excitement was built up by my daughter’s wide-eyed and jaw dropped reaction to seeing everything happen right before her eyes. She screamed, sang, danced and cheered louder than some of the adults around us…..and that was just for Buckcherry! Everytime KISS did a stunt or lit off their pyro all she could say was “Wow!” My daughter was awestruck and it took me back to when I was a kid and my reaction to seeing KISS for the first time. That alone made the show a whole lot better. This is the first leg of the U.S. tour and I’m sure now that SONIC BOOM is released KISS will do another leg of shows over the Summer. If so, I will be there and I will still enjoy myself. They may be getting older, they may be losing some of their luster, but there is no denying that even an average KISS show is still a great concert.

KISS announce new album, Sonic Boom, artwork, tracklisting & release date revealed

From Bravewords:

KISS - Sonic Boom (2009)

KISS and Walmart announced today that SONIC BOOM, the band’s highly anticipated CD, and its first new material in 11 years-will be sold in the U.S. and Canada exclusively at Walmart, Walmart.com and Sam’s Club retail locations beginning October 6. SONIC BOOM, produced by the band’s Paul Stanley in Los Angeles, is the centerpiece of a three-disc set that also features a completely re-recorded greatest hits CD as well as a live DVD shot in Argentina during the band’s recent, record-breaking KISS Alive 35 South American tour. The CD set will retail for $12, with pre-orders starting in September on Walmart.com.

KISS’ Gene Simmons says, “Sonic Boom may be the best new record we’ve done since Destroyer! It is Rock And Roll Over meets Love Gun. The world’s biggest retailer had better get ready for the hottest band in the world and hire more cashiers before October 6th!”

Stanley continues, “Through all of the albums that are considered our classics, we tried to always find ways to give our fans extras that went beyond just the music. Besides our making the best KISS album in decades, Walmart has made it possible for us to include a bonus CD with 15 of our most famous songs and an additional live DVD, shot during our recent concert in Buenos Aires. So in every sense, SONIC BOOM is the ultimate return to classic KISS form. You wanted the best, you got the best!”

Walmart, one of America’s largest music retailers, is finalizing its exciting plans now for its in-store and online destinations for KISS fans surrounding the launch of the new album and tour, and will host various KISS products in addition to their music in its stores this fall. More details on Walmart KISS activity, announcements regarding album pre-sales, sweepstakes and KISS appearances will be shared shortly.

Sonic Boom CD Tracklisting:
‘Modern Day Delilah’ (audio sample below)
‘Russian Roulette’
‘Never Enough’
‘Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)’
‘Stand’
‘Hot And Cold’
‘All For The Glory’
‘Danger Us’
‘I’m An Animal’
‘When Lightning Strikes’
‘Say Yeah’

The US and Canadian release of Sonic Boom is a three-disc set that also features KISS Klassics, a 15-track completely re-recorded greatest hits CD, as well as a live DVD shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the band’s 2009 South American tour. The discs are packaged in a DigiPak along with a 20-page booklet.

Sonic Boom will be available exclusively at Walmart, Walmart.com and Sam’s Club retail locations beginning October 6.

KISS Klassics CD Track Listing:
‘Deuce’
‘Detroit Rock City’
‘Shout It Out Loud’
‘Hotter Than Hell’
‘Calling Dr. Love’
‘Love Gun’
‘I Was Made For Lovin’ You’
‘Heaven’s On Fire’
‘Lick It Up’
‘I Love It Loud’
‘Forever’
‘Christine Sixteen’
‘Do You Love Me’
‘Black Diamond’
‘Rock And Roll All Nite’

KISS Bonus Live DVD Track Listing:
‘Deuce’
‘Hotter Than Hell’
‘C’mon And Love Me’
‘Watchin’ You’
’100,000 Years’
‘Rock & Roll All Nite’

Bob Lefsetz vs. Gene Simmons at Canadian Music Week 2009

Lawyer/music critic Bob Lefsetz and KISS legend Gene Simmons engage in a heated debate at CMW 2009. Great video!

Use this link if the video doesn’t show up — http://site.citynews.ca:80/video/?bcpid=1640183522&bclid=1896836079&bctid=16513340001

WANTED: KISS – Jigoku Retsuden (2008)

WANTED

 

KISS – Jigoku Retsuden (2008)

In August, KISS released JIGOKU RETSUDEN, a Japan-only greatest hits compilation. So why do I need another KISS greatest hits CD? The catch to this one is that all of the songs are re-recordings with the current lineup of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, and Tommy Thayer. For me, that’s big news! It’s kind of like having brand new material even though it’s all the songs I already have, it would be interesting to hear how these songs sound with this lineup though. Other bands have done this with great success so I guess KISS is entitled to do it to. Re-recording some of these classics might also help in KISS getting some of these songs onto future editions of the Guitar Hero and Rock Star video game series.

Here’s the tracklisting:

Deuce, Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud, Hotter Than Hell, Calling Dr. Love, Love Gun, I Was Made For Lovin’ You, Heaven’s On Fire, Lick It Up, I Love It Loud, Forever, Christine Sixteen, Do You Love Me?, Black Diamond, Rock And Roll All Nite

There are two versions: the regular CD & CD/DVD set. The bonus DVD is live footage from the KISSOLOGY DVD sets. I’m in the market for the single disc and that costs about $25, the 2 disc set is around $30, depending on where you buy it from.