Posts Tagged ‘KISS’

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

KISS – Ace Frehley solo album (1978, Casablanca Records)

  1. Rip It Out
  2. Speedin’ Back To My Baby
  3. Snow Blind
  4. Ozone
  5. What’s On Your Mind?
  6. New York Groove
  7. I’m In Need Of Love
  8. Wiped Out
  9. Fractured Mirror

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Lead & Background Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer, Bass
Anton Fig – Drums & Percussion
Will Lee – Bass on tracks 4, 7, 8
Carl Tallarico – Drums on track 9
David Lasley & Susan Collins & co. – Background Vocals on tracks 2, 5, 6
Larry Kelly – Background Vocals on track 1
Bill ‘Bear’ Scheniman – Bell on track 9
Bobby McAdams – Power Mouth on track 6

Producers: Eddie Kramer & Ace Frehley

Country: USA

Total Time = 36:38

Ace Frehley
Ace Frehley MySpace page
KISS
KISSFAQ

Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of KISS. From the time I was a young kid in 1977 when I discovered KISS, straight through to present day, Ace Frehley has always been one of my guitar heroes and one of the reasons KISS is my favorite band. He had that outer world persona, the cool silver, black and blue makeup with matching costume, that made him look more like a superhero than the rest. The focus was always on Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley in magazines and interviews so I always waited for an article featuring Ace but there weren’t as many and this gave Ace an extra aura of mystery to me. Back in the early ’80s when I started to really get into music, I started to look at KISS as more than a superhero, comic, cartoon entity and that of an actual band. I started to collect their albums on cassette, paying close attention to every small detail I could find in newspapers, magazines and record stores about each record. By the time KISS released CREATURES OF THE NIGHT (1982), I had almost every KISS album on cassette except the solo albums and THE ELDER (1981)…..these albums had become scarce due to their cut-out/delete bin status. First on my list…..Ace Frehley.

I remember exactly where & when I bought my Ace Frehley solo album cassette – Good Vibrations in Seekonk, Massachusetts for $7.98 sometime in the Fall of 1982. Every weekend my mom would go to the Seekonk to do food shopping at the area’s first mega-grocery store, Heartland, and it was always packed. This turned into a 2 hour odyssey every weekend so I would go to the Good Vibrations in the same plaza and look at ALL the vinyl, tapes and magazines and that’s how I got my Metal education. Back then I had a want list and all the missing KISS album were at the top…..but on cassette! That store had tons of vinyl (this was before CDs took over) and they had copies of all four solo albums but I needed the cassette and it wasn’t in the “K” section of the cassettes…..until I asked the guy at the counter and he found it under “F” for Frehley! That is something that gets discussed regularly, especially by KISS fans, is it a KISS record or a solo album? Technically it’s a solo record but unified by the band name KISS so I always file my solo albums in my KISS discography. Enough of my collecting rules, on to the album!

As many a young kid my age did back in the day, you listened to the first couple of songs on each side first because you knew they were probably the best songs. Then you hit <<Rewind>> and listened to those first couple of songs again and again until they were etched into your mind. If you knew which songs were the hits, the single, then you could get to the rest of the tape later. I knew from KISS articles in magazines that ‘New York Groove’ was played on the DYNASTY tour so I re-wound Side 2 and listened to that song first…..a lot of the time I would let the tape run into ‘I’m In Need Of Love’. Same thing with Side 1, ‘Rip It Out’ was the official single and I played that over and over, letting the tape run so I knew ‘Speedin’ Back to My Baby’ as well. These four songs were the entire basis for me listening to this album and it wasn’t until months after I bought, maybe even a couple of years actually, until I started to listen to the album as a whole. ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’ sounded like typical KISS songs sung by Ace so I really got into them quick but ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ were songs that I couldn’t get into right away. Both songs seemed weird to me back then and, when I was told by some older metalheads in my neighborhood that the songs were about drugs, I didn’t like them. Remember “Say No To Drugs”? Once I started listening to them I started to like both songs because they were different, spacey, kind of out there just like Ace was. Now these two tracks are  couple of my favorites on the record. Last song on Side 1 is ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ and it is definitely a lost Ace classic that has a really catchy melody and chorus…..it’s one of those songs that gets you singing along right away and it could have easily fit on LOVE GUN (1977) or even DYNASTY (1979) a year later. I think this is one of Ace’s best vocal performances on the album.

Side 2 opens with the DYNASTY tour performed ‘New York Groove’, a song written by Russ Ballard and previously recorded by a British Glam band, Hello, in 1975. Now I didn’t know that this was a cover song back when I bought the album and I have never heard Hello’s version so my long standing rules against cover songs doesn’t apply. I knew this was a song KISS played live, it was the only hit single from any of the solo albums (#13 on the Billboard charts in 1978) and it was a catchy song that instantly stuck in my brain. ‘I’m In Need Of Love’ is a spacey kind of song, similar to ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ with different guitar techniques and sounds. I’ve always liked the song, it has this mid-tempo pace that borders a ballad at some points but the song picks up at the guitar solo…..one of my favorites on the record. The title is a pure KISS type of song title so that was another reason I gravitated to it. Back in the day I didn’t care much for ‘Wiped Out’ or ‘Fractured Mirror’, I always thought that the opening surf-styled guitar riff was corny and I never really cared about instrumentals. Today I’m a huge fan of ‘Fractured Mirror’ but ‘Wiped Out’ is probably my least favorite song on the album. ‘Fractured Mirror’ had turned into one of Ace’s signature moments and he uses it to this day as an intro when he hits the concert stage., I still find ‘Wiped Out’ a little corny but the song takes on that spacey kind of feel like ‘Ozone’ or ‘Snow Blind’.

Bottom Line:
For me, the best solo album is the Ace Frehley solo album, not just because he has always been my favorite member of KISS but because the album is an extension of what Ace had done up to that point in KISS. The songs sound like Ace sung KISS songs but there is a lot of experimentation, a lot of freedom with sound and guitar effects, that could never fit onto a proper KISS album. I like every song on the album, even ‘Wiped Out’, and you can tell that Ace put all his creativity into making the record, I also think that his vocals on this record were more confident and better than anything he had sung with KISS at that point in time. From a personal historical standpoint, this was the album that made me seek out the other three solo albums, in the hopes that they would be just as good, and started me following both Ace’s and Peter Criss’ solo careers. I own the original cassette I had from back in the day and that is an original Casablanca Records pressing, not a Polygram Records reissue…..I also have the first pressing on CD through Polygram and the 1997 remaster. I would like to track down an original pressing vinyl LP with the poster but those go for big bucks online or at conventions.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on the album but if I had to pick four songs then they would be: ‘Rip It Out’, ‘What’s On Your Mind?’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’ & ‘I’m In Need Of Love’

Nothing is better than a concert by one of your favorite bands…..and it’s even better when it’s FREE! I went to the Mohegan Sun Casino Friday night to catch Ace Frehley live in concert at the Wolf Den. For those of you who haven’t been, the Wolf Den is an intimate club that sits right in the heart of the casino surrounded by the sounds of slot machines and gaming tables. The Wolf Den holds about 400 people and it usually brings in some of the better known Hard Rock acts. Earlier in the month, Kix played there and Helix is coming in April! A lot of tribute acts get on that stage and play for the casino patrons as well.

Being a KISS fan, I knew that an Ace Frehley solo show would bring tons of New England KISS fans to the casino so my friend and I got there for 3:30 in the afternoon (showtime was 8pm), had a nice meal at one of the buffets, and got in line around 5pm. As predicted, the KISS Army came out in force. We counted and we were within the first 50 people but the line stretched to over the 400 capacity. The cool thing about the Wolf Den is that it is primarily open so you can see the show from the casino floor, there were people three deep around the arena and many fans took over slot machines close by to take in the show. We had a great table inside, very close to the stage with a perfect view, so I didn’t run down to the front when Ace and the band came on. Ace was joined by Scot Coogan (drums/vocals) and Anthony Esposito (bass/vocals), who both played on his new record, ANOMALY, as well as, new guitarist Todd Youth.

Ace Frehley setlist:

Intro – Fractured Mirror
Rocket Ride
Parasite
Snow Blind
Sister
Pain In The Neck
Into The Void
Speedin’ Back To My Baby
Rock Soldiers
Love Her All I Can
Talk To Me
2000 Man
Strange Ways
New York Groove
Rip It Out
Hard Times
Shock Me
Ace guitar solo (w/smoking guitar)
Let Me Know outro
Shout It Out Loud

Encore:
Deuce
Love Gun
Cold Gin

This was a great concert…..a KISS diehard’s dream! Ace and his band came out and put on an energetic show full of Ace solo and KISS classics. Not surprisingly, Ace and the band focused on most KISS material that featured Ace either as lead singer or primary songwriter. It was extremely cool to hear deep tracks like ‘Rocket Ride’, ‘Strange Ways’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Talk To Me’, songs that were rarely played live by KISS during their ’70s heyday. Ace also pulled out 4 songs from his 1978 KISS solo record (‘New York Groove’, ‘Rip It Out’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’, ‘Snow Blind’) and 2 brand new songs off ANOMALY (‘Sister’ & ‘Pain In The Neck’) but one of the most gratifying songs of the set for me was ‘Rock Soldiers’ from the first Frehley’s Comet album…..to this day, Frehley’s Comet is one of my all-time favorite bands. The ’78 solo album songs were great also, the Ace album was my favorite by the four members and it was so cool to finally hear ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Snow Blind’ live. I thought ‘Sister’ came out great live and Ace announced that this was the first performance of ‘Pain In The Neck’ ever so we got a little extra KISStory at the show. The audience was mostly KISS fans so all the KISS classics got huge ovations, as did the entire set. ‘Parasite’, ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’ were all great but the encore really brought the house down with cool versions of ‘Deuce’, ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Cold Gin’. Ace also managed to get in a great guitar solo complete with his signature smoking guitar and then he was joined by the band to complete the ‘Let Me Know’ outro solo with the signature KISS moves…..something that got the crowd really going! What a show! Ace and the band played 20 songs in an hour and 45 minutes, including an extended guitar solo and the opening into tape of ‘Fractured Mirror’ from the ’78 solo record…..so it was really 22 songs worth of time! You can’t ask for much more! It was a great show at a great venue for a great price…..FREE!

Definitely catch Ace on tour if you can…..check out Ace Frehley.com for tour dates.

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010, Twenty 4 Records/Rocket Science Ventures)

  1. Fate
  2. Ain’t Gonna Die
  3. No Friend Of Mine
  4. Hand Of The King
  5. I’ll Survive
  6. Dirty Girl
  7. Final Mile
  8. I’m The Animal
  9. And I Know
  10. Between The Lines
  11. Life

Musicians:
Bruce Kulick – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Jeremy Rubofino – Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Brent Fitz – Drums
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals on ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’
John Corabi – Lead Vocals on ‘No Friend Of Mine’
Nick Simmons – Lead Vocals on ‘Hand Of The King’
George Kerhulas – Hammond B3
Doug Fieger – Lead Vocals & Percussion on ‘Dirty Girl’
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals on ‘I’m The Animal’
Eric Singer – Drums on ‘I’m The Animal’
Steve Lukather – Guitars on ‘Between The Lines’
Jimmy Haslip – Bass on ‘Between The Lines’
Kenny Aronoff – Drums on ‘Between The Lines’

Producers: Jeremy Rubofino & Bruce Kulick

Country: USA

Total Time = 46:14

Bruce Kulick
Bruce Kulick MySpace page

The last 6 months or so have been a great time to be a KISS fan with new albums from KISS and Ace Frehley finally seeing the light of day and now former KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick releases his third solo album BK3. After having no new material for so long, KISS fans like myself are revelling in this recording rebirth! I grew up in the ’80s so the non-makeup KISS was my focal point and Bruce was a big part of the KISS machine at a time when stability and musicianship was desperately needed. From the ANIMALIZE TOUR in 1984 to the MTV Unplugged session in 1995, Bruce Kulick was a talented mainstay in the band and helped right the KISS ship and keep it on a steady course for 11 years until the inevitable reunion with Peter Criss & Ace Frehley. I make it a point to follow former members of KISS through their solo careers but I haven’t really followed Bruce past UNION, the excellent band project with John Corabi, to his solo albums. BK3 is Bruce’s third solo effort and I decided to check it out.

BK3 is like an all-star solo album with a lot of big name guest musicians making appearances on half the tracks and Bruce handling vocals on the other half. KISS fans will take note that Gene Simmons co-wrote and and lead vocals on ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ while his son, Nick Simmons, helped write and sang on the first single ‘Hand Of The King’. ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ sounds like it could easily fit into the ’90s REVENGE/CARNIVAL OF SOULS KISS era and it is one of the best Gene related songs to be released in the last 15 years. Nick Simmons puts in a solid vocal performance on ‘Hand Of The King’ and he sounds very much like his famous father when he sings, I didn’t even realize that it was Nick singing this song until I read the liner notes, I thought it was Gene doing a subdued vocal with Bruce on backup harmonies. Just goes to show you the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! ‘Hand Of The King’ is another song that could have easily fit on a ’90s KISS album, it has a certain bite to it, a dirty Hard Rock sound that was so prevalent on REVENGE and CARNIVAL OF SOULS. Current KISS drummer Eric Singer also makes an appearance by playing drums on ‘I’m The Animal’ and Bruce’s Union partner John Corabi (former The Scream & Motley Crue) adds a great vocal to ‘No Friend Of Mine’, a song that could easily be a long lost Union track and one of my favorites on the album.

This isn’t an all-star KISS related project though, Bruce has brought in a few other friends to add some different sounds to the album. Former singer of The Knack, Doug Fieger, adds a really catchy vocal to the power-Pop of ‘Dirty Girl’ (a title that sounds like a Gene Simmons song!) and Tobias Sammet of Edguy/Avantasia fame contributes his great set of pipes to ‘I’m the Animal’, a song originally meant for Gene to sing but is a much better fit for Tobias. It’s a guitar heavy track with that REVENGE style main riff and aggressive vocal but the harmonies on the chorus break it up a bit. Sammet is well-known for his Power Metal/Melodic Hard Rock vocals but here he filss in an aggressive ballsy vocal with a ton of attitude. ‘Between The Lines’ is an all-star instrumental with Bruce and Steve Lukather (Toto) trading off guitar parts so smoothly. Seeing that this is his solo album, Bruce takes the reins on the other half of the album singing on the record’s other five tracks. No offense to Bruce but he’s no Joe Lynn Turner or Paul Stanley vocally but his performance is pretty good. ‘Fate’ opens with a fast Hard Rock style and an edgy vocal while ‘And I Know’ goes for a more melodic approach. Where Bruce shines vocally is on the slower songs, kind of like his KISS vocal debut on ‘I Walk Alone’ from CARNIVAL OF SOULS. ‘I’ll Survive’ is laid back (like Bruce!) and he sounds a bit like Space Ace at the mic. ‘Final Mile’ is a melodic mid-tempo track that really spotlights Bruce vocally as does ‘Life’, a song that has a cool Beatles and Queen laid back vibe to it…..cool guitar on this song too.

Bottom Line:
I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot from this album because I hadn’t heard Bruce’s previous solo albums but I was pleasantly surprised at how varied and well done this album is. Maybe I wasn’t expecting much because Bruce is never really a focal point in the bands he has been in, he is always a solid part of the supporting cast. BK3 turns things around though, the writing is solid and Bruce’s vocals are pretty good. He’s always been an underrated guitar player so his guitar work is as solid as it’s always been. The collaborations are the highlights, especially the Gene and Nick songs for KISS fans, but the Corabi, Feiger and Sammet songs are the best on the album. ‘No Friend Of Mine’ is reason enough to buy this record and it’s probably my favorite of the album with ‘Dirty Girl’ coming in a close second. Overall I would say this is a really good solid album that flows very well. I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo and iPod and I’m really enjoying it…..this album is going to surprise a few people and it’s going to win Bruce some extra fans outside of the KISS realm.

A lot of you may be wondering where the heck I’ve been for the last month or so…..well, I’m still here! Sorry for the lack of posts but I got a few new “toys” with my tax refund (new furniture, a 52″ LCD HD TV, and a Playstation 3) and I’ve been spending most of my time away from the computer. I’m still listening to Metal, that never stops, so here’s what I’ve been listening to in the last couple of days…..

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): This is an obvious must to keep playing because KISS is my favorite band, SONIC BOOM is clearly the best KISS record since REVENGE (1992) and it keeps getting better everytime I listen to it.

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010): Another KISS-related release! Bruce Kulick has always been one of the most underrated guitarists but he has always been one of my favorites because he lent stability and versatility to KISS during his tenure. I like the different sounds on this album: a little KISS, some Union, some alternative, some Hard Rock, some Melodic Rock. It’s a pretty good record and I will be reviewing it soon (I should have done this in the beginning of February!).

Brainstorm – Memorial Roots (2010): I’m still listening to January’s album of the month and I will be reviewing it soon. I definitely like this album better than their last, DOWNBURST (2008).

Keel – The Right To Rock (1985/2010 reissue): I was a big Keel fan back in the day based solely on my ability to draw both Keel logos (the band changed logos after their 1984 debut album LAY DOWN THE LAW). I did get into the music and I bought both the first three Keel records when they came out. Re-listening to this record was great because I hadn’t heard it in a long time…..’The Right To Rock’, ‘Easier Said Than Done’ and ‘Electric Love’ are still cool songs 25 years later! One thing I will say, Keel’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ is still awful!

Keel – Streets Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2010): I never thought there would be a new Keel album but I’m psyched the band came back and released new material, it’s been a long time coming. The band sounds great and the songs are strong…..so far it’s one of the best records of the year for me.

Gamma Ray – To The Metal! (2010): Just got the new Gamma Ray disc from the label, it comes out in 2 weeks. I’ve been looking forward to this album since it was announced and I was surprised to find it in my mailbox. I’ve given it only one spin but I heard some pretty good songs right away.

Hammerfall – (all albums): Guess who I’m going to see in concert Saturday night? That’s right! Hammerfall is coming to the Worcester Palladium and I am making the 45 minute drive to finally see them live. I’ve been listening to all their studio albums in preparation for the show, my favorites are still the first two: GLORY TO THE BRAVE (1997) and LEGACY OF KINGS (1998).

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…..

From Bravewords.com:

The North American release date for former KISS guitarist BRUCE KULICK’s new solo album, BK3, has been been bumped up to February 2nd via Fanboy/Rocket Science Ventures. Frontier’s Records will still issue the album in Europe on January 29th.

If you ever play Six Degrees of Bruce Kulick, the former KISS/current GRAND FUNK RAILROAD guitarist’s résumé will keep you happily busy for hours. Having been tapped by artists as diverse as MEAT LOAF and KANYE WEST, the veteran axeman’s boundless creative energy permeates his third solo LP, BK3.

In the works for nearly six years and produced by Jeremy Rubolino, BK3 delivers explosive hard rock arrangements and addictive pop melodies that honor both Kulick’s singular past and bright future. And then there’s the jaw-dropping guest list, boasting members of KISS, THE KNACK, TOTO, MÖTLEY CRÜE and more.

“Bruce was to KISS what Ronnie Wood is to the Stones,” says Rocket Science GM & Fanboy Enterprises A&R executive Ken Gullic. “The new guy to one generation, and the long standing stable horse to another.”

After getting his solo feet wet with 2001’s Audio Dog and 2003’s Transformer, Kulick – the often unheralded driving force on 12 years of classic KISS records, from 1984’s Animalize to 1992’s Revenge – assembled his own rock ‘n’ roll dream team. The roster: KISS icon GENE SIMMONS and up-and-coming son Nick (each vocally appearing separately), longtime friend John Corabi (Mötley Crüe, Kulick’s own UNION), The Knack mainman Doug Fieger, Toto axe authoritarian Steve Lukather, EDGUY power metal stalwart Tobias Sammet and even current KISS drummer Eric Singer.

“Many albums lack cohesion with different vocalists, but I know that my guitar playing is the glue on BK3,” Kulick says. “There was the clear goal of making absolutely the best record that I could put together. I feel like this is my Revenge.”

BK3 tracklisting:
‘Fate’
‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ (featuring Gene Simmons)
‘No Friend Of Mine’ (featuring John Corabi)
‘Hand Of The King’ (featuring Nick Simmons)
‘I’ll Survive’
‘Dirty Girl’ (featuring Doug Fieger)
‘Final Mile’
‘I’m The Animal’ (featuring Tobias Sammet, Eric Singer)
‘And I Know’
‘Between The Lines’ (featuring Steve Lukather)
‘Life’
‘Skydome’ (exclusive bonus track for Europe, from the Bruce Kulick CD Audiodog)

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.

ace-frehley-anomaly-2009

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009, Bronx Born Records)

  1. Foxy & Free
  2. Outer Space
  3. Pain In The Neck
  4. Fox On The Run
  5. Genghis Khan
  6. Too Many Faces
  7. Change The World
  8. Space Bear
  9. A Little Below The Angels
  10. Sister
  11. It’s A Great Life
  12. Fractured Quantum

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Anton Fig – Drums
Anthony Esposito – Bass
Derrek Hawkins – Rhythm Guitar (track 2)
Scot Coogan – Background Vocals (track 3)
Marti Frederiksen – Bass, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Drums, Percussion, Strings & Background Vocals (tracks 4, 9 & 12)
Brian Tichy – Drums  (tracks 4 & 10)
Pearl Aday – Background Vocals (track 5)
Karl Kimmel – Background Vocals (track 5)
Jay Messina – Tracking (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6,7,8,11)
Rich Tozzoli – Overdubs (tracks 1,3,5,6,7,8,10, 11)
Alex Salzman – Tracking & Overdubs (tracks 2, 5, 9, 12)

Producers: Ace Frehley, Frank Munoz, & Marti Frederiksen (track 4)

Country: USA

Total Time = 54:46

Ace Frehley
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It’s been 20 long years since we had a new Ace Frehley album, October of 1989 was when TROUBLE WALKIN’ hit record store racks and KISS fans like myself bought their copy. Ace Frehley had been my favorite member of KISS for years so anytime Ace was in the spotlight after his departure from KISS I paid full attention. I was a big fan of Frehley’s Comet and I tracked Ace the best I could from Rock mags, KISS newsletters and, of course, KISS conventions. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the last new Ace record but now we finally have ANOMALY! So what was the delay? Sobriety…..Ace has been sober now for three years. KISS…..the Reunion extended into a 6+ year odyssey that included 3 world tours and an album. Doesn’t matter now, it’s 2009 and Ace is back again!

Keep in mind that Ace Frehley has a very distinctive guitar tone and singing voice so a lot of the songs might sound the same in some parts and they are going to definitely sound very KISS-like. Ace is part of a big Hard Rock legacy with KISS so the sound will be familiar. ANOMALY starts off with the modern sounding ‘Foxy & Free’ that is chock full of thick Ace riffs and a heavy solo…..I’m impressed already. Sometimes you can tell how good an album will be by the first song and Ace rips right into the album with ‘Foxy & Free’, it’s got a solid groove that definitely could fit on KISS latest album. Moving into ‘Outer Space’, the album’s resident “spaceman persona” song, is another trip into familiar KISS territory a la ‘Rocket Ride’ & ‘Into the Void’. Definitely a good swirling guitar trackwith solid lyrics that pair up with the Space Ace’s image, the chorus had me singing right along. Third big guitar track in a row with ‘Pain In The Neck’ (written about his former bandmates perhaps?) and it has that smooth groove that Ace always pulls out with ease as well as a solid solo. ‘Pain In The Neck’ sounds a little dated but in a good way, the song could easily fit into any of his Frehley’s Comet/Ace Frehley records from the ’80s.

Ace is no stranger to doing a cover tune, his version of The Move/E.L.O.’s ‘Do Ya’ is very good and got some radio and MTV exposure back in ’89 and he also put his own version of KISS’ ‘Hide Your Heart’ to vinyl the same year. Considering that I like Ace’s versions of those two songs better, I had high hopes for The Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’. Not many people remember Sweet so it’s good to hear Ace pay some homage to a real classic Glam Rock act. Normally I can’t stand covers but this really is a good one and fits Ace’s personality to a tee. ‘Genghis Khan’ is mostly an instrumental that showcases Ace’s six-string prowess, but it has a few vocal lines. The song has this varied, trippy, loose groove to it that just sounds like a cool jam with a few words thrown in where the chorus might be. I’m not sure there’s any meaning to the lyrics, they’re more of an afterthought I think than an actual part of the song. Maybe Ace didn’t want to confuse people with more than one instrumental? You know an Ace album is going to have a ‘Fractured’ on it so maybe the lyrics were thrown onto ‘Genghis Khan’ to separate them? Either way it’s a solid instrumental and Ace’s playing is superb, the guy is a talented guitarist and that gets overlooked because he played some very basic guitar during KISS’ ’70s career. ‘Too Many Faces’ is another rocker that seems autobiographical, maybe talking about Ace’s battle with substance abuse. There’s some solid layered guitar here but the song sounds similar to ‘Pain In The Neck’ in some spots.

ANOMALY slows down a little with the ballad ‘Change the World’, a song that’s very melodic and acoustically driven. There’s definitely a Beatles influence here and it definitely sounds like Ace has taken a new outlook on life with his newfound sobriety. Listen to the solo, there’s a lot of emotion wrapped in there and it has a great tone. Another long instrumental comes in ‘Space Bear’…..I’m not sure we needed another one with ‘Genghis Khan’ before it and ‘Fractured Quantum’ on it’s way. ‘Space Bear’ is definitely heavier than ‘Genghis Khan’, it’s more deliberate in it’s heavy Hard Rock sound, and it sounds like it could have fit in on earlier Ace efforts, but it also sounds like an unfinished song idea. Another autobiographical ballad about Ace’s battle with his addictions follows in ‘A Little Below The Angels’…..the mellower version of ‘Rock Soldiers’? Melodic sincere lyrics over a simple acoustic guitar and then the band kicks in with a classic rock sounding rhythm and organ. There are some cool guitar fills mixed right in and the song features Ace’s daughter Monique on background vocals as part of the choir. The song has a grand feel to it and it fits in well with Ace’s current life. Heavy Rock is back again with ‘Sister’, a very thick guitar track with a rolling main riff and driving drums. This is straightforward power chords and basic rhythm with a great guitar solo mixed in, I’ll bet this is put in the live set because it’s real heavy and loud.

‘It’s A Great Life’ fits in again with Ace’s new found sober attitude lyrically. It’s a melodic acoustic driven song that sounds a little funky Pop Rock thing in some spots, it’s a decent song but not nearly as great as the other songs on the album. Would it be an Ace Frehley album without a ‘Fractured’ insturmental? The fourth installment is ‘Fractured Quantum’ and it is definitely a highlight of the album, the best instrumental of the album! Technically, that is the end of the proper album but those of you who bought ANOMALY on iTunes get a bonus track…..’The Return Of Space Bear’. I’ve only heard the 30 second sample iTunes gives you but, from what I’ve read online, it’s the ‘Space Bear’ instrumental with some effects and vocal lines re-done from the infamous Tom Snyder interview with KISS in 1980. I can’t really say whether the track is good or not but I think the fact that you can only get the track as part of the FULL album download and not as a single track stinks! If the song were available on the vinyl version, I’d pick it up…..maybe a Japanese pressing on CD will have it as a bonus track?

Bottom Line:
A great comeback for Ace Frehley! His new lease on life with his sobriety has certainly brought out his creativity and ANOMALY is definitely a solid album. The album is mainly electric guitar driven rockers mixed with a couple acoustic ballads that show off Ace’s melodic side, it’s definitely a solid mix with enough emotion and introspection lyrically. For me the best songs are the hard rockers (‘Sister’, ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, etc.) but the slower acoustical ballads (‘Change The World’, ‘A Little Below The Angels’) show that Ace can branch out and do more melodic pieces. I even like the cover of ‘Fox On The Run’! The only drawback to the album is that there are three instrumentals, four if you get it from iTunes! ‘Space Bear’ seems to be the odd one out. Overall ANOMALY is a great album and I’ve been enjoying it since it came out mid-September. Just like the new KISS album, I wanted to give ANOMALY a lot of listening time not only to enjoy it but so my critical side wouldn’t be influenced by my diehard KISS fandom. I’ve been looking forward to a new Ace Frehley album for 20 years…..it’s finally here and I’m happy!

Favorite Songs:
‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Sister’, ‘Change The World’, ‘Genghis Khan’

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’.

So I got to listen to a few CDs today but I got lazy and didn’t really want to change discs in the stereo so I plugged in the iPod and hit Shuffle. Here’s the first 20 songs…..

  1. Twisted Sister – ‘Leader Of The Pack’ (1985)
  2. Black ‘N Blue – ‘Action’ (1984)
  3. Saxon – ‘Denim And Leather’ (1981)
  4. D.C. Cooper – ‘Chained’ (1999)
  5. Mogg-Way – ‘Fortune Town’ (1997)
  6. Anvil – ‘Bondage’ (1981)
  7. UFO – ‘A Self-Made Man’ (1995)
  8. Dio – ‘Otherworld’ (2000)
  9. FarCry – ‘Heaven’ (2009)
  10. KISS – ‘Get All You Can Take’ (1984)
  11. Tygers Of Pan Tang – ‘Euthanasia’ (1980)
  12. Balance Of Power – ‘Miracles And Dreams’ (1999)
  13. Lillian Axe – ‘The 2nd Of May’ (2007)
  14. AC/DC – ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ (1977)
  15. Phil Vincent – ‘How Long’ (2008)
  16. Iron Maiden – The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’ (1986)
  17. KISS – ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ (1987)
  18. Bullet – ‘No Mercy’ (1983)
  19. Black Sabbath – ‘No Stranger To Love’ (1986)
  20. Loudness – ‘Gravity’ (2008)

Bonus Track: Whitesnake – ‘Love Ain’t No Stranger’ (1984)

Today starts my last vacation week of 2009. I always take the same vacation weeks every year and it’s that time again…..Halloween week! My family has the graveyard in front of the house and the kids are getting their costumes together and I have zombies to build for the graveyard. So what do I do? Sleep all day and watch football! I had a double shift at work again so I was able to get the iPod fired up and listen to a couple albums…..

Heaven & Hell – Live From Radio City Music Hall (2007): I’ve been on a big post-Ozzy Black Sabbath kick again so I put this Heaven & Hell live record on so I could hear the current Sabbath lineup do what I’ve seen them do four times in concert since the band adopted the Heaven & Hell name. This is becoming one of my favorite live albums.

Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982): I played this album just so I could compare Sabbath then to Sabbath now. This is still one of my favorite live albums and a classic everyone should have in their collection.

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): I had to get my daily listen to the new KISS album. It really is a solid record and a great studio comeback for the band.

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Just like the new KISS album, I had to get my daily listen to the latest Ace Frehley record. Just like the new KISS album, ANOMALY is a solid record and a great comeback for Ace 20 years after his last solo effort.

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): I wanted to give this a fresh listen because I feel like I didn’t give this enough time last year even though it made my Top 30 for 2008.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985): This is my favorite W.A.S.P. album and one of those albums that were so important to me when I was growing up and discovering different Metal bands. Great songs all around but I forgot just how good ‘Wild Child’, ‘Fistful Of Diamonds’ and ‘Cries In The Night’ are. The whole album is a classic but I get sick of ‘Blind In Texas’ so I usually skip over it.