Posts Tagged ‘Paul Stanley’

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?

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.

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

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!

——————————————————————————————-

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 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’.

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.

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’

I had a couple of guys call in for the overnight shift Saturday into Sunday so I had to pull a double shift of 16 hours: 4pm Saturday to 8am Sunday. Normally it sucks but I was able to get most of the work done on my first shift and the overnight 8 hours was a piece of cake! My MP3 player is still dying a slow death, now I’m having issues with a loose headphone jack, but it still worked long enough for me to get through most of the night…..

Great White – Rising (2009): I’ve been giving this a lot of spins because of the great work the band did on their comeback album BACK TO THE RHYTHM (2007) but RISING is a lot more mellow. It’s more of a companion piece to 1994′s SAIL AWAY, one of my favorite records of all-time, but I’m a little disappointed. I was expecting more of a kick ass Rock record then a melodic acoustic based album. It’s a decent album but a grower.

Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009): Hammerfall’s latest has been in my playlist since I bought it for two reasons: because I’m a Power Metal geek and because I haven’t really gotten into the last few Hammerfall albums. I’m not sure what it is but since RENEGADE (2000) I have bought every new record but I haven’t enjoyed them as much as the first two. So far, I’m liking NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY a lot…..maybe I’ll review it before the month runs out!

Tragik – Outlaw (2009): Tragik are from my home state of Rhode Island and they play a cool Melodic Rock with a lot of guitars. Phil Vincent (vocals, keyboards, rhythm guitars) has been a fixture on the RI music scene for years and Steven Albanese (lead guitars) used to sell me a lot of my Hard Rock and Metal CDs at my favorite, and missed, record store: 2 Guys Music.

UFO – The Visitor (2009): I just received a promo copy of this new album Saturday morning so I uploaded it to my MP3 player right away. Good thing because UFO is in my Top 5 favorite bands and I was able to listen closely to the entire album.

Heaven & Hell – Live From Radio City Music Hall (2007): With the new Heaven & Hell album, THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009), coming out Tuesday I figured I would re-live the two tours I’ve seen in the last couple of years. I’m so glad that Black Sabbath heaven & Hell has continued to make new music and tour because they are true Metal masters! Can’t wait for the new album Tuesday!

KISS – Paul Stanley (1978): I wanted to listen to something familiar to end my shift so I decided to go with my favorite band (KISS) and my favorite member (right now) and give a listen. The Paul Stanley solo album is the most classic KISS-sounding album in a time where the band was struggling for an identity and sound as the world went Disco/Pop. This album proves my longstanding point that the talent in KISS is Paul Stanley.

paul-stanley-one-live-kiss-dvd

Paul Stanley – One Live KISS DVD (2008, Universal/New Door)

Filmed live at the House Of Blues in Chicago, IL on 11/6/2006.

  1. Prologue
  2. Live To Win
  3. Hide Your Heart
  4. A Million To One
  5. Got To Choose
  6. Move On
  7. Bulletproof
  8. Tonight You Belong To Me
  9. Lick It Up
  10. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me?
  11. Magic Touch
  12. I Still Love You
  13. Strutter
  14. Everytime I See You Around
  15. Do You Love Me
  16. I Want You
  17. Love Gun
  18. Lift
  19. Detroit Rock City
  20. Goodbye
  21. End credits montage – Where Angels Dare/Live To Win

(Region 1, NTSC, Total Running Time = approx 110 mins)

KISSonline
Paul Stanley
KISSFAQ

My favorite band is KISS so when one of the members has a solo or side project it’s the next best thing. I was a big fan of Paul Stanley’s 2006 solo album LIVE TO WIN, especially since KISS hasn’t released any new studio recordings since 1998 but also because I have always believed that Paul is the musical heart and soul of the band. Call him the frontman, the Starchild, call him Gene’s partner but I have always maintained that without Paul Stanley as a creative driving force, KISS in the ’80s would not exist. On to the DVD…..

ONE LIVE KISS is a full concert performance from Paul and his solo band (the band that played on the TV show Rock Star) at the House Of Blues in Chicago on 11/6/2006. Unfortunately I missed the tour that year because it didn’t stop in New England, the closest it came was New York City but having a live DVD does help. The performance is your basic KISS concert without all the gimmicks, fireworks, and structured setting. As Paul himself would say, it a show that “let’s the music do the talking”. The Rock Star band is tight and play extremely well and Paul’s voice sounds particularly good…..he sounded strained on the last U.S. KISS tour (Rock The Nation 2004). What sets this show apart from the typical KISS concert is the variety of the setlist:

  • There are 4 new songs from LIVE TO WIN (a standard if you want to promote a new record)
  • There are 4 songs from the Paul Stanley solo album from 1978, some of which have never been played by KISS (‘Move On’ on the DYNASTY tour) or were played on Paul’s 1988 solo tour)
  • There are 4 KISS rarities that the band would never perform if they toured (‘Hide Your Heart’, ‘A Million To One’, ‘Magic Touch’, ‘I Still Love You’)

Out of the 18 song set, 12 tracks are songs that are basically newcomers to the live arena. When was the last time you heard KISS do a song from one of the ’78 solo albums? Or ‘A Million To One’? Or ‘Magic Touch’? These were the highlights among KISS standards Paul has to do (‘Love Gun’, ‘Detroit Rock City’, etc.) and they sound like they have been played live for years. It’s a basic performance full of music and energy.

Bottom Line:
If you want to see a good concert DVD that is all about the music then you could do a lot worse than ONE LIVE KISS. Paul Stanley and his band sound great and the song selection has something for everyone from the KISS diehards to the casual fans to the fans of Paul’s solo work. There aren’t any bonuses, gimmicks or tricks, it’s all about the music. After watching this DVD I realized something that KISS fans the world over have known for years: Gene Simmons may be the guiding force on the business end but Paul Stanley is the talent on the creative end.

2008 was another great year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal DVDs but I didn’t buy nearly as many as I did last year. This year was all about the quality instead of the quantity as the global economy became the issue of the year. The good news is that bands are taking great care when producing these DVDs by adding extra content, bonus footage and CDs of live performances to the overall packages. Money has to be spent wisely and the following list of DVDs gave a lot of bang for my hard earned buck! Here’s my list of The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2008:

#1

Iron Maiden - Live After Death DVD (2008)Iron Maiden – Live After Death

There was no competing with Iron Maiden when it came to DVD of the Year. Live After Death was released in early February and it led wire to wire as the best DVD released this year. The original Live After Death concert footage was in dire need of a proper DVD release and the band answered the call with a remastered DVD of the full performance from the old VHS. In addition to the main feature, the band exceeded expectations and went the extra mile with the second DVD including the History of Iron Maiden, Behind The Iron Curtain, Rock In Rio ’85, ‘Ello Texas, and promotional videos. With over 5+ hours of content and landmark performances Iron Maiden’s latest DVD was the best value of the year, I paid $14 on sale and it was money well spent.

#2

ironmaidenandnewwaveofbyw4Iron Maiden and the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal

Just like KISS did last year, Iron Maiden has taken the first two slots in this year’s DVD awards…..technically. This DVD has a disclaimer on the back that states that “this film is not authorized by the current lineup of Iron Maiden nor by their management or record label”. So the band had nothing to do with the release but there is plenty of archival footage of the band as they spearheaded probably the most important movement in Heavy metal history: The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. There is a ton of music and footage, both studio and live recordings, of many of the major NWOBHM bands like Saxon, Samson, Tygers Of Pan Tang, Def Leppard, Praying Mantis and more. Bands members are interviewed as are industry experts like Malcolm Dome, Geoff Barton, and Garry Bushell along with perhaps THE most influential man in the NWOBHM movement, legendary Metal DJ Neil Kay. A DVD that has over 2 1/2 hours of NWOBHM history would have easily taken the top spot any other year but it came in a close second to Live After Death even though I bought it at the end of December. 

#3

gamma-ray-hell-yeah-the-awesome-foursome-live-in-montreal-dvdGamma Ray – Hell Yeah!!! The Awesome Foursome – Live In Montreal 

Gamma Ray of one of the best Power Metal bands of all-time and they released an excellent 2 DVD set this year. Disc 1 is a full 2 hour live performance in Montreal, Canada from May 2006. Right there that should be enough but the band adds a second DVD with 2 1/2 hours of bonus footage including a road movie from their 2006 North American tour, videos, Wacken Open Air performances from 2003 & 2006, and Historay. How can you beat over 4 1/2 hours of Gamma Ray for less than $20? The only thing that could have put this in the top spot was if the accompanying CD release of the Montreal concert was included. If that was included and not a separate release, this DVD set would have come very close to taking top honors this year.

#4

heavy-metal-in-baghdad-dvdHeavy Metal In Baghdad

I have always liked learning about the Heavy Metal scene in different countries and Heavy Metal In Baghdad helped me explore the Metal scene in war-torn Iraq. The film follows the Iraqi Metal band Acrassicauda from the beginning of the U.S./Iraq war to the band’s escape from the country and their survival in a new home. There is a lot of talk about “living for Heavy Metal” and “following your dreams” in the Metal scene but that is exactly what Acrassicauda do. Playing Heavy Metal in a country like Iraq is not something that the government and religious community embrace, this makes bands like Acrassicauda outcasts. With their lives in danger everyday with the threats of war, the band members follow their dreams and fight to survive. It shows you how lucky we are in the U.S. This DVD is just under3 hours and includes the main 90 minute film and an additional 90 mins of bonus footage.

#5

paul-stanley-one-live-kiss-dvdPaul Stanley – One Live KISS

KISS is my favorite band and last year they took the top two spots with KISSology Volumes 2 & 3. Here to represent the band is founder, frontman and guitarist Paul Stanley with a DVD chronicling his sold-out solo performance in Chicago on 11/6/2006. The 21 song setlist includes tracks from his 2006 solo album LIVE TO WIN as well as many KISS klassics that you never get to hear. It’s a very basic release in terms of content, there really isn’t much bonus material, but the footage shows off the one thing KISS fans have known for decades: Paul Stanley is the talent in KISS! Highlights for me were some of the tracks from Paul’s 1978 solo album like ‘Move On’, ‘Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me?’, & ‘Goodbye’.

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.

From Paul Stanley.com:

Paul Stanley’s long-anticipated “Live To Win” tour movie is slated for a DVD release on October 21 under the title, ONE LIVE KISS, via New Door / Universal!

We’ll post additional details soon.