Kiss – Welcome To The Mental Zone (The Godfatherecords G.R.996)
Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC, USA – December 28, 1985
(79:31) Intro / Detroit Rock City, Fits Like A Glove, Uh! All Night, Cold Gun, Under The Gun, Solo Bruce Kulick, I Still Love You, Solo Gene Simmons, I Love It Loud, Tears Are Falling, Solo Eric Carr, War Machine, Love Gun, Rock And Roll All Nite, Heaven’s On Fire, Lick It Up
The most recent KISS title from The Don features the soundboard recording culled from Charlotte early on the Asylum tour. It has one prior release, Uh! All Night (Bondage Music BON 223) featured all available tape from the soundboard but was missing the encore of Lick It Up. On this new release Godfathers utilize the soundboard portion for the majority of the show and use an audience recording to fill a gap in Heavens On Fire and for all of Lick It Up, giving us the complete show for the first time. The soundboard source is excellent, well balanced and sounds incredible at loud volumes. There is a very slight amount of tape hiss but it is only in the very quiet sections, there is enough of the audience in the mix to give a good ambience, it sounds brighter than the old Bondage title and has more of a punch to it, to my ears a better generation of the tape. The audience source is very good, bright and clear with all instruments and vocals coming through clearly, the mix favors the upper frequencies and there is little bottom end but is a more than listenable recording.
The Asylum record would continue on the momentum built by the Lick It Up and Animalize records and would achieve gold record status thanks to the first single Tears Are Falling and continued support from radio and more importantly MTV. The tour would be the first since the late 70’s to be fully focused on the USA with a set list that would revolve around the newer material with just a scant few klassics thrown in for good measure. Detroit Rock City would serve as the opening song for the tour, save one occasion in Utica, NY where King Of The Mountain would get the opening nod, Eric Carr interjects life into the song with his drumming, he keeps a strong double beat for the song. Fits Like A Glove follows on its heals, Paul tells the audience that they are crazy just prior to Uh! All Night. One of the stronger Paul songs from the record, it does sound great live with strong backing vocals from Gene and Eric, the song has a good live swagger to it.
One of the older tunes to make the set would be Cold Gin, Paul does a great rap about it being a hot night and alcohol, the audience scream loudly for Cold Gin and they are rewarded with a great version of the song. Thankfully they do not play the song at a faster pace, but Eric Carr again turns in a great performance, his fills are massive and at times make the song sound too busy, Peter never would even fathom being able to play in this way. Even Bruce Kulick sounds like he feels at home in the group and the much needed stable line up sounds like they are having fun. Under The Gun is KISS’ version of speed metal, the playing is fast and furious, Paul’s David Lee Roth yelps are great and the song is a great addition to the set list. The song segues into a Bruce solo spot, he showcases his technical ability by going through a multitude of styles, he was most certainly influenced by Hendrix and Van Halen, Eric Carr even adds a little flavor to his solo that is much welcomed, Paul’s tells the audience “That is Bruce Morris Kulick” in his honor.
Paul is pissed at his guitar roadie and tells him “that is why people don’t get raises” as he is giving him broken and out of tune guitars. Thankfully it is remedied and Paul turns in a passionate version of his power ballad, I Still Love You. Full of remorse and drama, this song is always a concert highlight for me, this version ranks up there with the best. Gene’s solo is rather boring and lacks substance, he was the one that seemed to suffer in the no make up era but he brings it with a strong version of I Love It Loud. The centerpiece of the Asylum record was undoubtedly Tears Are Falling, just prior to the song Paul has to admonish a few select audience members who are throwing objects at the stage. Tears live makes the successful transition to the stage, Eric keeps a solid and steady drum beat yet intertwines it with a couple of beats that is most interesting and the guys nail the chorus to perfection. Eric Carr’s drum solos are always great, this one is no different and leads into a muscular version of War Machine played with a swagger second to none, Bruce interjects with a brilliant solo and the band takes a pause, when they break back into the song Bruce plays some other worlds notes that blend into the musical landscape of destruction.
Paul has a great rap that leads to Love Gun, full of innuendo and when that doesn’t quite get his point across he tells you point blank, much to the chagrin of the audience members who love his s e x talk. Only Paul could do a rap like this, of course it ends with a firm grasp on his weapon, when it fires it is a bombastic version of Love Gun, quintessential KISS and a show stopper for sure, Bruce plays a smoking solo and the song brings the house down. The main set finishes with the Rock And Roll National Anthem, Paul even gets into a little bit of the “Stand up for what you believe in” rap from the 70’s for good measure and the band kicks the party up a notch with Rock And Roll All Nite to end the proceedings. The first encore is Heavens On Fire, of course Paul has a rap for this song albeit a bit shorter than Love Gun but effective nonetheless. The audience source is used to fill a gap from 1:16 to 1:47, the transition is seamless and well handled, curious that there is no tape cut on the Bondage version. The audience source starts with Paul asking “what song do you want to hear?”, someone close to the taper yells Hotter Than Hell, we can only agree. Lick It Up is the final encore, played at a faster tempo and has a curious pause near the end that left me a little confused but then they pick it up and finish to a huge ovation.
The tri gatefold sleeve features Asylum styled graphic using a picture and paints over the top, Asylum was by far the ugliest of their record covers and this title pays homage to it, the interior utilizes live shots from the tour and the pictures are great to look at as the outfits that were all the style at the time and there are liner notes by Newton Blade, the character who Gene Simmons played on the 80’s TV show, Miami Vice. Another fine effort by Godfathers, they have certainly done an excellent job at covering all eras of KISS.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)