While The City Sleeps (The Godfatherecords G.R. 714/715)
Orange Show Pavilion San Bernardino, CA – February 20, 1985
Disc 1 (70:07) Detroit Rock City, Cold Gin, Creatures Of The Night, Fits Like A Glove, Heaven’s On Fire, Paul Stanley Solo, Under The Gun, War Machine, Eric Carr Solo, Young And Wasted, Gene Simmons Solo, I Love It Loud, I Still Love You, Love Gun, Black Diamond
Disc 2 (77:33) Lick It Up, Rock And Roll All Nite. The Brighton Centre Brighton England September 30, 1984; Intro / I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire), Burn Bitch Burn, Get All You Can Take. Johanneshov Isstadion Stockholm Sweden October 26, 1984; Detroit Rock City, Strutter, I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire). B.C. Veterans Memorial Coliseum Binghamton, NY. USA November 29, 1984; Cold Gin, Under The Gun, I Still Love You. Allen Co. War Memorial Coliseum Fort Wayne, IN. USA December 7, 1984; Thrills In The Night. Animalize Out takes Right Track Studios, New York City, NY. USA; Heaven’s On Fire (Rough mix 05-15-84) Get All You Can Take (Scat vocals 05-25-84) I’ve Had Enough (Scat vocals 05-25-84) Thrills In The Night (Rough mix 05-25-84) SIR Studios New York City, NY. USA September 1984; Thrills In The Night (SIR Rehearsal 04-84)
KISS was riding a wave of resurgence by the mid Eighties, they had a string of strong albums starting with Creatures Of The Night and Lick It Up and followed up with great success with probably the strongest of them all Animalize released in September 1984. Paul Stanley was pretty much in control of the band since Gene was based on the West Coast and was beginning a film career. From what I have read Gene recorded his parts for the basic tracks and left Paul to do the rest, and through Paul’s determination and focus the record was a gem and went to platinum status quickly.
There was also more drama in the band, After two records and tours the band parted ways with Vinnie Vincent and where in need of a guitarist. They found one with classically trained Mark St. John and although the recording process was challenging with a new guitarist it was nothing compared to what was to come. On the verge of the tour Mark was diagnosed with arthritis and was unable to do the tour (except for three dates in November 1984) so enter Bruce Kulick, whose older brother Bob played on more than a few studio KISS records, who fit in and ended up staying with the band until the original band reunited in 1996.
The tour for the record started with a slightly longer than a month European tour fallowed by an extensive American Tour, the recording featured hear is sourced from an excellent sound board recording, one that can be referred to as a bare bones as the audience is very low in the mix but very well balanced with a full sound.
The band is well into the American tour at this point and is hitting their stride and give a energetic great performance in front of a sold out crowd.
After a cool one two opener of oldies the band settle down into show that has a set list made up largely from their newer material, Bruce plays some cool licks at the opening of Creatures, the song by this point is a standard in the set. Paul has a hilarious rap about a girl with a baby with a long tongue to introduce the Lick It Up classic Fits Like A Glove, the song has a typical Simmons lyric and great backing vocals by the band and apparently Gene never like the song live as it was difficult for him to sing. Paul is in a great mood tonight, someone is onstage or near who looks like Michael Jackson and he goes into a little skit that end up with a bunch of F*ck You’s toward Duran Duran and the Thompson Twins, he does eventually get into Heavens On Fire.
The song breathes live and has a little faster tempo but does not fail to get the audience on their feet and sing along with the band, Eric Carr’s drums also get special attention and I find myself really enjoying these chances to hear his playing again. Paul’s solo is hit just playing around with the audience, there are very little notes played you can hear the audience scream as he hams it up, the solo does lead into Under The Gun played at breakneck speed, the pace really works and is linked nonstop with a personal favorite War Machine. I love the heavy groove the song has and Gene does the perfect vocal for the song. Eric gets a long solo spot that has him hitting a gong as if to announce it is his time and then proceeds to beet the hell out of his kit for six minutes and hits all areas of his massive set. Young And Wasted is like part two of fits Like A Glove, both fast paced and have similar choruses, the version here has Gene sounding a little horse.
His solo is up next and it took me a minute to place it but it is One Way Our a la the Allman Brothers meets KISS. The crowd is into I Love It Loud, you can clearly hear them “oooh yeah” in all the right places and again there is little time wasted as the band heads right into I Still Love You that is punctuated by some nasty fat bass lines from Gene, obviously happy to be giving his voice a rest. One of Paul’s better songs and an early power ballad before they become all the rage. Paul’s rants are filled with more sexually innuendo (can it be called that when it is just blatant) this time it is based on his last Doctors visit and leads into a fiery version of Love Gun. The song, for me, has a place in every KISS show it is just that strong and never fails live, Bruce does an interesting but cool take on the song. Black diamond rounds out the first disc and main set is typical fashion.
The second disc has the remainder of the San Bernardino show, Paul salutes the audience for selling the show and introduced Lick It Up with some advice on oral sex. The song has a faster tempo but it works, Bruce has a different take on the solo that is interesting as is the ending, upon first listen you expect them to go into a audience participation and Eric slows the tempo down then they surprise us and go right into Rock And Roll All Nite, again little faster tempo but it was the fad in the mid 80’s to play a little faster. They also get into the audience participation for the song, Gene sounds a little horse of voice by the end.
There is a full line of bonus tracks from the tour, the first set is from the opening night of the tour in Brighton, England. The recording starts at the very beginning and is a audience recording that is in the good to VG range. Paul starts off by telling the audience they are getting their monies worth tonight, before the into of “ALL RIGHT BRIGHTON….” and the band play I’ve Had Enough as an intro and it works. It has the chops and the band are in fine form and playing with confidence. Gene is introduced and they play Burn Bitch Burn, and while it is great to hear live it fails to deliver and comes of mediocre. Get all You Can Take is one that works great live and makes you wonder why it was only played sporadically, the nice fat riff and groove makes for a great listen.
The Stockholm material is next, just under a month into the tour and changes are made to the set already. Firstly the show has been released under such titles as They Only come Out At Night SR 006-1/2, Stoned Records, Cold Gin PPL 526, Pipeline, and KISS Vol I. & II STONED 006-1. The audience recording is very good and had a great drum sound, the band go with a no brainer with Detroit Rock City for an opener and they follow that with a great version of Strutter. Another version on I’ve Had Enough is next, this time in a far better sounding recording and is very enjoyable. I like the fact that Godfather chose to use an audience source over a soundboard, as all three songs were recorded for broadcast at the Ipswitch
10/11/84 show. The Binghamton NY material is rare and very cool because it the last of only three concerts Mark St.John did with the band. The audience recording is fair to good and but a little muddy sounding that clears as it goes. The versions of the songs played are rock solid the first is Cold Gin and Mark tears it up, he rips a great solo at the end of the song. His leads at the beginning of Under The Gun are great too, apparently he did little rehearsing with the band so it is a Testament to his ability and thankfully his solo’s can be heard clearly to enjoy. Paul stops at the beginning of I Still Love You to salute a large bra thrown onstage and ask for the owner to come backstage after the gig to claim it. The song itself has a very dramatic feel to it, the crude recording actually gives the song a heaviness and again Mark’s playing is brilliant. An excellent addition for sure. The last live bonus comes from Ft. Wayne, IN. and is a live version of Thrills In The Night. The recording is very good and is easily the best of the audience material in terms of sound. The show has had a release under the title HOTTEST BAND ON EARTH Pirate 144, Pirate Records and the song is great live with the backing vocals on the chorus give the song a strong foundation, Bruce plays a light solo that is interesting.
The outtakes are of excellent quality, Paul spent a lot of time working on the songs and in the studio perfecting them and much of the material is among the best he would do in the 80’s. The Heavens On Fire is his star, the version here has the arrangement and lyrics down but they use a different tempo that has them using quick pauses between that gives a choppy feel. The scat vocal tracks showcase Paul working out the music and using a harmony of a lot oh oohhs and aahhs as I would guess the lyrics were not fully complete although the chorus was, interesting for sure. The rehearsal version of Thrills In The Night has a slight drop in quality and sounds more like an amateur recording but is very good, at times it sounds like Paul may be singing along but you cannot really make it out and for the most part it is instrumental.
Another well thought out and produced KISS title, Godfathers does an excellent job with their KISS titles and this one fits in well with the others. The tri fold packaging is great, I always chuckle looking at the pictures from that era, Eric Carr with the huge hair and Gene in his Phyllis Diller period and a couple of coo pictures of Mark St. John to boot. Can’t wait for the next KISS release.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)