MK V (The Godfather Box G.R.BOX 16)
When I started hearing rumblings of another KISS box set from Godfather I was, of course, intrigued. Their first two releases, the KISS Karton and LOST Tapes were incredible and raised the bar in terms of not only content but also visual representation and deserve to be in any KISS Kollectors collection. Then I saw that this new set would focus on an almost forgotten period in the bands history, the mid to late 80’s output that consisted of the MARK V line up of the band.
KISS in the early 80’s was in shambles, they had seemingly lost their way with the ill fated Music From The Elder project and much of their fan base had deserted them. Miraculously they started from scratch and with a more determined focus they removed their make up and produced three incredible records starting with Creatures Of The Night and culminated with the platinum selling Animalize record.
But they still had not stabilized their line up after the departures of Ace Frehely, that would soon change with the addition of Bruce Kulick and through the tenacity of Paul Stanley (who assumed a leadership role since Gene was busy with film projects) the band flourished in the new music landscape. It was an exciting time for the band and they never faltered and continued to give KISS fans what they wanted and demanded…the best.
My expectations were very high and after taking much time combing through and listening at great lengths to this set I can once again sing my praises for The Don as he has once again delivered the goods. Jam packed with the most complete overview of the line up ever done featuring concerts and rarities from all four of their major tours with a larger portion of the sources reportedly from master or low gen copies for the best possible sound quality.
One again the set focuses on giving a complete perspective of the band and look at the disc times, they are jam packed with music once again delivery firstly quality but with quantity as the added bonus. The set also includes a full color 24 page booklet that discusses each of the tours and very fittingly includes a nice tribute to the late Eric Carr, who’s incredible enthusiasm helped breathe new life into this great band and is the unsung hero of this box set.
There is however a minor mistake in the booklet, the Madhouse and Stone Cold Crazy bonus tracks are the opposite on the discs versus what is claimed in the notes. It states in the liner notes that this is the third and final installments in the KISS bot set series and it is my feeling that the folks at Godfather records, who are know for delivery a very diverse catalog of artists, have done more for the KISS fans than any other and for this reviewer are the premier KISS label. This will certainly be a Merry KISSmas indeed… Bravo !
Brighton Rock (The Godfather Box G.R.BOX 16 A/B)
Brighton Centre Brighton, England September 30, 1984
Disc 1 (77:12) Intro / I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire), Detroit Rock City, Burn Bitch Burn, Cold Gin, Strutter, Solo Paul Stanley, Under The Gun, Fits Like A Glove, Get All You Can Take, Solo Eric Carr, Young & Wasted, Heavens On Fire, War Machine, I Still Love You, Solo Gene Simmons, I Love It Loud, Love Gun
Disc 2 (71:53) Creatures On The Night, Rock And Roll All Nite, Lick It Up. The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, New Jersey USA April 14, 1990 Warm Up Club Gig For HITS Tour; Intro, I Stole Your Love, Deuce, Heavens On Fire, Fits Like A Glove (1st Try), Fits Like A Glove, Rise To It, Betrayed, C’Mon And Love Me, Calling Dr. Love, Hide Your Heart, Love Gun, Detroit Rock City, I Love It Loud, Black Diamond
By 1984 KISS were feeling the effects of a resurgence, the single from the Animalize record, Heavens On Fire was a hit and getting a lot of airplay on MTV and FM radio. visually KISS was perfect for the new Television radio station, their flamboyant appearance fit help set the trend of rock music. This was also their first tour with guitarist Bruce Kulick, who replaced Mark St. John who did the record but was unable to tour and would eventually replaced permanently. Kulick was no stranger to KISS, his older brother Bob was a session guitarist who played on the groups records as early a Rock and Roll Over. Bruce was also from Queens, Ny. and had much more in common with Gene and Paul and was an easy fit, thus cementing the line up of Simmons, Stanley, Kulick and Eric Carr.
We are no strangers to this concert either, three songs were used as bonus tracks on the brilliant While The City Sleeps (The Godfatherecords G. F. 714/715) and now we are treated to the complete concert. The audience recording is very good to excellent, there is virtually no audience noise near the taper and the whole event is superbly captured. The group is well rehearsed and play a tight and professional show for an audience who sometimes sound as if they are asleep. The recording starts off with Paul talking about the pound not being worth so much, and relays the promise of them getting their moneys worth.
This is followed by the “You wanted the best…” intro and the band hit the stage with I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire) which is also the opening song on the new record and is also the first of five songs that would make their live debut on this eve, two of which would be dropped after this gig and the set list would be slightly rearranged also. The band waste no time and go right into Detroit Rock City. KISS would play many of their older hits at a faster tempo that was en vogue at the time, it works well with Detroit Rock City. After tonight the song would also be the concert opener for the rest of the tour.
Paul starts his first rap talking about England and stated that it is the home of heavy metal. He uses many colorful metaphors throughout the night, he gives a nice intro for Gene as a man who likes blonds and brunettes for breakfast as they ready to play Burn Bitch Burn. Another one of Gene’s odes to the opposite sex it is surprising that the song would be dropped from the set so early in the tour. The band do a great job with the backing vocals and Eric’s drumming is superb and the song has a fresh feel to it. Bruce has already made his mark on the band, his leads so far are right on the money, straight to the point without a lot of over playing. Paul has a new rap about being broke that has him in close dialog with the audience who already know where he is going and scream for Cold “F***ing” Gin. The KISS Klassic sound re energized by the new blood in the band, I love the song and chuckle when I hear it thinking of Gene who is not a drinker at all singing about alcohol keeping it all together. Strutter follows hot on its heels, the song benefits from Eric Carr, he adds a heavier feel to the song with his solid beat and amazing drum fills. Bruce plays a solo similar to Ace without going to far off but adds a little whammy bar to liven it up, to great effect.
Paul takes a solo spot that is nothing more than him noodling around on his guitar, mostly riffs followed by the crowd cheering. The riffing leads into Under The Gun, Bruce plays a great lead at the beginning of the song. The song is great live, Paul sings the lyrics where Gene sings the chorus, another example of the bands use of harmonies no matter how heavy and fast the music was. As with the other songs it is slightly faster in tempo in the live setting with some fiery playing by Bruce, obviously out to impress. Paul speaks of his philosophy when introducing Get All You Can Take from the new record. Paul wrote a great riff kinda reminiscent of Led Zep, at this time he was the same pilot in KISS and most of these new songs bear his stamp and is a testament to his song writing ability. Again the song has a very effective chorus with Gene and Eric providing a solid vocal back bone over which Paul could do his thing.
Interesting is Eric’s drum solo, he starts off out of nothing, like the lights went low and the others take a break while he has at it. The crowd is into it and clap and cheer him on, his hard hitting style and use of a multitude of drums make for an exciting experience. While I love all three KISS drummers it is hard not to have a special place for his drumming, it was VERY powerful and he was the perfect fit for the band during this time. This all leads into another solo spot for him, he has been given leads vocal duties for Young & Wasted from the brilliant Lick It Up record. Super fast paced the song is like a race through city streets and Eric does a great job with the vocals, they are more gruff than Gene but he kind of exemplifies the song. It also features some great playing again from Bruce who has made the band even that much tighter, he is features nicely in the mix and gives the whole band a very strong sound.
Another great Paul rap follows about Paul watching a MTV video of a band with a guy with curly hair who used to be like KISS used to be, someone from the crowd can be heard screaming “Twisted Sister” and its obvious who he is referring too. The new bands were hot on their heels but while there can be many imitators there is only one original. The talk of MTV is the lead in for their new hit single, Heavens On Fire. Some of the bands best songs are the one with a great chorus and a great heavy but simple riff, this is one of them. They keep the tempo the same and it gives them a chance to get some audience participation going as Paul leads the band and crowd through some Heavens On Fire chants to great effect. War Machine comes out of nowhere and stomps the crowd on the head. Erics drums are like the sound of a giant creature stomping as it walks and the song owes its heaviness to him and Gene nice fast bass work. Bruce plays some nice yet subtle leads that are kind Hendrix like in nature that adds the eery feeling the song evokes. By now the set is like Paul and Gene trading songs, we go from Paul’s emotional power ballad I Still Love You into Gene’s solo and I Love It Loud. This is considered the first tour where Gene actually started playing a solo versus just plunking away on some chords that sound outlandish. Gene has stated on many occasions how he struggled with his identity during this period as he could not hide behind his demon persona any longer.
Paul goes into a X-rated rap about blow jobs with some visual help from Gene, the crowd is digging it and shout for Love Gun before Paul can get it out. Gene bass is very clear and it is nice to really listen to his playing during this song, very melodic and almost pop in nature. Bruce passes the test as he simply nails the solo with out over playing it.
The second disc starts with Creatures Of The Nite and Rock And Roll All Nite to finish the main set. Its obvious they are going to play the latter when Eric starts the drum beat but surprisingly the audience is almost silent and the band sounds like they are playing alone but the crowd comes alive to help the band during the sing along portion of the show. The sole encore is Lick It Up, again played at a little faster pace although I prefer the slower version like on the record as it has a heavier feel. After this night Black Diamond would return to the set list (as it should be) and the set list re arranged mainly for pacing of the songs. A great show and wonderful to be documented in a glorious recording an silver disc.
The rest of the disc has the recording from the famous Stone Pony Club in Asbury Park New Jersey, it has had prior release as H.I.T.S. At The Pony (EPGB 0490). It is an audience recording and since its a sold out gig in a small club the recording is good to very good but the crowd help provide an intimate and rowdy atmosphere.The concert was a benefit performance for Producer John Rollo’s daughter and reportedly the club was so small the band had to enter through the front door and make their way through the crowd to play ! There is indeed a party going on and KISS is tonight’s house band, after the band gets onstage, including Gene, the plow into I Stole Your Love, the sound soon clears up but Paul’s guitar is very low in the mix. The crowd is pleased to hear Deuce and offer the band their vocal abilities as they provide backing vocals throughout the song, thrilled to be seeing their heroes up close and personal. Paul does his opening remarks and tells the crowd to feel free to song along, they take his command as the band play Heavens On Fire. Paul teases the crowd with a little bit of Led Zeps Heartbreaker before they play Fits Like A Glove that has to be stopped after about 30 seconds as Gene is having bass problems. The band goof around with a bit of Oh Susanna while they fix the bass amp and the start the song again, this time they are successful. Interestingly Paul has the vocal duties for the song tonight, interestingly as Gene can be heard singing the first try, perhaps there is problems with his microphone ? Non the less it is interesting to here Paul’s take is and adds to the “spontaneity” of the performance and not surprisingly Gene returns in time for the knife through butter section, a great fun version of the song. Although the recording is not perfect, by this time I can almost feel like I am there. I have been to many small but super packed shows like this before and the recording does a great job of capturing that kind of atmosphere of being compressed as hell but just surrendering to the music and event and just going for it.
The band do have a new record out, Hot In The Shade, so we are treated to the band playing Rise To It and Betrayed for the first time live. The latter was written by Gene and future KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer and one of the records stronger songs, it was only played live a few times so we are lucky to have a good live version of it. C’Mon And Love Me was only played live a few times live by the Mark V line up and up until this point had not been played live since 1976. Simply one of my favorite songs from Dressed To Kill it simply smokes live, does not sound dated at all. The band play an energetic version of the song and Bruce simply nails it, his leads are spot on, something that has to be to make the song.
The song goes right into Calling Dr. Love and again hits the mark. The band had stopped playing the older material ultra fast and stick to the songs original tempo that makes them much more effective. The last of the new songs is next, Hide Your Heart. My personal favorite from the record, interestingly the song was also covered by Ace Frehely on his Trouble Walkin record. The song is great on record and great live, a testament to Paul’s song writing ability, the video wasn’t bad either. There is nothing left but classics and they just start to flow, as always Love Gun hits its mark and Detroit Rock City and Lick It Up are heavy favorites but for me after listening to over 140 minutes of KISS music it is Black Diamond that seals the deal. Paul plays the gentle opening and it sounds as if it is drifting through the crowd, it is not over played but more in the classic way.
Erics vocals are virtually inaudible for the song but the audience helps with the first verses, Paul is there and does the rest. Rise to it is not only the name of a song but a testimonial for Paul as he continues to be the consummate rock and roll star and professional. The song is an abbreviated version that is done just as the band would play the dramatic part, Paul says “See Ya” and the show is over. A great and fun listen and a fantastic document of one of the bands legendary small club gigs.
Madhouse (The Godfather Box G.R.BOX 16 C/D)
Sabler Arena, Bethlehem, Allentown Pa. USA April 1, 1986
Disc 3 (79:35) Intro / Detroit Rock City, Fits Like A Glove, Creatures Of The Night, Cold Gin, Solo Bruce Kulick, Uh All Night, Calling Dr. Love, Solo Eric Carr, War Machine, Love Gun, Solo Gene Simmons, I Love It Loud, Solo Paul Stanley, Heavens On Fire, Rock And Roll All Nite
Disc 4 (76:21) Tears Are Falling, Round And Round (Ratt Cover), Lick It Up. Playhouse Theatre, Edinburgh Scotland October, 1, 1988 (Radio Clyde FM Broadcast); Fits Like A Glove, Heavens On Fire, Bang Bang You, Cold Gin, No No No, Firehouse, Crazy Crazy Nights, Deuce, I Was Made For Loving You, Reason To Live, I Love It Loud, Strutter. Studio Tracks; Let’s Put The X In Sex (Hot Urban Mix), Lets Put The X In Sex (X-cessive Mix)
If the crowd in Brighton was rather sedate the crowd in Bethlehem are in heat ! The atmosphere is like a party with 2,700 of your closest friends. The recording is very good, clear and well balanced with all instruments and vocals coming through clearly with just a minor amount of tape his present, overall a great sounding tape. The band is playing well and only have a little less than two weeks left on the tour in support of the Asylum record. The record and tour were a success, with a stable line up the band would use the tour to again focus on their newer material with just a few of the 70’s era classic in the mix and Bruce Kulick gets his own solo ! The recording from the Sabler Arena in 1986 has seen a prior release on vinyl as A Step Ahead (SK 2285-A/B) but that was a single record and was incomplete.
The recording starts as the lights go down and the rabid screams from the crowd give the band a warm welcome, they are in a great mood as the band begins with the churning opening riff of Detroit Rock City. Definitely one of the bands signature opening songs it definitely raised the energy level to an 11 and has the audience screaming at its conclusion. Paul has a quick rap to let the audience know what their going to be in for, he does the intro to Fits Like A Glove and the crowd is saying it in unison. The song is pure Simmons smut and the crowd loves it, the sing in unison during the hot knife section. Paul says they do not want to slow down and leads the band into Creatures Of The Night, Bruce is playing well and has some taste leads at the beginning and is really smoking by the time he gets another mid song as his fingers fly on the fret board. About 3 minutes in it sounds like the taper re positioned the recorder and the sound clears slightly.
Cold Gin features an intro that has the band jamming before breaking into the song classic riff, and just like in the old days features the guitar solo tacked on the end. Bruce is no Ace and does a fantastic solo with a flurry of notes played at lightning speed that was very popular in the 80’s, he is joined at the end by Eric Carr for a thundering conclusion.
Paul wastes no time and goes into a rap about Uh and has the crowd follow him, for practice of course and the band go into Uh All Night. For me the song fails to deliver live and was a weak choice to be in the regular set list, it has a cliche hair metal sound that sounds dated. On the flip side Dr. Love is a welcome addition to the set, Gene is in great voice and thankfully the tempo is old school and is a great version. Eric Carr solo is next, he plays a great rhythm where he pounds on a beat and interject some nice rolls and also gets the crowd participation going where they emulate his beats, towards the end a bomb goes off and scares the hell out of the crowd and he gets a huge ovation for his. Gene hits some bass lines and he and Eric get into a brief jam that works it way into War Machine, always heavy and a concert favorite. Hard to believe it was co written by Bryan Adams of Summer of 69 fame (He also co wrote Rock and Roll Hell). The song has an interesting ending that has both guitarist playing notes that sounds as if there are warning of impending danger, very cool.
Paul has a long rap about making sure all the folks in attendance know they are friends and starts to talk about tour dates in the area and a manager not wanting to play Allentown. He proceeds to let the guy know where he can go and the crowd reacts loudly, cheering and pounding on their seats so loudly Paul has to briefly stop his story. Surprisingly he leads into the Love Gun rap that is really clean from other I have heard, the song itself is very powerful sounding in this recording, the sound is near excellent by this time and Paul delivers a great vocal performance. The crowd becomes restless after Love Gun, that again start hammering on their seats demanding the band return and give them more. Gene works his way out and they chant his name as he starts his solo, again nothing but a new notes augmented by loud bombs going off, the crowd is in heat for the demon bow down like good servants and obey his command as he starts I Love It Loud, they also provide all the harmony vocals and is a great version of the song. Four musicians, four solos with Paul being the last to take his. His solos are like Gene’s and features Paul again just playing around and is much more of a visual thing, the crowd responds by clapping and stomping widely, in fact they completely take over with Paul being the ringmaster and he refers to them as animals. He goes into a great rap about doing a family type show when a female in the crowd has her chest on display and who eventually throws her bra to him. Heavens On Fire is their reward and they fill in all the “Uh” on command, Of course the song is one of the bands best from this era and translates well to the live setting. Without skipping a beat the plow right into Rock And Roll All Nite to finish the main set in typical rock and roll fashion, what is typical is a great sing along with the band and audience.
No doubt about and encore, the crowd clammer for more, they are rewarded. A quick snippet of Oh Susanna is played buy quickly dropped but Paul does forge ahead with the opening of Black Diamond, playing it up to the “got you under their thumb” before abandoning the song amid a rebellion of cheers. The choose instead to play their video hit, but that will have to wait for the next disc. It is curious to me why Godfather chose to put this at the end of the third disc when it could have easily fit onto the fourth and gave better continuity.
Tears are Falling is classic Paul, a great rock song but this one with a dramatic feel to it, the harmony vocals are perfect and is very strong live. The animals are still out of their cages and are still not satisfied, they want the best, they are about to get it. A fan gets onstage and instead of being removed Paul asks him how long he has been a KISS fan and Paul tells the bouncer not to harm him and put him back in the audience, needless to say the crowd goes ape shit. They then proceed to tease with the opening riff of Ratt’s Round and Round and switch gears and go into Lick It Up. The encore is a celebration of the band and their fans, Paul even stops the song to let them know nobody will be getting kicked out, from this point the taper is moving his equipment around and the sound does fluctuate but remains clear and listenable. This concert is an incredible listen, the support from the audience lifts the band to deliver and amazing performance.
The Radio Clyde FM recording from Edinburgh Scotland to my knowledge has not been released before on CD or vinyl, surprising as it is a very nice recording, clear and well balanced soundboard. It does have a broadcast sound to it versus from being sourced from a pre broadcast master as it is not a bright and clear but still a excellent recording. It is sadly incomplete and obviously has been edited to keep it within a 60 minute broadcast.
The recording starts off with Paul telling the crowd that the show is being taped for radio and teases them with Led Zeppelin’s Heartbreaker before Fits Like A Glove. This is the first of two nights at the Playhouse Theatre and the band is in great shape, rising to the live recording. The band was keen on using radio and television as marketing tool to support their newest record, the manage to four of the songs on the broadcast and while the majority of the songs are new they do manage to throw in a couple of nuggets for good measure. The first of the new songs is Bang Bang You, believe it or not was inspired by a Sonny Bono song. I have always thought that the 80’s music scene was a huge influence on this record and the production was a little slick but the live setting gives the music a raw feel that works a little better (No dig on the great Ron Nevison who produced some great UFO records not to mention The Who). A smokin Cold Gin is next, Bruce has made himself right at home and is playing with gusto on the older material, he keeps going inspiring Paul to announce “Bruce Kulick lead guitar” as he plays some Eddie Van Halen sounding leads to introduce No No No, fast and aggressive the song really is much better than on the record and does not sound as dated as most of the songs on the record. A collaboration between Gene and Bruce it has a nice Hot For Teacher feel compliments of some great drumming from Eric.
Firehouse is resurrected for this show, it has been played very sporadically and was mainly played during the European leg, at least Gene had the perfect song to do his fire breathing. The title track from the new record is next, for me it sounds like a continuation of Rock And Roll All Nite that ultimately falls short but it is nice to have a nice quality live version as the play a great version of the song. Deuce is dusted off and is a welcome addition but the oldie I really like is I Was Made For Loving You. The song live sheds its disco feel and has a much more rock feel and the riff sounds, dare I say it, Heavy. A great song is a great song and it certainly falls into that category, the crowd agrees. Reason to Live is the last of the new songs, the band had hired a touring keyboard player but fired him during the American tour so Bruce Kulick would play them before this song, the song was actually a hit for the band and helped push the sales to the platinum stage. Afterward one needs to rock, the band understand this and Gene is our savior with I Love It Loud, the crowd is also grateful and clap with him to open the song as well as add support throughout the song. Strutter is the last song from the show, a very nice hour long fragment from the tour that saw the band playing to large crowds thanks to their dates on the Monster Of Rock festival that tour around Europe that also allowed them to play these smaller gigs.
The last two songs are re mixes of the song Lets Put The X In Sex done for the Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits compilation. Largely panned by the band, the re mixes were done for promotional purposes and released as such. Interesting to hear but not high on my playlist, but a worthy addition to this set.
Stone Cold Crazy (The Godfather Box G.R.BOX 16 E/F)
Civic Center St. Paul, Mn. USA December 1, 1987
Disc 5 (74:11) Intro, Love Gun, Cold Gin, Bang Bang You, Fits Like A Glove, Crazy Crazy Nights, Solo Eric Carr, Solo Bruce Kulick, No No No, Reason To Live, War Machine, Heavens On Fire, Solo Gene Simmons, I Love It Loud, Lick It Up
Disc 6 (79:19) Rock And Roll All Nite, Whole Lotta Love (Led Zep Cover), Tears Are Falling, Detroit Rock City. Phillipshalle, Dusseldorf, Germany October 30, 1984; Sunshine Of Your Love (Cream Cover), Hey Joe (Hendrix Cover). T. H. Barton Coliseum Little Rock Ark. USA November 29, 1985; King Of The Mountain, Uh All Night, Anyway You Slice It. University Of Illinois, Pavilion, Chicago, Il. USA January 17, 1986; Won’t Get Fooled Again (Who Cover). Memorial Auditorium, Utica, NY. USA April 2, 1986; Intro / King Of The Mountain. Civic Center Pensecola, Fl. USA November 14, 1987; Hell Or High Water, When Your Walls Come Down. Sports Arena, San Diego, Ca. USA April 1, 1988; Strutter. Chuck Landi’s Country Club, Reseda, Ca. USA April 25, 1990; Little Caesar, Hell Or High Water. Palace Of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mi. USA May 18, 1990; Fits Like A Glove, Under The Gun
Released on September 21, 1987 Crazy Nights was KISS’ most polished and pop oriented record since Unmasked, much more influenced by the popular hair metal trend that was ruling the airwaves and when compared to the records from their contemporaries is a strong one. Again Gene had little to do with the record and Paul was at the reins, fully in control. The record has a certain polished feel to it and a few songs actually had keyboards on them thanks to the slick production by Ron Nevison who has a wonderful pedigree and had, at the time, been a hit maker for Heart and Ozzy. The band had not toured for over a year and the resulting trek would find the band playing pretty much worldwide and last for a little over a year.
The recording featured here is a very good audience source that is slightly distant but clear and enjoyable with all instruments and vocals having nice separation and clarity. There is a small amount of tape hiss present but not enough to complain about and virtually no audience interference close to the taper making this a very nice document to enjoy. This tape has been released in incomplete form on vinyl as The KISS of Death (Pax Germanica Records1100901- A/B) and based upon doing research on the excellent kissbootlegged site there has never been a recording from 1987 on compact disc, now another reason to shout out loud.
The band utilize a drone intro before the “You Wanted The Best” that is very effective as it has kind of a heavy undertone. The band use Love Gun as an opener, the song is a Klassic but for me fails a little as an opener. It does, however, give the sign that the band is in fine form and Bruce is on fire, one of the nice things about this set how good a guitarist he really is. I have really developed a new appreciation for him as I have never immersed myself this deeply into the bands late 80’s output. Paul does a quick intro rap before Cold Gin, the song itself seem to have a little brighter feel to it, the band had toured with a keyboard player who was situated off stage and was used to flesh out the bands live sound since Paul was very busy entertaining. It sounds as if the song has some of his influence, according to KISS Alive Forever Gary Corbett toured with the band until December 20, 1987. Again Paul’s between songs raps have a lot of sexual innuendo, more than usual, starting with Bang Bang You, the keyboards have a definite place in the mix, the crowd is digging it and can be heard cheering throughout. Another log gets thrown in the fore place as the band play a storming version of Fit’s Like A Glove, the fast paced song really gets things going and sets a faster tempo for the evening, I love when the band does the quick breaks and Bruce solos widely over them.
The title track from Crazy Nights is pop fluff but has a solid chorus that elicited some sporadic screams from the crowd, Eric Carr does some nice drumming towards the end of the song, he has a new persona on this eve and is introduced as Mean Mr. Mustard for his drum solo. The energy does not falter during his drum solo, he always would get the crowd into as he proceeds to work over his massive kit. His solo leads into a drum, guitar, and keyboard jam that is short but kind of heavy all leading into a great Bruce Solo. It starts with them riffing on what sounds very close to Metallica Disposable Heroes.He varies his solo and plays some musical themes that I have heard but cannot put my finger on what it is, he also plays some very Edward Van Halen finger tapping style notes. It all evolves into another guitar and drum jam, I like the improvisation between Bruce and Eric, kind of like the young guys stretching their musical muscles so to say.
No No No brings the guys out of the solo realm, its fast nature was a perfect segue from the improvisation and really starts to heat things up. As a straight out rock song it is probably the heaviest thing on the new record and for me is very reminiscent of AC/DC’s Beating Around The Bush with less boogie. After a plug for the audience to watch MTV and introducing Bruce on keyboards the band play the Paul ballad Reason To Live and its time to take a quick bathroom break before the rock again takes over. The troops come marching in with War Machine as their battle cry, Gene full of swagger owns the stage for the song. One of the things I like about listening to these shows are Paul’s between song raps, he improvises a little when some sort of under garment is thrown onstage, the ladies tonight seem to have a thing for Paul and Heaven’s On Fire raises the temperature in the house. Gene gets Eric in mix when he starts his solo amid the chants of “Gene..Gene…Gene”, He solo on this night is comprised of a simple bass and drum jam augmented by some bombs, as usual it is simply a prelude to I Love It Loud, at this time his signature tune. Another long rap by Paul is next, his best of the night when he talks about his experience in the hotel work out room with a meal of Turkey…Classic. Definitely not one for the kids and a classic intro for Lick It Up.
The second disc starts with the routine Rock And Roll all Nite that ends the main set, the band take a quick break and are back on stage, along with a roll of toilet paper and start to play around with some cover snippets. Paul asks if they want to hear Led Zeppelin and breaks into Whole Lotta Love, not knowing what to expect they play a cool four minute version of the song complete with the trippy middle section. It is fantastic to hear the band pay homage, it is a well know fact that Led Zeppelin was a huge influence of the band. They transition the end of the song into Tears Are Falling and finally end the show with Detroit Rock City. The sleeve for this set even has a picture of a ticket stub for the nights performance, very cool indeed.
The bonus material on this disc is massive, it gives a broad view of some rarities. The material from Dusseldorf, Germany in Oct 1984 is a good audience source and features Gene providing lead vocals on Cream’s Sunshine Of Your Love. The distant recording is clear and very enjoyable. The brief version is followed by Hey Joe as sung by Paul Stanley, you can here someone in the audience whistling in approval. While the songs are brief they are incredible to hear in such passable quality. The material from Little Rock
Nov 1985 is audience source distant and thin sounding but clear enough and enjoyable. Paul is talking over some Eric drums bats and the audience shouts for King Of The Mountain. The song was played very sporadically during the tour, this concert is in fact the opening show on the Asylum trek and thankfully someone taped it. The show also featured the only live performance of Anyway You Slice It.The version is good and the crowd seems to like it, one can wonder why they only performed the song just this once, again kudos to the taper for capturing it. The Chicago 1986 show features the band covering The Who’s Wont Get Fooled Again. The recording is distant but very good quality, th beginning is excellent and as with the Zeppelin material the band is not afraid to embrace their influences. Eric Carr rules on this recording, getting a chance to play ala Keith Moon gives him a chance to go crazy and he takes full advantage. They play a very strong version of the song and as far as covers go, in my opinion of the strongest of the ones found on this set. We stay in 1986 but move a few months later to April and Utica, NY. for the final live performance of King Of The Mountain, interestingly enough on this night they band used it as the opener and moved Detroit Rock City to the encore section. The audience recording is distant and fair at best, you can hear what is being played but there is not a lot of detail. It sounds as if you are peering down from up high at some unknown coven of demons and their followers writhe in ecstasy, even with the poor sound the band sound very powerful. We fast forward to the next year of 1987 to Pensecola, Fl. for a very distant sounding recording. It sounds as if it was taped at the very back of the arena in the upper level. The audience recording is thin sounding but very clear and all instruments an vocals can be heard. From the information found in KISS Alive Forever the audio could be source from an incomplete video source, what ever it is we are glad to have it. Hell Or High Water sounds pretty average but When Your Wall Come Down is very effective live as it has a big arena sound and feel to it. A brief stop in 1988 and San Diego features a take on the classic Strutter. The song would pop into the set occasionally as it seems like the band wanted to infuse the shows with some of the classics. The audience source is slightly distant with a touch of distortion in the upper frequencies but very clear and enjoyable. The band sounds energized and the crowd goes crazy.
The rest of the disc is culled from the Hot In The Shade tour, the band played tow small club shows one on each coast, the first of these two shows was found on disc 2 of this set. The next week the band played the
Country Club in Reseda, Ca, the audience recording is good and pretty clear. The first song features Eric on lead vocals for Little Ceasar. The second song is Hell Or High Water, it is not listed as being played at this concert, again using the KISS Alive forever book as reference, the sound is very similar and it does sound legit. The last two songs are from May 1990 and the Palace Of Auburn Hills, for anyone who does not know that is a town about 40 miles north of Detroit. The source used here is a soundboard taken from a video feed of the show. There are quit a few recordings from the Palace from this era as the taper had access to a luxury box and somehow snuck a video recording devise in and simply plugged in the feed and produced some nice and sought after videos. The sound is perfect and well mixed although not official release quality.
Fits Like A Glove is always good but the version of Under The Gun is even better, fast and aggressive. Over all despite the relatively average sound quality for most of the songs this disc of “rarities is very enjoyable.
Crimes Of Passion (The Godfather Box G.R.BOX 16 G/H)
San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, Ca. USA September 15, 1990)
Disc 7 (78:04) Intro, I Stole Your Love, Deuce, Heavens On Fire, Crazy Crazy Nights, Black Diamond, Shout It Out Loud, Strutter, Calling Dr. Love, I Was Made For Loving You, Rise To It, Fits Like A Glove, Hide Your Heart, Lick It Up, God Of Thunder / Eric Carr Solo, Forever
Disc 8 (79:42) Cold Gin, Tears Are Falling, I Love It Loud, Love Gun, Detroit Rock City, I Want You, Rock And Roll All Nite. Apollo Theatre Glasgow, Scotland October 5, 1984; Detroit Rock City, Strutter, Fits Like A Glove, Heavens On Fire, War Machine, I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire), Young And Wasted, I Still Love You, Lick It Up, Rock And Roll All Nite
After the success of the greatest hits packages, Smashes Thrashes and Hits, KISS recorded their next record that was originally titles rimes Of Passion but was changed to Hot In The Shade. The record was slow to catch on and much of the record and the subsequent tours success where based on the popularity of the single Forever. While the over all feeling that Hot In The Shade was to rushed or lacked direction the record was an important stepping stone to the Revenge project a couple of years later and was the first step for there band in moving away from the pop metal of the last couple of records and going more for a classic KISS sound. The tour to support Hot In The Shade was very successful, Forever was a top ten single and there was much demand for the band. They put together on of their better stage sets with the Sphinx based upon the album art work and really started to balance out the set list of newer songs and the 70’s classics the fans had been clambering for. They also chose to, with the exception of Eric Carr, to drop the individual solos thus giving the fans more of what they came to hear.
Bootlegs from the tour were scarce so this concert is probably the most welcome of the entire set and features a very good audience recording, clear and atmospheric with all instruments and vocals clearly heard and it has a really nice punch when turned up loud. The band are well into the tour and put in a tight and professional performance, interestingly is that the band dropped the “You wanted the best” intro in favor of a more deep drone one before the band storms the stage with I Stole Your Love. For me the song is a brilliant opening song as it is full of energy and features a great solo from Bruce and the band transition flawlessly into Deuce and both of the songs coupled together make for a very strong opening sequence, you can hear the band mean business. While Heaven’s On Fire is a true klassic Crazy Nights to me sounds rather flaccid and out of place among a set list made up of heavy weight songs. Black Diamond makes a welcome appearance back into the set coming very early in but very welcome to my ears. Do not get me wrong I believe that it was the bands confidence in their newer material and not wanting to be a greatest hits kind of band is one of the strongest aspects of the 80’s. Black Diamond’s opening chords rise out of the smoke and sound beautiful, not overplayed and hearing Eric singing the song is fantastic. Just before the big and loud pyrotechnic ending the band head straight into Shout It Out Loud, again a song that has been in the set for a long time. The band seem like they are enjoying playing some of the older songs and the reaction they get is great, the version sounds very refreshed. The hits are like shots to the body and keep coming, Eric Carr plays a bombastic opening for Strutter and his fills during Dr Love are incredible and add a fresh vitality to the piece.
Paul gives a quick introduction for the next song as one that has not been played for ten years (although it was just played a couple of years before see disc 4), his long raps have been condensed and the band is here to rock. The song is, of course, I Was Made For Loving You and sound incredible heavy as the band break into the riff and while the song retains its structure the more stripped down format really make the song much more effective. The first new song to be played is Rise To It, Paul tells the audience that they are going to play it different and they do a very cool electric blues intro for the songs with Bruce playing some real tasty licks. Paul has to do some coercing of the audience to get them in the singing mood as they play another new song Hide Your Heart. Unbeknownst to most people Gary Corbett was also part of the touring itinerary providing keyboard and background vocals, he presence can be heard on this song and helps give the chorus a very strong and full sound. Paul does one of his longest raps and hits some great topics including G strings all as a prelude to Lick It Up, he is in full performance mode for the song and does all sorts of lyrical improvisation with a bunch of ohh’s and grunts as he is clearly having a great time.
War Machine is one of my favorite songs of the 80’s era, for this tour the song is retired and in its play is the brilliant God Of Thunder. Eric is fantastic during the song, he plays the marching patterns perfectly but adds a lot of quick small fills to great effect. Bruce summons up the depths of hell for the solo and the song is a welcome addition to the set. Eric gets his solo spot, it features some keyboard sampling sounds and for a minute I thought he was going to break into the 1812 Overture. For me the addition bogs down his spot, as soon as it stops he gives us what we want and proceeds to beat the hell out of his kit…redemption ! They also do a band jam that leads into a God reprise with some flash bombs thrown in for good measure, the band get a nice loud ovation for their efforts. Paul gives MTV some props, except for Yo MTV raps, before going into the records power ballad, from the God Of Thunder to love at its bets it Forever. While I was never a fan of ballads I do really live this song, the video was cool with just the band playing and when I hear this song I think of Eric Carr, I know it sounds a little strange but what ever. Of course Bruce plays a solo that is just perfect, a definite Paul Stanley klassic. The first disc ends with Paul reminiscing about the bands early days and being broke, of course they could only afford Cold Gin (please proceed to the next disc).
The final disc in the set beings with one of the bands early classics, again the band do the jamming intro to the song that is form very effective. The song is like celebration of the bands history and Gene does the first verse and Paul the second, I really like these versions. After Tears Are Falling the rest of the set is a juggernaut with the audience providing vocal support for I Love It Loud, while there are a bunch of Gene songs in the set this is his most effective. Paul introduces Love Gun to little fan fare and the audience sounds as if they are slowing down, the band does not and the Gun is simply smoking. Paul steps on break up rumors and promises they will always play San Diego and the band proceeds to grind them into dust with Detroit Rock City but the real surprise is I Want You played with a interesting solo Paul intro that sounds similar to Lynyrd Skynryds Simple Man. The song has been spruced up a little and with the majority of the older material sounds fresh and vibrant. The event is brought to a close with the standard Rock And Roll All Nite.
The remainder of the disc features an excellent soundboard Radio Broadcast done at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland in Oct 84, there were a couple of live radio shows with the Ipswich show from a week later being the most popular among bootleg releases. As I said the sound quality is excellent, nice clear and crisp and very powerful sounding, unfortunately the concert was cut down to 45 minutes for broadcast but even though it is cut there is a ton to enjoy.
The sound at the Apollo theatre were excellent, it is the same venue where AC/DC recorded their If You Want Blood record, in fact the audience sounds similar in sound. They are passionate about their rock and roll and the band are treated like heroes. The opening salvo of Detroit Rock City and Strutter has the audience in the palm of their hands but it is the crystal clear recordings of the newer songs that are most interesting. Fits Like A Glove is brutal in this recording, it is so clear you can hear the different voices sing back up, Bruce plays a frenzied solo that has him scorching up the frets. The crowd need no instruction and follow the band at every turn chanting during the quick breaks in Heaven’s On Fire. You really get a chance to hear the importance of Bruce Kulicks playing with this recording, the instrument separation is great and during War Machine you can hear the difference between his and Paul’s guitar and get even more appreciation for his contribution. Another thing I found interesting is the progression of Bruce’s playing, he was much more aggressive during his first tour but as time progressed he became much more focused on not just soloing but what he was contributing to the group. Young And Wasted again features Eric Carr on lead vocals, one can easily appreciated when listening to this excellent recording how talented he was, being able to drum like that while singing in simply incredible.
I Still Love You is refreshing to hear as it is much more powerful than Reason To Live and Forever, when I was first looking over this set I found it strange that they progress through the decade and basically bookend the set with shows from 1984. Now as I am finally at the conclusion it makes perfect sense and is like coming home from a long journey. A revved up Lick It Up and fittingly Rock And Roll All Nite is the box sets final “encore”. While I listened to KISS in the 80’s I was much more focused on heavier bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and the new thrash movement that saved metal from the poser glam bullshit that was popular on TV and Radio. I found this box set to be a fascinating glimpse back in time and confirms my opinion that truly great music can transcend time and musical trends and genres, KISS produce such music. Another excellent KISS release by Godfather.
Thanks for the comprehensive review.