Kiss – “Starring In Psycho-Circus: The Recording Sessions”
(77:39) Psycho Circus, Within, I Pledge Allegiance To The State Of Rock & Roll, Into The Void, We Are One, You Wanted The Best, Raise Your Glasses, I Finally Found My Way, Dreamin’, Journey Of 1,000 Years, In Your Face, It’s My Life, Body And Soul, Rain Keep Falling, Sweet & Dirty Love, I Am Yours, I Wanna Rule The World, Carnival Of Souls
Earlier this year KISS fans received a belated KISSmas gift when demos from the Psycho Circus record started to float around on the Internet. While Psycho Circus is generally considered to be a mixed bag and did not live up to the hype, the release of material related to the project would give us the chance to revisit the era as it was not only KISS’ last studio record for 11 years but be the last gasp of the original band trying to make music, of course with a little help from friends. As with most Studio working tracks the sound is not as full and most times the excess is stripped away, the sound quality on this material is excellent throughout.
Psycho Circus: The title track written by Paul Stanley, this version is very similar to what would be released on the record, lots of overdubs and sounds great, no carnival sounds at the beginning. Classic Paul Stanley.
Within: Gene took inspiration from The Beatles’ Within You Without You, very heavy guitar riff. The backward guitar sounds are much more pronounced and they are more prevalent through the song. Overall a great out take and one that rivals the officially released version.
I Pledge Allegiance: A decent Paul song, the original sounds kind of weak to me, it has all the components but a weak production. This version is more stripped down and without all the overdubbed weak sounding guitars. It is much stronger with the main riff really driving the song.
Into The Void: The only Ace song to make the cut, it also boasts the only appearance of Peter Criss on the record. Not much different from the official version, Peter’s playing is a bit more simplistic and there are obviously not a lot of over dubs done.
We Are One: Sounds a bit faster and the over all vibe is a bit heavier than the smaltz that was released. A quote from Gene in the Behind The Mask book says he had visions of Coca Cola commercials, I’ll take Pepsi.
You Wanted The Best: Gene doing his best to incorporate all original members at least vocally on one song, as with all the songs it is more stripped down, Gene’s bass is solid in the mix and Ace’s guitar solo is a little louder, really enjoyable song, nice cough during the count in also.
Raise Your Glasses: The drum intro is not present, and not missed, the tempo is a little faster giving the song a more rock and roll edge and also makes for a superior version.
I Finally Found My Way: The only Peter sung song on the record, I guess the band thought a Beth style ballad would work. While Peter has a beautiful vocal, the band misses the boat not using at least his vocals more.
Dreamin’: Paul wrote this song with Bruce Kulick, great riff and my favorite song on the record. Again the stripped down production makes it much more enjoyable, one to crank up loud.
Journey Of 1,000 Years: Gene gets the last word so to speak, his vocals are much more laid back and the guitar solo is really good and higher in the mix, giving the song a heavier feel. I like how a band not know for their instrumental prowess finishes the song with a bit of jamming, would have loved to hear what was after the fade.
In Your Face: A song written by Gene for Ace, was the bonus track on the Japanese version of the record and on the CD single of We Are One. The only thing that would make this song better would have been Peter’s drumming. That’s right Curley.
It’s My Life: A song originally written in 1984 for Wendy O Williams of Plasmatics fame, the KISS version would be originally found on the 1999 Box set.
Body And Soul: Similar in vein to Raise Your Glasses, Bruce K on bass and a typical Paul song with a very pop style chorus. It is interesting to hear how his witting style has evolved and he takes elements of popular music and blends with his hard rock sensibilities.
Rain Keep Falling: A very interesting song, nice to hear a lyric other than your typical Simmons smut. It has an infectious bass line and a pop influenced chorus making for an 80’s new wave feel.
Sweet & Dirty Love: Musically this is a great track, the slide guitar is really cool and the song bares a resemblance to Queen’s Tie Your Mother Down. Originally demo’d in 1977 as Jelly Roll (see Not For The Innocent The Godfatherecords G.R. 141) the song would again be re worked on Gene’s solo album Asshole.
I Am Yours: A Gene song that musically sounds like a cross between God Gave Rock N Roll To You and Ozzy’s So Tired, like Rain Keep Falling has more of a ballad style lyric.
I Wanna Rule The World: Straight forward pop rock song, for some reason I get an Oasis vibe from it. Like the other songs here it showcases Gene’s witting skills were far more than Log In Your Fire Place style.
Carnival Of Souls: A song Gene had been working on for some time, originally written in 1993, it was demo’d for the album of the same name and would eventually find its way on Gene’s Asshole record. This is actually a really good song, surprised KISS did not jump on recording it, I like this version better than the officially released version.
The packaging is tri gatefold sleeve with pulp style art work of a true psycho circus. The inner spread has pictures of the band taken from the March 1999 issue of Playboy. The title also boasts liner notes from Nick Panapsycho who was first to term the phrase “Merry KISSmas”. I have not listened to Psycho Circus for years, this was a chance for me to dust it off and re evaluate the music and I was able to gain more of an appreciation for it. The last six songs are the real treat on this set and are worth the price of admission, the packaging is very imaginative and this is a very welcome release.