What Goes On Behind Closed Doors
(The Godfather recrods G.R. 798/799)
Godfather has a previous release of KISS out takes and demos titles Not For The Innocent (G.R. 141), a title that presented a plethora of material culled from pre KISS to 1995. This new title again has a wide variety of music from 1972 to 1989 including the long hoarded (but much bootlegged) pre KISS Wicked Lester record.
One criticism I do have is the lack of relevant liner notes or better yet a booklet like the Not For The Innocent release had that gives some back ground on the material. I am a nut for this kind of info and it would have made it much more of a informative package. This all comes packaged in a tri gatefold sleeve with a spoof of the Elder cover on the front while the real treat is the inside, Many pictures of the band with some studio shots on one part and even a few pictures of Wicked Lester in for a good mix, a series of photos with Peter, Ace, and Paul dressed in Nazi regalia and the final part having a photo shoot with the members of KISS and Star Stowe who was Playboys Playmate February 1977 who dated Gene around that time frame. Again Godfather dug deep to make this a very special presentation. There are some brief liner notes from one Tony Mozzarella who states that there is more of what went on behind close doors that will soon to be revealed, intriguing and I am certainly looking forward to hearing what is to come. Another interesting release from Godfather.
Disc 1 (76:10) Behind Closed Doors
Hooligan, Love Bite (Love Gun Demos 1977); Two songs written by Peter Criss, the first Hooligan would make it on the Love Gun album and the set list for the tour to follow, the second song Love Bite is full of strong sexual innuendo and was not used for KISS. The song itself has an almost funky groove to it, Criss plays the drums and his writing partner Stan Penridge plays the bass and guitar. Love Bite also has an annoying clicking sound sporadically through out it. The recording sounds basic and it is obviously a demo but an interesting look at Peter Criss, I know the other members said by this time little was coming from Criss other than problems, this shows he was still functioning as a writer.
Rockin In The USA, Rocket ride, Larger Than Life, All American Man, Any Way You Want It (Alive II Outtakes): The studio side of the Alive II record featured five new studio compositions, arguably the best of the four is the Ace Frehely composition Rocket Ride. These sound like working mixes of the songs and are similar to the album versions. The clicking sound can be heard in a little in Rockin in the USA and Rocket Ride but clears up for the other two tracks. The recordings are all excellent and are in professional quality.
I Have Just Begun To Fight, Reputation (Gene Simmons Virgin Demos 1978) Gene was working with the band Virgin who’s drummer Chuck Billings is said to be playing drums. Pretty together demos for the songs they both feature overdubbed vocals and guitar, the songs are typical Gene Simmons fair, certainly not really anything in the hard rock vein like KISS but similar to the material found on his first solo album.
The sound quality is excellent but certainly not in finished quality.
Take Me Away (Together As One) (Paul Stanley Solo Album 1978); A different mix of the track from Paul’s solo record, I do not have the Paul solo record so I cannot speak as to any differences, quality starts of superb but fluctuates and sounds a little muffled before clearing again.
Rumble, There’s Nothing Better, Dirty Livin’, Out Of Control (Peter Criss Dynasty Demos 1979) Again we are treated to some Peter Criss material from the Dynasty record, only Dirty Livin’ would be used on the record. Rumble is a song about his youth days when he was a member of a street gang and this song describes a clash with a rival gang. The last two songs eventually would be released on his second solo album Out Of Control released in 1980. Again if one listens to Paul and Gene nothing constructive was coming from Peter, while these songs are not chart topping mega sellers that are well put together and not any worse some of the material KISS was churning out at this point. Very good quality recordings and definitely interesting to listen to.
Just A Boy, Deadly Weapons (Music From The Elder 1981) Perhaps no period in KISS’ career is stranger than the Elder period. The band were divided, Ace wanted to make an rock album and Gene wanted to work with Bob Ezrin who had produced the Destroyer record. Gene got his way and the result was the concept of The Elder and the most ill fated project the band would produce. Hard core fans have come to love the record, I for one can listen to it from time to time as there are some really strong songs on it but as a whole does not work. Just A Boy sounds like a working mix but the real interesting track here is Deadly Weapons, a song that was worked on by the band almost pre Elder and is a very strong hard rock song. It would eventually be re worked by Gene as Loves A Deadly Weapon on the Asylum record. Quality of both songs are very good.
Betrayed, The Street Giveth And The Street Taketh Away, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Street Legal (Hot In The Shade Demos 1989) Some working demos Gene did for the Hot In The Shade record. In the KISS Behind The Mask book Tommy Thayer said he wrote these songs with Gene and produced some demos with Gene and Eric Carr on drums. I am guessing that these are the versions he is referring to. Something Wicked was considered for the Hot In The Shade record but not used, female metal singer (formerly of Warlock) Doro would go on to use the song on her solo record titled Doro that Gene produced. Again very together songs and the sound quality is excellent.
Feels Like Heaven (Steamy piss flaps mix) Demo 1981) Gene’s original demo of a song that would end up on Peter Criss’s solo record Let Me Rock You. This version is not very recognizable and sound more like Gene goofing around before uttering the “let me wrap your steaming piss flaps around my nose” line at the songs conclusion. an interesting artifact in very good quality.
Disc 2 (34:25) The Original Wicked Lester Album (2001 Box Set Mix) Keep Me Waiting, Molly, Sweet Ophelia, Simple Type, Too Many Mondays, Love Her All I Can, When The Bell Rings, She, What Happened In The Darkness, (We Want To) Shout It Out Loud. Bonus Track; Long Long Road
Gene and Paul’s pre KISS days have been well documented in the form of Wicked Lester, a group that also included Brooke Ostrander on keyboards, Tony Zarrella on drums, and on guitars Steve Coronel and Ron Leejack. They recorded a record for Epic records and it was ultimately shelved but as soon a KISS became a really big it began making the rounds in trading circles and in the underground bootleg market. I personally never had much interest in the record, of course I heard some of the songs but they did not resemble KISS and this is actually my first version of this material I own.
The source is supposed to be from the remix of the material for the 2001 box set, from listening to the material a bunch of times I believe this to be true. The sound for a 40 year old recording is incredible and sounds as if it were recorded yesterday. It has a wonderful clarity and , dare I say it, lush sound to it. This is not the hard rock style perfected by KISS, I have seem the music compared to Three Dog Night and laughed when I read that but it is a close analogy.
There are some real standout tracks, Love Her All I Can is certainly one and it would be re worked for the Dressed To Kill record three years later. One thing that one thing that has stayed the same, the bands use of harmonies is superb and many songs have vocal interaction between Gene and Paul as there certainly was chemistry between the two. The version of She in excellent also, the riff is a classic and still there but it almost has a jazzy feel almost like a lounge singer would do. Brooke Ostrander plays some nice flute and the use of horns is interesting to say the least.
The last track, Long Road is perhaps the most interesting, recorded in 1971 it did not make the cut for the Wicked Lester record. It is an acoustic song with Paul handling lead vocals and Gene doing some nice backing vocals and save for an additional of harmonica and some subtle keys from Ostrander is a very enjoyable song, in my opinion the band should dust it off and play it on the next KISS Kruise, now that would be an event.
Thanks very much for the review. Re Paul’s 1978 solo album, it’s my fave of the four, and definitely worth having.