Who Dares Wins (The Godfatherecords G.R.946/947)
War Memorial Coliseum Rochester, NY, USA – January 30, 1988
Disc 1 (77:20) Intro / Love Gun, Cold Gin, Bang Bang You, Fits Like A Glove, Crazy Crazy Nights, Shout It Out Loud, Solo Bruce Kulick, Solo Eric Carr, War Machine, Reason To Live, Heaven’s On Fire, Solo Gene Simmons, I Love It Loud, Lick It Up, Rock And Roll All Nite
Disc 2 (79:49) Tears Are Falling, Detroit Rock City. Monsters Of Rock, Donington Park Donington, England – August 20, 1988, BBC Friday Rock Show Broadcast; Cold Gin, Black Diamond, No No No, Firehouse, Crazy Crazy Nights, Calling Dr. Love, Tears Are Falling, I Love It Loud, Strutter, Shout It Out Loud. Outtakes; Bang Bang You, My Way, Reason To Live. Unreleased Crazy Nights Demo’s: Sword & Stone, Hide Your Heart. Paul Stanley Publishing Tape 1988; Best Man For You, Don’t Let Go, When Two Hearts Collide
Crazy Nights…have to admit it is one of my least favorites as it reeks of 80’s hair metal. With the benefit of hindsight one can look back and re-evaluate it and, for me, take the music for what it is. No I did not add it to my CD collection, it is a glaring omission, but to evaluate the way the music should be heard, in the live concert setting. It is here that the music will take on its true form. As you know, this is Godfather’s second take on a Crazy Nights show, the first was St Paul show from December 87 “Stone Cold Carzy” (The Godfatherbox G.R. BOX 16 E/F), a great audience recording, but The Don trumps that release with this new recording, from the soundboard!
The soundboard is bare bones, little audience noise can be heard and there is a small amount of hiss present but it is well balanced, all instruments and vocals can be clearly heard and is a joy to listen too as bootleg releases from this tour and been few and far between so an un released soundboard is a real treat. The band hit the stage with “Love Gun”, an interesting choice for an opening song but it is high energy and has the band firing full throttle. Paul takes a minute to say hello to the crowd and tell them that there would be no pyro or explosion but that “they” would not stop rock and roll, not to worry there are many music bombs set to go off. The audience of 5,400 tell what kind of booze keep them together and a one two punch of classic begin the show and give us a taste of the Mark V version of the band, a tight well oiled rock and roll machine. One person who seems to be a shadow in KISStory is certainly Bruce Kulick, why I do not know as he is an incredible player and is tearing up the leads on this night.
The Crazy Nights tour found the band playing a much shorter set list, tonight there are just three new songs. The first is “Bang Bang You”, typical KISS smut rock but has a sing along chorus and finds Paul doing some David Lee Roth kind of screams / yelps that are quite interesting. Paul does a great rap about “Little Gene” that has the crowd cheering and me smiling, it of course leads into “Fits Like A Glove”. These versions find the band playing really fast, it was the 80’s, and shows that the strongest material was in the set list. The title track “Crazy Crazy Nights” follows on its heels but for the song is much better live than live and would have been a decent opener. After “Shout It Out Loud” the band takes a breather in the form of a Bruce Kulick solo, it gives us a chance to hear his amazing playing up close and personal, his style of playing made it easy for him to play on the moment so to speak and was great at playing the 80’s style of lead guitar but with substance. Eric comes in and they do a great guitar drum jam, rolling through some great riffs, leads and fills before Bruce leaves the stage to let Eric pound the hell out of us. The only thing that could match his skills as a drummer was his unbridled passion he brought to KISS, he lived and breathed the band. His solo finds him hitting all the bases, utilizing his massive drum set to the max and giving a lesson on how to do it right.
His solo ends with a marching pattern that ushers in the heavy as hell “War Machine”, I love this song and never tire of hearing it as it has a massive groove to it and a perfect vehicle for the Demon and his unholy armies to stomp you in dust. If there is one really good song on Crazy Nights it is undoubtedly the power ballad “Reason To Live”. I hate most of the hair metal from the 80’s and the idea of a power ballad makes me cringe but I will be damned if Paul and Kiss did do the best ones. Stanley was at this point a really good song craftsman and one of his best talents as a musician was that he could embrace current genres. Listen to this song, past the sappy keys, and you have a great song and Paul does a great vocal delivery of the song. We switch to a different soundboard source for the next song, the splicing is superb but the newer source has a different feel to it, has more hiss but is more clear and slightly better sounding. Paul does a great X rated rap that has the girls screaming, and then the whole audience makes their presence felt as the band rip into “Heaven’s On Fire” complete with a wailing Paul intro.
Gene takes a short solo that just has him noodle around but thankfully kicks into high gear with his signature “I Love It Loud”. Since there were no pyro, Gary Corbett has some explosion samples he could utilize to accentuate the song in all the right places. Paul gets his second X rated rap, this time with more detail and told only the way Paul can all leading up to a rocking “Lick It Up”. The band kicks in into high gear for the song, certainly the song from the 80’s that could compete with “Rock And Roll All Nite” as a major anthem type sing along song. Curiously the song does not feature a sing along but moves non stop into “Rock And Roll All Nite”, big chorus and smoking leads is the story on this song, and a sing along with the audience to boot make for an exciting version of the Klassic.
The second disc starts with the band’s best hit of the 80’s (IMO) “Tears Are Falling”. For this song and the next one we again go back to the secondary SB source, for these songs it is better sound than “Heavens On Fire”, the hiss is almost non existent and is very enjoyable. The version of “Tears” is strong and the band are heading to a really strong finish. The song leads into “Detroit Rock City” but it sounds as if there was a possible tape splice, nonetheless the band tear up “Detroit Rock City” and finish the show with major energy and leaves the audience (and me) wanting more.
For the next segment we move seven months later to the massive Monsters Of Rock festival in Donington in August of 1988. Headlined by Iron Maiden and featuring David Lee Roth and Guns n Roses and featuring a massive audience of 100,000 plus fans the concert would be know as one of triumph and tragedy. The triumph was of the massive crowd to see some of the era’s greatest musical acts and the tragedy was that two young fans lost their lives. This bit of tape features a chuck of the KISS set, in excellent stereo soundboard quality from the Tommy Vance radio show. Missing seven songs from the band’s set this portion features the middle section of the band’s performance and this release also marks its bootleg debut. Since the recording was done for use by the BBC it is more of a professional recording and has much more depth and ambience. It does also feature songs that the band did not play in Rochester, the first being “Black Diamond”, super strong version of the song with wonderful vocals from Eric Carr who gives an aggressive performance. The next song played is “No No No”, a new song from Crazy Nights that finds the aggressiveness of the band has not eased, KISS can really bring it an excel on the large stage. “No No No” is a new song that really works live and one has to wonder why it was not more consistent in the band’s set. They go for the jugular as “Firehouse” follows, the song is so strong that it makes Crazy Nights sound pale in comparison. Thankfully the band dust off “Calling Dr. Love” and they are right back into a groove, Bruce plays the solo with a nod to the Ace original with his own little flare in and just nails it. A song that the band wrote in New York City follows, a wonderful ode to all the women who kept the band warm in those days gone by, “Strutter”. Of course the version is great but the backing vocals sound a little soft, musically it is a superb version complete with Paul again going for the high notes. Incomplete, who cares this is a great piece of tape and KISStory.
A trio of outtakes is next, the quality is excellent but do have a flat sound to them. They are full band versions, complete with vocals, choruses and (shutter) keyboards. “Sword & Stone” is a Paul and Bruce song that was left off the record, take off the keys and it is a smoking song with a great chorus and nice guitar riff.
The remaining songs are from the Paul Stanley publishing tape from 1987/88. The version of “Hide Your Heart” is superb, close to the one found on Hot In The Shade years later one has to wonder why it was not on Crazy Nights but in all reality it would have been ruined by Keys and the production. “Best Man For You” is typical sounding 80’s crap, “Don’t Let Go” sounds very similar, again the music is Paul making 80’s AOR music as is the last song on this CD, “When Two Hearts Collide”. While these three songs do not hold up well for repeated listening (my kids are looking at me like what the hell is wrong with Dad?) they are certainly a part of KISStory and I for one am more than happy that they are a part of this release compilation.
The packaging is the standard tri gatefold sleeve beautifully adorned with pictures from the tour, the liner notes from Gary Sorbett (a pun of touring keyboard player Gary Corbett), a sunglasses and boots salesman and quite good and very accurate. Any time we get a full picture package of a tour we are the winners, The Don has done it again and given us a superb snapshot of the Crazy Nights tour and not just another repackage of the same old stuff. KISS fans rejoice and Merry KISSmas.