No Lamination Needed: KISS Member Shares Life’s Views

Front cover image: Brian Lowe. Front Cover Design: Charles Brock Faceout Studio.

One of my favorite bands of all time is KISS, so when Paul Stanley announced he was writing a follow up book to his 2014 Face The Music: A Life Exposed book, I was very excited.

Face The Music , in my opinion, the best book out of those written by KISS members. I felt Peter Criss’ book was just full of bashing and anger, and I was never a big Ace Frehley fan to buy his book (although I read it via the local library). I liked Gene Simmon’s KISS and Make Up, but Paul’s book seemed honest and was just an all out entertaining read (you can search for my review in the archives of Gene’s latest book 27).

Stanley’s latest writing, Backstage Pass ( Harper One, 2019) is very different than his last book. The first book was an autobiography, telling about his life growing up, and his time in the band. The second writing is more of Stanley’s thoughts and views on how to live a happy life, along with his opinions on certain values that he was instilled with throughout his life.

Backstage Pass is not a typical “I am rich and successful, and here is how you can be too” writing, which Simmons has used in a few of his past releases. I have always been skeptical on books like that, especially in Gene’s books, where he has stated that he worked two and three jobs, while being able to play in bands on weekends. This may have worked in the 1970s, but many employers (especially where I live) not only hand out part time jobs, but getting the weekends off is unheard of, nor will they work around other schedules. Nonetheless, Stanley’s advice is detailed on advice that anyone can use, no matter what the person’s living situation is all about.

Some of Stanley’s stories involve him going back to his childhood apartment to show his children what kind of youth he had, to the Kiss Kruise in 2017, when he re-connected with Pete Criss’ ex-wife. Paul discusses his family’s religious values, and the concept of starting his side band Soul Station. Stanley also covers why he does not have unreleased songs from his past, as opposed to Simmons and his vault of songs.

Don’t be confused though, in thinking that this another book filled with KISS stories, because it is not. There are some tales about KISS, but they are far and between. The book is mainly Stanley discussing topics like “the only person that you can change is yourself,” not having a bucket list (because instead of crossing off goals, you should continuing adding goals), and “relationships shouldn’t have an agenda.” Stanley uses some stories about KISS, his loves for cooking and painting as a backdrop for examples of his topics, but if you are looking for a continuation of tales from the previous book, you may be a little let down.

This is not to say that the book is a bad read by any means. The title Backstage Pass isn’t misleading, but it is not what a reader may originally think the book is presented. The reader gets the backstage look at Stanley’s more private life beyond the spotlight. Some of the great tales in the writing is how he discusses how depressed he was during the Creatures of the Night tour, where the band was playing for half full arenas, and how he wanted to take the makeup off during that time instead of waiting until the Lick It Up album, to his dislike of the Carnival of Souls : The Final Sessions record from 1997, and his thoughts on bands such as YES and the Eagles not having all original members in the lineup.

Most of the press on the book deals with the segment where Stanley talks about Criss, stating that Peter has spent his time being negative , along with his time dealing with him during the reunion tour, where Stanley writes that Criss was rude to all the hotel staff, and everyone around him. KISS fans, much like fans of The Beatles, are very passionate and have their own favorite members who they side with when it comes to the breakup and press attacks of each other. Regardless of whose side you take (it’s usually Gene and Paul verses everyone else), the reader will either find Stanley’s views throughout the book as an honest person who has matured from his previous days, or will find him hypocritical with his sincerity. As a reader who has only met one member of KISS, Eric Singer, when he played with Alice Cooper, I have to give the author the benefit of the doubt, because Stanley does not spend his time writing pages filled with hate or anger . This, to me, is a book where the writer expresses mistakes from his past, along with informing the reader on things he learn the hard way , so to speak.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read, much better than Gene’s latest on the 27 Club in music. Stanley’s book is just different in that the Kiss tales are just to give a side note to the points he is trying to make. One does not even have to be a KISS fan to read this and take some valuable information away from it.

 

Backstage Pass by Paul Stanley, along with Collaborator Tim Mohr ( HarperOne, 2019) ISBN: 978-0-06-282028-0, 978-0-06-295134-2 (BN), 978-0-06-295328-5 (BS) is available at : http://www.harperone.com.

 

For information about the author, visit: http://www.paulstanley.com

 

The Overall:

Pages: 240

Language: Mild

Geared to: 15 and up.

For Fans Of: Music, Biographies, Self Help, KISS

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Book Review: Kiss Member’s Look at Club May Surprise Readers

 

I have not been shy about my respect for Gene Simmons. I grew up a Kiss fan (especially my love of the 1980s lineup with drummer Eric Carr), and have seen them live 3 times with the original members. Simmons has branded himself a successful businessman, writer, and musician. I compare him to the Tom Brady of the music world, where many criticize him for being a success, watch his every move, yet buy his products.

Gene’s new book, 27: The Legend & Mythology of the 27 Club (powerHouse/Simmons books, 2018), covers his take on some of the artists who died at the age of 27.

Simmons, along with help from his son Nick, take the reader through brief summaries of the artists covered, their successes, and how they died at the young age, putting them in a glamorized “club” among fans. Simmons then takes a look at why these artists died at the age that they did, whether it being alcohol and drugs, along with the mental aspect of the deaths, which may have been overlooked at the time (either due to lack of knowledge, or by ignoring signs).

Even non-Kiss fans know how outspoken Gene has been on topics like drugs, booze, and mental issues, including stating his opinions on the deaths of rockers like Kurt Cobain in the past. However, readers would be surprised by his take on these issues now. As stated in the Introduction section, Simmons states that although he believes these artists should not be glamorized for their drugs and deaths, which is considered a badge of honor among rock stars, he withholds judging the people. Gene still maintains his views on drugs and alcohol , and admits to having a more sensitive look once he studied their lives in more detail.

Each chapter deals with a separate musician or artist, such as Robert Johnson, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, and Amy Whinehouse. There is a brief history of each artist, along with some quotes by the artists or those that knew them, along with interview snippets thrown in.

Even though the topic is a serious one, there are some entertaining stories put in throughout the book, such as the time Gene thought he was talking on the phone to Kurt Cobain to get his band Nirvana to play on the Kiss tribute album, to an interesting interview at the end of the book by Nick, who discusses the topic with Dr. James Fallon, Professor of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

27 is an easy to read book, with short chapters, filled with some great information on what may have been going through the minds of these artists, including their childhood growing up. The two major things that intrigued me about the book was the interview with Dr. Fallon and his take on the so called “club,” and Gene’s discussion on the topics , which shows his maturity in showing the respect of the artist’s skills, and not just the tragic life they led.

An ironic part of the book is how Gene uses information from biographies and magazines to help his research. One of sources he uses several times are interviews from Rolling Stone Magazine. I found this take somewhat entertaining because Simmons has always bashed that magazine for their lack of acknowledging the success and talents of Kiss (personally, I side with Simmons’ past views on the magazine as a whole). Maybe I am reading too much into this part (maybe it’s the only interviews he could find by the artists on the subject), but it was just something that popped into my head when I read the footnote sources.

27 is an entertaining and thought-provoking book that may show why some of these artists ended up dying at the same age, but still shows the respect of the talents these musicians and artists. Do not let the past views of Gene Simmons prevent you from getting this book, because you may be surprised at what these pages hold. Simmons still does not condone the lifestyles of the artists, but does show he is wiser on the topic of mental issues and substance abuse.

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of Powerhouse/Simmons books

 

27: The Legend & Mythology Of The 27 Club by Gene Simmons (powerHouse/Simmons books, 2018 ISBN: 978-1-57687-886-6) can be found at bookstores and at http://www.powerhouse.com.

For information about Gene Simmons, go to: http://www.genesimmons.com

 

The Overall

Pages: 261

Language: Moderate (Artists interviews uses some language)

Geared For: 13 and Up

For fans of: Music biographies, Music History, Psychology,  Gene Simmons

 

 

Halloween 2018 Part Boo (I Mean Part 2)

 

Every year for my Halloween post, I usually list several horror films that I have seen over the year that needs attention. Most of them are movies that either flew under the radar, or are the classic older films that many have forgotten about. This year I decided to do something different, and I hope, entertaining. The past year I have been able to review many books and have contact with many authors and publishers, and have had the pleasure of emailing several of the writers on a normal basis. I thought that I would survey several people and ask them what films should they suggest you watch during Halloween. Keep in mind, I did not ask them to list their opinion of the greatest of all time, just what films they would suggest to be good to watch, along with choosing any category-they could list all vampire films, all slasher films; just whatever they wanted. Since I received several great responses, I decide to put it in two parts. Here is Part 2 of my Halloween special.

 

I am excited that Mike Perry agreed to submit to this year’s page. I am a fan of his webpage and Facebook page, called Mike’s Take On the Movies. He covers his love of film, including showing photos of his massive collection of movies and posters, not just horror films, but all films (Go to his site to see his movie room!). His page also informs people of films that some may never heard of, especially me, but he also shares a liking to one of my favorites in the past few years “Horror Express”. He decided to theme his choices with pairing actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Here is what he wrote:

       As Halloween approaches it seems everyone has a list of horrors to see and there’s usually very little that interests me when it comes to seeing the ones splashed about it newspapers or movie magazines you pick up in the lobby of the theater you’re attending. Why you ask? It’s simple. They generally cater to the masses. People who have no idea that movies existed prior to the current decade. I might be a bit harsh with that statement but go ahead and randomly ask a 20 year old at the office who Vincent Price is.

 

To be fair, some of these lists might have Rosemary’s Baby on it or maybe Robert Wise’s The Haunting and of course The Exorcist, but for the most part they are films of a more recent vintage. Which brings us to my pick for the top five Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing duets. I’m not going to get critical on these but rather base it on the ones I enjoy the most. If we were going to base it on critical praise then I would suggest the top two would be 1948’s Hamlet and 1952’s Moulin Rouge. Yes for the uninitiated, the legendary icons of horror cinema were attached to both the Oliver and the Huston films. Lee to a lesser degree than Cushing.

 

Now on to my five faves though I’ll admit I hate narrowing the field to just five and before I start I am listing these in order of their release dates as opposed to a favorite on down.

The Horror of Dracula   (1958)

Is there really any doubt? This one is the best that Hammer has to offer in my mind and made Lee an international star. Not only is Lee the best of all Draculas’ but Cushing is by far the screen’s greatest Van Helsing. A Coles Notes version of Stoker’s story but it’s a classic that gets better with age and tops many historian’s list of the best horror film ever made period. Saw it as a kid on late night TV and rarely does a year go by I don’t give it another look. Great score from James Bernard adds to the thrills.

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles   (1959)

Cushing as Holmes is really an extension of the physicality and the energy he brought to the Van Helsing role. He’s perfectly suited to the Sherlock character and I’ve always mourned the fact that the studio never continued the series with Peter taking the lead joined again by Andre Morell who made an excellent Dr. Watson. Joining in the fun is Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. marked for death it’s up to Dear Peter to save him not only from the Hound but also who is behind the beast and controls who it kills. Like Dracula, this is another effort from the great Terence Fischer.

 

The Mummy   (1959)

Again it’s Terence Fisher breathing new life into the Universal Monsters of old. Who better than Peter to play the archaeologist and Chris to take on the role of Kharis. The two are pitted against each other when Peter unlocks the tomb of the Princess Ananka. The color photography is a welcome addition to the tale when we compare this film to the Chaney films of the 40’s. Lee’s powerful performance as Kharis is not to be overlooked and his size is most intimidating as is his speed that must have been a surprise to those in ’59 accustomed to the slow walk of Chaney. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lon’s film’s as well. Once again Peter delivers a wonderful performance and as usual is playing with props throughout. Hence the nickname Props Peter.

Horror Express   (1972)

What really makes this fantastical plot of Sci-Fi and Horror work is that Lee and Cushing begin as adversaries yet must team up to battle a demon from outer space on board a snowbound train. The fact that they appear on screen together for the majority of the film gives fans a chance to see them interact throughout. Not something we’re used to seeing. No one plays arrogant on screen like Lee did and Peter’s man of science is hoping to get a look at what Lee has found in the ice and is transporting aboard the train. It’s a bloody affair and Telly Savalas only adds to the fun chewing up the scenery as only he can. Best scene in the film is when Lee and Cushing are mentioned as possible hosts to the alien being. Accused of being a monster, offended Peter states defiantly, “Monsters? We’re British.”

 

Dracula A.D.   (1972)

For years I believe this film was trashed but time has a way of changing opinions and as the years have gone by it’s finally found an audience who appreciate it for it’s campy fun, Cushing’s return to the series as Van Helsing and Lee’s vampire looking more menacing here than in perhaps any other film that he essayed the role. Stephanie Beacham and Caroline Munro appearing has to be considered a major plus as well. Not only do we get one battle to the death between the two titans of horror but TWO. The film is bookended between their first battle in 1872 and their final one 100 years later. Cushing carries the film and Lee’s Dracula remains in a Gothic setting where the blood flows freely. Very under appreciated but thankfully time has I believe begun to change that opinion.

 

The list called for just five titles so left by the wayside are a pair that I love to revisit but decisions had to be made. From Amicus, The House That Dripped Blood which is more of an ensemble piece with the two never sharing the screen together and Hammer’s The Gorgon. A film I revisit often thanks to my two sons enjoying the film as much as I do.

I’m sure I’ve ticked off someone by omitting their favorite choice but surely Scream and Scream Again or Arabian Adventure are not the reasons why.

 

 

I contacted writer S.L. Baron, who writes vampire books, and likes horror style writings, as well as movies. S.L. Baron isn’t a full-time writer but keeps wishing she could quit her day job. She’s been scribbling down stories since she was a small child, and she’s glad the evidence of those stories no longer exists. After reading Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire, she found her Muse. She’s been obsessed with vampires and other types of immortals ever since. When she’s not writing about her own Children of the Night, she reads all she can get her hands on about these and other supernatural creatures.

 

S.L. grew up near the shore in the New Jersey Pinelands but lives in West Virginia. She graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Keeping her company is her partner in crime, Tim.

 

Her picks are the following:

 

1.What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

I’m going to start out with a goofy one here. I love and write about vampires, but I can’t pass up a movie that takes a swing at them either. What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary following the exploits of a group of vampires— Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr—who share a house in a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand. A crucifix-wearing film crew follows the vampires as they try to adapt to life in the 21st century. We get to see how the vampires cope with day-to-day life and past relationships, which, as an immortal, could get pretty complicated.

I love how this movie took supernatural/paranormal creatures and incorporated them into the mundane world…because, honestly, who hasn’t wondered how an 8,000 year-old would react to cellphones?

2.Let Me In (2010)

 

Let Me In is an American-British remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In from 2008. It follows the story of Owen, a bullied twelve-year-old boy, and Abby, the young girl who moves in next door to him. The two become close friends and communicate through Morse code on the walls of their apartments, but Abby has a dark secret: She’s a vampire. Abby becomes the only one he trusts enough to confide in about his treatment at school, and she encourages him to retaliate and vows to protect him. After finally revealing her true nature to Owen, she tearfully leaves town. But, despite her departure, she returns to save Owen from the bullies who finally go far enough to try to kill him.

The idea of child vampires intrigues me! How would they mature and behave being locked in such a youthful body? I think Let Me In explores the idea quite well.

 

3.The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

When nineteen-year-old Emily Rose dies of malnutrition and self-inflicted wounds following an attempted exorcism, the Catholic priest who performed the rite, Father Richard Moore, is arrested and put on trial. Though the diocese wants Father Moore to plead guilty, he refuses, instead hoping his lawyer, Erin Brunner, will let him tell the truth behind Emily’s death. The story of Emily’s possession and failed exorcism are told through flashbacks and evidence presented by witnesses at the trial. Though Brunner doesn’t believe demonic possession is possible, she begins to experience terrifying supernatural phenomena at her home, making her question her own beliefs and begin to see that the priest is telling the truth, a truth she will risk her job to prove in court.

There are a few things about this movie that appeal to me. The first is exorcism. I was raised a Roman Catholic, but exorcisms are one of those taboo subjects never discussed in our studies. I think that gives it a certain mystery that makes me want to delve deeper into it. The next thing that draws me to this movie is that it’s based off the exorcism of Annaliese Michel, which took place in Germany, 1976. The thought that a real person experienced what Emily Rose did is a chilling one. Finally, the thought of losing control over one’s self to demonic forces is a psychologically disturbing, making it a great horror movie to me.

 

4.A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

While Arash, a young Iranian man, works hard to take care of himself and his heroin-addicted father, a mysterious, young woman clad in a chador roams the streets, skateboarding and bedeviling the less desirable residents of Bad City. One of these undesirables happens to be Arash’s father’s drug dealer who learns too late that the young woman is a vampire and he her meal. As the vampire leaves the the dealer’s apartment, she passes Arash who has come to pay money his father owes. Seeing the dealer dead, Arash takes his stash of drugs, hoping to earn some money to make his living situation better. At a costume party, he attempts to sell ecstasy pills. A young wealthy woman he had worked for convinces him to take a pill, and, as he wanders the streets alone and high, he encounters the vampire. The vampire takes Arash to her apartment, but resists the urge to feed from him. Arash becomes infatuated with the woman, but she isn’t the innocent he imagines.

I think what I love most about this movie is the idea of a female vampire in a Middle Eastern country. Almost every country and culture has a vampire myth of their own, but we don’t often see movies explore how they would behave in areas outside of Europe and North America. This movie does just that with a brilliant dose of dark humor, horror, and romance.

 

5.Zombie Strippers (2008)

Bear with me on this one. Zombie Strippers is campy, raunchy, and full of nudity, so it’s not for everyone out there. Despite all that, it’s also a political satire that takes a stab at George W. Bush’s presidency, which I won’t give away here. In it, a Marine, Byrdflough, who is a member of the “Z” Squad tasked with destroying test subjects in a failed government experiment to bring back the dead, gets bitten by a zombie. Upon waking as a one, he finds his way to a strip club and attacks the club’s star dancer, Kat. When the owner, Ian Essko—played by none other than Robert Englund of Nightmare on Elm Street fame—sees how much money his undead dancer is raking in, he encourages others to get bitten. Essko tries to keep the zombies in cages, but when they break free, the remaining humans in the club must fight to survive.

 

LIke I said, this one isn’t for everyone! I, however, am not one of those people. I couldn’t stop watching, but I was an exotic dancer and I have a twisted sense of humor (possibly from said job). I enjoyed how well the writers portrayed the rivalries that develop between dancers and how greedy the owner is to let his employees get infected for profit. This is an utterly ridiculous movie, but one I can watch over and over.

 

 

I thought a Halloween poll would be fun this year as well. Here are the final results, from those that voted via Facebook, Twitter, and those I asked in person. Some of the tallies were very interesting.

 

Halloween Poll Results:

Best Horror Actor of all Time

  1. Vincent Price   90% 2. Bela Lugosi 10% 3. Boris Karloff 0% 4. Peter Cushing 0%
  2. Christopher Lee 0%

Best Horror Villain:

  1. 1. Michael Myers   45.45% Frankenstein Monster 18.18% 3. Dracula 27.27%  
  2. Freddy Kruger 9.09% 5. Leatherface 0%

Best Series:

  1. 1. Friday The 13th 30%   2. Halloween 30% Nightmare on Elm Street 20%    
  2. Saw 10%     Texas Chainsaw Massacre 0%

Most Classic Film:

  1. 1. Frankenstein 28.57%   2. The Wolfman 28.57% Psycho 14.28%   4. The Shining 14.28%       5. The Exorcist 14.28%     Bride of Frankenstien 0%   Halloween 0%

 

 

As for me, I chose to theme films that are seem bad, whether from the effects some other odd aspect, but are actually good films that I enjoying watching. In no order, here are a few choices:

 

  1. Suck (2009).

            This is a black comedy/Canadian Indy about a rock band that hasn’t made it big in Canada. While touring, the female bass player (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré) gets turned into a vampire, and needs to feed. The music is pretty bad, but the jokes are funny (especially if you were ever a musician). It has appearances by Rush’s Alex Lifeson, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Malcolm McDowell, and Alice Cooper.

 

  1. Kiss Meets The Phantom of The Park (1978)

            I remember anxiously awaiting this TV movie to be shown as a kid like many Kiss fans at the time. After seeing it, we wondered “what did I just see?” What better way to captialize the band in a movie, like The Beatles did, than have Hannah-Barbara produce the film? Even though some Kiss fans (and band members) hate the film, it is a guilty pleasure film, which debut on October 28, 1978. The cartoonish effects, bad stunt men, and cheesy one -liners makes this film a cult favorite. If you really want to get an extra feel to the film, listen to Chris Jericho’s podcast episode from July 2018, where he and his friends decided to watch it.

  1. The Strangers:Prey At Night (2018)

            I never saw the first Strangers movie, but I thought the cover looked cool when I got it at my local library. The plot is a simple slasher film, where a vacation at a mobile home park goes wrong for the family visiting, when three masked people start attacking. Even though the theme has been worn out, this was enjoyable, especially with the placing of the music in the film with 1980s hits by Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler. If you liked the placing of the music in Marvel’s Deadpool movies, this is very similar, and becomes more humorous than scary. When’s the last time you laughed during a slasher film?

 

  1. The Gorgon (1964)

            Mentioned earlier by Mike’s picks, this Hammer film is one I watch several times a year , not just for Halloween. The Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing film is a what films used to be about; a plotline, suspense, and a climax. No CG effects, just some rubber type masks, but it still is a great film. Although many film fans discovered the myth of the Gorgon through 1981’s Clash of The Titans, this older film builds up the story of the creature turning people into stone when looking at them. This is a horror film that can be watched as a family film (about age 7 I’d say) without much gore and adult themes like most films are about today. This film is not mentioned enough when Hammer films are discussed.

  1. The Wasp Woman (1959)

            Also known as The Bee Girl or Insect Woman, this Roger Corman film stars Susan Cabot who runs a cosmetic company and is trying to keep the company relevant, although she is aging as the spokesperson. She meets a fired scientist who can extract enzymes from bees to keep her young. However, there are side effects to the experiments. Corman was known for his Edgar Allan Poe movies with Vincent Price, but this one is like The Gorgon, where it is not long in length (73 minutes), and although today’s fans may laugh at the effects without CG, it is a good family horror film.

 

A few other films that I recommend this season is 2018’s Winchester (if you like suspense/supernatural themes instead of action horror) and Insidious: The Last Key, and the 1970 Spanish film The Wolfman vs The Vampire Woman. Of course, you can always serach the archives here for my past Halloween picks too (just type in “Horror Films” or “Halloween” in the serach engine, or scroll down the “Archives” link to the past year’s October month.)

Thank you to all the contributors for Parts 1&2, and those that voted in the poll as well!

Happy Watching!

 

Mike Perry’s pages can be found at: https://mikestakeonthemovies.com/

and https://http://www.facebook.com/mikestakeonthemovies/

 

You can find S.L. Baron’s books on Amazon, and at https://twitter.com/AuthorSLBaron facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSLBaron/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorslbaron/

 

Book Review: This Book Rocks: A Drummer’s Insight Into The Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion

Cover Design by Domini Dargoone. Cover Illustration @John Douglas

The first time I heard of drummer Bobby Rock was in 1990, when he was a part of the band Nelson. I became a huge fan of the Nelson brothers, and even had one of their shirts which I proudly wore to school, along with my Warrant shirt. I would play along to their debut album “After the Rain” on my drum set everyday when it was released for months. It wasn’t until years later that I found out Bobby Rock was the drummer for the ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent in his band The Vinnie Vincent Invasion, which also involved members of what would become the band Slaughter; another favorite band of mine.

Bobby Rock went on to be a drummer for other bands, currently with Lita Ford, along with creating drum videos and books. His latest book , “The Boy Is Gonna Rock: A Drummer’s Journey From Houston To Hollywood In Search Of Hair Metal-Heaven” ( Zen Man Publishing, 2018), details his career as a drummer in several rock bands, including his time with The Invasion. The behind the scenes story of what happened inside of the Vincent band is the main theme of the memoir.

Lita Ford contributes to the book in the Forward, telling how she was in a bind for a drummer, calling Gunnar Nelson asking for help. Nelson informs her that Rock is the guy she needs on short notice. Rock is still playing with Ford years after the phone call.

The book is filled with great photographs, and stories, from Bobby’s first love of Hard Rock Music (when he bought his first Alice Cooper album), to learning drumming techniques throughout high school, and his time at Berkley School of Music. His goal of becoming a jazz drummer took a side turn when he called Dana Strum after hearing about an audition for Vinnie Vincent’s new band, who just parted ways with Kiss in the mid 1980s.

Rock’s book is an honest account of the dealings with Vincent, who has always had a stigma attached to him for being hard to work with on stage and in the studio. He takes the reader through the many frustrating attempts to record the debut Vinnie Vincent Invasion (more popularly known as VVI) album, and the tour that followed. He details his opinions on the band members, including first singer Robert Fleischman, who left the band right before the first tour, which the band ended up with singer Mark Slaughter.

If you are hoping for a bashing book that trashes the members, this is not the book. Rock tells the story from what he saw, what he felt, and is not a typical “I hate this guy” rock recollection. The text is not all rainbows either, which makes this one of the best rock biographies I have read in years, and is definitely in my Top 10 of all time in the genre already.

My Nelson band shirt ,featuring Rock, which is now a pillow.

Rock’s writing is just as skillful as his drumming. With many writings on his resume, Rock has taken this project seriously, and is a entertaining writer. Every musician, or aspiring musician, should read this book, with its commentary about the business of music, which was a major aspect that affected VVI ‘s break up. The book covers lawsuits, management and crew members’ darker sides, to the relationship Rock had with his on stage companions Strum, Slaughter, and Vincent. Slaughter fans would also enjoy the book, with Rock’s tales of just how behind the scenes Dana Strum was in The Invasion’s recordings and management side. The collection is recent as well, with Rock giving his opinion of the re-emergence of Vincent during the 2018 KISS Expo in Atlanta, after decades of being out of everyone’s radar. Rock tells his experiences with joining the Nelson Brothers (and dispels some rumors about how he joined, along with if he was to be the drummer in Slaughter), Lita Ford, along with some tales of the artists he almost ended up drumming for.

It’s hard to write a book that appeals to everyone, but Rock has succeeded. The stories are entertaining and honest, the pictures are wonderful and plenty, along with giving stories that fans of KISS, Nelson, Alice Cooper, Slaughter, and other Hard Rock acts of the 1980s-1990s will love, while describing the learning experiences of the inside workings of the music business. Many independent books are filled with grammar errors or wrong dates, but Rock ‘s book is void of these, with his detail to the writing process. There is some adult language in the book, but it does not deter from how great this book is, or come off as overtly offensive. The only complaint of the book, for me, was that since the book is mainly about his time in Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion, he only briefly mentions at the end about his time with Nelson (since I was a big fan of the band, I can plea that if Bobby has enough stories, to write a book just on his time with them).

“The Boy Is Gonna Rock” is not just a music book, but an American Dream tale from a guy who became the drummer of one of the most interesting (although short) times in an unique band. KISS fans must have this book to their collection, along with anyone who loves the 1980s Metal scene. This book definitely Rocks!

 

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of Bobby Rock, Tim Young, and Zen Man                Publishing.

 

“The Boy Is Gonna Rock: A Drummer’s Journey From Houston To Hollywood In Search Of Hair Metal Heaven” (Zen Man Publishing, 2018 ISBN-10: 0966859936 ISBN-13: 978-0966859935) can be found at http://www.bobbyrockstore.com

 

For information about the author, visit: http://www.bobbyrock.com

 

Music: Albums That Influenced Me.

Many of my posts I write about music that influenced me as a child growing up. As a drummer in local bands in the Youngstown, Ohio area, I was exposed to many different types of music. I played jazz, country, rock, blues, and even some polkas. I listened to oldies and country when I got my first drum set, along with the Top 40 hits of the time. I have seen on Facebook recently challenges to list albums that influenced the person that they still have on rotation. Although there are many albums that have influenced me that are not one this list, such as Garth Brooks’ “No Fences,” Andy Gibb’s “Greatest Hits,” Huey Lewis and The News’ “Sports”, and Rick Nelson’s “Live At The Troubadour,” these are my top influential albums in my life that I still listen to today.

  1. Rick Springfield ” Working Class Dog” (1981). This was the album that most people fell in love with Rick’s music, although it was his 5th album. I was introduced to him when my next door neighbors (all girls) and I would hang out after school at their house listening to their records. They were the first people I knew that got MTV, along with cable TV. They had a bunch of records, and I remember the first time hearing Foreigner’s “Waiting For A Girl Like You” over there. They would watch the TV Show “General Hospital” and be in awe of Dr. Noah Drake (Springfield’s character on the show). When Springfield broke out with “Jessie’s Girl,” everyone knew who he was. This album influenced me not only because he was an actor that put out great music (this will be a common theme throughout this post), but there is not a bad song on the whole album. I remember listening to the CD way into college, especially deeper songs such as “Daddy’s Pearl,” which was played constantly in my elementary days at school (I had a crush on one girl who was madly in love with him and just to play this song at school), but I always thought “Inside Silvia” was such a great written song. This album also introduced me to Sammy Hagar’s music with Rick’s cover of “I’ve Done Everything For You.” The album was one of my earliest introduction to an actor who could also rock out. To this day, I love this album especially with the great songwriting and catchy tunes.

  1. The Oak Ridge Boys “Greatest Hits” (1980). It’s hard to pick one Oaks album that influenced me, more less choosing a “Greatest Hits” one, but this was the first record I got that was all mine, and not shared with my brother. It was also the first album I received (as a Christmas gift) along with my first drum set. I remember my parents putting the needle on the record and walking into the kitchen to get their breakfast tea, and by the time they walked back into the room, I was playing beat to beat along with the record, without hearing most of the songs before (I was around 7years old- call it “A God Thing”). I’m not sure how I wanted the album, maybe seeing the band on TV, but this album not only introduced me to the band, and my first memories of drumming, but it is still one of my go to albums to listen to orchestration and production on songs, along with studying vocals. I can’t say how many hours I spent in my childhood playing drums along to this album. To this day, The Oaks are one of my all time favorite music acts, and even though I upgraded it to CD, I still have the worn out record with the ripped cover, just for memories.

    Me holding my Oak Ridge Boys record Christmas 1980

 

  1. “Grease The Original Soundtrack From The Motion Picture.” (1978) Once again, my childhood neighbors are the ones that introduced me to this album. I remember staring at the double album intensely when they showed it to me, and I fell in love with the music. “Grease” is also my all time favorite movies of all time, so much that I refused to even see it on stage or the remade “live” version on television from a few years ago. To me “Grease” is Olivia -Newton John, John Travolta, and Sha Na Na. Loving the 1950s music, especially in my early years, this album combined the early rock era songs with a Broadway play. I remember playing along with my neighbors, singing Danny’s parts as they took turns singing the female parts on the album. This influenced me as not only exposing me to vocal ranges, but also into (once again) actors being able to sing (and vice versa). The record, along with the hit “Islands In The Stream,” made me discover the Bee Gees, and Barry Gibb’s songwriting, who wrote the theme to the movie.

  1. Al Denson “Be The One” (1990) and Michael W. Smith “Go West Young Man” (1990) – TIE.

Christian music was considered mainly cheesy growing up, with the exception of the Gospel sounds of The Oaks. It wasn’t until bands like Stryper came along that showed that Christians could rock out. I did not enjoy Stryper until later on, even though my buddies were huge fans. In 1990, two acts really inspired me with their albums.

I saw Al Denson in concert opening for the band Petra, and in my opinion, he blew Petra off the stage and he only had a keyboard. After going to a church retreat that summer, I became more of an Al Denson fan with this album, with my buddy playing it constantly in the car all the way to and from the retreat, along with the theme of the retreat being “Be The One.” I even used the title track “Be The One” as my audition song when I tried out for my senior musical as a dare from one of my friends (I got a part in it). The same friend and I wrote for the school paper, covering the entertainment page, and we constantly raved about the songs on this album. Denson’s work helped me get serious about my religious views, and saw him several times in concert.

Michael W. Smith’s “Go West” album gave him exposure to the pop world with his single “Place In This World.” To this day, it is one of the albums that doesn’t seem too dated to me from this era. Just like Denson’s release, songs from this album helped shaped me spiritually, including singing several of the songs on cassette soundtracks on church concert nights (back when vocal track cassettes were the rage, along with the Al Denson tracks). Songs like “Love Crusade” and “How Long Will Be Too Long” were also mentioned by my friend and I in the newspaper, and he even used the song during his magic act at one time. It’s hard to pick just one of these albums so that is why it’s a tie for helping me on my journey.

  1. Barry Manilow” Greatest Hits” (1978). My earliest exposure to Barry Manilow was listening to a couple 45s that my parents owned; one was “Memory/Heart of Steel” and the other was ” The Old Songs”/Don’t Fall In Love With Me.” When I was in college, I joined the BMG Music Club, and one of the first cassettes I got was this greatest hits package. I would listen to this album walking to and from classes, and once I got to actually see Manilow in concert, I proudly wore my T shirt as well on campus afterwards (most people didn’t know who he was, and thought it was Rod Stewart-college kids!!). Just like The Oak Ridge Boys, it’s hard to put in words the influence Manilow has had on me as a musician and a person. Most of my relatives like his music, so it ties us together, which is rare among parents, grandparents, and children. This release helped me through days in college when I was struggling with life, and his music also combines hope, good feelings, and reminiscing of younger days. This was the first full album I got of his, and made me want more and more of his catalog.

6.The Bay City Rollers “Rock N’ Roll Love Letter” (1976) . Growing up in the 1970s-1980s, before cable television, kids would spend Saturday Mornings watching cartoons. One of the big shows in my youth was the “Sid and Marty Kroft” show, which due to the popularity of this band, was renamed “The Bay City Rollers Show.” The show featured childhood favorites like H.R. Pufnstuf, “Horror Hotel,” and footage of the band performing. The show was one of the first memories I remember of seeing a show with pyro, a huge lighted stage, and screaming girls throughout the songs. Singer Les McKeown was an underrated front man, and the production of the concert parts of the show was well done. This album in the U.S. combined two of their UK releases into one package. Even though they were teen idols, the music (to this day) is still good pop music. They wrote their own songs, and played their own instruments. I remember drumming and singing along to this album, and it influenced me not only drumming, but vocals as well. It also introduced me to different types of instruments, including acoustic work on the song “Eagles Fly” and the use of a voice box on “Wouldn’t You Like It” (I was not exposed to the use of it by artists Joe Walsh and Peter Frampton until decades later). This band was one of my early heroes in music, along with the Oaks, Andy Gibb, and David Cassidy. Although many think they were One Hit Wonders (which they weren’t), the band was a major influence on me, to the fact that years ago I purchased the two UK releases so I could combine them so I had all the songs from that U.S. release.

  1. Kiss “Destroyer” (1976). There are many Kiss recordings that have influenced me. My early experiences with the band was when my cousin would play their music while we would visit them, and had Kiss posters all over his wall. I never got their music until the late 1980s when I became a huge fan of drummer Eric Carr. The first cassette I got of the band was “Destroyer,” which I found in a bargain bin at the local Fishers Big Wheel (which was like a K-Mart)in my hometown of Columbiana, Ohio. My friend and I would walk across town and browse the bin of cassettes. He would buy Rush tapes and I started collecting the Kiss ones. Although this is not my all time favorite release of the band, it was still my first purchase, which I drummed along with for many hours. The band was a major influence on me , especially since each member sang, played, and had an individual identity.

  1. John Schneider “Now Or Never” (1981). Another actor turned singer, John Schneider’s album was filled with Pop, Adult Contemporary, and Country songs. I actually like his cover of Elvis Presley’s “Now Or Never” more than other acts’ covers of Presley’s songs. The album also had songs written by Eric Carmen and Lionel Richie, which introduced me to those artists. Being a huge fan of the TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard” growing up, when I saw his record in the stores, I begged my parents to get it for me. I would sing and play along with the album many many times, and throughout the years, still listen to it. There are many good songs on it, and one of my favorites (to this day is) “No. 34 In Atlanta,” about the singer’s record isn’t charting well in the major markets, but he’s proud to play music his way.This was another early childhood memory for me, buying albums and spending my summers practicing my drumming.

 

  1. The Blues Brothers “Briefcase Full Of Blues” (1978). Being a fan of acting and music growing up, I always watched comedy acts like Johnny Carson, Jackie Gleason, and “Saturday Night Live” (back when it was actually funny). One of my favorite acts on the show was The Blues Brothers. This album introduced me to blues music before I played in my first blues band in 1992. The great thing about this album was that not only did it have two of my favorite comedy actors in John Belushi and Dan Akroyd, but they took the act seriously that they went out and got some of the best blues players to be in the band. In my junior high years, I would wear a Blues Brothers T Shirt, and I played this cassette while playing drums. I also was a big fan of the movie, along with my brother and our friends. During school recess I would imitate Akroyd’s Elwood Blues by singing my version of the album’s cover of “Rubber Biscuit.” This was my earliest memory of blues music. Guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy recently passed away who plays on this album. This record is one of the all time best selling blues albums ever, and it is never mentioned when people discuss great blues records for some reason. This was the album that later helped my playing in later years playing in blues bands.

  1. The Beach Boys “The Beach Boys” (1985). This, as mentioned many times on this page, was one of my favorite albums of the 1980s. I knew of the Beach Boys growing up, hearing their songs on the oldies radio channels, but this was the cassette that really got me into the band, thanks to the single “Getcha Back.” I remember seeing the band perform it on the TV show “Solid Gold,” which was a staple must watch show for me on Saturday Nights every week. The album was the first release after the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, but this album made me go back and re-discover their work, going to the Fisher’s Big Wheel and buying bargain bin cassettes of the band, from the many Capitol Records compilations that were put out (like “Your Summer Dreams,” and “Surf’s Up”). Even though the album driven by drum programming, there is still the big sound that made the songs fun to play along with. My summer days were filled with practicing my drum playing in the morning, then hanging out with my friends at the local pool, then riding bikes until dusk. This was an introduction to the band for me in the era where many of us were listening to Duran Duran and other pop acts.

  1. “Sha Na Na” Sha Na Na (1971). This act got their start as a comedy act at Columbia University and grew in popularity, that they ended up with their own television show that lasted from 1977-1981. The act opened for acts like The Grateful Dead, John Lennon, and Frank Zappa. They were also the act before Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. The act was mainly remembered for the singer Jon “Bowzer” Bauman who had a deep voice and dressed like a greaser. However, one of the original guitar players was Henry Gross, who had the hit “Shannon” in 1976.

The reason this album influenced me was not only was I a huge fan of the television show, this album was another one of my very first albums. Side 1 was a live set recorded in 1971, and Side 2 was original work in the studio. This was the first record that I remember having a live side and recorded side (and this came out before Kiss “Alive 2” who used the concept as well). Side 1 had a great version of the hit “Tell Laura I Love Her,” which is my favorite version of the song (even better than the original). Side 2 had some great original songs mostly written by “Screamin’ “Scott Simon. The songs “Only One Song” (which is a Beatles like song) and “Canadian Money” are still songs I play often off the record. Years ago, I was excited to get a copy of this on CD ( a double album pack). The album , made me love the band and the cover arrangements,, while combining original work, which lead me to loving the “Grease” soundtrack and movie (they play Johnny Casino and The Gamblers in the movie and provide most of the second side of the album soundtrack, in fact Simon co wrote the song “Sandy” in the film). This band may have been seen as a novelty act in the 1970s, but the music was very underrated, and I still enjoy watching their work on YouTube from the past, including the TV show. This was a major album from my childhood, from enjoying oldies music with an updated feel to it.

 

 

There are many albums that I like, and have special memories of, but these are some of the major albums that influenced me as a person, drummer, and learning music in general. From childhood memories to practicing the artist’s on the albums, these are just a few of the ones that I remember. One great aspect of music is that it not only provides the listener with great songs, but lasting memories.

Book Review: Book Covers All Things KISS

 

Front cover image c. 2016 iStock

“The Encyclopedia of Kiss” by Brett Weiss (McFarland, 2016) is a well-researched guide of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Kiss. The book covers all things Kiss, including facts that even die hard fans may not have known, or have forgotten about.

The book was written, as Weiss details in the opening, because he could not find a detailed book on facts and all things Kiss (besides a book from Japan), being a fan of the band. The research Weiss puts into the book, is remarkable, and it lives up to the subtitle “Music Personnel, Events, and Related Subjects.” It covers names such as merchandise managers to guitar techs, along with the all the members of the band and people who helped out along the way.

The Preface of the book tells how Weiss grew up being a Kiss fan, but unable to afford all of the merchandise that the band bombarded the public with throughout the years, even having to make his own toy Kiss van by putting Kiss stickers on a van. Weiss focused spending his money on the albums and the magazines that the band was featured in, along with telling the story when he and a friend were anxiously waiting for the TV movie “Kiss Meets The Phantom of the Park” debut on the television in 1978. Weiss also details the time, after the 1970s when being a Kiss fan “wasn’t cool” among other people , but still kept his love of the band (something I can relate to). The Preface proves that the author is not just writing a book to be published, but shows his love for the band in a touching background of his youth.

The book itself is easy to read , just like a normal encyclopedia. The topics are in alphabetical order, and easy to find throughout. Weiss covers all the eras of the band, not just the original lineup, so there is information on members Eric Singer, Eric Carr, Tommy Thayer, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick, and Vinnie Vincent, as well the other bands they were in before (and with some of the members) after their time in Kiss. The collection covers the solo albums of the members, tribute albums (official and unofficial), and the concert tours listed under the name of the tours. Opening acts are mentioned briefly as well as the equipment the band members used during their time.

A Kiss book would not be complete without the merchandise that the band has put out during the years, and Weiss covers them just as well as the other information. The Kiss pinball machines, toys, trading cards, books, are all in here. A surprising topic is the Kiss comic books, and named in the book is Youngstown, Ohio’s Chris Yambar, whose work is in the Simpson’s “Tree House of Horrors” comic that featured Kiss (who also contributed to my ode to the Batman TV Show in this page’s archives). The book covers the Kiss WCW wrestler, and even lists the band’s connections to people like George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The Gene Simmons appearances are listed as well, from his movies to game shows and reality shows to interviews. The appearances of the other people in the Kiss universe, including the “fake” Peter Criss.

Being a Kiss fan, I thought I knew tons of information about the band, but this book had several things that I learned; including some of the tribute CDs that were released in other countries (one including the music geared to the baby friendly audience) to high schools creating musical productions of the band’s album “Music From The Elder,” and the tour that Gene did not spit fire on (“Hot in the Shade” Tour). I also forgot about the TV Show “PM Magazine,” which I used to watch all the time, where the band made some appearances.

There are a few errors in the book, where the author mentions the song “Dirty Livin” from 1979’s “Dynasty” album and then a few pages later, mentions the song again as “Dirt Livin,” and states that Eric Carr’s “only lead vocal with Kiss” was 1989 “Little Caesar,” but then mentions Carr singing “Beth” in 1989 on “Smashes Trashes and Hits.” Also, there is a note that Eric Carr sang on the song “All For The Glory ” on the “Sonic Boom” CD, when it was Eric Singer. Given all of the information that is listed in the book, a few errors can be overlooked, because it is very far and between. With all the research in the book, a few minor mistakes is expected, and doesn’t take away from this 236 page gem of a writing.

The text also has the author’s views on several of the track listings of the songs, along with some reviews from magazines and websites. The opinions are not offensive for those fans that love certain songs , and some may hate (and vice versa), which makes Kiss fans so unique in their love of certain albums and songs (and members) as opposed to others (This page constantly praises the “Crazy Nights” release which many Kiss fans goof on). There are some nice black and white photographs throughout the book as well covering some of the toys, comics and rarities that is worth the price of the book.

I heard about this book when the author was on the Mitch Lafon “Rock Talk” podcast, and had to seek it out. Even though it is not an official Kiss book, this book is a must have to add to the Kiss collection. The research and easy to find topics, makes the book a great go-to text reference for Kisstory fans. McFarland Publishing has had many wonderful writers and books released that have been featured on this page, and “Encyclopedia of Kiss” is another wonderful piece of work. A Kiss fan’s collection is not complete without having this book on their shelf.

 

 

Thank you to McFarland for the Review Copy of the book.

 

“Encyclopedia of Kiss” by Brett Weiss (2016 McFarland pISBN: 978-0-7864-9802-4 eISBN: 978-1-4766-2540-9) can be found at http://www.mcfarlandpub.com or at their order line at 800-253-2187.

 

For information about Brett Weiss, go to http://www.brettweisswords.com

 

I Love It Loud:Ranking The Best Kiss Albums

 

Kiss has always been one of my favorite bands. Along with The Beach Boys, The Bay City Rollers, and The Oak Ridge Boys, the band was an early influence on me as a fan, and even as a drummer.

            My early encounters with Kiss involved my older cousin, who had many of their albums lying around when I would visit his house to play LEGOs. I remember him scaring me with the picture of Gene Simmons from the “Alive II” album, along with him playing me the song “God of Thunder.” I would stare at his Kiss Bubble Gum Card collection in awe wondering what it was I was seeing.  I remember years later in junior high, when I walked across town with my friend to look at the bargain bin cassette tapes at the local Fishers Big Wheel (which was like a K-Mart). It was there I bought my first Kiss cassette, “Destroyer.” Throughout the 1980s, I became a bigger fan of theirs, including drummer Eric Carr, and how cool he looked after reading stories about him in Metal Edge Magazine, along with other music magazines.

            I was also a huge fan of Gene Simmons, who was all over my TV at the time with his movies “Runaway” and “Trick or Treat,” which I watched all the time with another drummer friend of mine (Many years ago I got the DVD of the movie at a Walmart bargin bin and still love the film, and the music of Fastway who performed the soundtrack).  I remember almost wearing out my VHS copy of “Kiss Meets the Phantom of The Park” when I taped it from a late night Pittsburgh TV Channel.  I still have many Kiss T-Shirts and items (one of my favorite still is my Eric Carr Figure, and the “Crazy Nights” Program Book a college friend sold to me, who is even a bigger Kiss fan than I am). I saw them on the Reunion Tour in 1996 in Pittsburgh PA, “The Psycho Circus” Tour in 1998 at the same arena, and the “Farewell Tour” in Cleveland, Ohio in 2000. Even though I saw drummer Eric Singer with Alice Cooper, I have not seen him with Kiss (who happens to be my second favorite drummer behind Eric Carr, and got to talk to Singer at the Cooper show).

            Since Kiss was such an important part of my music listening and drumming career, I thought I’d rank my Top Kiss Albums. As passionate as Kiss fans are, I am sure this will cause some debate, but this is my ranking of my favorite albums by the band. I am not counting any Greatest Hits Collections or Live Albums on this list-this is strictly their studio work.

6. “Rock And Roll Over” (1976).  This album also has one of my favorite covers of the band, although many may choose “Destroyer” as the best, I love the cover so much that my girlfriend got me a coffee mug of the cover of the album.  This album charted at #11 on the U.S. Album Charts, and has great songs like “Mr. Speed” (probably my favorite lesser known Kiss song ever), “Love Em, Leave Em,” and “Makin Love,” which closes the album.   The song also has “Hard Luck Woman,” which became a hit for the band, which has a Rod Stewart feel to the song. There are a few songs that wear on me, but overall this is one of my tops.

5.  “Love Gun” (1977).  This album is great all throughout with no fillers on the album. What is amazing about Kiss during the early years is that they were releasing two albums a year while touring. Today’s acts can hardly put out an album once a year.  Once again, the cover is great, with the band surrounding by women in Kiss makeup. I always loved the cover just because of how Gene looks so menacing, like Count Dracula or another horror character in the painting.  This was a time when the album covers meant something to the product.

            Another aspect of the album I love (no pun intended) is the fact that it is a short album, with a run time of a little over 32 minutes, which leads no time for filler solos or songs just to plug up the album. I remember getting this album on cassette at a bargain bin, and practicing the parts on my drum set for hours. Although many love the album due to Ace Frehley’s “Shock Me,” I love the songs “Plaster Caster,” Christine Sixteen,” and the bands remake of “Then She Kissed Me,” a re-working of  then “Then He Kissed Me” hit by The Crystals.  I also like “Hooligan,” with drummer Peter Criss singing lead, which is a song I liked better than “Beth.”  The album also reminds me of “The Phantom of the Park,” when some of the songs from the album was used in the film.

4. “Destroyer” (1976).  Most people love this album because of the famous album cover, and because it has the staples like “Beth,” Detroit Rock City,” and “Shout It Out Loud,” which are all good reasons. However, when I listen to this album, I think of songs like “King Of The Night Time World,” and “Flaming Youth.”  My memories of the album is more being able to purchase my first Kiss cassette, as mentioned earlier, and the fact that so many songs are still played live today by the band shows its importance. However, some of the songs are overplayed that I need a break from hearing them, but that does not take away from how good the album is from start to finish.

3. “Hotter Than Hell” (1974).  This album is my favorite of the original lineup.  This was their second album and has a dark theme to some of the songs, which made me afraid of the band (along with many other parents at the time when they heard and saw the band). Songs like “Parasite,” Got To Choose,” and “All The Way” are my favorites.  “Watching You” and “Goin Blind” are also great in keeping with a dark tone.  Even though the album only charted around #100 on the Albums Charts (they didn’t get their break until “Alive I” a few years later), this is my favorite of the originals.  The cover isn’t as awesome as “Love Gun” or “Destroyer,” but the songs are what counts.

2. “Crazy Nights” (1987). Now this is where Kiss fans will start attacking me, but I think this album is underrated, and it was a major part of me growing up in junior high. The song “Crazy Crazy Nights” was played at every high school dance I went to, along with the junior high dances (certain dances junior higher students were allowed to attend the high school ones).  This was the album that I discovered Eric Carr’s drumming as well, who became my all time favorite drummer.  I loved the shattered glass image for the cover, and thought Eric looked cool with his drummer gloves, which I didn’t see many drummers use before. Many fans think this album is too polished and Pop sounding, but when the album came out, it was no different from the stuff that was being released at the time.  I still think “Reason To Live,” and “Turn on The Night” are great songs, along with the drumming on “I’d Fight Hell To Hold You.”  This album gets too much criticism in my opinion (almost as much bashing as “The Elder” or “Dynasty”), but it gets high ranking for me due to the memories I have of the album growing up.

1.     “Revenge” (1992).  It’s hard to believe this album is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year. I remember when the video for the single “Unholy” was shown on MTV’s “Headbanger’s Ball” and I was floored by it. Gene Simmons was back in my eyes, looking mean and street-like, as opposed to the glam look he was sporting in the 1980s.   This album brought back many Kiss fans that left the band in the 1980s, and made the album hit #6 on the U.S. Album Charts.  I got the cassette when I was a member of the BMG Music Club, where you would get 12 cassettes for the price of one, as long as you bought it within the year. When I finally got a CD player, one of the first CDs I got from the club was “Revenge” as well.  Paul Stanley recently mentioned on Chris Jericho’s podcast that the band finally was at a common cause, as opposed to the years where he was doing most of the work, while Gene was doing movies.  Stanley also calls the album a rebuilding of the Kiss brand, to get back the fans that left them in the 1980s. This album was the first for Eric Singer, who fit in great with the band.  This album could have been a disaster, in the fact that the fans (and the band) were just coming off of the death of Eric Carr, but this album is my favorite non-makeup era album.

     The album is heavy oriented, which was needed in the band, just like “Creatures of the Night” brought a new direction for the band in the 1980s.  Songs like “Domino,” “Thou Shall Not,” and “Heart of Chrome” (which Stanley recently stated is his favorite song on the album), shows more edge to the band, and that they were still able to compete with the grunge music that was started to break at the time.  This album also had the ballad “Every Time I Look At You” and the catchy “I Just Wanna” for the fans that were still loving the 1980s stuff that followed out of the “Hot In The Shade” Album that was before this one.  The band also brought former member guitar player Vinnie Vincent for the songwriting process, which shows that Vincent was still a great writer.  The album also shows how underrated guitarist Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer really are as musicians, who do not get enough credit in the music world.  I challenge anyone who doubts Singer’s work to check this album out, because he is definitely a great drummer.

This album also has a special memory for me, not just because of the music club, but I also bought my first T-shirt from online rock site Rockabilia. Back then, the company sent a catalogue through the mail, and I remember my excitement seeing the package at my college mailbox, and inside was a shirt of the band photo from the back of the CD. I wore that shirt proudly, and still have the shirt in good shape. The album was played constantly through my walks to and from classes on the college campus of Kent State University (this was before IPods and we had Walkmans).

There are many great Kiss albums like “Creatures of the Night,” “Carnival of Souls,” and “Dynasty,” and even the debut album, but there are songs I skip over on all those. (Plus I was tired of the “Carnival of Souls” after listening to bootleg copies of it for a year until the actual release).  The fact that Kiss started in 1974 and is still playing today is a testament to their musicianship.  The band will always have their critics, even those that refuse to accept the original lineup is not together, but I have enjoyed albums from each of the lineups. It is rare that a band with several lineups have been able to stay relevant and produce good music. Kiss is truly a musical phenomenon that has proven its longevity throughout several decades.