Album ReviewsReviews

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 2, Album Review)

Unbelievable opportunity of a lifetime presented itself and I had the honor of meeting the powerful and attractive…. The Demon himself…. Gene Simmons during the Los Angeles Gene Simmons Vault Experience.  Over several installments, I will be sharing parts of my incredible story and reviewing all 11 discs from the newly released Gene Simmons Vault.  Some reviews will be on Decibelgeek.com and some on GrowinUpRock.com (since I am a staff writer for both, I had to share the love).

*Story time*

My brother (Danny) and I initially decided to wait until later in the day to complete our personal Vault Experience with Gene.  The initial schedule stated that the Meet & Greets would happen between 1130am-430pm.  At around 1pm (the exact timing escapes me), Keith Valcourt comes on stage and does a few announcements setting up the day.  Then, he drops a surprise.  “God willing, Ace Frehley will be here at 3pm, Eric Singer will be here at 430pm and Bruce Kulick will be here at 6pm”.  What?  You’ve gotta be kiddin’ me?  There are people clapping, hugging, high-fiving, etc. and the place goes nuts.  Hell, I almost cried.  So, decision time.  Do we still wait until the end of the timeframe to have our experience or get it done before Ace shows up?  Decision made.  Do it now, so we can enjoy Ace (and company) later.

Gene, Ace, & Eric

Gene Simmons Vault (disc 2) by Gene Simmons (Released Jan 2018, Rhino Records)

Executive producers: Gene Simmons, Gino Gargiulo, and Sienna Hernandez

 

 

*Template*

To have some consistency in all 11 reviews, I will be reviewing each song per the following template:

Grades

A: Should be on a Kiss album

B: One change and it could be a great song

C: Could be used as album filler

D: Needs serious help.  Call Desmond Child, Ron Nevison, Adam Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Vinnie Vincent

F: Belongs in an actual vault.  Lock it up and throw away the key.

Each track will be set up as:

Song Title (Grade)

Songwriters

Players

Comments

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Weapons” (C)

Simmons

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

“So, from the top… whole band double-time”. The title was changed from “Weapons” to “Weapons of Mass Destruction” for the 2004 Asshole album.  Not sure who is playing on this demo, but the final recorded version has Gene, Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer playing on it.  Originally this song was pitched to be on Psycho Circus, but Kiss passed on it.  This song is okay…. It’s just filler.

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Weapons (Power to Raise the Dead)” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, Ace Frehley, Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick

The “Weapons” title is changed to “Weapons (Power to Raise the Dead)”, Gene hands the vocal duties to Ace (he only sings on the track, all guitars are done by Bruce), Ace make some changes to the melody and lyrics and BOOM…. The song goes from filler to killer!

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Hate” (A)

Simmons, Scott Van Zen, Bruce Kulick

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

Although I am not a fan of the Carnival of Souls album, this song is the best on that album.  Bruce came up with the killer riff and you can tell that the guitar parts were more refined for the final recording.  The original name of the song was “I Am Hate”.  I like the original title better.

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Carnival of Souls #2” (B)

Simmons, Scott Van Zen

Simmons, Scott Van Zen

This is the original 4-track version with Van Zen playing guitar and bass against a drum machine track.  The lyrics weren’t finished so you hear some dead spots in the vocal melody.  This song ended up on the Asshole album with Gene, Richie Kotzen and Mark Addison playing on the final recording.  Nick Tweed Simmons also helps on background vocals.  This demo version doesn’t have a guitar solo but the mighty Kotzen absolutely rips on the recorded version.  I’ll say it again, if the chorus melody matched the caliber of the verse and bridge melodies, you would have a great song.

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Master of Flash” (A)

Jon Montgomery

Simmons

No, it’s not a typo.  It’s flash not flesh.  Gene bought the publishing rights for this song from Jon Montgomery (Street Punk).  The lyrics fit The Demon perfectly, “All the kids with painted faces follow him around, all the girls with satin and laces know when he’s in town.”  The 4-track demo features Gene playing guitar, including the solo (no other instruments are on the recording). This Bowie-esque song would’ve fit perfectly on Gene’s 1978 Solo album.

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Heavy Rain” (B)

Simmons, Bruce Kulick

Simmons, Bruce Kulick

This track is a heavier version of a song written in the late 80s called “Rain Keeps Falling”.  Song has great melody, darker feel and sounds like it could’ve landed on Carnival of Souls.

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Within” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Bruce Kulick, Eric Singer

This is a demo of the song that would later appear on Psycho Circus.  The lyrics weren’t completed but the vocal melody is very close to the final product.  He does a lot of what I call “mush mouthing” or “Yabba Dabba Dooing” (some would call it “scatting”) to get thru the song.  By the way, have you ever tried “Yabba Dabba Dooing” when you know the melody but can’t remember the lyrics to your favorite song?  Try it someday.  “Yabba Dabba Doo, Yaaabbbbaaa Dabba Doooooo, Yabbbba DDDabba Doo….”.   Anyways, since Gene is a huge comic book fan, it’s no surprise that “Within” was inspired by Marvel’s Dr. Strange.

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In Your Face” (C)

Simmons

Simmons

Gene is a one man show on this track.  Diehard Kiss fans have heard this song before but not with Gene’s vocals.  He also takes a shot at the guitar solo.  The song ends abruptly about 2 minutes in.  Not sure if the rest of the recording was lost or it wasn’t going well, and Gene just stopped.

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In Your Face (with Ace)” (A+)

Simmons, Ace Frehley

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

Another example of Ace getting involved, changing the lyrics, adding a smokin’ guitar solo and a “C” song immediately goes to an “A”.  I’m sure it’s available in other ways, but originally this song was released as a bonus that came with the Psycho Circus 3-D video.  Awesome song!

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Rain #2” (B)

Simmons

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

This is another version of the songs “Heavy Rain” and “Rain Keeps Falling”.  Kiss tried to do a version during the preliminary stages of Psycho Circus, but the rest of the band didn’t like the song.  It would be interesting to hear Paul singing this tune.

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Carnival of Souls (intro)” (A)

Simmons, Scott Van Zen

Scott Van Zen

This 32 second musical piece is the big spooky brother of the 40 second intro that starts off the song “Psycho Circus”.

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I Wanna Live” (A)

Simmons, Vincent Cusano

Simmons, Silent Rage

Never recorded or heard anywhere, “I Wanna Live” makes its debut.  Circa 1982-1983, the story is that Silent Rage (Californian hard rock quartet formed by Mark Hawkins (vocals, guitar, synthesizer), Timmy James Reilly (vocals, guitar), E.L. Curcio (bass) and Jerry Grant (drums)) helped with the recording but it’s unclear in what capacity.  Not sure who played the guitar solo but if it’s Vinnie…. It’s very tame and melodic.  There is almost 2 pages of text regarding Vinnie and his time in Kiss.  Did he ever sign the contract?  Was he fired?  Did Vinnie ever apologize?  It’s all in the 143-page book……

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If It’s Too Hot, You’re Too Cold” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Silent Rage

This song is based on an old 70s demo called “Rotten to the Core” and ended up on Sonic Boom as “Hot and Cold”.  The book explains this track on page 34 and there is a warning that Gene is going to confuse you… and I’m thoroughly confused by the write-up for this song.  Gene if you are reading this, I think the data on page 34 regarding “Eat Your Heart Out” is incorrect…. But I’m just a crazy fan so who knows….

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Rain Keeps Falling” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Silent Rage

The “Silent Rage guys” helped on this original demo that later became “Heavy Rain” and “Rain #2” earlier on this CD.  I like this version best because it’s the most melodic.  Or, maybe it’s just that I’ve heard the song in several different ways by now and it just grew on me.

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Bells of Freedom” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, Tommy Thayer

Inspired by The Who, this song is lyrically different than what Gene normally writes.  Overall, the idea is good but it’s not as catchy as some of the other songs on the 1st two CDs.

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault – Disc 2 Final Thoughts

2 discs down.  9 to go.  Ace Frehley is the hero of this CD.  His 2 songs are my favorite of the bunch.

Thanks for reading.  Pooni out!

Check here for the Disc 1 review available at Decibelgeek.com

For the entire amazing Gene Simmons Vault Experience story, check out Podcast Rock City: Episode 185.

Facebook live videos, including Ace Frehley playing with Gene Simmons, available on my Facebook feed.

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Buy: Gene Simmons Vault Experience

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