Reviews

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 4, Album Review)

*Past reviews*

Click here for Disc 1

Click here for Disc 2

Click here for Disc 3

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).

 

Gene & Ace at the LA Vault taken by Hollywood Pooni

*FAQ*

I have received a couple of questions that I wanted to answer for the folks reading these reviews.

Question: Which disc is the Van Halen stuff on?

Answer: Disc 3.  Click here for that review.

 

 

 

Question: Is there a song with Vinnie Vincent in The Vault?

Answer: Yes.  It’s on Disc 2.  Click here for that review.

Question: Was there a secret compartment in The Vault?  What did you get?

Answer: Yes, there is a secret area.  It looks like a little slot, but has a hollowed-out area (behind the book) that is big.  I received 4 items: A backstage pass from the current era, an invitation for the VH1 Rock Honors, a sticker from the late 70s era and a box of Kiss Kondoms 😊.  Just a reminder, these personal gifts are randomly chosen and placed.  The nominal value is all in the eye of the beholder and is not equal for all.

Gene Simmons Vault (disc 4) 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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Plaster Caster” (A)

Simmons

Simmons

The song was inspired by a woman named Cynthia Plaster Caster.  There were a group of ladies (Cynthia lived in Chicago) that were making plaster casts of rock star genitalia when given the opportunity.   Sounds nuts to me (see what I did there).  Anyway, Gene plays all instruments including the drums and guitar solo.  Has Gene been plaster casted?  The answer is in The Vault….

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X-Ray Eyes” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons

Remember the whole story about the genie and being granted 3 wishes?  Having x-ray eyes would be one of my wishes 😊.  All work on this demo is done by Gene including the guitar solo, and what a great solo it is!  The melody is a bit different that the final product on DynastyPaul, Peter and Ace go clubbing…. Gene goes to Planet Studio (in L.A.) at 1am to record this demo.  Love or hate Gene, you can’t ever question his work ethic.

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Charisma” (A+)

Simmons, Howard Marks

Simmons

Howard Marks was the business manager and helped with some of the lyrics.  The song title, the lyrics, the feel, etc. is perfect for Gene.  By the way, Dynasty is NOT a disco album.  Next time you spin the album, skip “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” and “Sure Know Something” and you’ll see that it’s a hard rock album.  Another demo where Gene plays all the instruments including a melodic guitar solo.

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Rockin’ in the USA” (B)

Simmons

Simmons

I’ll say it again, I had no idea that Gene could play guitar so well.  The vocal melody on this demo, including the backing vocals, are significantly different than what ended up on Alive II.  In my opinion, the final product was better but those who love the 1978 solo album will most likely enjoy this demo version.

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Radioactive” (A)

Simmons

Simmons

Recorded on a day off during a tour, Gene played all the instruments including the piano and guitar solo.  According to the book, Jerry Lee Lewis was supposed to play/sing on the 1978 solo album recording of the song, but his flight was late.  So, Bob Seger helped instead.

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See You in Your Dreams Tonight” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Brian Ray, Carolyn Ray, Katey Sagal, Franny Eisenberg

How is “See You in Your Dreams” connected to both “Shout it out Loud” and the movie Runaway?  Sounds like the music for the song was inspired by the guitar lick in “Shout it out Loud”.  Carolyn Ray, one of the background singers on the 1978 solo album version, wound up working with Michael Crichton on Runaway.  She suggested “If you are looking for a bad guy for your movie….”.  For the Kiss super freaks, the version of this song on Rock and Roll Over has a guitar lick played on top of the vocal in the second verse that the 1978 solo album version doesn’t have.  The demo is part RARO version and part 1978 solo version.  Brian Ray plays guitar and the 3 ladies sing background vocals.

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Man of 1,000 Faces #1” (B)

Simmons

Simmons

No orchestra on this demo.  Just Gene playing all the instruments.  I’m not a fan of the version on the 1978 solo album but like this rock version a little better.

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Man of 1,000 Faces #2” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Ace Frehley, J. R. Smalling

Although labeled as #2, this recording happened before #1.  Ace plays lead guitar, Smalling plays drums, Gene everything else.  Ace plays a great solo, but this demo isn’t as good as #1 (but it’s better than the version on the 1978 solo).  Even Gene admits that the vibe of this recording isn’t what he was looking for.

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Calling Dr. Love” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, studio drummer (unnamed)

This is the demo that Kiss recreated for the Rock and Roll Over album.  I never knew this, but the song was inspired by a Three Stooges TV episode.  I guess you never know when inspiration will strike.  For the guitarists out there, Gene wrote “I wrote it on acoustic guitar, and probably because of that, the chords are acoustic guitar chords, not barre chords…” whatever that means.

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Bad Bad Lovin’” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Ace Frehley, J. R. Smalling

Same lineup as “Man of 1,000 Faces #2”, the 3 musicians recorded this in 1976.  The demo is basically the “Calling Dr. Love” verse with a different chorus and melody.  It sounds like 2 separate songs, jammed together that don’t transition well with each other.

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Almost Human” (D)

Simmons

Simmons

Time to make some Kiss fans mad…. I have NEVER liked this song.  This demo doesn’t change my mind.  Gene’s vocal sounds great, he plays all the instruments, but the song is just not good.  Just my opinion…. sorry….

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Burning Up with Fever #1” (B)

Simmons

Simmons

A more rock version of the song vs. “Burning Up with Fever #2” on disc 3.  It was recorded on an 8-track with Gene playing everything.  A nice 41 second guitar solo….

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True Confessions #1” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Katey Segal, Carolyn Ray, Franny Eisenberg, Brian Ray

On this 24-track recording Brian Ray plays guitar, with Segal, Carolyn Ray, and Eisenberg doing background vocals (they would also participate in the final recording during the 1978 solo album).  This demo is raw, almost edgy.

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Goin’ Blind/Little Lady” (A)

Simmons, Steve Coronel

Simmons, Brooke Ostrander

Circa 1970, this demo is a skeleton of what was the final recording on Hotter Than Hell.  No drums.  Just a great piece of music and melody that became a classic.  Ostrander is playing the keyboard.  There is also an interesting story shared in the write up of this song where Gene is trying to get a record contract and the guys from Steely Dan give him the “…we’ll call you…” conversation.  Who came up with the line “I’m 93 you’re 16….”?  The answer is in The Vault.

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Larger Than Life” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, drummer not credited

I LOVE this song!  The Alive II version is an “A+” because I like Bob Kulick’s solo better than what Gene plays on this demo.  A Kiss Klassic!

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It’s My Life” (A+)

Simmons, Paul Stanley

Simmons

“…it’s now or never…. I ain’t gonna live forever, I just wanna live while I’m alive…”  Oops, wrong Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.  Sorry….  A version of this song was recorded by Wendy O. Williams.  It’s ok but doesn’t hold a candle to this demo.  Why this song isn’t on a Kiss studio album is a “Kisstory Mystery” (I didn’t coin that phrase, Chris Czynscak from Decibel Geek did).  Who said (about the song) “Yeah, It’s not great”?  The answer is in…. yes, you guessed it… The Vault.

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault – Disc 4 Final Thoughts

4 discs down.  7 to go.  If you have always wanted to hear Gene play guitar solos, this disc has a bunch.

Thanks for reading.  Pooni out!

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

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