Say what you want about us KISS fans. We have spending power and we like to buy KISS shit. And shit is largely what they've given us for some time now. The last two studio records sound like Asylum rejects. The KISS Kruise is just an annual ritual of them lowering expectations while raising prices. And when they manage to do something awesome like reissuing all the albums on vinyl in a road case they ask Vinnie Vincent what he thinks they should charge.
The point being when they do something cool they still find a way to underwhelm. The KISSology DVD sets were well done packages of what KISS fans have wanted for years. Complete with unique Easter eggs and content that merited the cost. But of course they edited the Tom Snyder interview to make Gene look less douche-y and Ace less awesome. And for each release there was the bonus discs. A different bonus disc per retailer. Meaning if you wanted them all you had to buy it 3 times.
Lets talk about this Love Gun Deluxe edition. Not counting the many used vinyl copies I've purchased, this will be the sixth time I bought this album. I know. Fool me once. Shame on you. Fool me six or more times... Look, I know to an outsider it looks like punching yourself in the face. True KISS fans will understand. But I'm not sure I get the timing. Why Love Gun? Why now? Are there more coming? Are they gonna cost 28 bucks? Putting those questions aside what does 28 bucks get ya?
Well, for starters, the song Love Gun is on here four times. One is of Paul Stanley explaining to a 1970's tape recorder how to play it. He sounds like he was getting ready to do the Ambien challenge when he suddenly remembered he had to do this. I can't imagine why was this ever recorded? Then the demo of a previously unreleased Gene song called Reputation. KISS demos of songs released and unreleased have been available via bootlegs of some form for decades so all an official KISS release has to offer is the best possible fidelity of a given track. Including this track on this "Deluxe" edition is particularly offensive as they already released it a few months back on their double disc retrospective KISS 40. Did they think we forgot? This song eventually morphed into True Confessions and appeared on Gene's 78' solo album.
I Know Who You Are is another song that would appear on his solo record in reworked fashion ala Lving In Sin. In both cases it's cool to hear how these songs transformed into their end result. The only other unreleased song is called Much Too Soon. Another Gene track. It's clear this has no business on a KISS album but I think, in the 70's especially, Gene had such a unique approach to writing. This song is a little weird but for a fan it's a lot of fun to hear. More please. There are also demo's for Hooligan, Plaster Caster and an instrumental demo of Tomorrow and Tonight for the karaoke fans out there.
The interview of Gene from 1977 is interesting to listen to as Gene hadn't quite developed his arsenal of bumper sticker ethos he spews in every interview nowadays. Which leaves us with the "live" tracks. The vocals were redone recently. Like a few days ago recently. They pulled this crap with the just in time for a tour release You Wanted The Best in 1996 which featured some "Lost" tracks from the Alive! recording. Gene. Paul. We can tell. This is unnecessary and frankly embarrassing.
At least it comes with a booklet chock full of cool pictures from the time with the self serving bio that accompanies releases like these. And who do they get to write the liner notes? Joe Elliot. A man who never had a kind word to say about KISS prior to joining them on tour this year. Whether it's Garth Brooks or Lady Gaga this is just another reminder how much KISS wants us to know that famous people like them. The original album came with a paper gun. This comes with a magnet of that gun. Which is probably the coolest thing about this. Is that enough?
This is KISS. This is charging 1000 bucks for a meet and greet and saying "no pictures." This is charging 40 bucks for Carnival of Souls on vinyl with a cover that was scanned from a CD copy. This is promising all sorts of goodies with ALIVE III and then giving none of it. This is playing the same 15 songs for a decade. This is a box set with almost no unique content. This is dumping Melvins from KISS My Ass for flavor of the month Dinosaur Jr. This is the Rock n Roll HOF with no performance. This is pretending Carr Jam wasn't a song on an Ace Frehley record called Breakout. This... is KISS.
The really sad thing is I know, as much as I just complained, I will buy the next underwhelming "new" release. I'm my own worst enemy. I am a completionist. And there are a lot of me. And KISS knows it. They will continue to tease with snippets and charge premium price for a product you already own. They will never intentionally make a performance unique and they will always try to control the story. But here's the thing. Why do they think they can only get our money if what they offer is underwhelming? Why does their business model seem to be "If it's cool we won't make money."? They put together this "Deluxe Edition" as if it were for the audience of the Super Bowl.
There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how these are being handled. There seems no effort to make it truly special. And does it really need to cost so much? Why not do a package like this for all of the records, one at a time and in order of release? Starting with a proper release of Wicked Lester. Aren't you old enough to not be embarrassed anymore. You do know we've all heard it.
So I am offering my services, FREE OF CHARGE, (You like that don't ya Genie baby) to oversee all future Deluxe reissues of this wonderful back catalog. I will need final say in all bonus material and there will be no re-recording of anything. Demos and live performances shall be presented with existing warts. It will be cool and you will make money.
So Gene. Paul. You got a lot of my money. Your gonna get more. You can do better than 4 versions of Love Gun can't ya? Search your feelings you know it to be true. Anyway, let me know when you want me to start working on that Wicked Lester release as the fans and I are waiting.