Sunday, July 8, 2012

The LOST Kiss Album!


So as we begin week two of Kissmas in July, I would like to direct some attention to one of the coolest Kiss records ever recorded. Unfortunately it's also one of the most overlooked albums in their catalogue.

Mr.Aaron Camaro once mentioned on the podcast that Kiss can really be divided into era's. To the casual fan, that would usually be looked at as simply "makeup" and "non- makeup" Kiss. To the die-hard Kiss geek it can be broken down in many different ways and that's the beauty of being a Kiss fan. If you truly love the band and have devoured their entire catalogue of music there is so much more than just Rock and Roll all Nite and Shout it Out Loud.

Kiss truly have albums for different moods and times. Party tunes, classic rock n roll tunes, heavy metal Kiss, Glam Rock Kiss and of course the syrupy Kiss ballads. As Gene once said "there is no reason I can't like steak and cheesecake." (Of course he might have been referring to blondes vs. brunettes) The fact is whatever mood I am in, I can always find a Kiss record to provide an enjoyable soundtrack. Not many bands can deliver on that.

So let's take a rewind back to a wonderful yet strange time to be a Kiss maniac. The time was around 1995. KISS was in the studio working on the follow-up to Revenge and were promising a dark, raw heavy album.

The Konvention Tour was an experience like no other and of course that led into the MTV "unplugged" show that still gives me goosebumps when I see Ace and Peter join the group onstage. The seeds planted, the lawyers hard at work behind the scenes making sure the big money "Reunion Tour" was going to happen.

Wow did it happen! Kiss were suddenly everywhere again. From the moment they walked onto the Grammy stage in full regalia the whole world seemed to catch Kiss fever. For myself it was a total dream come true as I was too young to have seen the original lineup, it was a moment I will never forget.

The Reunion tour put KISS back on top but for a fan of all the non-makeup years it was also an end. An end to an era that produced 6 great studio albums (Lick it Up - Revenge). An end to "MY" Kiss as I was 13 when Lick it Up was released so the NON-Makeup Kiss was really the soundtrack of my youth. The tours were amazing and I remember each show fondly as the set list was always a great mix of classics and new stuff. The stage changed dramatically each tour, the look always evolving, you never knew exactly what you were going to get except you knew it was KISS!

So as happy as I was to have the reunion, I was also a little bummed knowing that the music I loved so much was now completely ignored and basically forgotten. To make matters worse they had been recording a new album that was also now thrown into the "forgotten" file as Paul and Gene went out to tour the world in 1996. Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions was finally released in 1997 with very little fanfare as the Kiss were still out on the road.

Carnival of Souls delivered what Kiss had promised. A heavy, dark, metal album that lyrically is a very different Kiss record. Gone are the party themed, sexual innuendos as the band created some dark introspective lyrics to go along with the feel of these new songs. COS is not a party time Kiss record but that doesn't mean its not a great Kiss record. I will go on record and say the musicianship on this Carnival of Souls is absolutely killer and possibly some of the best guitar and bass (the bass work on Jungle is off the hook!) that Kiss has ever laid down.

I highly recommend taking an hour out of your day, throwing on some good headphones, closing your eyes and with zero distractions take a good listen to Carnival of Souls. "Hate" is Unholy's sister track and pure evil. The aforementioned "Jungle" is Paul Stanley's finest moment on the album and is a song I would have loved to have seen performed live.

As I mentioned the Reunion of 1996 was every Kiss fan's dream come true, but that dream came at a price. Now I know many will call me nuts when I say that part of me wishes that Carnival of Souls had gotten the promotion and Tour that is deserved. It could have been an interesting show both visually and musically and a show I would have loved to see.


Anonymous said...

Find it hard to listen to. Very confused album! Some good songs on there, no doubt but I hate the production. Weird times!

Beto said...

At last! someone with the same feeling about the end of a marvelous era, the finest for me, thanks i'm not so lonely about this ;)

RJhog (Classic Rock Bottom) said...

Wallygator, I'm a big fan of COS as well. I think it's totally underrated. The only song that I don't really care for is Rain. But I'm going a step further than you and say that I think the reunion, as great for fans as it may have been, robbed us of some potentially great Kiss albums.

What we have gotten since then is a half-assed reunion album (Psycho Circus) and an underwhelming album from the current lineup (Sonic Boom). Of course, there's Monster looming, but I can't imagine it would be any better than anything Gene, Paul, Eric and BRUCE KULICK could have done at this point. As far as I'm concerned, that's the major mistake Gene and Paul made with the direction of the band. I can put up with the ridiculous shenanigans such as Monster (the book) and all of the other BS they throw at the fans because I don't have to buy them. But Bruce got a raw deal, and If that wouldn't have happened, I think we would have at least 5 or 6 albums by now. Like you said, they were on fire musically on COS, and it should have been step 2 in the rejuvenation of Kiss and the band's ability to produce 21st century hard rock music.

Anonymous said...

KISS pretending to be Soundgarden or Pearl Jam (right down to the flannel shirts in some photos around the time it was actually recorded) with possibly the worst group of songs they ever wrote. Even the Paul songs suck and that's saying something. Awful, awful attempt at pretending to be something they were not.

Anonymous said...

"Even the Paul songs suck and that's saying something." Well,, this is an album GENE wanted to do. Paul wasn't comfortable with the material, but tried his best to deliver (and most of his songs are better than most of Gene's). After getting to do what he wanted for most of the 80's, he deferred to Gene on this one.

But make no mistake, this is BRUCE'S album. Not just because he finally sang on it (Really? No mention of that?), but the guitar work and the bass...Yes, he did most of the bass. That's HIS work on "Jungle."

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