Finishing out the month of November with KISS things, we have three more anniversaries this month.
First, what is, to me, the better of the two original US-based greatest hits KISS albums, Smashes Thrashes & Hits. I don’t know why they used this title as I think it’s kind of silly, but I liked the album itself. November 15 was the THIRTIETH anniversary of that album. THIRTY! Wow.
There are several things to note about this album, though.
One, it has two original songs written and recorded for this comp. I believe they may have been written for Crazy Nights but just didn’t make it on. I also think that those two songs sound more like Hot in the Shade material than they do Crazy Nights and it came out between the two.
Both songs are dripping with sex. Extra sex. I mean, the songs’ titles are “Let’s Put the ‘X’ in Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard.” I think that Paul was trying too hard, actually. Well, him and his writing partners. Both were co-written with frequent writing partner Desmond Child and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” was co-written by Diane Warren. The second isn’t as obvious but the double entendre is “hard” to miss. Both had videos and both were pretty cheesy. But, I listen to them.
Another thing, with the exception of “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” all the makeup songs (which were most of the album) were all remixes. Eric Carr recorded his version of “Beth” which I thought was a much better version. Another notable change was with “Love Gun” where they sang the outro chorus over what would normally be the solo spot. The solo spot still happened just under the vocals.
One more thing, there was nothing from Crazy Nights even though that was the most recent album. All the non-makeup albums and including Creatures of the Night were represented except Crazy. The UK version did have “Reason to Live” and “Crazy, Crazy Nights” but not the US version. The UK also didn’t have “Deuce.”
I wore the cassette and CD out of this album. The cover had Gene and Bruce looking kind of cool to the right while Eric was playing a little side-shy-peek-a-boo and Paul doing some weird jazz hands thing. They were surrounded by a bunch of reaching arms, I suppose of fans. It was billed as “15 Years of KISStory.” Overall, I really like the album. I had grown weary of Double Platinum and this included more than the first six studio albums. If you’re not a KISS fan or just wonder what I get out of it? This is a decent representation. More things came after this. Speaking of which…
Last Tuesday, November 20, which happens to be my birthday, was the 17th anniversary of the KISS Box Set. Now, I have mixed feelings about this album. I have the cool “box set” that is in the mini guitar case with five CDs. There’s also a 120-page booklet that has “commentary” and liner notes from Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul. There are a good bit of unreleased songs and demos.
Now, what I have a problem with is there should have been a lot more demos and unreleased songs. They remixed and remastered the Wicked Lester album, or at least they did three of the songs. I was hoping to hear the whole thing remastered. I had only heard a muddy mix of a dubbed tape of a dubbed tape of a dubbed tape of about 20 generations. I know that Gene and Paul didn’t write but a small handful of the songs, but I think they could have secured rights.
Plus, I think there should have been a better representation of all the albums to that point. In some shape or form, the entire debut album is represented on here (minus the cover of “Kissin’ Time”). Five songs are represented from Hotter Than Hell including demos. Four from Dressed to Kill, and then, and then, and then.
I have never known KISS to worry about how much something costs. I think they could have done two boxes. One just the demos, unreleased and rarities, the other more complete albums. Maybe that’s not feasible. Maybe it’s overkill. I just wish I had more of the stuff I’ve not heard my entire life over the stuff that I have. I know they have to assume that people who aren’t KISS fans will buy it and they need to give them the substance. But, again, make that a separate thing. Give us more of that. Give me more of that.
What is included? As I said, parts of the Wicked Lester unreleased album; “Stop, Look to Listen,” a 1966 demo by Paul; “Leeta” a 1969 demo by Gene; a six-minute live performance from 1973 of “Acrobat” which in part became “Love Theme from KISS”; the original studio demos that got KISS their record deal; “Doncha Hesitate” and “Mad Dog” both unreleased demos from the Destroyer sessions; the demo of “God of Thunder”; “Bad, Bad Lovin'” which became “Calling Dr. Love”; “I Want You” from a 1977 soundcheck; “Love Is Blind” an unreleased demo from the Love Gun sessions; a demo version of “Radioactive” from Gene’s solo album (each member has one solo album song); “You’re All That I Want, You’re All That I Need” a demo recorded in 1977 that would eventually become “You’re All That I Want” on Unmasked; ” Talk to Me” live in 1980; an unreleased demo of Paul’s “Time Traveler” from the Crazy Nights sessions; “Ain’t That Peculiar” Eric demo that became “Little Caesar”; the demo of “Domino”; “Childhood’s End” with the special coda – previously unreleased; a previously unreleased demo of “It’s My Life” from the Psycho Circus sessions, which sounds like something that would come later on Sonic Boom or Monster.
So, really that is a lot of cool things, but with the vault they must have, can you imagine what this could have been? Now, also I recognize that with the “End of the Road” tour coming up and their impending retirement of the band, that there will be opportunities for more box sets. This was a great start, but I think it could have been much better.
And, then the last thing (or two last things) I’ll talk about for November is another box set of sorts. It’s KISS Alive! 1975-2000. This includes the same day release of Alive! The Millennium Concert, a show that was recorded on New Years Eve 1999 but not released until 2006 on November 21. The box set contained Alive, Alive II, Alive III and the Millennium Concert. I haven’t heard the last so I can’t really comment on it. But, it is from 1999 before Paul’s voice was completely shot. There’s really nothing that stands out to me about it. It was supposed to be Alive IV but that got shelved and we ended up with KISS Symphony: Alive IV. It’s okay.
So, happy anniversaries to each of the releases I talked about. This is all of the releases for the year. There were no KISS album releases in December, as of yet. So, I hope you enjoyed the KISS albums that I have touched on. I think it’s all true to the best of my knowledge.
Until tomorrow, keep KISSin’!
“Kiss is a Fourth of July fireworks show with a backbeat.” – Gene Simmons