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I'm Riding Shotgun on the CD1025 Morning Show This Friday - Colin Gawel

I'll be Brian Phillips' co-pilot for the CD1025 Morning Show Friday May 25th as we fly you into Memorial Day weekend. Tune in or stream the show from 7-11 am at www.cd1025.com. Brian was recently voted 3rd most popular radio voice in Columbus by 614 magazine, which is pretty amazing considering that includes every Clear Channel / Sports Radio / AM Rush Limbaugh type show in this huge, sprawling radio market.  

A reminder, WWCD in Columbus Ohio is one of the last independent alternative rock n roll stations left on the planet. It plays amazing music and supports the community. Get on board and spread the word. - Colin 

How cool is CD1025? They have been dropping in this little nugget on occasion.

Conkle's Hollow and the Devil's Dulcimer - by Colin Gawel

So on the first nice spring day of the year I decided to borrow a page from Lost Weekend Records owner Kyle Siegrist’s playbook to visit Hocking Hills and take a hike at Conkle's Hollow. I was cruising down 33, just passing Clear Creek Metro Park when I saw a sign for a music store selling guitars. I thought, that’s kind of interesting but I was on the wrong side of the road and wanted to knock out the hiking task at hand before I lost momentum.

After hiking the stunning upper rim and reading some pages of the excellent "A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki, I was ready to hit the road home before rush hour traffic got too bad. On the way back, I passed the guitar store again doing sixty and my lapsed Catholic guilt kicked in, “You should stop and check that place out. You are a small business owner and a guitar player. If you don’t stop, who will? You could drop off a copy of the League Bowlers record. Hearing Mike Parks play guitar will make that guy’s day.”

So after hemming and hawing in my brain, I decided to exit the highway and find a service road to take me back. I wandered around on back roads before 86-ing that strategy in favor of attempting to make a left turn across the busy divided highway and retrace my path. And let me make this clear: folks driving away from Columbus sure are in a rush to get home. After almost getting run off the road, I drove five miles back to the last exit, u-turned, and this time, made the quick pull-off to the music store. Point being, it was a big pain in the ass to get back to that music store, but I was determined to do the right thing.

I finally pulled into the gravel lot, grabbed a copy of the Bowlers CD off the floor of my car and wandered up to the big wooden front porch. Nice place. I opened the door and stepped  into a well-lit room with all sorts of guitars & stuff hanging everywhere. It was a  pretty big space. Behind the counter, partially obscured, I see a gentleman hunched over with his back to me.

“Hi, I’m a musician traveling back to Columbus and figured I’d stop and check you out.”

“So?” was the curt reply.

“Yeah, I spent the day at Conkle’s Hollow. What a beautiful day, huh?”

Total F-ing Silence.

In fact, it suddenly occured to me that the whole place is silent. I’d never been in a music store with no music playing. Not even some dude playing "Stairway to Heaven" in the corner. It creeped me out.

Anyway, I started looking at stuff, pretending to possess interest and/or knowledge. The store was filled with mostly cheap electrics, decent acoustics, and a bunch of hippie Nelsonville-type instruments. If there is such a thing as a bluegrass drum circle I imagine this would be a pretty good spot to shop. I start fiddling with a dulcimer, or what I remember is a dulcimer from 4th grade music class. It had four strings, was tuned to a chord and wasn’t a banjo. I knew that much.

The door opened again and an elderly couple walked in. They turned towards me and asked, “Do you sell anything other than musical instruments?”

“Oh, I’m sorry, I don’t work here. You will have to ask him?” nodding my head towards the guy behind the counter.

They ask, “Excuse me sir, do you sell anything here besides musical instruments?”

“Does it look like it?” was the reply without turning around.

“Somebody down the road said there was an antique store around here. Do you know where that might be?”

Total F-ing Silence.

The elderly couple waited a moment, and then headed back out the door into the sunlight.

I was sort of enjoying fiddling with this dulcimer thing and figured what the hell, I’ll buy it. Maybe this dude’s fiance just left him for his co-worker and now he has a broken heart AND is stuck covering the guy’s shift. I tried to imagine a mile in his shoes.

I was hoping the tag said $32 but upon closer inspection it said $132. Oof. I started to rationalize that I would be doing a good deed and maybe this different instrument would spark a new song or two. This must have been why I stopped at this store, right? Time to embrace my destiny. So I grab the four-stringy thingy, put it in the case and threw in a string winder for the hell of it.  I went and stood at the cash register, maybe 10 feet from the back of the gentleman working there. 

I’m sort of scared now so I don’t say anything. I just stand at the cash register, which traditionally means I’m ready to engage in a transaction. The man makes no move.

Total F-ing silence.

After about 30 seconds, which felt like 5 minutes, a recorded Bible verse came over the speakers. LOUD.  

“He who walks in the valley of sin…..words..words..repent…. words...bible stuff….devil….words….bible stuff...jesus…... words ...words.. words..”

I stood there stunned, thinking, "That voice reminds me of 'we have assumed control' from the the end of Rush 2112."  It ended as quickly as is started.  Then back to total f-ing silence. The man didn't  move a muscle. 

I quietly put the dulcimer back on the shelf and exited the store.

I stole the string winder, though.

(Just kidding.)   (editor's note: I doubt that he's kidding.)

 

Colin Gawel plays in the League Bowlers and Watershed. He started Pencilstorm while killing time at Colin’s Coffee.

 

 

Results of the KISS Unmasked Fantasy Draft

Unmasked - The Kiss Non-Makeup Fantasy Draft

Nobody needs a list by ONE dude ranking all the KISS songs recorded from Lick It Up through Revenge. But SIX guys doing a fantasy-style snake draft of the "Unmasked" songs? That's life changing. It's death defying. Some may say, Unholy.  We drew names for draft position and below are the songs in the order they were chosen. Each league “owner” will do a separate write-up and arrange their record for Pencilstorm. Please share this with other KISS fans/haters. Lots for both to enjoy here.  Personally, I think Burn Bitch Burn went too high and Radar For Love went too low. Let the debates begin. We can discuss at the KISS Expo Indianapolis Sunday May 13th. - Colin Gawel

Click here for KISS Unmasked League Intro .

Click here for Mel Kiper's KISS Big Board Mock Draft .

UNMASKED - The KISS Song Fantasy Draft 2018 

The drafting order 1) Matt Walters 2) Scott Carr 3) Mike Lovins 4) Jeremy Porter 5) Colin Gawel 6) David Martin   

Click here for Individual Album Summaries:  Colin Gawel - David Martin - Scott Carr - Jeremy Porter - Matt Walters (TBA) - Mike Lovins(TBA)

Songs in the order they were chosen below:   

Round One:

1 - Unholy  

2 - Million to One 

3 - Exciter  

4 - Domino  

5 - Tears Are Falling

6 - Lick it Up

Round Two:

(Order reverses - David, Colin, Jeremy, Mike , Scott, Matt)

7 - Heaven’s on Fire

8 - Hide Your Heart

9 - All Hell’s Breaking Loose

10 - Uh All Night

11 - Who Wants to Be Lonely

12 - I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)

Round Three:

(Matt starts again)

13 - Heart of Chrome

14 - Take It Off

15 - Burn Bitch Burn

16 - Young and Wasted

17 - Thou Shall Not

18 - King of the Mountain

Round Four:

(David starts)

19 - Under the Gun

20 - Hell of High Water

21 - Rise to It

22 - Tough Love

23 - Not For the Innocent

24 - Fits Like a glove

Round Five:

(Matt starts)

25 - Thrills in the Night

26 - Get All You Can Take

27 - No No No

28 - Cadillac Dreams

29 - Crazy Nights

30 -God Gave Rock and Roll To You

Round Six:

(David starts)

31 - Trial By Fire

32 - Secretly Cruel

33 - On the 8th Day

34 - Paralyzed

35 - Turn On the Night

36 - Everytime I Look at You

Round Seven:

(Matt starts)

37 - Reason to Live

38 - Spit

39 - Little Caesar

40 - I Just Wanna

41 - Forever

42 - Betrayed

Round Eight:

(David starts)

43 - Gimme More

44 - Let’s Put the X in Sex

45 - Prisoner of Love

46 - Anyway You Slice It

47 - Spit

48 - I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You

Round Nine:

(Matt starts)

49 - Good Girl Gone Bad

50 - Carr Jam 1981

51 - My Way

52 - Silver Spoon

53 - Thief in the Night

54 - When Your Walls Come Down

Round Ten:

(David starts)

55 - Radar For Love

56 - I’m Alive

57 - Love’s a Slap in the Face

58 - Dance All Over Your Face

59 - While the City Sleeps

60 - Love’s a Deadly Weapon

Round Eleven:

(Matt starts)

61 - Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

62 - King of Hearts

63 - Murder in High Heels

64 - Boomerang

65 - The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away

66 - You Love Me to Hate You

Round Twelve:

(David Starts)

67 - Bang Bang You

68 - Read My Body

69 - You Make Me Hard

Owners are now assembling their records and will be posting their thoughts in the near future. 

 

My KISS Record - Who Dares Win by Matt Walters

 

Click here for the complete results of the KISS Unmasked fantasy draft.

I have a confession to make........

The nonmakeup era KISS has never particularly been my favorite. 

Oh sure, like most, I will loudly champion the bookends of that era, Lick It Up and Revenge, to anyone within earshot. After all, they’re undisputed, formidable second-tier KISS classics (those records usually rank 8th and 9th in my respective rankings), featuring top-notch production, well-balanced songwriting, and the band at its most focused. I’d say the better half of those records are chock full some of the very best KISS songs overall.  (As an aside, you’re reading this correctly - no, I don’t count Carnival of Souls as a real KISS album - and we didn’t count it in our draft. It was never released while that band was still active, the band never toured it, and none of the songs have ever been performed live. If you want, I will totally fight you in the comments. It’s not a bad record. It’s just not really a real KISS album, to me.)

Anyway, like many recovering KISS fans, I spent most of 1984-1990, the years ASIDE from the bookend releases, wondering exactly where the hell my band went, and honestly trying to listen to as little current KISS as I possibly could. You might say that I buried my KISS credentials in the closest sandbar this side of Leon the Sphinx. 

Each time I was forced to endure a single listen to any of the four album-abominations released under the KISS moniker during that unfortunate era, I was reminded that Gene Simmons was mailing in songs from D list movie sets while intentionally dressing as Bea Arthur in pink sequins. A cringeworthy thought, to be sure....

To be fair, there are decent songs on all the albums. Animalize has a rather tragic combination of some of Paul’s very best non-makeup songwriting paired with Gene’s very worst half-assed efforts, while Asylum has a couple of memorable tunes amidst 7 or 8 totally forgettable clunkers, and outfits that make early-period Poison look like they’re wearing street clothes. Crazy Nights was Paul trying way too hard to be a hair metal band with Heart’s producer, which left Gene just kind of looking and sounding ridiculous, while Hot In the Shade are four or five finished songs and about 10 8-track demos. 

This all being said, when my fellow KISS and Baseball nerd Colin Gawel asked me to be part of the insanity that is the KISS NONMAKEUP FANTASY DRAFT, this KISS and Chicago White Sox stat geek absolutely jumped at the opportunity to strangle the numbers to truly determine which semi-terrible Gene Simmons metaphorical log-fireplace thrash masterpiece in particular I might place in my starting lineup ahead of an almost as worthless Paul Stanley tune perfectly tailored to sound like Jon Bon Jovi wrote a song hungover for a eunuch to yodel it.

You might say I was born to do it.     No, really, I was. 

When the draft order was unveiled, I was awarded the first pick by random lottery. I instinctively felt as though I had a bit of advantage, ensuring I could lead the pack in how the draft fell in the odd rounds. Not wanting to waste this golden opportunity, I did the absolutely unthinkable - I listened to Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights and Hot in the Shade on repeat for ten days, in an effort to make sure my power rankings of all the songs that I didn’t really know and would never listen to again could be as absolutely accurate as possible.

...and while listening to Read My Body, Lonely Is the Hunter, and Radar For Love might be enough for any person to scream NO NO NO, I’m happy to report that my research indeed paid off in spades. I had a great draft, ending up with a fantastic group of some of the best songs. I only had one pick in the draft that I felt was a bad pick, and I came away thinking most of my album were winners.

I did end up with a different problem, though. The most difficult thing, for me, was actually sequencing the result! While some of my fellow draft colleagues were conscious to select first single material, album closers, or complementary material that naturally flowed, I was so focused on selecting the best song available in each draft position that some of it became impossible to juxtapose! The tracks I ended up with typically ended up being either very fast and loud or very soft and ballad-like, and I ended up with two songs that seemingly had to open the album.  

So, after spending hours in the think tank with my draft analysis, I ending up spending even more time -  a few weeks with my trusted coaches and staff -  as we assembled just the right starting lineup for opening day. 

And here’s the result! 

(Note- the album title was selected because it was the excellent working title of Crazy Nights) 

 

Kiss - Who Dares Win -   by Matt Walters

 

Side 1

Unholy

The first overall pick in the draft, and pretty much everyone agreed it was the only choice to make at #1. It’s probably not the best song in the draft in my opinion, but it’s absolutely the most valuable, as it is the best Gene Simmons song and a clear head above the second best Gene songs (Not For the Innocent, Domino, Fits Like a Glove, Thou Shalt Not, Young and Wasted). There are many great Paul Stanley songs from the Lick It Up-Revenge era, and certainly a healthy debate about which is the absolute best (I could make a decent case for two or three of my subsequent picks below), but there’s absolutely no question which Demon song rules the roost.

Heart of Chrome

This was an early round pick that some might have termed a reach, but several other GMs let it slip when I made this pick that it was on their board next. My favorite Paul Stanley song from the non makeup era, I feel as the angry/defiant Starchild side of his persona was reborn in this excellent Revenge track (see Sure No Something and Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me for reference to similar themes). This makes the ideal #2 track in my sequence, with a driving riff and the best lyrics of any song on the album. 

Fits Like A Glove

This has to be a middle of the order track in my sequence, as it’s the second best Gene hitter in my lineup, and a solid live rocker that would become a live staple for many tours. I’ve always loved this standby that for me, never gets old. I was thrilled to see his solo band recently put it back in the set...

Reason to Live

I have two ballads in my lineup, and I opted for the power ballad in the cleanup spot. As much as I dislike the idea of a power ballad carrying the proverbial weight, this track has the most mileage in terms of hit potential and will probably be the anchor of the lineup’s success. 

Thrills In The Night

My choice for the first single rounds out side 1. I never understood why this very underrated song didn’t take with either the band or the public, as it features an excellent, slinky verse riff, a great little builder of a bridge, and an explosive, catchy chorus. Given any amount of label push I feel this track could have propelled Animalize to 2x platinum (as I feel Who Wants to be Lonely might have propelled Asylum to platinum if properly marketed as a single). 

 

Side 2 

 

I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You

I put this urgent, solid Crazy Nights rocker in the position of side 2’s opener, partly because in the CD era side 2 openers matter less, but also because I needed separation from my eventual closer, which is very musically similar. I think it features some of Paul’s very best higher register vocals and some excellent guitar work from Mr. Bruce Kulick. 

Good Girl Gone Bad

This is my second favorite Gene song from Crazy Nights (after the excellent Hell or High Water, which I missed out on), and I was pleasantly surprised when it fell to me in one of the late rounds. A great medium tempo track that fills out the album tracks nicely. 

Love’s A Deadly Weapon

...and now we are into filler territory. The best thing I can say about this track is that it’s better than No, No, No, but it’s unfortunately completely devoid of a memorable chorus. Of course, you can’t expect to have all winners in this draft...

Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell

My lone error in the draft was selecting this tune with the underrated “The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away” still on the board, which fell to the savvy Colin two picks later. Although this isn’t a completely bad track, there’s nothing too noteworthy about it either. Like many tracks on Hot in the Shade, it’s just sort of there. 

Every Time I Look At You I feel this excellent Revenge ballad has to be the penultimate song in the sequence, the pause of reflection before the closing punch. A rare, complete ballad from Paul that was well arranged and has many of producer Bob Ezrin’s hallmarks. A track I still go back to today as a great example of a well-written love song. 

I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)

 I was tempted to put this song as the opener, but I knew I also needed a no-holds-barred closer. Once it became clear this was the only candidate in the bunch with its powerful staccato ending and high octane energy, I built the last half of my sequence around it. The best song on Animalize featuring a great Paul vocal, top notch guitar work from Mark St. John, and one of the best middle eights in any KISS song.

So that’s it! This was so much fun to do, and we discovered afterwards that it is something versatile enough that could be done with many different eras of KISS. I think the most fun part of the process was evaluating some of the songs I don’t typically listen to, and discovering some tracks I had forgotten about that have aged a bit better than I remembered. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still think some of those albums are among KISS’ very worst, but I might dust off the old vinyls for the occasional spin of an album side....

12 of the Best Stories About KISS You Will Ever Read. Good and Bad.

The rock band KISS has always inspired strong opinions both pro and con since they unleashed their kabuki-infused rock n roll on the unsuspecting public four decades ago. On April 10th 2014, KISS was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To mark the occasion, Pencilstorm went ten straight days with uninterrupted KISS "Koverage."  The following are the highlights and are a must read for any self respecting member of the KISS Army. And not to fear, Kiss haters, there is plenty for you to love as well. All the stories are packed with links and clips for your pleasure. If this is your first time, I'm so jealous of the good time you are about to have.  Enjoy! - Colin G.

Loving a Band That Is Easy to Hate, My Life With Kiss. If you only have time for one story, this is the one. by David Martin

KISS Rocks vs KISS Sucks  

Reason to Live Gave Me a Reason to Live  - Jeff Hassler explains Crazy Nights is the best Kiss record and Bruce Kulick is better than Ace.

I Was Going to Be the Only Rocker on the West Side of Columbus to Never Smoke Pot and Then Kiss Came to Town. ---Rock historian and legendary roadie Ricki C. explains why he hates KISS.

KISS Kountdown Surprise Bonus Track Tattoo Package Booklet - a mish-mash of best KISS book, worst Peter track and more.

KISS, Black Flag and a Parking Lot in Spokane

Lifelong KISS Fan Gives You His Ten Least Favorite Tunes

I Love Unmasked and You Should Too

KISS Ruined Rock n Roll Forever

KISS Monster is a Monster of an Album. No Shit. Seriously.

Paul's Solo Album is Better Than Ace's

Paul Stanley Sings a Folgers Commercial