Eddie Trunk recently released a cool list of his top twenty KISS songs. But just before that moment, Pencilstorm held a fantasy draft of songs from the KISS Unmasked era. Now that is something never attempted by mankind. Some might say it put the X in the Xtreme and even Exposed the Extreme. Click here for the full results of the draft . Below is the album selected by Colin Gawel. More albums from other owners coming soon. Enjoy!
KISS Master Blaster
Produced by Colin Gawel with permission of the Pencilstorm Unmasked KISS Fantasy Draft. Number next to song indicates the round it was taken.
Crazy Crazy Nights (5)
Hide Your Heart (2)
Hell or High Water (4)
Read My Body (12)
Thief in the Night (9)
Thou Shall Not (3)
Tears Are Falling (1)
I’m Alive (10)
Let’s Put The X in Sex (8)
Secretly Cruel (6)
The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away (11)
Thoughts on side one:
Crazy Crazy Nights (Crazy Nights) - I was hoping to land Unholy and Heart of Chrome but unfortunately lost both to draft lottery winner Matt Walters. By round five I was backed into a corner and really needed a song to lead off my album. Maybe it’s just force of habit but it’s hard to imagine a song that didn’t lead off a side of a real KISS record leading off my fake record. So though never my favorite song or record, I chose Crazy Nights and immediately slotted it to lead off my record. I also thought about naming my record Crazy Crazy Crazy Nights instead of Master Blaster.
Hide Your Heart (Hot in the Shade) - As mentioned, I missed out on my first two picks so I pivoted and went with two singles giving me this song in the 2nd round. Though it’s kinda cheesy and the production isn’t great, it’s catchy as hell and I’ve always had a soft spot for it after seeing Paul debut it live on his solo tour at the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH. His “COME ON!” is one of my favorite Paul moments.
Hell or High Water (Crazy Nights) - After nabbing two Paul songs out of the gate, I knew I had to rally quick and grab some decent Gene tunes before the pickings got slim. Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Ron Nevison production style but I think it works very well in this instance. Slick, but rocking enough to do the Demon justice. Hearing Paul doing background vox towards the end is a bonus. FAN VIDEO!!!
Read My Body (Hot in the Shade) Ugh. There just isn’t any place to hide this stinker so in the interest of keeping both sides of my record relatively balanced I’m going to slot it before my big ballad. Bonus points that they modulate and move up a full step before the last chorus like they were cutting Born to Run. Let's turn the page and get to the good stuff.... FAN VIDEO!!!
Forever (Hot in the Shade) - I felt lucky to grab the biggest hit of the Unmasked era in the 7th round. My record may not be the best, but I think it might have been the top selling of the bunch. One thing that became clear to me doing research for this draft is what an unfocused mess HITS is. It’s WAY too long and many songs just don’t sound finished. KISS got very lucky that this song, buried in the middle of 15 songs, found its way into the pop top ten. In fact, without this surprise hit, KISS wouldn’t have even toured behind this record. What would have happened to the band? KISSstory would have taken a different course without it. Live in Australia with a Symphony and Beck's Dad conducting Peter Criss???? Hells Yeah!
Thief in the Night (Crazy Nights) A fairly forgettable though not awful Gene song to round out side one.
Thou Shall Not (Revenge) I think Revenge and Lick it Up are the best records of the Unmasked era and I got exactly ONE song total from either so I guess I wasn’t alone in that thinking. This song rocks way harder than any other on this record so I’m just going to lead off side two with it. Taking it in the 3rd round I thought I would be able to find some other hard rockers later in the draft but lonely is this hunter. FAN VIDEO!!
Off the top of my head: Ranking the Gene songs that lead off a KISS side. As released on real records and not reissues.
Deuce 2) Unholy 3) I Love it Loud 4) World Without Heroes 5) Love ‘Em and Leave Em’ 6) That one from Hotter than Hell 7) Charisma
Tears Are Falling (Asylum) A solid first round pick. In fact, listening to it now, it doesn’t really sound like any other KISS song from the era. It’s almost alternative hard rock. The Cult could have put it on the LOVE record and it would have sounded at home. Pretty amazing this was the lead single from an 80’s KISS record. Sublime is a word rarely used to describe a KISS song though I would use it here if it means what I think it means.
Along those lines, Asylum as a whole ages pretty well. Truth be told, before revisiting the entire Unmasked era for this draft, I would have called this my favorite album of that period. It still sounds good and I don’t hate the album art as much as everybody else. And I liked the big KISS sign they used on that tour though not much footage of it exists for whatever reason.
Un - Unmasked Live version
I’m Alive (Asylum) - I like this song more now than I did as a young man. Kind of fresh and different. It certainly “kicks” as they say. Too bad Eric Carr didn’t get more of a chance to contribute to the band. I’m sure Gene and Paul were hesitant to unleash another Catman or Vinnie Vincent but seems like they left some potential on the bench with the fox.
Let’s Put the X in Sex (Smashes Thrashes and Hits) OK. I never planned on having this song for obvious reasons but once staring at my choices in the 8th round I decided it would be way more fun to have the X than not have it. I already had Crazy Nights and Forever so who was I kidding? For all its flaws, it’s kind of groovy. And even better, I own the video rights which you get to enjoy…...right……… NOW! FYI - this video has 5,617,122 views. More than all the Decemberists videos combined. For what that is worth.
Secretly Cruel (Asylum) In retrospect this was a reach at six. I was feeling pressure to get enough decent Gene songs and panicked. My pain was eased when Matt Walters showed me the amazing video to this song done by the band Double Virgo. They (He?) takes modern KISS songs and recuts them as if they were recorded for Dressed to Kill. And films a video too. It’s completely amazing and it saves this pick. Enjoy!
Geez. I should have called this record Asylum Resurrected. What is my problem ?
The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away (Hot in the Shade) - Some of those late HITS songs are sneaky good. I can live with this in the 11th round.
Summary: Looking at this now. My draft looks like a guy who got drunk and drafted all 1st basemen and closers.
Hot in the Shade 4 songs
Crazy Nights 3 songs
Asylum 3 songs
Revenge 1 song
Smashes 1 - song
Ugh. If you would have told me before the draft this is where my songs would come from I would have assumed a my record only got released on 8 track in Brazil but it’s a testimony to KISS how strong Master Blaster is. I like this record. And now I’m going to crank it up!!
Colin Gawel plays in Watershed and The League Bowlers. He founded Pencilstorm while working at Colin's Coffee and really thought his idea for the KISS Unmasked Fantasy Draft would make him famous and get him invited VIP to the KISS expo in Indianapolis. He was wrong. None of that happened but his is going to Indy anyway.