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How Kiss Can Save The End of The Road Tour - by Nick Jezienry

Here is an idea for Kiss to salvage its End of the Road Tour, assuming Paul Stanley’s voice doesn’t make a miracle comeback. (For the record, I’m hoping it does recover and this has a happy ending). Click here for Nick’s review of KISS 2/2/2019

Here’s my idea: A Trip Down Memory Lane

This should be Kiss’ victory lap celebrating a Hall of Fame career and a long list of successful albums. If the band played one song off every studio album, it would be the same number of songs in the current set-list. This also would do two things:

  • GIve the band a legitimate excuse not to play 11 Paul songs (which is what they did for the start of the tour).

  • Satisfy the fans who crave deeper tracks and not just the hits. Though Kiss has said it’s all about the hits, so the true deep tracks will be just a few, but more than the current list of songs being performed.

Consider this potential set-list (listed by order of release, not the order they should be played):

Kiss: Deuce. A solid choice, though Black Diamond is tough to leave out. If the band was willing to do more than 21 songs, both could be played and Paul wouldn’t have to sing. He could smash the fake guitar, though.

Hotter than Hell: Let Me Go, Rock and Roll. It’s in the current set-list. No problem here.

Dressed to Kill: Rock and Roll All Night. A no-brainer.

Destroyer: Probably the toughest album. Detroit Rock City (Paul) would be the one, and Beth, with Eric on piano/vocal, would be the encore.

Rock and Roll Over: Calling Dr. Love. Personally, I’d prefer Ladies Room but Kiss likes to play the hits when possible.

Love Gun: Love Gun. Paul needs his rap. It’s tempting to have Tommy sing Shock Me, but I’ve got a better idea to get in his two vocals.

Dynasty: Dirty Livin’ with Eric on the mic. A true deep track!

Unmasked: Talk To Me, Two Sides of the Coin, or Torpedo Girl with Tommy on vocal.  Since nothing ever gets played from this LP, one of the three Ace songs makes sense.

The Elder: Escape From the Island (instrumental). Paul can’t do the falsetto vocals. This is my cop-out to allow the two songs from Destroyer, or maybe two from the debut album.

Creatures of the Night: I Love It Loud. Or War Machine. But again, Kiss picks the hits.

Lick It Up: Lick It Up. Gene was worthless in the ‘80s after Creatures, so here comes a steady dose of Paul.

Animalize: Heaven’s On Fire. Tempting to go Burn Bitch Burn, but I’m trying to be serious in my suggestions.

Asylum: Tears Are Falling. I think this is the worst Kiss album. Carnival of Souls may argue, especially “side two.”

Crazy Crazy Nights: Crazy Crazy Nights or Turn on the Night, whichever is easier for Paul to sing.

Hot In The Shade: Hide Your Heart. It’s in the current set-list and is somewhere between a hit and a deep track.

Revenge: Unholy or Domino. Gene can take his pick from this record.

Carnival of Souls: Hate. Gene could spit blood here.

Psycho Circus: I love the title track, but Paul can’t sing it anymore. I’m going with You Wanted the Best. All four guys sing which helps save Paul’s voice.

Sonic Boom: Say Yeah. It’s in the current set list and Paul did OK with it.

Monster: Outta This World. A song that Tommy sings on the record. It’s a strong song, one of my faves from the CD. Tommy can emerge from Ace’s shadow – sort of – for a brief moment.

There you have it. A set-list with eight songs each by Gene and Paul, plus two apiece by the hired guns, and an instrumental. The option to add Black Diamond would make it a 22-song set, and Eric would jump to a third vocal.

The only real downer would be missing Shout It Out Loud.

This idea also allows Kiss to showcase its whole career and would be a welcome detour to the End of the Road tour.


KISS Army Radio on Sirius XM: Not One Good Song.......Yet - by Ricki C.

“Congratulations for only being 15 years behind everybody else technology-wise now, instead of 40 years behind.” Thus spake Michael “Biggie” McDermott in July 2017, the first time I was enthusing to him over getting Sirius XM radio in the new (used) car I had just bought. I was over the moon picking up Underground Garage, the Tom Petty station and Bruce Springsteen radio after moving up from a 1992 Toyota Camry that still had a cassette deck in it. Biggie was less than impressed.

Today my lovely wife Debbie returned from an early Saturday morning trip to the Worthington Farmer’s Market and greeted me at the door with, “Did you replace my Billy Joel channel on Sirius with the KISS Army Radio channel?” “No, I did not,” I replied, alarmed at the accusation, “why would I POSSIBLY do that?” For the uninitiated, in the Ricki C. Rock & Roll Universe, going from the Billy Joel channel to the KISS channel is the DEFINITION of going from the musical frying pan into the (pun intended) fire. (Or, the pyro, as it were.)

Debbie and I traded key fobs at the door as I left for my Saturday errands and the first song I heard on KISS Army Radio was Cheap Trick’s cover of “Ain’t That A Shame.” “Hey, this is pretty cool,” I said to myself as I cranked the volume to a pain threshold, “we might have something here.” Then, after Cheap Trick, Sirius started playing KISS music and for the rest of the 35-minute drive to Giant Eagle and Colin’s Coffee (where I was dropping off CD’s), they didn’t play ONE MORE SINGLE GOOD SONG.

Debbie had said to me on my way out the door that morning, “You can certainly see where the Watershed boys were influenced by KISS.” THAT statement (and it’s not the first time I’ve heard it) has always confused me, because I’ve never – from the very first time I saw Colin & the guys in 1990 when they were still called The Wires – heard ONE NOTE of KISS influence in Watershed. “KISS were the ones who made us want to pick up guitars and play,” Colin said to me when I related that idea to him. “We never would have been a band without KISS. They were possibly our biggest influence.”

I suppose that quote might be true, Colin really has no reason to lie to me. In that instance I just find myself thanking my God that Joe Oestreich and Colin Gawel learned to write good – in fact, GREAT – songs for Watershed along the way, something I have no recorded evidence on my KISS Army Radio channel to be true of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Here’s a random sampling of the tracks I heard in that first 35-minute drive: “Domino,” “Rocket Ride,” “I Just Wanna,” “Every Time I Look At You,” “Let’s Put The X In Sex,” a Paul Stanley solo track called “Tonight You Belong To Me” (that Colin seemed particularly galled that I included in the NOT ONE GOOD SONG list), and “Deuce,” among others.

So here’s my premise: I am going to put KISS Army Radio on in the car (I’ll have to move it to MY tier from Debbie’s tier, she ain’t havin’ it anymore) and when I HEAR a good song I will get back on Pencilstorm and call everyone’s attention to it. I’ll talk to you on down the road……… - Ricki C. / February 9th, 2019

Concert Review: KISS "End of Road Tour" / Tacoma Dome 2/2/2019 - by Nick Jezierny

It hurts me to write this. It really does. My decision to attend Kiss’ “End of the Road” tour on February 2 in Tacoma, Washington, was a mistake.

Kiss is my favorite band, and the previous 10 times I’d seen them (list below), the band (whether it was Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Eric Carr, Eric Singer, Bruce Kulick or Tommy Thayer), delivered a very good or great show. I can’t say that about what I witnessed last weekend. This isn’t about the setlist or the lack of two original members. My dissatisfaction stems entirely from Paul Stanley not being able to sing like Paul Stanley. And it was evident right away.

Detroit Rock City. The first song, my favorite song of all-time. This is going to be perfect.

And then it wasn’t.

Instead of “I feel uptight on a Saturday night,” Paul chimes in a half a verse late and he only got out “radio’s the only light” and it was rushed and my jaw dropped in disbelief.

What? How does this happen? According to setlist.fm., Kiss had performed Detroit Rock City 2,021 times prior to taking the stage that night. And on the third show of their final, final tour, Paul botched the opener, and then every other song he sang.

It also took at least three songs for the sound crew to dial in the sound. I’m told the Tacoma Dome isn’t known for acoustics, but “Shout It Out Loud” and “Deuce” sounded like they were performed in a tin can.

I pondered walking out at this point. Seriously. Did I really want my last time seeing my favorite band of all time to be this? I talked myself out of it, mainly because I flew from Boise to Seattle, navigated the bus system to Tacoma and hiked up and down a monster hill from my AirBNB to get to the show.

I’m glad I stayed as the sound improved, even though Paul did not. Gene sounded fantastic. Eric Singer’s drum solo was pretty good (I’m not a drum solo or any solo fan – I’d rather hear another song or two). Tommy Thayer didn’t wow, but he did his thing but didn’t get to sing an Ace song like he’d done at previous shows I’ve attended.

The stage was cool, the pyro was right. There were no real surprises as for new gimmicks. But then again, when Paul asked how many people were seeing Kiss for the first time, most of the arena went bonkers and told them they were in for a treat.

Had I purchased an $11 beer, I’d have gagged at that point.

“Say Yeah” was next and probably the biggest surprise (unless you looked at the previous night’s setlist like I did). Yes, Kiss played more songs from “Sonic Boom” than it did from “Rock and Roll Over” on its final tour. With a 200-plus song catalog, they were going to miss some of my favorites and I told myself I would accept whatever the band played.

I assumed they would play those songs well. The ones by Paul didn’t hold up, including “Love Gun,” and “Psycho Circus.” I can only hope that Paul was feeling off – maybe a cold or flu – because he sounded much, much better in 2014 and 2016.

And, of course, I have my memories of that first concert back in 1978 or sitting in the third row in 1985. The reunion tour, the 3-D show in LA, and the first farewell tour when Kiss was hitting on all cylinders.

That’s how I am going to try and remember the hottest band in the world, because the end of the road just doesn’t sound as good. - Nick Jezierny

My Kiss Concert History

Jan. 28, 1978 at New Haven (Conn.) Coliseum w/The Rockets

Dec. 21, 1985 at New Haven Coliseum w/Black ‘n Blue

Dec. 19, 1987 at New Haven Coliseum w/Ted Nugent

June 6, 1990 at Ohio Center w/Little Caesar and Slaughter

June 12, 1990 at Cincinnati Gardens w/Little Caesar and Slaughter

July 19, 1996 at Gund Arena w/The Nixons

Oct. 31, 1998 at Dodger Stadium w/Smashing Pumpkins

March 14, 2000 at Pan American Center (Las Cruces, NM) w/Skid Row and Ted Nugent

June 23, 2014 at USANA Amphitheater (Salt Lake City) w/Def Leppard and Kobra & the Lotus

July 7, 2016 at Taco Bell Arena (Boise, Idaho) w/Caleb Johnson

February 2, 2019 at Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, Wash.) no opening act

Click here for 12 more KISS stories on Pencilstorm. Or just google Kiss Pencilstorm.




Six Albums That Changed My Life - by Scott Carr

The Albums That Changed My Life series on Pencilstorm was conceived and launched by our Virginia correspondent JCE (John Egertson to his friends & family) last November, and will continue as our regular Sunday feature until we run out of submissions. To view the complete series, click on the Music heading on the Pencilstorm home page.

Albums that changed my life? Man, that's a tough one.

I always struggle when it comes to making "best of" lists. I've been a music fan since my pre-teen days and there has been so much music in my life, it's not easy to whittle that down to just a few choices.

Along the way there have been records that have had a bigger impact than others, so here are some that could be considered "life changing"....

KISS - ROCK AND ROLL OVER (1976)

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Kiss in the ‘70's without hesitation had the biggest influence on my musical journey.

You could insert any Kiss album from the decade here (yes, even Dynasty) and I would not argue.

Rock And Roll Over for me is Kiss sounding like Kiss. Bare bones, no frills Rock N Roll. I love the songs on this record and Eddie Kramer’s production captures Kiss at their best. Another highlight for me on this record is Ace Frehley’s lead guitar work, amazing! Ace was in top form on this release. I only wish he had been confident enough to supply a lead vocal on the record but in all honesty, I would not change a thing about it. Plus that cover artwork is probably my favorite Kiss album cover of all time.

Rock and Roll Over on most days is my favorite Kiss record. I don't know if I can pick one Kiss album as life-changing but I would just say experiencing Kiss in the ‘70's changed my life forever. According to my mom I first saw Kiss on television on the Midnight Special. She pulled me and my brothers out of our slumber to witness the spectacle, I have no solid memory of that event but I'm told I was present. I do remember seeing Kiss for the first time on the Destroyer tour and from there on the rest is Kisstory.

IRON MAIDEN - IRON MAIDEN (1980)

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After Kiss, my next big evolution in music was "metal." Kiss really weren't metal, so I wasn't really sure what "metal" was. I had heard some Sabbath records but Sabbath didn't really feel like my band. I love Sabbath but they felt like they were a generation older than myself. When I was a kid I was told by older kids that Black Sabbath created Heavy Metal and I was like, "Cool."

Seeing Judas Priest open for Kiss on the Dynasty tour really opened my eyes to a new breed of metal that would soon be invading American shores.

In 1980 the New Wave of British Heavy Metal was taking shape and Iron Maiden led the way. I bought their first album just based on the cover artwork alone. The music on the vinyl sounded exactly the way the cover looked. It was heavy and raw. I loved everything about it. This started a new chapter in my musical journey. At that point I started buying all kinds of European metal by bands like Diamond Head, Motorhead, Saxon, Def Leppard and the list went on and on. From 1980 to 1985 or so, I was a total metalhead kid.

RAMONES - RAMONES (1976)

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I discovered the first Ramones record from going through my uncle’s record collection. He had moved away and left all his records at my Grandma's house. He said I could go through them and take whatever I wanted. His collection was mostly hippie stoner rock records, which I didn't appreciate at the time. I left lots of cool stuff behind, but I did take all of his Budgie records.

One of the cool records I found in my uncle's collection was the first Ramones record. I had no idea what it was but seeing those four guys leaned up against a brick wall wearing leather jackets and ripped jeans and the bold RAMONES logo above them really caught my attention.

When I put it on the turntable for the first time, I felt like I was listening to something from another planet. I had never heard anything like it before. All the songs were fast and under three minutes long, I think the longest song on the record is maybe two and a half minutes long. Again, another album that sounded exactly how the cover looks. They looked like punks and sounded like punks.

I never became a full fledged punk rocker but this record certainly struck a chord with me and I've been listening to Ramones records for decades now.

CHEAP TRICK - CHEAP TRICK (1977)

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Still my favorite Cheap Trick album to this day.

I saw Cheap Trick in 1978 opening for AC/DC and soon started buying their records. At the time I was only aware of In Color and Heaven Tonight.

My first exposure to the band’s debut album was on the soundtrack to the movie Over The Edge. Back in those days there was no quick resource like Wikipedia to look up a band’s discography, so you just kinda discovered things by mistake. In July of 1979 I took my birthday money to the record store to buy some new records and while looking in the Cheap Trick section, I found a copy of their debut album. I clutched onto it like I had found the Holy Grail. I rushed to checkout counter and gave the clerk my birthday money and ran home to put the record on my turntable.

The whole album is perfection. I think it's really the only Cheap Trick studio album that accurately captures their raw power-pop energy. They have other great albums, but this one is their best in my book. Again, like Kiss, you could put any ‘70's Cheap Trick album in this spot and I would not be upset.

THE KNACK - GET THE KNACK (1979)

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Just like Cheap Trick's 1977 debut album, Get The Knack is pure power-pop perfection from beginning to end.

The Knack really had their own thing going, they weren't really new wave and they weren't punk but they fell somewhere in the middle of both genres.

This is definitely one of my all-time favorite albums.

I wrote about it in a past Pencil Storm piece and you can check it out here

JELLYFISH - SPILT MILK (1993)

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An unlikely masterpiece of an album that came out during the fall of glam metal and the rise of grunge.

Jellyfish were equal parts Queen, Beach Boys, The Beatles and a pinch of The Partridge Family.

During the early ‘90's I was a bit lost musically because everything was changing and I had been knee-deep in the MTV Glam Rock scene. By that time glam metal was becoming pretty disposable and even bands like Guns N Roses seemed like their time had come and gone. I wasn't in tune with the Seattle stuff. I liked the sentiment of it all, but it just really didn't strike a chord within me.

Jellyfish was like breathing new life into my floundering musical journey. Their first album Bellybutton came out in 1990 and spawned a minor hit with the single "Baby's Coming Back." Almost two and half years later the band returned with an album that leaned more towards their Queen influences and is way more adventurous than their debut.

Sadly Jellyfish did not last long after this record. They were gone in a flash but with just two albums they gained a fan base that hopes one day maybe we will see album number three.

So, I think I will leave you with those six uniquely different records. If I look at my choices too long, I will probably rewrite this entire thing. I think that covers the bases pretty well for me, though: Rock, Metal, Punk and Power Pop.

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Honorable mention: I don't know if these albums qualify as "life changing" but they are albums that I consider near-perfect ear candy and are go-to albums I listen to when I feel like there is nothing to listen to.….

BLUE OYSTER CULT - FIRE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN

BILLY SQUIER - DON'T SAY NO

REO SPEEDWAGON - HI INFIDELITY

APRIL WINE - NATURE OF THE BEAST

DEF LEPPARD - HIGH N DRY

ALICE COOPER - FROM THE INSIDE

ENUFF Z NUFF - STRENGTH

THE POSIES - FROSTING ON THE BEATER

QUEEN - A NIGHT AT THE OPERA

THIN LIZZY - BLACK ROSE

Scott Carr is a guitarist who plays in the Columbus, OH  bands Radio Tramps and Returning April.  Scott is also an avid collector of vinyl records and works at Lost Weekend Records. So...if you are looking for Scott....you'll either find him in a dimly lit bar playing his guitar or in a record store digging for the holy grail.

10 Albums That Changed My Life - by Jon Peterson

The 10 Albums That Changed My Life series on Pencilstorm was conceived and launched by our Virginia correspondent JCE (John Egertson to his friends & family) last November, and will continue as our regular Sunday feature until we run out of submissions. To view the complete series, click on the Music heading on the Pencilstorm home page.

10 RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE - by Jon Peterson

1.    AMERICAN GRAFFITI / (various, 2 LP Soundtrack).

I started collecting records in 7th grade after my brother Jim took me to see the movie.  A total mind-blower in seeing the power, beauty and splendor of ‘first generation rock n roll.’  My life would be forever changed.  Collecting Art Laboe’s OLDIES BUT GOODIES LP collections and seeing the Broadway play GREASE would soon follow.  I was a 98-pound ‘greaser’ in a hair-down-to-the-shoulders world!

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2.    JIM CROCE / “You Don’t Mess Around with Jim” 

My brother Jim also gave me his Yahama acoustic guitar around this time, so ‘folk rock’ would be my next step.  And Croce was my man.  Song for song, I’ll take his first three ABC records over many of his peers.  His writing was perfection.  And what colorful characters: folks like Speedball Tucker, Rapid Roy, and a woman who was "built like a 'frigerator with a head"!  With all the lyrics printed on the LP’s inner sleeve, I learned every word, too!

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3.    NILSSON / “Son Of Schmilsson”  

Again, my brother Jim’s influence.  He started managing a State College, PA musician named Terry Beard, who was a Harry Nilsson freak, so I started collecting all the Harry LP's I could find.  They all were powerful…but for a 9th grader…singing “I sang my balls off for you, baby” and “You’re breaking my heart, you’re tearing it apart / So ‘fuck you!’ made me feel pretty damn cool.  Beatles in disguise Richie Snare and George Harrysong played on it too!

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4.    BEACH BOYS / “Pet Sounds”  

This was it.  The Holy Grail.  I was collecting the early BB’s LPs before this… and PS was not a ‘one listen’ record.  But the more and more I listened, the more I became aware of importance of everything on a record: the writing, arranging, production, playing, singing…and sequencing.  I had an unrequited high school love, too…so PS certainly became my ‘go-to’ pillow to cry on. 

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5.   THE WHO / “Who’s Next”  

This was the record that got me out of my oldies and folk rock period…and taught me the difference between rock ‘n’ roll and rock.  Learning about PT’s use of a Lowrey Berkshire Deluxe TBO-1 organ, looped on the intro to ‘Baba O'Reilly’ and juxtaposing that against crashing power chords with Moonie’s pounding rolls taught me there was much more to life than a rushed 'flat four' rhythm. So did driving around with Joe DiLazzaro with quarts of Yuengling singing “Teenage Wasteland!” and “I'm going mobile... beep beep!”

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6.    BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN / “Darkness On The Edge Of Town”  

Although I had Bruce’s three LPs before this one ...'Darkness' was my first ‘real time’ Bruce record.  It was also his best, IMHO…because it combined the ‘literate Bruce’ with his ‘inner rocker.’ No more “Mary Queen of Arkansas” and swallowing the dictionary…the string zoom on “Badlands” took things into the stratosphere! In fact, my crew loved this record so much that my buddy Vern Brennan felt compelled to go down to a billboard on the Minersville-Pottsville highway…and spray-paint “Prove It All Night” on it!  I also learned that it was okay to fall in love with a prostitute named Candy. (editor’s note: I discern ZERO evidence in the lyrics of this Springsteen tune that Candy is anything more or less than a lovely young girl, let alone a prostitute. I’m just sayin’.)

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7.    ROLLING STONES / “Some Girls” 

Prior to this, I was just a ‘Hot Rocks’ man…much preferring the Beatles, Who and Kinks to Mick & Keith.  But this record was so perfect…how could I not love it?  From a country parody to a Motown cover, to Mick doing his thing as perfectly as it gets…to Keith singing “Gonna find my way to Heaven, 'cuz I did my time in Hell.”  The Stones have been trying to ‘top this one’ for the last 40 years! And I’m still lovin’ it! 

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 8.    ELVIS COSTELLO / “This Year’s Model”   

This was another game-changer for me.  After hearing this, I was no longer interested in sensitive singer-songwriters.  I wanted writers who also rocked hard…and sneered!    The sound of those keyboards.  This was ’96 Tears’ on steroids.  I would look away from my more mainstream and folksy-wolksy influences…and never look back.

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9.    THE RAMONES / “End of the Century”  

Although I would like to tell you that I was cool enough to have owned the four prior Ramones LPs, this was the first one that I actually bought.  Elvis Costello was my ‘gateway drug’ into Punk…because much of the early punk stuff turned me off: not because it rocked hard…but because it was poorly recorded and/or produced.  With Phil Spector production, this was sonically brilliant.  And with ‘Do You Remember Rock N Roll Radio?’ on it, I finally felt vindicated for loving doo-wop in high school, while everyone else was digging Uriah Heep.

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10. THE SPECIALS / “The Specials”  

I guess I bought this record because I saw that it was produced by Elvis Costello, but quickly learned to love it for many other reasons.  It was funny, it was silly, it talked about ‘relationship trouble’…and a world where Black & White musical influences and friendships were forged over pints and fights.  It would also teach me how to love the basics of world-beat music.  From reggae-styling drumming to Rico Rodrigues’ trombone…this LP became my ‘gateway drug’ into ska, reggae, and Afro-pop.  In the years that followed “Club Ska ’67” and Paul Simon’s “Graceland” would move me further along.  When things started getting shittier by the mid-1980s, this was the record that took me underground to expand my musical vocabulary.  

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When I re-emerged on January 1, 1991… I now had the ears and a wide enough sphere of influences to start Radio Free Columbus on WCBE and SHAKIN IT RADIO from 2006 to the present. (more at www.shakinitradio.com). 

11. BONUS TRACKS / (boiling under but certainly there!): THE VELVET UNDERGROUND & NICO - “self- titled” /  AL STEWART - “Year Of The Cat” / KINKS - “Something Else” / BILLY JOEL - “Cold Spring Harbor” / JONATHAN RICHMAN &THE MODERN LOVERS - “Jonathan Sings!” / THE JAM - “Setting Sons” / JOE KING CARRASCO & THE CROWNS “Party Weekend.”