My wish for 2013 would be another Kiss album before the end of the year. ‘Monster’ was great, I’m looking forward to the European tour in the Summer and I’m sure they’ll be touring the world well into Autumn but I still want more.
They’d probably say they didn’t have time to write one by Christmas 2013 with their busy schedule but that’s the cunning point – they don’t have to write one. It’s already done. They just have to record it and that would take them a month at most..
Van Halen got a bit of flak from some fans on their recent album ‘A Different Kind of Truth’ because songs such as ‘Tattoo’ and ‘She’s The Woman’ were not newly written songs but re-workings of demos the band had recorded back in the 70s.
Van Halen have particular form in that area. ‘House Of Pain’ was demoed back in 1976 (with Gene Simmons producing), a full eight years before it was finally recorded and released on their ‘1984’ album.
You can hear all the original demos on YouTube. I don’t see anything wrong with that. They’re Van Halen songs, they wrote them and most importantly, they’re great tracks. The only shame is that we had to wait so long to hear them done properly.
I reckon Kiss have got at least an album’s worth of unused material lying around. The thing is as I started to compile this list for fun, I realised it’s not just another Kiss album, it’s actually one of their best. There’s some excellent tracks out there that they demoed but did not make it onto the finished albums for one reason or another.
You should of course bear in mind that the demos you are about to hear are not all of the best sound quality. The very meaning of a demo is a recording of a song to demonstrate the idea of it. They were only ever intended to be heard by the inner circle of the other band members, the producer and possibly a few of the management and record company. They were certainly never supposed to be heard by the fans and the world in general. Thanks to YouTube.
These recordings are mostly third or fourth generation cassette copies of unfinished and roughly mixed songs. Some of them were recorded with what sounds like the cheapest toy drum machine money can buy these days but those things were high-tech state
of the art back in the 70s.
Other songs are layered in unflattering keyboard sounds that were all the rage in 80s home recording. Try to ignore these
downfalls and appreciate the songs for the potential they undoubtedly have.
I’d like you to imagine these songs with the live drums, big guitars and general attitude that Kiss recently put into the ‘Monster’ recordings. This is VERY IMPORTANT!
1. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE DARKNESS
OK, let’s start our dream Kiss album with a stomping Paul and Gene shared vocal song. It’s a cover. They’ve got previous
for opening with covers. ‘Is That You?’ was written by Gerard McMahon, a young British artist yet it still sounds like a great Kiss tune when the boys rock it up.
This one is called ‘What Happens In The Darkness’. It was written by Tamy Lester Smith and was originally recorded by
Infinity back in 1971. Gene and Paul recorded it in 1972 for their band Wicked Lester long before they met Ace and Peter. A couple of other Wicked Lester songs made it onto later Kiss releases. Both ‘She’ and ‘Love Her All I Can’ were recorded by Wicked Lester prior to their appearance on ‘Dressed To Kill’. I think they should use this one as well.
2. KEEP YOUR TAIL BETWEEN YOUR LEGS
Like so many Kiss albums, I’d like to hear a good Gene song in second place. ‘Keep Your Tail Between Your Legs’ was written by Gene and Howard Rice (who was also Gene’s writing partner on ‘Anyway You Slice It’). It was demoed in early 1984 for the ‘Animalize’
album. It’s difficult to imagine why they eventually chose ‘Burn Bitch Burn’ over this one for the final album. I especially love the very cool double tempo middle section.
3. SWORD AND STONE
Track three on a Kiss album is a key point. It’s often where they put Paul’s best song. ‘Sure Know Something’, ‘Lick It Up’ and
‘Hide Your Heart’ are all third tracks on their respective albums. This song stands up there with them.
It was originally written for the ‘Crazy Nights’ album around an idea by Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Desmond Child. Desmond Child was also Paul’s co-writer on ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, and later on ‘Reason To Live’ and Hide Your Heart’.
It was Paul who introduced Desmond to Jon Bon Jovi. Jon and Desmond went on to write ‘Living On A Prayer’ and ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ with Richie Sambora. The rest, as they say, is history.
Desmond has since written dozens of hit singles with loads of artists including Aerosmith’s ‘Dude Looks Like A Lady’, Alice Cooper’s ‘Poison’ and ‘Livin’ La Vida Loca’ with Ricky Martin. Oh, well – they can’t all be favourites can they?
It’s been said that Ron Nevison, the producer of ‘Crazy Nights’, wasn’t keen on ‘Sword And Stone’. Maybe he felt they already had enough strong Paul songs on there. It still seems crazy that this song never got released later down the line.
4. AUDIO VIDEO (CATCH ME WHEN I FALL)
Next up let’s have an Ace Frehley tune. Oh, I know Ace isn’t in the band any more. So should you imagine this with Tommy’s guitars and vocals or Ace’s? I’m going to sit on the fence here and advise you to enjoy it ‘Anyway You Want It’.
If you want a genuine Tommy song instead maybe you should imagine Kiss playing Black ‘n Blue’s ‘Nasty Nasty’. Then again that’s already as much a Kiss song as a Black ‘n Blue one by having Mr Simmons credited for putting the middle eight of ‘Only You’ into it. Funny world isn’t it?
Anyway, this unreleased Ace song that I’m recommending is called ‘Audio Video’ or ‘Catch Me When I Fall’ by other sources.
I like the combined title ‘Audio Video (Catch Me When I Fall)’ but I’ve always been a sucker for brackets in a song title.
I’ve really never understood why this song was never released by Frehley’s Comet. It was by far and away the best new song in the early Comet setlist yet did not make it onto their debut album a couple of years later. My band, Sack Trick recorded a cover
of it on our ‘Sheep In Kiss Make Up’ album (you can find that on YouTube too).
Anyway, here’s Ace’s demo of the tune from around 1985. The keyboard sound alone dates it pretty accurately.
It was recorded by the Frehley’s Comet line up of Ace himself on guitar and lead vocal, Richie Scarlet on guitar, John Regan on bass, Anton Fig on drums and Arthur Stead on the over the top 80s keyboard.
Please turn it down, mate. What was everyone thinking back then?
Still it can’t spoil a great song.
5. DEADLY WEAPONS
Here’s another top class Paul song. This is one of the first demos Eric Carr recorded in Kiss back in early 1981 and ironically one of the last ones Ace did. I think the Mark II line-up of Kiss is probably my all time favourite. I’m sure Paul Stanley loved
Eric’s obvious Zeppelin influences too.
Back then they were planning a heavy rock album to follow up ‘Unmasked’. The project was eventually dropped in favour of working on a concept album that would eventually become ‘The Elder’. Gene later used part of the chorus of this one on the ‘Asylum’ album but I prefer the original Paul Stanley version by far.
6. I AM YOURS
On our fantasy album, I’d like to close side one (yes, I still think Kiss records work best that way) with another Gene tune. ‘I Am Yours’ is a rocker that also shows Gene’s mellower side.
I’ve always liked Gene’s softer songs (as you’ll hear more of later) but this one has such a powerful chorus that it’s
strange they didn’t take it further than this half-finished demo. It was probably written and demoed by Gene and friends around 1997.
7. IT’S MY LIFE
Let’s open side two with an anthem. Wasn’t ‘I Love It Loud’ so perfectly placed on the ‘Creatures Of The Night’ album?
This is a great rock anthem written by Gene and Paul that has somehow never made it onto a Kiss album before. It was demoed and rejected twice for different albums. The first time was in 1982 for ‘Creatures Of The Night’. The backing track from that version was used on the 1985 Wendy O’Williams album.
The second time Kiss considered the tune was for the ‘Psycho Circus’ album in 1997, as heard here. Gene sings the lead, Paul’s vocals are excellent and Ace sings the third verse. Could things get any better?
8. BEST MAN FOR YOU
Side two, track two is always the ballad moment for me. ‘I Still Love You’, ‘Million To One’ and ‘Reason To Live’ all held that
position. Unbelievably Paul still has quite a few great unreleased ballads.
This is one I like which was written by Paul and Jean Beauvoir. Jean was the bassist in the Plasmatics with Wendy O’Williams before fronting Crown Of Thorns. He also co-wrote and played bass on ‘Thrills In The Night’, ‘Who Wants To Bbe Lonely’ and ‘Uh All Night’ for Kiss.
Unfortunately ‘Best Man For You’ was demoed with those stupid over the top keyboards in around 1987. Let’s calm down and imagine it with a gentle guitar instead of the synthetic curse of the eighties.
9. AIN’T NONE OF YOU BUSINESS
We’re going to need a Peter vocal song too (or a song for Eric Singer to sing, if you really prefer it that way). Rather than go for a ballad like Peter often seems to get lumbered with (and of which there are many more around) let’s have a rocker.
‘Ain’t None Of Your Business’ was suggested to Kiss by Bob Ezrin during the ‘Destroyer’ sessions. It was written by Becky Hobbs and Lew Anderson.
As with all the other songs on this page, for some reason Kiss decided not to use it. Peter sings this Kiss demo of the song and puts one of his best ever rock vocal performances into it.
10. IT AIN’T THE SMOKE
Let’s stay old school for a moment with this Gene and Paul song they recorded around 1975 possibly for inclusion on ‘Destroyer’. It might well be Bob Kulick ripping away in the solo on this version. It sounds a bit too clean for Ace.
Overall the song rocks but perhaps it was too rock and roll for Bob Ezrin’s vision of the album he wanted Kiss to make. To me however, it is pure classic Kiss in their early prime.
12. IN YOUR FACE
Now let’s have another Ace vocal number shall we? Why not? It’s our fantasy album and we can have what we want on it.
This is one was recorded for ‘Psycho Circus’ but oddly didn’t make it onto the final record. As with much of that album it’s probably Kevin Valentine playing drums on it.
Perhaps it wasn’t included because it was written by Gene for Ace rather by Mr Frehley himself. I personally think that Kiss sometimes write their best songs for each other. Remember Paul wrote both Gene’s signature ‘God Of Thunder’ and Peter’s classic ‘Hard Luck Woman’.
Either way, I think Ace’s attitude comes across great on ‘In Your Face’. It’s also got one of his blistering solos which I just wish was mixed a little bit louder.
13. I HAVE JUST BEGUN TO FIGHT
This a great song to finish with. It’s an anthemic ballad by Gene. He recorded this demo in early 1979 with Chuck Billings on drums and Tom Moody on guitar, both from the band Virgin. I just can’t believe again that this song has gone to waste. It’s got such a strong melody and positive vibe.
14. FEEL LIKE HEAVEN
Do we have to finish already?
Come on then, as its going so well, let’s have a CD bonus track for Japan. It’s our dream album and I just don’t want it to end
I know I said we were on vinyl before but this extra one is truly great. Maybe it could be an extra flexi-disc put in with the limited edition vinyl album?
It’s a quick Gene demo from the 1981 aborted album sessions.
This version is definitely NOT SUITABLE FOR UNDER 18s!
In conclusion, there were two very interesting points I noticed during my researches for this article. I listened to literally tons of Kiss and related rough songs.
The first of these interesting points was the sheer number of unreleased Kiss songs that are out there. When I first thought about this idea, there were a few tunes that sprung instantly to mind but when I started searching YouTube there were loads more that I had never heard before and in choosing the final list it was quite hard to leave some out.
Some of the better songs I missed out were ‘Howling For Your Love’, ‘When Two Hearts Collide’, ‘Don’t Let Go’, ‘Reputation’, ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, ‘Shocker’ and ‘Rotten To The Core’. They’re all on YouTube, look them up.
There were other demos that I didn’t include that had been released on the Boxed Set such as ‘Time Traveller’, ‘Ain’t that Peculiar’ and ‘Don’t Hesitate’ and others still that have not turned up in public yet such as the Kiss version of of Vinnie Vincent’s ‘Back On The Streets’ or Eric Carr and Bryan Adams’ ‘Don’t Leave Me Lonely’ which were both allegedly demoed for ‘Creatures of the Night’. There’s also a whole album and more of Wicked Lester tunes.
The second interesting thing I noticed was that while Gene’s songwriting has often been criticized (and he himself admits his focus wasn’t at his best in the eighties) it’s strange how Gene-heavy my final choice of unreleased material ended up. Gene even wrote one of Ace’s vocal numbers. It just seems that so many of Gene’s best ideas remain largely unheard.
So after that guided marathon through various Kiss demos, would that not make you want to hear them all recorded properly? I’m not the only one thinking this would be the basis of a very cool album, am I?
Also when we look at the titles together they’re a pretty fearsome bunch, full of threats and weapons. This would be Kiss back to their ‘Creatures Of The Night’ peak!
Reference Sources and Recommended Reading:
The Kiss Album Focus: Kings Of The Night Time World 1972-82 by Julian Gill
The Kiss Album Focus: Hell or High Water, 1983-1996 by Julian Gill
Black Diamond by Dale Sherman
Behind the Mask by David Leaf and Ken Sharp
… and of course the many Kiss rarities uploaded onto YouTube!