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Entries by Thomas (63)

Wednesday
Sep302009

KISS - "Sonic Boom"

By Bruce Forrest

It's been 11 years since the KISS-loyal have received any new music from the band.  Their last outing, the dismal "Psycho Circus," was nothing to cheer about, especially considering it was a reunion of the 4 original members.

With guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer now in the fold, alongside original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, this line-up has finally entered the studio, for two apparent reasons.  The first being, their upcoming 35th Anniversary Tour.  The other would be, to justify their inclusion of Thayer and Singer.  You see, the KISS fans are none too happy to see these two wearing the iconic makeup designs of original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley.  Simmons and Stanley, have been promising us, the fan-faithful, something that would satisfy our musical taste buds.  Their claim is that we would get, with this new album, something resembling vintage KISS. 

I approached "Sonic Boom," KISS' 19th studio album, cautiously.  After all, Gene and Paul made tremendous promises back in 1981 with "The Elder," and we all know how that turned out.

So, how the is the album?  Well, it isn't as dynamic or heavy as "Creatures of the Night," one of their finest outings.  "Sonic Boom" sounds closer to studio out-takes of "Animalize" or "Asylum," rather than the equivalent of "Love Gun" or "Rock and Roll Over"'s finer songs.  Overall "Sonic Boom" isn't all that impressive, yet, it isn't all that bad, either. 

KISS fans will definitely scrutinize this album, more so than any other fanbase.  While fans of other bands will simply "accept" an album by their favorite band, KISS fans are known to tear things to shreds, and expect more.  We are a strange breed, I guess. 

The CD kicks off with "Modern Day Delilah."  It is merely an adequate tune, nothing groundbreaking, yet nothing horrendous.  It is followed by "Russina Roulette."  Gene of course, has to get his 2 cents worth in, even though he has had nothing worth contributing to the band for quite some time.  It is predictable--the same old arrogant, egotistical lyrics he typically writes. 

"Never Enough" should rattle the fans.  Not because it is an amazing tune (it isn't), but for the fact, it is a blatant rip-off of Poison's "Nothing But A Good Time."  Hasn't Paul heard that tune?  Or did he simply think no one  would notice?  The resemblance is way too uncanny, to forgive it's shortcomings.
 
I won't list every track here; no matter what I say, the listener is still going to give them a listen, and judge for themselves.  The production, by Stanley, is quite good.  The bass is absolutely cranium-bashing, for starters.  Thayer proves he is more than capable, handling the lead guitar duties.  And what can you say about veteran Eric Singer?  He is dynamic, to say the least.  It would be a shame if the fans insist on rejecting these two guys; accept the fact Ace and Peter are gone, and, for goodness sakes, give these two their dues.   After all, you can't blame them for accepting the job. 

For the most part, the songs are, to a degree catchy, but yet not enough to become classics.  There isn't a single track here along the lines of "Strutter," "Love Gun" or even "Lick It Up."  Overall, "Sonic Boom" merely serves to, somewhat, stifle the fans, at least for now. 

KISS definitely won't draw in any new fans, much like Aerosmith has done in the past.  The Masked Maraduers appeal to a select few--you either love them, or hate them.  There is no middle ground. "Sonic Boom" is for KISS fans, and KISS fans only. 

So, have Gene and Paul delivered on their promise?
 
Well, "Sonic Boom" satisfies to an extent, but leaves you wanting more.  You can't help but wish, they had tried a little harder.  It is an effort that is almost there, but yet, not quite.  Simmons seems to take up space with his contributions, which, as said before, are merely musical extensions of his ego.  KISS has always believed, whatever they put out, their fans will enjoy.  This is where the band is out of touch.  They don't seem aware that, we will tear every track apart, note for note.  They almost hit the mark here, but seemed to get a little sloppy, in some regards.  I think had KISS written and released this material, back when Bruce Kulick was in the band, they would have had a better grip on their success. 

Considering it will probably be the last studio outing we will ever get from KISS, "Sonic Boom" seems, for the most part, to do the job, fairly well.  It could be better, but, hey, it could have been extremely worse. This is no "Destroyer," but it isn't "The Elder" either.
 
Sunday
Sep272009

Joe Perry- Have Guitar, Will Travel"

By Thomas Stanley Orwat Jr.

I got an advance of the new Joe Perry Cd and all I can say is WOW! Some great tracks on here and four of them feature a new vocalist named Hagen. This kid sounds just like Steven Tyler at times.  I really think that some of the songs that Hagen sings on would of been great Aerosmith songs especially the first track "We've got a Long Way to Go.," and "Do You Wonder." Hagen and Perry seem to have a natural chemistry. If for some reason,Aerosmith can't continue, Perry should continue working with Hagen in the Joe Perry Project full time.

Now on the tracks that Perry sings lead vocals, while they are quite different stylistically, they do not sacrificing the continuity of the CD. If anything they make for an interesting musical journey.I don't know if it's just Perry's monotone vocals, but tracks such as "Slingshot,"  "Heaven and Hell" and "No Surprise" take a few listens to sink in, but once they do you can't forget them.

But the main reason anyone buys a Joe Perry Cd is for the guitar work and on this CD, Joe is playing like the guitar hero he truly is. Perry throws it all at this one, slide guitar, talk box, lightening fast riffs,acoustic blues it's all here. Check out the instrumental track "Wooden Ships" to hear Perry at his all time best. Perry may be getting older, but he's also getting even better at his craft.

"Have Guitar, Will Travel" is an excellent effort from one of the most influential guitarist of the last 35 years. It deserves your attention,I prefer this release much more than Joe Perry's 2005 solo release. And that one was nominated for a Grammy.

www.joeperry.com

Friday
Sep182009

Ace Frehley - "Anomaly" 

By Thomas Stanley Orwat Jr.

It was almost 20 years years since ex-Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley released a solo Cd. During that time Ace rejoined Kiss and then quit the band again. He struggled with his demons, but then turned his life around. He is now sober, healthy and dedicated to resurrecting his career. During the last few years, Ace' focused his efforts on a new CD. The result is "Anomaly," a hard hitting, well written 12 track rock masterpiece.

One of Ace's goals on "Anomaly" was to recapture the vibe and sound of his 1978 platinum selling solo release. But this isn't just a carbon copy of his debt solo release.  There are some modern influences on this release as well.

The Cd kicks into high gear with the intense hard rocking track "Foxy & Free." This song has an intense feedback driven solo that quickly implies that Ace is going directly for the kill."Outer Space" the first single off the the Cd is one of the heaviest songs of Ace's career. This track has an infectious chorus with in-your face riffs."Genghis Khan" is another heavy track with an unique tuning and effects and features the backing vocals of Pearl Aday, the daughter of Meatloaf. Ace recently stated that this is his most favorite song that he's ever written. 

"A Little Below the Angels" is a bit of a departure for Ace. It's a reflective, mid-tempo, tender acoustic ballad that features back up vocals by his daughter Monique. The autobiographical "A Little Below the Angels" is another mid-tempo track in which Ace discusses his struggles with drugs and alcohol.

The instrumental "Fractured Quantum" is the last track and one of the more impressive on the Cd.  If you are a fan of killer guitar work, you won't find a better Cd on the shelves. Simply put, Ace plays rock guitar, and is a true guitar hero. He doesn't have to rely on flashy million-notes-per-secnd guitar gymnastics that is the style of so many one trick pony guitarist out there. Also,Ace sings on all the vocal tracks, which he hasn't done since his 78 debut solo release. He has never sounded better.

In addition to sounding great, the cd cover and artwork is also pretty cool. In keeping with the marketing tradition of Kiss, this Cd also has a very unique fold out pyramid packaging. Ace definitely knows what his fans want. And makes this Cd a true collectors item.

It's going to be interesting to hear what the new Kiss Cd will sound like. There will most certainly be comparisons and Ace has raised the bar very high. Game on Gene and Paul.

So, if you don't have it already, call your local record store and ask if they have the new Ace Frehley Cd in stock, if they do, tell then to put it on hold and rush over there or you can get one at www.acefrehley.com Ace is back and I told you so!!!

 

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