KISS: The Songs 1974-2012

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by GodShifter, Feb 7, 2017.

  1. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    It's probably a fruitless wish on my part, but I hope everyone listening to the tunes on this album can do so without strapping a ball and chain on each one, namely their feelings about "grunge". Is it a good song or not? That should be the criteria.
     
  2. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    CT
    HATE
    Great opener here and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Gene just sings from the gut here and puts on a fantastic performance. Eric does a complex drum pattern and Bruce's moody guitar fits well. Very cool, mature, deep lyrics here. Gene is taking the sound and themes from Revenge and bringing it to the next level. I'm all in.

    COS
    Most fans into the band at the time heard it by the time it was released. I was looking forward to a cleaner mix but the released version sounded almost the same as the boot. I know this is a polarizing album to a lot of fans and I understood why they may be put off from it. I think this is an experiment that works unlike the Elder. Hotter Than Hell was pretty grungy and Parasite would fit on this album perfectly. Paul talks down on this album as well but what did he want to do? Sing more about strip clubs? I don't feel his songs were faked. Paul has emotions like anyone else and if you read his bio a lot of resentment and anger. Why not put it into songs? It's a breath of fresh air I think. I do have a problem with the mix as it sounds like a bad version of the AIC's Tripod album. It's a little over the top and could've been cleaned up a bit. I think the mix tries too hard whereas I think the songs hold up. I don't know where it falls, I guess after the first 7 studio albums but before all the 80's -on aside from Creatures, LIU, and Revenge- so somewhere in the middle.
     
  3. Curveboy

    Curveboy Forum Resident

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    New York City
    Carnival of Souls contains the best vocals of Paul's career. If you don't like them...then maybe you should stick with 70's KISS.
     
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  4. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    CARNIVAL OF SOULS

    Even though I knew this was a heavily-bootlegged album, I'm glad I avoided trying to track one down prior to the official release of it. I knew I didn't want to hear it in poor quality, nor get "used to" subpar versions of the songs, that might be at too fast or too slow a tempo. @bartels76 said that he had a version just as good as the final one, so obviously there were high quality boots of it out there, which I didn't know.

    This album definitely spoke to me from the first time I heard it. Unlike every KISS album since around LIU, this one stayed in regular rotation in my CD player for years afterward. Even though I generally enjoyed KISS' music, there's no doubt that the lyrics to many of their songs hadn't exactly resonated with me for a long while. As someone who values good lyrics, this album wasn't just a breath of fresh air, but a gale-force wind.

    One criticism of this album I've read repeatedly is that this album is fake/forced/disingenuous. I couldn't disagree more. In fact, given where Paul and Gene were at that point in their lives, both in age and experience, I'd say these lyrics were for more real and honest than much of what they'd been serving up for years. There was a really good feature on KISS in Metal Edge magazine from back at this time that I wish I had access to right now. But in it, Paul stated how they worked a lot harder on these lyrics than any release beforehand. And that they accurately reflected their mindset at the time.

    Some of the revelations in Paul's recent bio only support the fact that some of these lyrics are pretty incisive and introspective. I guess some people just have too much trouble accepting that kind of approach from the guys best known for "Rock And Roll All Nite". Which is too bad.

    EDIT: I just found this online, which does quote the Metal Edge article in places. The "Self-Exploration vs. Party Anthems" section raises several good points relevant to what I am talking about:

    KISS Asylum: It Never Goes Away -- The "Carnival of Souls" Controversy

    And it's not just the lyrics. Musically, this is one of their most adventurous albums, with an unusual willingness to use the studio to add color to the songs. Unlike many of their albums, this one really lends itself to actual, bonafide analysis. "Analyze" KISS' music? Yes, you heard right. I for one greatly appreciate the effort they put into this album, and certainly Bruce deserves props for spending the extra time to add some interesting and unusual touches to the guitar tracks on COS.

    I greatly enjoyed listening to this album again the other night, and look forward to examining its excellent songs over the next 12 days!
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
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  5. GodShifter

    GodShifter Starless and Bible Black Sabbath® Thread Starter

    Location:
    Dallas, TX, USA
    I couldn't disagree more but as to the last part of your statement, I probably should. :/
     
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  6. vamborules

    vamborules Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT
    Paul himself says that.
     
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  7. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    KISS are well-known for hanging their failures out to dry. So was Paul lying then, or now? I have several interviews Paul conducted when the Reunion with Ace and Peter was still in its early stages. He made many references to the "album we've just finished" as being one of the best of their careers. So when it was still a fresh project, he was obviously proud of it. At a time when he had no cause to be, as it was worlds away from the feel-good nostalgia they were specializing in at that moment.

    What Paul did say in a recent podcast interview is that "KISS shouldn't be singing songs about angst", which made me chuckle. It's an acknowledgement that this kind of approach isn't what people want from KISS. Fair enough. But these lyrics are far more revealing about their state of mind at the time than they would probably lead you to believe in any contemporary interview.

    You yourself know of Gene's defense mechanism to put down KISS' music before someone else can. Paul's engaging in the same behavior here with this one, in my opinion. I'm sure they're sick of sarcastic comments about "KISS going grunge" when people refer to this album.
     
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  8. vamborules

    vamborules Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT
    Yeah, I know how they are but in this particular case I tend to think he really doesn't like it.

    I just looked up on googlebooks, and this is what he says in Behind the Mask:

    "I was dead-set against doing that kind of an album, but there are times in the band where somebody acquiesces or gives in based upon somebody else feeling strongly about something. That album was Gene believing that's what we should do. I never believed the world needs a second-rate Soundgarden, Metallica, or Alice in Chains. It was a very labored attempt at doing something that I think was a big misstep. Two stars."
     
  9. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    But the fact he was against it at the time, doesn't mean he didn't roll up his sleeves and put his best effort forward once the direction was decided. Same with THE ELDER. He was against it initially, but once they made the call to go in that direction he was all in.

    If you don't like the songs on this album, that's understandable. But I don't see how anyone who is familiar with KISS and/or Paul could fail to see the effort that was put into this. There's far more complexity to many of the arrangements, and far more work put into the lyrics, than almost any KISS album. If it's a fail, fine. But none of them were mailing this in. Far from it.

    EDIT: Put another way: if COS had been an acclaimed album, do you think Paul would still bad-mouth it? I doubt it.
     
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  10. Curveboy

    Curveboy Forum Resident

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    New York City
    But Bruce doesn't.
     
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  11. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

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    CT
    :thumbsup:
     
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  12. Curveboy

    Curveboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
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  13. Combination

    Combination Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
  14. SizzleVonSizzleton

    SizzleVonSizzleton Forum Resident



    That's Carnival of Souls for me in a nutshell. And even more specifically Paul's contributions to it.

    I don't want to get into a boring cataloguing of my record collection. This is one of KISS's 'cred' albums and I'm already bored and don't want to play along with the fan narrative. If the line needs to be drawn, you're a bigger fan than me. That prize and a nickel will get you a cup of coffee. Enjoy.:)

    Gene's songs are generally okay but it becomes 'enough already' and Paul's just lost. And "this KISS album would be better with more Bruce Kulick co-writes" has never been spoken by anyone ever.

    When you go to a guy and ask him to help you make another bands' album, that's a dicey proposition. But like Quagmire says, I could forgive ALL of it if I liked the songs.

    Hate. This is a solid song and a good start to the album. The palm muted part reminds me a lot of the crawling riff in For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica but probably just because of the palm muting itself.

    I guess there isn't really much to say beyond liking the song. I don't think it's some wildly inventive tune or anything it's just solid. And the guitar solo?? This is like something for people who think Slayer guitar solos are too melodic.
     
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  15. vamborules

    vamborules Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT
    You mentioned a criticism people have and I merely pointed out that one of the people involved in creating the album has said the same. That's all. I didn't say anything about not putting effort into it.
     
  16. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    One other thing I forgot to mention. If Paul had really felt that way at the time, he would have (at best) not praised it so enthusiastically, or (at worst) really started to distance himself from it at the time of the reunion. What better time to say something like "we were trying hard to deliver music in today's climate, when all along this [the reunion in makeup] is what were were born to do! This is the real KISS!" Can't you just hear Paul saying that? If ever there was a time to diss the record, it was then, when the world was caught up in 70's KISS nostalgia. It was the least opportune time to be giving props to an album that wasn't even destined to see the light of day at that point.

    I don't buy it. He was proud of the album, even if he truly did feel it wasn't the best choice for a direction for them at that point (which I can believe). Had the record met with a reasonable amount of success, I don't think he'd bad mouth it.
     
  17. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    It's cool. I guess my point is, I think very few KISS fans actually agree with Paul and Gene on all of the things that those two praise, as well as all of the things they criticize. Those guys have their own agenda, and their assessment of their own work is subject to change depending on the year and the audience.

    I still love them, though! ;)
     
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  18. Curveboy

    Curveboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    New York City
    I also forgot Gene, Paul and Bruce did a two week radio promo tour for COS. Singer declined to participate.
     
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  19. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    HATE

    Gene is coming on strong right out of the gate. This is a powerful song that asks some tough questions. If Man was created in God's image, does God "hate"? That's not what we're taught. How can we come to grips with the evil in the world if God is supposed to be directing and influencing our lives? There are allusions to the Nazi atrocities of WWII, and questions as to whether Man really learned anything from those horrors. "All you martyrs and saviours, Go through the same door" is probably one of Gene's best lyrics ever. And this song rumbles like a freight train going downhill. Eric's playing is fantastic, and the bass and guitars just sound menacing! The solo is outstanding. This is grade "A" work and an excellent start to the album. 9.5/10
     
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  20. npgchris

    npgchris Forum Resident

    Gene and Paul did? I don't remember that. I thought only Bruce did any promotional work on behalf of this album? I knew Eric had declined.
     
  21. Sandinista

    Sandinista Formerly hightower68

    Hate

    Not tooooo much of a song here. I get why they opened with it - it sets a tone musically, sonically and vibe-wise. HAAAATE! Is What I Am!

    Not exactly Dr. Love or Room Service now, is it?

    The riffage is attention grabbing and Gene's vocals and first verse do the same... but... not much melody.

    Getting back to Unplugged for a sec: I agree with the sentiment that there are plenty of other KISS songs that would thrive in that setting. Plenty. There are simply tons of KISS songs that have very strong hooks and melodic lines that would work.
     
  22. BluesOvertookMe

    BluesOvertookMe Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seabrook, TX, USA
    I have no feelings on grunge because there is no such thing. :angel:
     
  23. The Slug Man

    The Slug Man Forum Resident

    Location:
    North Carolina
    They would never do it because it was an instrumental, but imagine if they had done a dope (no pun intended) all-acoustic version of "Fractured Mirror"? Ace, Paul, and Bruce all on guitar a la Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists, and Peter and Eric on dual percussion!
     
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  24. bartels76

    bartels76 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Location:
    CT
    I remember hearing some interviews (couldn't find any on Youtube) and they were proud of the album at the time.
     
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  25. The Slug Man

    The Slug Man Forum Resident

    Location:
    North Carolina
    CARNIVAL OF SOULS

    I haven't watched the VHS in close to 20 years, but I seem to remember Gene mentioning this album towards the end of the Kiss My Azz home video, saying, "We're working on an album now, and here's a sneak peak of the artwork," and showing something along these lines:

    [​IMG]

    So they had the idea for the artwork (and probable generally heavy/gloomy/grunge musical direction) as early as late '94. Anyway...

    I remember reading about the bootleg in late '96, the very first time I ever got online and started looking for some KISS-related stuff. The guy basically had one sentence for each song..."This is a good Gene song, but even darker than his other stuff." "This is a good Paul song, but darker than what we're used to." I remember "Rain" was spelled as "Reign" (which intrigued me) and "Master & Slave" was listed as "Tell Me." So in late '97, when it was announced they were releasing this album to beat the bootleggers, I was intrigued. IIRC it came out around Halloween (what is it with KISS and Halloween!?!) to no fanfare and a no-frills shot of the band. And even though I was never a big "grunge" fan, I liked Carnival of Souls a lot! Their most polarizing album since The Elder, but heck, to me, their best since Creatures!

    (I eventually printed out my own CD-sized insert of the artwork above to use as my custom cover in the jewel case over top the actual booklet, and it looks so dark and evil and when I take it off the shelf and imagine that it was the "real" cover).

    HATE

    This, to me, is the natural progression of "Unholy" and, like all good KISS openers, sets a vibe for the rest of the album. Once again, they've got an opening song from Gene, obviously hoping that lightning would strike twice, although it wasn't to be for a variety of reasons. The palm muted riff is somewhat generic Dropped D stuff, but everyone's delivery is intense. Not my favorite song on the album by a long shot, but I like it better than its direct ancestor, "Unholy."
     
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