GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 1, Album Review)

Gene Simmons Vault Experience

An unbelievable opportunity of a lifetime presented itself and I had the honor of meeting the powerful and attractive…. The Demon himself…. Gene Simmons during the Los Angeles Gene Simmons Vault Experience.  Over several installments, I will be sharing parts of my incredible story and reviewing all 11 discs from the newly released Gene Simmons Vault.  Some reviews will be on Decibelgeek.com and some on GrowinUpRock.com (since I am a staff writer for both, I had to share the love).

*Storytime*

Gene Simmons Vault

My brother (Danny) and I arrived at the Capitol Records building at 1045am.  The event was scheduled to start at 1130am.  There was a line already forming, with about 20-25 folks.  Our friend from Kiss FAQ, Julian Gill, was near the front of the line and was about to get interviewed by the press.  As he is getting interviewed, a black Cadillac Escalade pulls up behind the cameramen…. starts inching dangerously close and the cameramen jump to avoid harm.  I remember thinking “What a bonehead this person is for driving like an idiot”.  The Escalade backs up, parks and out comes Gene from the driver side.  He drove himself to the event.  Gene says, “Everyone ok?”, fist bumps everyone in line, thanks them for coming and our incredible event officially begins.

Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 1) by Gene Simmons (Released Jan 2018, Rhino Records)

Executive producers: Gene Simmons, Gino Gargiulo, and Sienna Hernandez

*Template*

To have some consistency in all 11 reviews, I will be reviewing each song per the following template:

-Grades

A: Should be on a KISS album

B: One change and it could be a great song

Gene Simmons Vault Experience

C: Could be used as album filler

D: Needs serious help.  Call Desmond Child, Ron Nevison, Adam Mitchell, Bryan Adams, Vinnie Vincent

F: Belongs in an actual vault.  Lock it up and throw away the key.

-Each track will be set up as:

Song Title (Grade)

Songwriters

Players

Comments

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault Review – Disc 1

Are You Ready” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer

1st song, from the 1st disc, and it’s AWESOME!  How did it not end up on a KISS album?  The track sounds fully produced and the backing vocals (which are incredible) are done by all three.  Tommy kills the solo.

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Gene Simmons Vault ExperienceI Turn to Stone” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, Tommy Thayer

OMG!  Another incredible track!  My favorite on disc 1.  This song would’ve been a hit single.  The riff sounds very ZZ Top“Stiff as a bone….”, yes classic Gene lyrics.  Recorded in a demo studio and it sounds great.

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Juliet” (A)

Simmons, Ken Tamplin

Simmons, Ken Tamplin

Christian rocker Ken Tamplin plays guitar and they both sing the background vocals.  No live drummer, just a drum machine. When I first heard the song, I could’ve sworn that Paul Stanley was singing parts of it…. But according to the book, it’s Ken.  This track was pitched for Revenge but Ezrin passed on it.  I’m not sure why it’s a great song and would’ve fit perfectly on that record.

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Hey You” (B)

Simmons, Ken Tamplin

Simmons, Ken Tamplin

Another collaboration with Tamplin.  The verse vocal melody is creative and memorable, but the chorus is more anthemic than catchy.  Fix the chorus, have Paul sing it and you have a radio hit.

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Gene Simmons Vault ExperienceI Confess” (B)

Simmons, Ken Tamplin

Simmons, Ken Tamplin

This track is the demo version of the song that later ended up on the Carnival of Souls album.  I have never been a fan of this song or album.  This version, however, sounds better to me.  It’s a brighter mix, the guitars are crunchy vs. fuzzy so it’s more appealing to my ears.  I went back and listened to the album version…. Yeah… still not good.

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Legends Never Die” (C)

Simmons, Adam Mitchell, Micki Free

Simmons, Micki Free

Micki Free plays guitar on this demo.  The song was later given to Wendy O. Williams for the WOW album.  Eric Carr played drums, Micki Free played acoustic guitar and Gene plays bass on the WOW version.  I like Gene’s vocals much better.  Later, the same story/theme was used for “Childhood’s End” on Carnival of Souls.  The song is okay, just drags a bit.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes” (D)

Simmons

Simmons, Bruce Kulick

Bruce does a great solo but as an overall song, it needs a lot of work.  The track is just very forgettable. The Vault book has a great story explaining the song (some stuff must stay mysterious….) but melody wise the story didn’t translate well.

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Gene Simmons Vault ExperienceHand of Fate” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer

Great demo of a live recording session.  The lyrics are great: “When you stand in line at the pearly gates, be sure you stick your hand out and shake the hand of fate”Tommy does another great guitar solo.  This song was pitched for Sonic Boom but didn’t make it.  I don’t know why I can name some songs that it could’ve replaced.  Gene sang all the harmony vocals.

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Hunger” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr

Circa 1987-1988, all three were invited to a New Year’s Eve party but decided to go to a studio instead and cut this demo.  The music and verses are written well but the chorus is boring.  The guitar solo…. WOW!  Bruce is so underrated….

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In My Head” (D)

Simmons, Scott Van Zen, Jaime St. James

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

This demo was later re-recorded for the Carnival of Souls album.  Again, I’m not a fan of this song or album.  The demo doesn’t change my feelings.  I absolutely LOVE the lyrical theme…. And I really want to like the song, but I can’t get into it.  Gene does share that he likes this demo version better than what ended up on the album.

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Gene Simmons Vault

Carnival of Souls #1” (B)

Simmons, Scott Van Zen

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

This song has a cool vibe.  Almost punk.  Again, the chorus is the problem.  If the chorus melody matched the caliber of the verse and bridge melodies, you would have a great song.  The song was written for the Carnival of Souls album, but the band decided to go in a heavier direction.  Obviously, they like the title better than they liked the actual song.

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Are You a Boy, Or Are You a Girl” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Eric Carr, Tommy Thayer

Tommy wasn’t technically in KISS yet but played guitar on this demo.  The lyrics were never finished so you hear Gene doing some scat vocals through the melody.  There is even some bass soloing ?

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Say You Don’t Want It” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, Tommy Thayer

This song uses the same riff as “Mongoloid Man” and the demo was re-recorded in 2001.  Gene always liked the song and wanted to update it to have a chance to get it onto a KISS record.  It’s a good song overall and I like it better than “Mongoloid Man”.

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Mongoloid Man” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, Michael Des Barres, Joe Perry

Michael Des Barres (Silverhead, Detective, Power Station) does the background vocals and Joe Perry does the guitar solo.  Circa 1979, the song feels a little dated for its time.  If written a few years earlier, it could’ve been a great fit for Destroyer (maybe replacing “Great Expectations”).  Perry’s solo is definitely worth a listen.

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Gene Simmons Vault Experience
Photo by Alex Kluft – Ultimate Classic Rock

I Wait” (A)

Darren Leader, Simmons

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

Darren Leader, who would later end up in Steel Panther, originally wrote the song.  Gene wrote some of the lyrics and added the chorus.  This song reminds you how great Gene is as a vocalist.  You could hand this song to Ed Sheeran or James Bay today and it would be a HUGE hit!!!!  Very Beatles-esque.  Awesome disc 1 closer.

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault – Disc 1 Final Thoughts

So, there you have it.  Folks were worried that this collection of songs would just be a bunch of 2nd rate KISS junk.  5 A’s, 5 B’s, 3 C’s, 2 D’s and Zero F’s.  I would say that is pretty good.

10 more reviews to go. Thanks for reading.  Pooni out!

For the entire amazing Gene Simmons Vault Experience story, check out Podcast Rock City: Episode 185.

Facebook live videos, including Ace Frehley playing with Gene Simmons, available on my Facebook feed.

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Buy: Gene Simmons Vault Experience

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