GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 11: The bonus disc, Album Review)

Gene Simmons Vault

*Past reviews*

Click here for Disc 1

Click here for Disc 2

Gene Simmons VaultClick here for Disc 3

Click here for Disc 4

Click here for Disc 5

Click here for Disc 6

Click here for Disc 7

Click here for Disc 8

Click here for Disc 9

Click here for Disc 10

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, wanted to share the love).

*FAQ*

Question: What number Vault did you get?  If I was the 3rd one to purchase online, will I get #3?

Answer:  I have number #158.  I cannot imagine that Rhino tracked the purchaser, the order in which they purchased in and match to that numbered Vault they would receive.  So, I say “no”.  I believe you’ll get a random numbered Vault.

Gene Simmons Vault

Question:  If you can sum up your entire experience in a few words, what would those words be?

Answer:  Incredible experience.  Why haven’t YOU bought a Vault yet?

Question:  Would you be disappointed if Gene releases The Vault demos to the masses via Walmart, etc.?

Answer:  Yes, for several reasons.  They are:

*I am a Target guy vs. Walmart

*Gene has said publicly that he wouldn’t do that

*I have a better idea than releasing to the masses (see the end of this review)

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Gene Simmons Vault (disc 11, the bonus disc) 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

Gene Simmons Vault

B: One change and it could be a great song

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

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Feel Like Heaven” (B)

Simmons

Simmons

This R&B inspired demo is all Gene.  It’s a drum track, bass guitar and a toy piano/synthesizer.  The toy had its own external speaker, only had one octave but Gene uses it well.  This toy was also used to write the riff of an iconic KISS song.  Which one?  The answer is on page 134.

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Obnoxious” (A)

Simmons

Simmons This mid-70s demo connects to a song called “Reputation” on the Love Gun Deluxe edition.  The choruses are very similar.  This early version has no drums but sounds great overall.  Both “Obnoxious” and “Reputation” deserved to be on a KISS studio record.

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Mina-San, Mina-San” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, no other musicians were credited

Remember the song “Samurai Son”?  It was a song that Paul wrote for a Japanese girl group called Momoiro Clover Z.  “Mina-San, Mina-San” (which translates to “Everybody, Everybody”) was the submission that Gene put in but was not used.  This song is an anthemic track that should be released at some point.  In my opinion, “Mina-San, Mina-San” is better than “Samurai Son”.

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Just Begun to Fight” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, no other musicians were credited

This 1978 track has a guitar riff that is like “Calling Dr. Love”.  I am not sure who is playing guitar (it could be Gene) but the additional overdubs/riffs and guitar solo are done well.  The chorus has a weird marching drum beat that takes some getting used to.

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Gene Simmons VaultIt’s Funny, But It Ain’t No Joke” (B-)

Simmons

Simmons, no other musicians were credited

Recorded on a 4-track, the guitar riff and solo are keepers.  The verse melody is much better than the chorus.  Overall, the song could be great… just needs a hook.

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Love by Invitation” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, no other musicians were credited

Similar melody, lyrics and chords to “It’s Funny, but it Ain’t No Joke”, this demo feels like a fit for the 1978 solo album.  The recording has a saxophone solo and it sounds great. It didn’t sound like a fit for KISS, so Gene never pitched it for a studio record release.  I promised I wouldn’t mention the Disney song again, but…..

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Dorothy Lamour” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Holly Knight, Anton Fig, Keith Lentin, Jim Lowell

Connected through Bill Aucoin, Holly Knight (keyboards), Anton Fig (drums), Keith Lentin (guitar) and Jim Lowell (bass) all played on the demo.  They were 4 of the 5 members of a band called Spider.  The song has a 70s pop dance track feel.  Love the melody!

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Queen of Hearts” (D)

Simmons, Peppy Castro

Simmons, Peppy Castro

Peppy Castro is a name that may sound familiar to you.  He co-wrote “Naked City” on Unmasked.  Although the KISS Army has a love/hate relationship with Unmasked, “Naked City” seems to be a song that everyone likes.  “Queen of Hearts” is no “Naked City”.

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My Lorraine” (A)

Simmons

Simmons

Although the demo was recorded in 1980, this song was written back in 1966 when Gene was first learning to play guitar.  He did this song live, on acoustic guitar, at the L.A. Vault Experience and it sounded AWESOME!  The Demon was born with the gift of creating melody!

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Leeta” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Brooke Ostrander, Steve Coronel

The members of Bullfrog Bheer recorded this demo live in 1969.  Ostrander (drums) and Coronel (guitar) were not world class songwriters, so they counted on Gene to take care of the songwriting duties.  This song has a Yardbirds/Beatles feel.

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“Put on Your Slippers” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Brooke Ostrander

Circa 1969, this demo has the same feel as “Leeta”.  Both tracks sound like AM radio easy listening songs.  I just can’t get into them.  To each their own, right?

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Gypsy Nights” (B)

Simmons

Simmons

Written in 1978, the track has pop sensibility.  It would be interesting to hear this song finished.  The bridge is not as good as the verse and chorus.

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Eskimo Sun” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, no other musicians were credited

Written in the early 70s, “Eskimo Sun” would later morph to “Only You” for The ElderGene performed this song on acoustic guitar at the L. A. Vault Experience and the audience was abnormally silent.  This demo doesn’t do the song justice.  Live, it had an amazing feel.

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Gene Simmons VaultNancy” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Brooke Ostrander

This 85 second demo is an emotional piece about an ex-girlfriend.  Seems like Gene was having a hard time writing lyrics to this song.  I’m not sure why, I can think of tons of lyrics about my exes 😊

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My Uncle is a Raft” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Mark Nyburg, Larry Martinelli

A couple of friends, Nyburg (drums) and Martinelli (guitar), join Gene in 1966 to record this demo.  The story in the liner notes made me PROUD to be a Gene Simmons fan.  Leave it to The Demon to pull on my heart strings after listening to 166 songs.

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SO, WHAT’S NEXT?

In my opinion, the next logical step is to record a new album… re-working some of the best demos in the Vault.  I think it should be a two-disc CD set, also available on vinyl, comprised of completed re-recorded songs.  Disc 1 would be guitar driven songs.  Disc 2 would be acoustic songs.  Here are my ideas for song choices, including drafted album art (understand that I was NOT an Art major):

Album name:  Breaking into the Vault

Release date: 1/9/19 (see what I did there)

Record Label:  Simmons/Sanctuary Records

Executive Producer: Gene Simmons

Disc 1: Hard Rock Jewels

Produced by:  Michael James Jackson

Tracks

Are You Ready

It’s My Life

Mina-San Mina-San

Dial L for Love

No Conscience

Turn to Stone

Are You Always This Hot

Hand of Fate

Just Give Me Love #2

Suspicious

*Juliet

*Promise the Moon

(*Japanese bonus tracks)

Disc 2:  Delicate Gems

Produced by:  Bob Ezrin

Tracks

Hold On

I Wait

Master of Flash

Gypsy Nights

Waiting for the Morning Light

Never Gonna Leave You #1

Love Came to Me

Are You Real

It’s Gonna Be Alright

I Wanna Live

*Everybody Knows #1

*My Uncle is a Raft

(*Japanese bonus tracks)

Contributing musicians

Lead vocals:  Gene Simmons

Bass Guitar:  Gene Simmons

Piano:  Lzzy Hale

Guitars:  Ace Frehley, Eddie Van Halen, Bruce Kulick, Bob Kulick, John 5, Phil Shouse, Jeremy Asbrock, Ryan Cook

Drums:  Eric Singer, Christopher Williams

Backing vocals:  All of the above

Orchestration: San Francisco Symphony, Music Director:  Michael Tilson Thomas

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GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault – Final Thoughts

“Oh yeah, oohhhhhhhh yeah, oh yeah, well awwlright….” (cue “God of Thunder”…

THANK YOU so much for all the support over the last couple of weeks.  Every day, I receive positive messages from KISS fans regarding these reviews.  It’s simple to review something when you have over 9 hours of amazing music.  The entire Gene Simmons Vault Experience was executed with thoughtfulness and class.  Was it worth the money I spent?  “YOUR DAMN RIGHT IT WAS!”

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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