GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 3, Album Review)

Gene Simmons Vault Experience

Click here for the Gene Simmons Vault Disc 1 review available at Decibelgeek.com

Click here for the Gene Simmons Vault Disc 2 review available at Growinuprock.com

*Update*

I have received a couple of questions that I wanted to answer for the folks reading these reviews.

Question: How is the sound quality of the recordings in The Vault?

Answer: I heard Julian Gill (Kiss FAQ) put it best “… it varies.  Paul Stanley loved 24-track recording at Electric LadyGene Simmons liked recording on a tape recorder in his closet”.  Obviously, Julian is exaggerating a bit… and nothing in The Vault sounds like it’s recorded in a closet but most of these songs are demos.  Some are more produced than others.  By the way, Julian has done a couple of YouTube episodes sharing his Vault story on Kiss FAQ (click here) and Kiss My Kollectibles (click here) that you’ll want to check out.  Julian is the professional/expert in this realm.  Comparatively, I am just a casual fan.

Question: Are you worried that these reviews/videos will ruin The Vault Experience for others?

Answer: I have several answers to this one.  1) I hope not. 2) There are no surprises that these are personal reviews.  If you want to be surprised and not know anything ahead of time…. Don’t click to read the reviews.  You, as the fan, get to make that decision.  3) My intent was to share enough to get folks excited, possibly be the deciding factor of whether to purchase or not (which by the way has worked) and just share my experience/thoughts.  I purposely leave some of the stories from the book general to keep the mystery intact and what I’m sharing is an extremely abridged version of what is in the book.

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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*

3pm was quickly approaching and I start getting excited to see AceDanny (my brother) has met Ace once, I never have.  Danny mentions “No way he shows up at 3pm!  Even if he comes it’ll be like 8pm”.  Being the gambler that I am (and being the big brother), “Wanna bet? $20 he is here by 315.” The bet is on. 316pm comes, no Ace. Damn! $20 out of my wallet and hand to Danny. I’d rather die than lose $20, especially to him. 20 seconds go by.  I say, “Double or nothing he is here by 330”. We are on again. 90 seconds later, Ace walks down the hallway. Hell yeah! Give me my money back. Note for the little brother: Don’t keep betting against the big brother especially since you rarely win! Ace is immediately mobbed. He looks great. Huge bodyguard by his side. He signs some stuff, takes some pics, and then on stage for 40-50 mins.  Simply incredible.

Gene Simmons Vault (Disc 3) 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 VaultC: 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 3

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Christine Sixteen” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen

This is 1 of 3 demos cut on the same day in 1977.  The vocal melody is a bit different and there is an extra bridge that was cut when recording the song for Love Gun.  Fans have been waiting for years to hear these demos.  I can tell you, this one is AWESOME!!!!  The rest of the story will stay a mystery.

Gene Simmons Vault

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Tunnel of Love” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen

Demo #2 from the Van Halen session, this song landed on Gene’s 1978 solo album with Joe Perry, Donna Summer (among others) featured on the song.  On this track, Eddie vs. Joe on lead guitar is no contest.  Eddie wins by a mile.  Demo is MUCH better than the released final product.  Rest will stay a mystery……

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Got Love for Sale” (A+)

Simmons

Simmons, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen

Demo #3 from the same session, this great song landed on Love GunAce does an incredible solo (one of his best) on the final recording but Eddie’s playing is a MUST listen on the demo.  I like Van Halen, but I don’t feel swayed by being a fan. These 3 demos were worth the wait.  WOW, just WOW!!!!  To get the rest of the story, when you buy your Vault…. turn to pages 37-39.

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Hell or High Water” (A+)

Simmons, Bruce Kulick

Simmons, Bruce Kulick

This is the original demo of what would later end up on Crazy Nights.  The vocal melody is slightly different, and the demo seems to have more punch.  I love the Crazy Nights album but this demo version of “Hell or High Water” is better.

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Domino” (A)

Simmons

Simmons, Silent Rage

This demo was done by the Silent Rage guys (see review for Disc 2 for details) getting direction from Gene via phone.  Gene only performed the vocal.  The lyrics are different in a few places and there is no guitar solo or overdubs.  What is great about The Vault is you get to hear where some of these iconic songs began and what they grew to be later.

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Mad Dog” (B)

Simmons

Simmons, Ace Frehley, J. R. Smalling

J. R. Smalling, the bands’ first stage manager, plays drums on this demo. Ace does a great solo, but the chorus melody is just blah. The song has always reminded me of “Got to Choose”.  According to the book, this song was written to be on Destroyer but Bob Ezrin only liked the riff.

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Gene Simmons VaultOnly You” (A)

Simmons

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

In the fantasy world happy place in my mind, Music from The Elder does not exist.  My CD copy is sitting somewhere on highway 680 (in California) because I threw it out of the car the first time I heard “Just a Boy”.  But, this demo of “Only You” is great.  Different lyrics (with only Gene doing the vocals), killer guitar solo (sounds like Ace but not sure) and no weirdness of The Elder version.

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True Confessions #2” (C)

Simmons

Simmons, Katey Segal, Carolyn Ray, Franny Eisenberg

Gene plays all guitars on this 24-track recording, with Segal, Ray, and Eisenberg doing background vocals (they would also participate in the final recording during the 1978 solo album).  Thank God, this recording is missing the angelic chanting that was in the final product (see what I did there).

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Childhood’s End” (C)

Simmons, Bruce Kulick, Tommy Thayer

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

The song title was inspired by the Arthur C. Clarke book of the same name.  I think it’s great to pay homage to fall brothers/sisters but something about this song never connected with me.  The emotion of the lyric is just lost in the fuzz that is Carnival of Souls.  Maybe I’d like it better if it was acoustic.

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Burning Up with Fever #2” (B-)

Simmons

Simmons, J. R. Smalling

J. R. Smalling is playing drums, but Gene is handling all other duties on this demo. Sounds like Donna Summer really liked the song and wanted to record it herself, but I couldn’t find a version that she released.

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Good Girl Gone Bad” (A)

Simmons, Davitt Sigerson

Simmons, Kulick

Bruce does the lead guitar, Gene handles all other duties along with a drum machine.  During the writing session, Mercury Records President Davitt Sigerson helped with lyrics and overall melody.  I have always loved the guitar riff and solo (which is a little shorter on the demo vs. final recording).

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Trial by Fire” (B)Gene Simmons Vault

Simmons, Bruce Kulick

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

The overall vocal melody is close to the final product, but the lyrics are a bit different, especially in the chorus.  Gene (and company) made the right changes when recording it for Asylum and turns this “B” demo to an “A+” song.

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Secretly Cruel” (A)

Simmons

Simmons

Recorded on a Tascam in 1981, Gene plays all the instruments on this demo.  I have always loved the lyrics “…she had long hair, thigh high snakeskin boots and she was all over me like a cheap suit…”.  This version did not have a guitar solo.  The final recording on Asylum is one of my favorite Gene songs.

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Love ‘Em Leave ‘Em Yeah” (B)

Simmons

Book doesn’t clarify who is playing on the demo

The iconic chorus you hear on Rock and Roll Over was not included in this demo version.  Also, the guitar solo sounds different but I like it.  Originally written for Destroyer, you can tell that this demo was just a skeleton of what was finally released in 1976.

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Am I Losing my Mind” (C)

Simmons

Simmons

Gene Simmons Vault

I have heard interviews where songwriters will get an idea in their head, lay it down and if its not up to par…just scrap it.  They heard that piece of art a certain way in their head and now can’t hear it any other way.  The Demon doesn’t have that problem.  This demo is an example of how he sometimes puts different song bits together to create a song…. basically, a Frankenstein type track.  This song was part “Only You” and part “Eskimo Sun”.

GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Vault – Disc 3 Final Thoughts

3 discs down.  8 to go.  I would say disc 3 is the best of the bunch, thus far.

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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