I am a diehard KISS fan and I do consider myself unique. I don’t care about the color of eyes that Peter Criss’ 3rd cousin had. I have spent time at KISS conventions/shows and I find it oddly enough exactly like the toy shows and comic cons I attend. So for context, I love KISS music, almost all of it. Including The Elder, which when I spoke to Bob Ezrin on a return flight from Halifax music week about that 5 years ago he suggested I check myself into an “asylum”. Pun intended.
What does this have to do with Richie Scarlet? For those of you that are not familiar, Richie Scarlet has been a longtime pal and collaborator with Ace Frehley, and in fact is currently on tour with Ace. I think the best music Ace wrote and played is when Richie Scarlet has been involved.
In 2013, I heard about this new release from Richie Scarlet and bought in online. Listened to it, enjoyed it, especially one track but then lost touch with it.
Coming around to 2015, I was at a toy show and there was a record dealer with I Plead The Fifth on red vinyl. I love vinyl. Play it regularly. I thought maybe I lost touch with my first go around because it just didn’t hit me. Digital versions do that to me sometimes. The dealer wanted $40. I resisted, I had G.I. Joes to buy after all. 2 weeks later I am checking out a local flea market type of place and there it is, in the stall that usually has Joes, I Plead The Fifth and for $15. Sold!
Brought it home and this is what I think.
“Lips Like Morphine”: Strong opener! Kick in the ass rock n’ roll with the simultaneous velvety and raspy vox of Richie. Straight ahead formulaic rock music. This isn’t Pink Floyd (whom I love to listen to as well) and I have said it before I listen to music first and think when I read second, unless of course I have the aforementioned Floyd on. Blistering solo!
“Burning Through Life”: Keeping the strong rhythm going and up tempo with a softer vox style, almost whispering. I am crowning Richie “the rock whisperer” along with his title as “The Rock Emperor”.
“I Don’t Wanna Die”: A little slower tempo, a tad sleazy style rock but once again the vocals provide a distinct elegance. How the hell am I describing a rock tune using the word elegance? Not sure but that is the feel I get here. Great backing vox! Excellent mid-section a la 50’s. This is where I hear Richie shine because his background in music is so deep. Check out his repertoire and who he has played with and for.
“Lost In My World”: Here we slow it down starting with some piano. Has the feeling of a Yes song. Great arrangements here. This is a not a ballad or slow tune I would skip, then again, I rarely skip them!
“Without Your Love”: Here is the track that sold me in 2013. Every now and then a song hits me so hard I become lost for words. Listen to this song!
“Indian Souls (1876)”: Is this part Iron Maiden and/or Europe influenced? Perhaps. It may be more personal than that. This is one I would like to ask Richie about. The more contemplative side of Richie’s music.
“Love Will Find A Way”: We get back some of the influence from the 50’s/60’s, moreso the late 60’s. Some straight ahead rock paired with psychedelic. It works, it is a good song for me mainly because of the chorus which is solid and uplifting. This song would be played in my church of rock n’ roll it is so hymn like in the chorus.
“King Heroin”: Oh boy, the blues. I should not write about the blues style. I don’t hate it, not at all. I just should not write about it.
“Carousel”: ooooooooo what an opening guitar sound, or is it? It could be that organ thing The Doors used, I am too lazy after listening to King Heroin to check! The guitar reminds me, at times, of “You Could be Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. The record finishes up with a fine instrumental. Well done. Ok so I looked it up, the organ is a vox continental. Still not sure if that is what is used on this song, but it sounds like it.
In my opinion, this is an awesome record. I use the word record because I thoroughly enjoy it more on vinyl rather than digital release, I think because of the echo style vocals that are used. That being said I have gone back and am regularly listening to the versions on iTunes as well. I would like to give props to Richie Scarlet for an excellent cover as well, not many would risk putting themselves on their in heavy eye make-up and the ooze of what many think a past genre. This is part of the appeal, to me. If you have not checked out music from Richie Scarlet; his own as well as that he has done production for others; you should. He is called “the emperor” for a reason.
Stand out tracks: “Lips Like Morphine”/ “Burning Through Life”/ “I Don’t Wanna Die”/ “Without Your Love”/ “Love Will Find A Way”
Blair De Abreu