Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

1978 – IV – Kiss-A-Ganza

The last post for 1978 will kick off with a Kiss-a- ganza. Not one, not two, but 5 Kiss albums, plus lunch boxes, and what not.

Here is the Spotify playlist.

And the previous posts can be found at 1, 2 or 3.

Paul Stanley
Gene Simmons
Peter Criss
Ace Frehley

You take the best songs from each of these solo albums and it’s a pretty solid Kiss album. My list as follows and I’m sure others will have a different opinion.

Side A

  1. Rip It Out – Ace Frehley
  1. You Matter To Me – Peter Criss
  1. Tonight, You Belong To Me – Paul Stanley
  1. Ozone – Ace Frehley
  1. It’s Alright – Paul Stanley
  1. Love In Chains – Paul Stanley

Side B

  1. New York Groove – Ace Frehley
  1. Snow Blind – Ace Frehley
  1. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me – Paul Stanley
  1. Take Me Away (Together As One) – Paul Stanley
  1. Mr Make Believe – Gene Simmons
  1. Goodbye – Paul Stanley

It’s top heavy with Space Ace and Star Paul because they had their creative juices flowing at this point in time, while Demon Gene and Cat Peter just didn’t have it.

And Ace struck big with his album because its basically a balls to the wall punk album before punk became such a big thing. “Rip It Out” has a punk vibe, with a drum solo and a rock guitar solo chucked in for good measure. 

For some reason, the R&B/Rod Stewart feel of “You Matter To Me” just works straight after “Rip It Out”.

And “Tonight, You Belong To Me” comes in at number 3, a masterpiece in melodic rockisms. If you ask me, it’s a three punch knockout.

At track 4 is a dirty and sleazy Ace track, with “Ozone” a groovy masterpiece in hard rock song writing which put some of the Led Zep work to shame at this point in time.  Even the lead break was very different to the standard blues licks Ace is renowned for.

Track 5 is “It’s Alright” from the Star Child, a nice little rocker, which flows straight after “Ozone” and the first side of my imaginary album, closes with another Star Child cut, in “Love In Chains”, a very mature song musically, especially when you listen to the guitar work and the lead breaks. 

Side B of the best album that never was, kicks off with “New York Groove”, a perfect sing along and clap along. And the Led Zep influenced “Snow Blind” had to be up next, because there’s no use being back in NY if you are not snow blind and lost in space. And how cool is that “Love Gun” style lick he brings in to the lead break.

Paul Stanley’s feel good and very commercial sounding, “Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me” is perfect at track 3 on Side B and Paul continues his momentum with “Take Me Away (Together As One)” which reminds me of a cross between “House Of The Rising Sun” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.

Demon Gene is Kirk Hammett on this album. His riffs were just not good enough. But “Mr Make Believe” ended up good enough to be included with its take on “Mr Blue Sky” and The Beatles catalogue. And the album that never was, closes with “Goodbye” from Paul Stanley. And how good is the last minute of “Goodbye”.

And of course, with all things Kiss, a best off collection came out called “Double Platinum”. If you didn’t have any of their records, you could have purchased this one, and still have a decent collection of songs. Provided you still had any funds left, after purchasing all four of the solo albums.

Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight

“Surrender” is one of my favourite tracks because of that god damn addictive Chorus. 

“High Roller” hooks me in with its AC/DC vibe.

“Heaven Tonight” has a pretty addictive intro. It reminds me of “Kings And Queens” from Aerosmith.

Bob Seger – Stranger In Town

One of the best voices ever.

“Hollywood Nights” kicks it off and if you have never been to Hollywood, then you would have felt like you had after listening to this song and a story of a romantic Hollywood meeting, which led to marriage and then a violent broken marriage and how nothing that came after captured that Hollywood Night.

“Still The Same” is another one of those acoustic rolling rockers while “Old Time Rock and Roll’ is basically saying that today’s music ain’t got the same soul as the music that came before and you need that old time rock and roll to reminisce about those days of old.

And the song got multiple reboots in the 80’s via movies and TV shows like “Risky Business” and “Alf”.

“Feel Like A Number” has a riff which sounds like something else (like Filter’s “Take A Picture”) and lyrics which sum up life.

I take my card and I stand in line

Who hates waiting in line to take money out of their bank account. Like sheep, we need to wait to take what is ours.

To make a buck I work overtime

We have been conditioned from birth to believe that hard work will get you through life. We even take up jobs with higher salaries, which means we work more unpaid hours than ever before.

Dear sir letters keep comin’ in the mail

When you are behind in any debt, the letters never stop, until you are out on the streets or back at home, if that place still exists.

To IRS I’m another file

The tax man loves the poor and the middle class, as that’s the only way they can get money, because the rich corporations don’t pay any.

The Rolling Stones – Some Girls

It’s the singles which captured my interest like “Beasts Of Burden” and “Miss You”.

Dragon – O Zambesi

Dragon is one of those acts which captured a sound and style perfect for Australians. And while people might associate the band as Australian, they are in fact from New Zealand.

It was during this album cycle tour, that Dragon attempted to break through into the American market, which ended disastrous at a show in Dallas, Texas. Marc Hunter caused a riot, when he said that all Texans are faggots, which resulted in the band getting pelted with beer bottles, chairs, tables and other members of the audience holding guns out, yelling “I’m gonna kill ya”.

And Motley Crue have nothing on these bad boys. Check out the mayhem.

As soon as the band relocated to Sydney in 1975, their drummer died of a heroin overdose. Two members were involved in a serious car crash in 1977, where keyboardist Paul Hewson (their main songwriter in the 70’s) had his neck in a brace as well as having a broken arm and guitarist Robert Taylor needed plastic surgery. Paul Hewson eventually died of a drug overdose in 1985 and vocalist Marc Hunter died of smoking-related throat cancer in 1998.

“Still In Love With You” and “Are You Old Enough” still get constant radio play in Australia.

Grease (Soundtrack)

How can you not escape this movie?

It was everywhere for over a decade.

Frankie Valli kicks it off with the song “Grease”, the Travolta and Newton-John duet, “You’re The One That I Want” rocks out of the gates. “Rock N’ Roll Is Here To Stay” from the Sha Na Na’s tells us that rock and roll will never die.

Graham Bonnet – No Bad Habits

“I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” has a riff which had George Michael very interested and eventually he used it for “Faith”. Of course, that riff is not in the original Bob Dylan version but made up by the guys in the band for their reinterpretation.

And that’s my wrap of 1978. 1977 here I come.

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It’s Always Been About The Songs

“The biggest thing that surprised me about fame was that it was fleeting. You work so hard to get there and you just assume that it’s some sort of finish line, or you take a victory lap and maybe spike the ball, run around the field screaming ‘Goal,” I don’t know.”
Dee Snider 

It is pretty well-known how long and hard Twisted Sister worked at getting their sound and image out to the masses. It is also pretty well-known how short their fame was in the Eighties and how quickly they faded from the conversation.

You see, the biggest untold story in music is that when an artist hits a high with one album/song, it doesn’t mean that the next album/song will also hit that same high.

“Stay Hungry” sold over 2 million copies when “Come Out And Play” was released in 1985. At that point in time, “Under The Blade” was still selling, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘N’ Roll” was still selling and so was “Stay Hungry”. Because when an album crosses over into the mainstream, the back catalogue of the artists suddenly become popular.

Then a new album drops and suddenly the sales are not as high as the previous album. It doesn’t mean the band is not famous or popular anymore, it just meant that a re-adjustment was going on with the fans.

A lot of fans were still digesting the back catalogue and a lot of fans moved on to the next flavour of the year.

So instead of Twisted Sister’s management team booking a normal theatre and shed tour, they booked an arena tour for “Come Out And Play”. And when the arena shows failed to sell out, the tour got canned which cost the band money. The merchandise agreement for the tour became null and void which cost the band money.

“The reality is that rock and roll, in the mainstream, it’s in a difficult place right now. People don’t buy music, and they certainly don’t buy rock bands’ music in the way that they used to. And so, for our genre, it’s kind of… We’re limping along when it comes to public appeal. I believe that rock and roll is alive and well. I just think that people need to show their support and let the genre keep thriving.”
Andy Biersack – Black Veil Brides

People never wanted to buy music. I know I never did. I wanted to listen to music. However, corporations got involved with music, and a big business was born from it. Guess how many records Kiss sold from their first album, before they started to record their second album.

If you answered 70,000 units, then you are correct. If you don’t believe me, read Paul Stanley’s “Face The Music”. Metallica’s “Kill Em All” didn’t set any sales records when it came out either. Nine months after the album’s release, Metallica went back into the studio to record “Ride The Lightning”.

But today, bands want instant success. They want their first album to sell like Metallica’s “Black” album or Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet”.

“Metal was really strong in the 80s and kind of had hard times in the 90s. I think we treaded water and kept alive and kept focused on being Testament, and writing songs that we wrote without thinking or trying to change and play with what’s current at the time. It really hurt a lot of bands trying to do that. Fortunately, we didn’t do that. We went opposite. We went a little darker and heavier at that time. Then the metal got healthy again, and coming out the other end, we were in the right spot with the direction we were going, and the history we had, it just carried through. Metal has been real strong since the early 2000s. It’s been gradually picking up. I see the generation changing with a lot more younger fans coming to shows now over the last ten years.”
CHUCK BILLY – Testament

The crux of longevity is the replenishing of your fan base, year after year. And you do that by being in the game. Each album release will do some of the following;

  • Pick up new fans and keep all of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose some of the old fans
  • Pick up new fans and lose all of the old fans
  • Keep all of the old fans
  • Lose some of the old fans

It’s just the way it is. You see for me, I lost interest in Testament after Alex Skolnick left. My cousin Mega, still purchased their albums, I heard them and forgot them. It was just part of getting older. Musical tastes changed for a while. That is why in 2015, my music collection has everything from folk, blues, classic rock, metal, hard rock, glam rock, thrash metal, death metal, metalcore, progressive rock, etc…

So in 2015, the album is just not as important as it was once was. With streaming it is all about the songs. For all the artists that complain about sales, the truth is if you’re popular, people want to listen to your music and they want more of it, if it is good. My kids don’t even care if the songs all came from the same album.

Today, the artists get paid every time we listen.

Elektra sold Metallica’s self-titled album and the band only got paid once for the sale. Today, Metallica is cleaning up, as fans are streaming their tracks over and over again. They are getting paid continuously. And right now payments are low, but they will grow as more people subscribe. And if we are listening to our favourites music, they will get paid forever.

So it all comes down to listens and good songs have a long listening life, a long time to make money.

And it’s always been about good songs.

Metallica did not break big until “Enter Sandman” crossed over. Twisted Sister did not break big until “We’re Not Gonna Take It” crossed over.

We all want more if the artists are great and the hard truth is that very few are.

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It’s “2015 Chaos AD” and People Are Seeking Filters

A common question today is “How do musicians make money?”

Depending on which side of the argument you are, you either focus on the positives of today’s music market or on the negatives of today’s music market. Artists like Paul Stanley, Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Perry, Scott Ian, Gene Simmons and Kirk Hammett focus on the headlines that read;

  • Album sales are down
  • iTunes single downloads are down
  • Streaming services are decimating artists incomes
  • Technology and the internet has killed the rock star

But it’s not gloom and doom. The old ways are not coming back. You don’t see people going back to dial up internet, three TV channels and landline telephones. So why do you expect them to start buying albums again on vinyl and plastic.

So what do artists do?

Well you can complain like others for the old ways to come back or you can look at new ways and models to increase your brand and exposure.

In the link, there is a story about Linkin Park. In 2013, they decided that they needed to change their business model to accommodate the changing recorded music market. They restructured their organisation to run like a tech start-up. They parted ways with outside management and brought everything in-house

Prior to that they released music consistently, did video games, art and they licensed their grassroots marketing service to other bands, film studios, TV stations and brands.

They studied other successful artists who diversified. They studied other brands from different markets. They formed a new strategy where creating and selling music plays a supporting role instead of being the main role.

So what about someone just starting off?

A lot of people would say “Linkin Park is huge so they have the power to do things differently.” Read the article. Everything that they have going for them started with the team that was assembled to pack and send CD’s before they made it big.

For anyone starting off, the product is first. If you have no product, you have no publicity. And publicity comes from word of mouth. It’s 2015 Chaos AD and people are seeking filters. And the cold hard truth is that in order to be heard above the noise, you still need someone to promote you and your product.

I remember reading an article about word of mouth and it stated that Google, Facebook and Amazon grew because of word of mouth. Motley Crue and even Metallica had people spreading the word for them. And people will always listen to their friends.

Look at “Phish”. Their business thrives without any media attention and their career is decades deep.

And for the ones whinging about streaming profits, the goal is to get people to stream for years. Instant payola is gone.

There is another story over at the Times called “The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t”.

The article states, creative artists are thriving “in complicated and unexpected ways.”

Remember the words of Lars Ulrich on July 11, 2000, in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee,

‘‘We typically employ a record producer, recording engineers, programmers, assistants and, occasionally, other musicians. We rent time for months at recording studios, which are owned by small-­business men who have risked their own capital to buy, maintain and constantly upgrade very expensive equipment and facilities. Our record releases are supported by hundreds of record companies’ employees and provide programming for numerous radio and television stations. … It’s clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable. All the jobs I just talked about will be lost, and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear.’’

So 15 years have passed.

Have artists disappeared? NO

Has the music industry died? NO

But what we have are artists using a business model from the 1950’s. Spend time in a studio, record an albums worth of songs and release it. Hope that it penetrates the market and you go on a continuous victory lap celebrating the fact.

Look at any band in the history of music and they all have the definitive crossover album.

Bon Jovi has “Slippery When Wet”, Led Zeppelin has “IV”, Metallica has the “Black” album, Motley Crue has “Dr Feelgood”, Judas Priest has “Screaming For Vengeance”, Eagles have “Hotel California”, AC/DC has “Back In Black”, Kiss has “Destroyer”, Poison has “Open Up and Say Ahh..” and so on. You get the hint.

What we do know is that any record that gains traction will last longer than ever before in the current climate.

Metallica spent close to 18 months on the “Black” album and over a million dollars on it. Depending on which side of the debate you are on, it was either totally worth it or not worth it. From a band perspective, it was totally worth it. The “Black” album explosion also increased awareness in their back catalogue, which if you read my posts, you will note that even in 2015, “Master Of Puppets” is outselling the “Black” album.

But do the fans of 205 want their favourite artists to spend so much time out of the market?

While artists complain about technology changing their income streams from sales of recorded music, they seem to forget that technology has also changed the cost of recording an album/song?

If your main gig is to write songs for others, then we will be hearing your depressing stories in the press, unless you’re a Max Martin. However, if you like to play live, then the new world is for you. It’s simply economics. Recorded music is a product and performing live is also a product. Once upon a time both products were limited. Now recorded music is in infinite supply and live music is still limited. So when one product experiences a price decline, the other product which is limited, experiences an increase.

We don’t care about the corporations when it comes to music. We care about the music and the artist?

And it is unfortunate that the corporations attached the sales metric of record music as f fans caring for artists. So of course, if sales are reduced and music is illegally obtained, the same corporations with some dumb artists toe the line that fans don’t care. However, the fans do care, they just show it in different ways. But the same corporations don’t know how to make sense of the data and the artists are too poor or too far down the chain to obtain any substantial data.

Maybe that is why the direct to fan relationship has become such a focus lately. It means a leaner artist with less handlers. As the Times article states, more people are involved in music today than the glory years of the Nineties.

They are just doing it very different to what artists of yesteryear did.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Unsung Heroes

INTERESTING: In A World Of Free, Metal and Rock Music Still Continues To Sell

There is a great article over at the Metal Insider website.

If you are too lazy to click on the link, the article covers the biggest selling metal and rock albums for 2015.

From the results, it’s pretty obvious that metal and rock fans like to purchase music. There is still a collectors mindset there. What’s even more fascinating is that a lot of the albums that have sold a decent amount in 2015 were not even released in 2015.

NOTE: The figures are based on U.S sales.

“Master of Puppets” was released in 1986 and in 2015 it sold 107,800 units. The self-titled “Metallica” album released in 1991 has sold another 77,100 units in 2015. It is well on its way to 17 million units sold in total.

Now think about for a second.

All of Metallica’s music is available on streaming services for paid subscriptions and for free. All of their music is available for downloading via legal options and illegal options. And they still continue to sell.

A band’s longevity is based around the need to replenish their fan base year after year. If you are not doing that then expect to play smaller venues. Dokken and Ratt are two bands that come to mind who haven’t replenished their fan bases from the Eighties. Both bands in the Eighties had platinum sales and played arenas. Today, they have almost no sales and play clubs.  Of course, not having the main creative forces in the current version of the band plays a part, however, even if Lynch and Pilson or Pearcy and Croucier did rejoin Dokken and Ratt respectively, it doesn’t mean that millions of people would be interested.

Metallica,  however is doing a good job at replenishing their fan base based on their selected live performances in new markets and in markets that have high rates of piracy.  They basically have a whole new generation of music fans who more or less consumed the music of Metallica for free and in most cases illegally. However, that still hasn’t stopped them from selling music and concert tickets.

As business people, the move to their own label “Blackened Recordings” was a no-brainer.

The record is how it all starts. It hooks the audience in. Anyone born in the Nineties, will know Metallica as the conformist poster artist for the labels in the Napster case. Anyone born in the Seventies and early Eighties know Metallica as a non-conformist band that pushed boundaries.

The whole Napster kerfuffle in the end just showed why it was not a good idea for Metallica to get in the way of people experiencing their music. However, they have learnt that by making their music available everywhere, they see better returns in other areas.

As an artist, it is a privilege for people to listen to your music. Respect that.

“Back In Black” from AC/DC was released in 1980. In 2015 so far, it has sold 110,000 units in the U.S.  The new album, “Rock Or Bust”, released in 2014, has sold 143,400 units in 2015.  Put it down to the band being on the road and building awareness of the new album. It just goes to show that the blanket marketing campaigns before the album release date, the Grammy appearance and all of the other medical issues/jail issues in the media meant nothing in 2015.

You see, when the music eco system was controlled by the record labels, the marketing blitz by the labels meant something. In 2015, it means nothing.

From the 2015 releases, Breaking Benjamin’s “Dark Before Dawn” has sold 209,000 units so far, Marilyn Manson’s “The Pale Emperor” has sold 124,200 units so far and Halestorm’s “Into The Wild Life” has sold 114,500 units so far.

From the 2014 releases, Foo Fighters “Sonic Highways” album has sold 87,800 in 2015, for total sales in 480,000 so far. Slipknot’s “5: The Gray Chapter” has sold 84,000 units in 2015, for total sales of 344,000 units. Nickelback’s “No Fixed Address” album has sold 101,000 units in 2015. Like the Foo Fighters it is approaching Gold status.

Led Zeppelin continues to be a selling machine, so why would they create new music when Copyright grants them and the owners of their songs, rights for the next 110 years to exploit the works.

In case you are wondering “Led Zeppelin 4” sold 75,000 units and “Physical Graffiti” sold 112,400 units in 2015.

Kid Rock’s debut “Devil Without A Cause” is still selling. For 2015 alone, it has moved 86,000 units. Add that to the other 10 million units it has sold so far.

So what is all of the above telling us.

Eventually people will pay, however if a piece of music that people want to check out is not available for free, they will turn away until it becomes convenient. Don’t expect people to pay just because you want them too.

And for all of those critics saying the new bands cannot attain the same level of success as their Seventies and Eighties counterparts, well have a look at some other stats.

 

As influential as Black Sabbath was to metal music, they are being outsold by Linkin Park, Korn and even Limp Bizkit.

Also for all of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s comments about rock being dead because no one is buying recorded music, well, Kiss has never really been a big seller of recorded music anyway. Their 21 million is pretty tame compared to Metallica’s 62 million. In the end, the live show is where it’s at. Deliver there and make that show a cultural event, the sky is the limit.

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A to Z of Making It, Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Hard Working Musicians and Some Not So Hard Working Musicians

When I sit down to write a song, I write a song. That means, I have a vocal melody, chords and a certain feel behind it. In the bands I used to be in, I would then play the song for them. Now, my vocals are limited, so when I play the original song there are some notes I cannot hit. However the singer in the band can hit those notes.

Now according to Sebastian Bach, because he can sing better than Matt Fallon, he should get a song writing credit.

Come on man, this sense of entitlement that everyone has is getting downright stupid.

I love the Sebastian Bach era of Skid Row and I love Sebastian’s solo stuff. I saw Skid Row play at Eastern Creek in Sydney back in 1993. I purchased their debut album because I saw that Michael Wagener was listed as the producer. I remember dropping the needle and being blown away.

I remember also picking up a bootleg of the Matt Fallon era of Skid Row and being amazed at how good the songs sounded in demo form. Of course, Sebastian Bach is the better singer and he is the difference between a good band and a great band. Plus he is Skid Row. As good as Dave Sabo and Rachel Bolan are at writing the songs, people will always associate their band with Sebastian Bach.

But, in the case of getting a song writing credit just because he sang the vocal melody better, Sebastian has it wrong.

The Skid Row guys know the truth. History has always shown people trying to rewrite the past to suit a current point of view. But seriously, based on Sebastian’s definition, then guitarist Scotti Hill should also be credited as a songwriter for the Skid Row debut. Why not, hey?

Hill’s lead playing is all over the album and in “18 and Life”, the lead work is very definitive. But it doesn’t work that way. It never did, however in the new world we live in with plagiarism lawsuits everywhere, anything is possible.

Another person that keeps on getting it wrong is Yngwie Malmsteen. When is he going to realise that as good as a guitarist he is, without a great lead singer, his band and his songs are just average. Joe Lynn Turner and Jeff Scott Soto are the right vocalists for Yngwie however those bridges have burnt.

The problem with Yngwie and other artists like Kiss, is that they haven’t created anything worthwhile recently that would make us pay attention. So no one is interested in obtaining their new music. In Kiss’s case, they can still make good money on the road. In Yngwie’s case, he is playing clubs and bars.

You see, in music you work your ass off to get a break and to build an audience. Then you need to work even harder to keep that audience and to replenish it. The big dirty secret that eludes artists is that fans drop off, lose interest or just move on to other bands or different styles especially if the music coming out fails to connect.

If you want to listen to Malmsteen at his best, the first four albums are essential listening. Anything after that is for the hard-core fans.

These days it seems that the popular artists forget why they became famous. It’s because of the music, stupid. It amazes me when I read interviews with artists who don’t feel it is necessary to make new music. The latest is Paul Stanley. The reason why he is a somebody, is because he wrote music. And a lot of it.

Look at guys like Mark Tremonti or even Joel Hoekstra. Both guys are super hard workers.

Tremonti has two albums coming out within a 12 month period from his band Tremonti, plus another Alter Bridge album. Chuck into that mix the Fret 12 guitar instructional DVD’s that he has been doing for the last 10 years and you can see how hard he is working at releasing content on a consistent basis.

Hoekstra just released “The Purple Album” with Whitesnake, has a project called VHF that will be releasing an album soon and another project called Joel Hoekstra 13 that will also be releasing an album soon. In addition to that, he released music with Night Ranger just last year and toured with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. All of that hard work is paying off for him at the moment.

So what do we know?

It’s hard work being a musician. It always has been and it always will be. Tremonti and Hoekstra are perfect examples of hard work.

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Copyright, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity

The Copyright Pension/Annuity

When I started to write my own songs back in the late Eighties, copyright was not even in my mindset. You see, when you start to do something creative you do it because there is a sense of fulfillment and a desire to create.

From my own experiences, I never sat down with my guitar and said to myself, “Gee, lucky for me, there is a copyright law in place that lasts my whole lifetime, plus another seventy years after I die, to give me an incentive to create”.

Those kinds of thoughts never enter the mindset.

Which brings me to today and how the very nature of what Copyright is has been hijacked by large corporations and greedy next of kins.

The whole “Blurred Lines” case is a joke. For the record, it is a crap song that made a lot of cash. So what we have is a jury deciding if a song sounds similar to another song and for them to decide that it does sound similar, it more or less indirectly infers that Marvin Gaye was so original that his song “Got To Give It Up” came out of some celestial vacuumed place that only Marvin Gaye had access to. However, everyone knows that is not the case. All artists are the sum of their influences.

And what a said state of affairs for Copyright. You have the heirs of Marvin Gaye, who haven’t contributed anything to the arts and are living off the proceeds of a stupid law that extends Copyright 70 plus years after death. There are millions upon millions of songs out there that sound similar, however once a song makes some serious cash, the knives come out.

What I took out of the court case and what bodes well for music in general is the amount of money the track made.

$5.6 million in profits went to Robin Thicke while $5.2 million to Pharrell Williams, $700,000 to the other writer T.I. and the rest of the $16.7 million in overall profits went to the  record companies Interscope, UMG Distribution and Star Trak. Since Napster, we have been hearing the same rhetoric from the recording industry and out of touch artists.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are renowned for their viewpoints on rock being dead and piracy killing off any chance a new artist has of making some money. Scott Ian wanted to disconnect people from the Internet. Nuclear Blast want to shakedown people who downloaded the music from “All Shall Perish”.

Meanwhile the record labels kept the propaganda machine going that they just can’t make any money because of piracy. So here is just one song that has made close to $17 million dollars in profits. One song, remember that.

So it goes back to the same old saying, create something that people gravitate too and watch it make you money. There is a shitload of money out there if artists can create a great song that people gravitate to.

Actually speaking of plagiarism, listen to the “Funky Town” vocal melody and then listen to the verse vocal melody in Kiss’s “Lick It Up”. They are identical. Hell, the whole “Sonic Highways” album from Foo Fighters is a case of influences. Same goes for the whole “Hail To The King” album from Avenged Sevenfold. Let’s add  “Kill Em All” from Metallica which was more or less a rip off the NWOBHM movement. Subsequent Metallica songs afterwards would further borrow from other cult/unknown artists.

Recently Five Finger Death Punch lifted “The Ultimate Sin” verse vocal melody and used it for the “Lift Me Up” verse. Dave Mustaine did the same both musically and vocally by lifting “Children Of The Grave” and using it for “Kingmaker.”

Thank god that Dave Grohl, A7X, Five Finger Death Punch, Dave Mustaine or Metallica didn’t decide to let a Marvin Gaye song influence them, otherwise they would be in the courts as the well.

I think it is pretty safe to say a lot of songs sound the same regardless of genre. I see it more as a tribute than a rip off and to be honest in no way does the new composition take away from the original. For example, there is no way that “Something From Nothing” from the Foo Fighters takes away from Dio’s “Holy Diver”.

But when you have a whole copyright industry that makes money of the works created by others, you get a lot of bullshit happening, especially when a song makes a lot of money.

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Copyright, Music, My Stories, Piracy, Stupidity, Unsung Heroes

The Paul Stanley Article

The Article
Paul Stanley reckons that if KISS started today they wouldn’t stand a chance because the music industry as it exists today isn’t even an industry, it’s just shambles.

KISS didn’t really blow up until “ALIVE” came out. So in today’s standards or even the late eighties standards they wouldn’t stand a chance to reach their fourth or fifth album. The thing with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons is that they base a lot of their decisions on what piracy and peer-to-peer downloading has done to the industry.

Now if you search the RIAA database for the band KISS, you will see that “Destroyer” is 2x Multi-Platinum and that happened in September 2011. Two other KISS albums have been certified 2x Multi-Platinum and they are “Smashes, Thrashes and Hits” and “Alive II”.

They don’t have an official album that has been certified more than 2x Multi-Platinum and piracy has been around since 1999. So even in the heyday of record label control, KISS were not large sellers of recorded music as they would like you to believe. Especially when you compare them to Pink Floyd, Eagles, Bon Jovi, Metallica and Motley Crue. It wasn’t until the KISS Reunion in the late nineties that KISS finally went from playing to 10,000 people to 40,000 people. Credit Doc McGhee with the vision to make that happen.

As for Stanley’s comments on file sharing, it just shows how out of touch he is.

“File sharing is just a fancy way of saying stealing. You can’t share what you don’t own. It’s like me saying, ‘transportation borrowing,’ and I steal your car.”

If a person illegally shares or downloads the song “Lick It Up” what that person has done is infringe on the copyright of the song. The song is still available on iTunes for downloading. The song is still available on Spotify for streaming. The song is still available on YouTube for listening. The song is still available on the “Lick It Up” album that is gathering dust in the record store waiting to be purchased. No one has stolen anything.

Paul Stanley also reckons like Yngwie Malmsteen, Kirk Hammet and Gene Simmons that younger bands don’t have a chance in hell of ever getting that pot of gold.

What about Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, In This Moment, Bullet For My Valentine, Skillet, Red, Trivium, Halestorm, Black Veil Brides and many more others that are releasing albums and going from success to success.

What about musicians/bands who have been doing the rounds since the eighties and nineties who have all seen an upswing in recognition and success like Slash with Myles Kennedy, Godsmack, Stryper, Volbeat, In Flames, Machine Head, 10 Years, Coheed and Cambria, Lamb Of God, Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage.

Now, Ed Sheeran has nothing to do with heavy metal or hard rock music however the work ethic and ideas that he exhibits should be noted. His current tour of Australia has one ticket price at $99. All of his fans will have the chance to sit in the front row.

This in a way takes out the elitist tickets. It makes it affordable for people with rich parents and not rich parents. This is in contrast to say Kiss who sell front row tickets for a premium of around $2000 for some shows. In Ed Sheeran’s case he keeps the front row tickets and gives them out on the day. He and his team try to find fans outside of the venue of fans in the nosebleed seats and give them front row tickets. And what an artist to fan connection he is establishing.

And for hard work, Ed Sheeran is up there. It took two years to sell two million copies of the first album through constant touring and intimate acoustic gigs and now it’s taken 14 weeks for his new album “X” to do the same.

This more or less proves the piracy argument decimating the music business is invalid. People still purchase albums along with streaming and downloading the songs. The great thing about musicians being worldwide right away is that if a song’s not successful in one country like Australia it usually is in another. Different countries have different tastes. You can always have a hit somewhere. But Paul Stanley doesn’t get that. Which is a shame.

I actually finished reading his book Face The Music last week and the impression I got from it was an out of touch and sheltered rock star. Guess his comments sum it up.

And the thing is Kiss’s best song in the last fifteen years has been “Hell Or Hallelujah”. So how about coming up with more songs like that instead of the other garbage that has done the rounds.

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Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Music

The KISS that rocks

Revenge made Kiss relevant again.  1982’s Creatures of The Night and 1983’s Lick It Up, re-established Kiss as a force to be reckoned with in the Eighties.

MTV was the outlet, and every time Lick it Up came on, it made me stop and watch.  This was all about the music.  The band had removed their make-up and they needed to make a statement.  Lick It Up was that statement.   That crunchy and distorted guitar from Vinnie Vincent is what makes the song roll.  Of course, it wouldn’t be long before Vincent was shifted. It’s like Gene Simmons can’t handle having talented people around me for a long period of time. Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.

Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.

By the time the keyboard heavy Crazy Nights (1987) and the pop metal Hot In The Shade (1989) came out, fans started to accuse the band of following whatever MTV trend was popular at the time. 

Crazy Crazy Nights to me was so hooky and it was as good as anything else that was in the Charts at that time. I personally love the song, and this is in the era, post the Slippery When Wet explosion.  It just reminds me of good times and crazy days, sort of like how Tesla’s Lazy Days and Crazy Nights song does.  Listening to the Crazy Crazy Nights song today (I did an Eighties’ CD for my wife and this song was one of the songs I put on it) it just reminds me of how busy my life has come to be, where most of the time I am running on empty or caffeine.  It would good to be able to kick back and relax. 

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

A song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here. Crazy Crazy Nights was co-written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Going back to the well that gave birth to quality previously, is a good thing.   

Going back to the Revenge album. The Nineties had a massive paradigm shift in the music business.  Kiss, now had to compete with bands that released game changing albums.  Nirvana released Nevermind and Pearl Jam released Ten bringing Grunge and Alternative Rock to the masses.  U2 released Achtung Baby, Red Hot Chilli Peppers released Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Metallica released the Black album, The Cult release Ceremony, Guns N Roses released the Use Your Illusion I and II albums, Ozzy Osbourne released No More Tears, Skid Row released Slave To The Grind, Pantera released A Vulgar Display of Power and Van Halen released For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.  The majority of the albums had a heavy rock feel and in the case of Van Halen it was return to the brown sound. 

Coming into the recording process of Revenge, Kiss already had some momentum going with God Gave Rock N Roll To You, which appeared in the movie, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey in 1991. The song is an Russ Ballard composition for the band Argent, however additional credit is given to Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Bob Ezrin.  Argent at that time was trying to follow up their mega hit, Hold Your head Up, so when God Gave Rock And Roll To You came out, it bombed.  However the song is a great song, and it is a good thing that Kiss rescued it and turned it into a hit.

For Kiss to be relevant in the Nineties, they had to do something different, so they hired a marketing consultant firm to find out what the fans wanted. The answers came back.  The fans wanted more Demon, more heaviness, more rock and an album to rival 1976’s Destroyer. It was time to get the team together.  Bob Ezrin who produced the epic Destroyer and the terrible Music From The Elder was hired to produce.

The biggest decision made was to use the fantastic, talented and egotistical Vinnie Vincent as a songwriter.  Simmons and Stanley realised that Vincent’s contributions to the Creatures of The Night and Lick It Up albums, had produced songs that have become some of the best and well known Kiss songs in recent memory.  The sinister single opener Unholy was written by Simmons and Vincent.  It is heavy, it is evil and it fit perfectly in the current music climate at the time. 

You send your children to war
To serve bastards and whores

It’s a tough lyric line.  There is that devilish theme throughout the song.   

Other classic Vincent penned songs that appear on Revenge are Heart of Chrome is written by Paul Stanley, Vinnie Vincent and Bob Ezrin, while I Just Wanna is written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent.

It is a shame that this song writing partnership went sour so quickly again, and they haven’t collaborated since. 

Revenge is Kiss being themselves and by doing that, they made a record that satisfied the hard core fan bases and somehow also fitted in with the times,

Of course, the album is also in memory to drummer Eric Carr, who passed away due to cancer, before the recording process started.  Eric Singer took his place in the band and he has been with Kiss, since then.  How good was the Badlands project that Eric Singer was in, with Jake E.Lee, Ray Gillen and Greg Chaisson?  However that is for another day.

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A to Z of Making It, Music

Persistence Part 2

There is a recent Dear Guitar Hero article with Tommy Thayer in the Guitar World, May 2013 issue.  The interview was conducted by Brad Angle.

QUESTION: Is it true that you did manual labor tasks at Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s houses before becoming a member of Kiss? (Tony Ratoni)

ANSWER: Those are kind of urban myths.  Sure, I started working for those guys part time in the late Eighties, an my credo was that I’d do whatever needed to be done.  And a lot of times when you’re in those situations you do all kinds of things.  I think, somehow, through all the speculation on the internet, people started saying that i did all these strange jobs.  But nothing was strange.  I was just a go-getter that would do whatever task was at hand, which is normal if you wanna get somewhere in your life.  I’m proof that persistence works.  

So all you wannabe artists, are you prepared to persevere.  If you want to be rich, take up banking or get involved technology.  Hell, tech heads are the new rock stars.  They are the cool ones, the ones that people want to hang with as they are rolling in the cash.  If you want to be somebody in music, you need to persevere.  Tommy Thayer was a go-getter for Kiss.  Gene Simmons signed his band Black and Blue and produced two mediocre albums.  He even took one of the Black N Blue songs he co-wrote and called it Domino on Revenge with only himself as the writer.  Tommy Thayer then played the tribute circuit in a Kiss cover band.  This is a period now that is spanning from 84 to 2000.  In 2002 he made his debut as the new Spaceman for Kiss.  He didn’t quit.  He kept on making connections.  He kept at it.

There is a comment on the Persistence and the Meaning of making it post, where Robakers mentioned the persistence of Lars Ulrich in getting Metallica off the ground.  This is so true.  Everyone seems to forget that part of Lars.  He was once a kid, that built connections around the NWOBM music that he was interested in.  He surrounded himself with like minded people.  Eventually one of those people started a label.  Then they where doing a compilation album.  The rest is history.

These days, everyone remembers Lars as the guy that sued his own fans when Napster came on the scene.  That is because, Lars wanted to be part of the corporate elite.  Lars wanted to hang with the rich because he thought it was cool and the rich wanted to hang with Lars as they thought it was cool to hang with a rock star.  Instead of Lars being the stiff middle finger hero to his fans against the corporations, he became one of them.

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Music, My Stories

Motley Crue and Kiss at the Allphones Arena, Sydney 9th March 2013 – Part 2 – Kiss’s Set

Getting late
I just can’t wait
Ten o’clock and I know I gotta hit the road
First I drink, then I smoke
Start up the car, and I try to make the midnight show

Get up
Everybody’s gonna move their feet
Get down
Everybody’s gonna leave their seat

Its all about the show.  A lot of bands just write songs and then you have Paul Stanley who wrote songs for the show.   The intro is built for explosions, pyro and fire.  The story behind Detroit Rock City is legend by now and from tragedy you get a song stands the test of time.  37 years later it is still relevant and the Kiss fan that got killed on his way to the concert will never be forgotten.  Credit must be given to Bob Ezrin as well.  Apart from being the producer, he also was a co songwriter on this song, and the task master on Destroyer.  Coming into the Destroyer album of 1976, Bob Ezrin was coming off his recent successes with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed.  Of course Ezrin would go on to greater fame with Pink Floyd’s The Wall. 

It doesn’t matter what you do or say
Just forget the things that you’ve been told
We can’t do it any other way
Everybody’s got to rock and roll, whoo, oh, oh

Shout It Out Loud is one of those songs that just endure.  Rock N Roll was all about doing things that the conservatives wouldn’t do.  The history of rock music is littered with the same themes.  It doesn’t matter what the people in power say, we will try to do it in our own way.  This song was penned by Paul, Gene and Bob.  All the big songs from Destroyer had an Ezrin co-write.  These themes popped up again in I Wanna Rock and You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll from Twisted Sister. 

You know your man is workin’ hard
He’s worth a deuce

As described by Gene Simmons Deuce was a popular street term in the early 1970s meaning fellatio and full sex afterwards. This song is penned by Gene Simmons only.  It has also endured through the 40 odd years.  Will a song be written like Deuce these days?  Probably not.  Everyone wants to be liked these days and they do stuff that is politically correct.  Music is never about toeing the line.  There are artists out there that do it their own way but these are outliers.  They could rise amongst all the others or they could be forgotten or they could change and be part of the masses. 

She can move you and improve you
With her love and her devotion
And she’ll thrill you and she’ll chill you
But you’re headed for commotion

And you’ll need her so you’ll feed her
With your endless dedication
And the quicker you get sicker
She’ll remove your medication

Get the firehouse
‘Cause she sets my soul afire
Get the firehouse
And the flames keep gettin’ higher

The usual concert staple where Gene Simmons ‘spits’ fire and sings about the slaves men have become to women, relationships and sex.  It’s so true, we are so addicted to being loved or to having a sexual relationship, we will change and bend who we and then we get burned.  You can even see we think a lot with our penises.  Another Kiss classic penned by Paul Stanley, who to me is an underrated songwriter when he goes it alone. 

I rode the highway to heartache
I took a trip on the ship of fools, woah yeah!
And I paid the price to have my way
‘Cause money makes the rules, yeah!

Hell or Hallelujah is probably the best song Kiss has written since the Revenge album.  Psycho Circus is a close second.   It’s good to see Paul Stanley going alone again with the writing, instead of a list of outside writers, like he has done for a long time.  Life is about paying your dues, it’s about accumulating experiences.  What price are we prepared to pay to have it our own way?

How true is the last lyric line?  Money makes the rules.  There is a story at the Wall Street Journal stating that “nine executives at private-equity firms together will take home more than $1 billion in dividends and compensation from last year”.  Money buys rules.  How many of the architects of the GFC got punished.  Instead they got bailouts, generous severance payments and are doing College tours of the US.  On the other side of the coin, you had people lose their houses, their families, their lives and their sanity.     

So if you please get on your knees
There are no bills, there are no fees
Baby, I know what your problem is
The first step of the cure is a kiss

So call me (Dr. Love)
They call me Dr. Love (calling Dr. Love)

Calling Dr. Love is rock n roll all the way through. With its Cold Ethyl borrowed riff and the usual subject matter about sex, this Gene Simmons penned tune follows all the rhyming clichés. This was on the Eddie Kramer produced Rock N Roll Over.  That album didn’t stand a chance as a follow up to Destroyer. 

I was born to the human race
Livin’ life feelin’ out of place
People said I was wasting my time
Looking to find my kind

Outta This World is a song that sounds forced and fake.  This Tommy Thayer penned tune is a sad imitation to the real Space Man.  As much as Gene and Paul spin it, there is only one space man and that is Ace Frehley. It is a shame that Ace doesn’t recognise his value to the Kiss Army.  Even the banks are foreclosing on his home.  So you have an ex member of one of the biggest bands in the land, that sell everything that they can think off, and his home is getting foreclosed.  Are Gene and Paul doing creative accounting in this or is Ace just silly with his money.   

Get up!
Now it’s time for me to take my place
The make-up runnin’ down my face
We’re exiled from the human race.

You’re in the psy
You’re in the psycho circus
I say welcome to the show.

Step up!
No one leaves ’til the night is done
The amplifier starts to hum
The carnival has just begun.

Psycho Circus is about the rock experience.  It’s about the rock heads.  It’s about how the establishments treated us as exiles from the human race, before the bankers all wanted a piece of it and made it mainstream.  Then our rock idols also wanted to become bankers.  The rock show was a circus, it was a place to let our hair down and be as one.  This was penned by Paul Stanley and Curtis Cuomo.  Cuomo also co wrote a lot of songs on the Carnival of Souls album that didn’t get any attention due to all the hoopla of the original band reunion.  Psycho Circus was produced by Bruce Fairbairn and in the end he couldn’t save it either.  As much as it was hyped as a reunion Ace was more or less absent again from most of the recordings with Tommy Thayer doing most of the leads.  I didn’t mind Psycho Circus but as with every follow up album to a mega successful one it has a lot to live up too.  The intention of Psycho Circus was never to sell truckloads of albums.  It was all about putting the make up on again and being KISS.     

I love it loud, I wanna hear it loud, right between the eyes
Loud, I wanna hear it loud, I don’t want to compromise

Turn it up, hungry for the medicine
Two fisted to the very end
No more treated like aliens, we’re not gonna take it ‘cos

I Love It Loud, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It and many other songs shared similar themes.   Kiss need to really credit Vinnie Vincent for their resurrection in the early 80’s.  I Love It Loud was penned by Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent.  This song is from Creatures of The Night.  Even though Ace is credited on album sleeves it was Vinnie Vincent that brought the guns and had Kiss firing on all cylinders again.

They try to tell us we don’t belong,
That’s alright, we’re millions strong
This is my music, it makes me proud,
These are my people and this is my crowd

These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights

Again another song for the rock show, making the people believe that they belong here.  Crazy Nights was co written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell who he used on the Creatures of the Night album as well.  Live this song didn’t go down to good.  They key they where doing the song in was all wrong, Paul even had a capo on his guitar (which isn’t very ROCK N ROLL) and everything was just out of key.  You can tell that the band was put off. 

Better watch out ’cause I’m a war machine

That is how the rockers and metal heads felt.  Indestructible war machines.  It was an elite club once, and when the bankers and others wanted a piece of it, we didn’t like it.  Our heroes took the bankers in and they started to treat the real fans like cattle.  There is no other way to describe it.  Just look back to our record collection of the mid 80’s onwards and what you have is an album with 2 to 4 good songs and the rest is pure filler.  Of course there where always albums that rose above this, like Slippery When Wet, New Jersey, Dr Feelgood, Hysteria, Appetite for Destruction, Master of Puppets and many others.  Thank god the internet came and levelled the playing field once again.  War Machine is one of the most heaviest songs in the Kiss arsenal, up there with Unholy, yet it was co-written by Gene Simmons, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance.  The heaviest song Kiss has was written by a pop duo. 

You pull the trigger of my
Love gun, (love gun), love gun

Another Paul Stanley classic, penned on his own.  It’s part of pop culture now.  You pull the trigger of my love gun.  Growing up in the 80’s I cant recall how many times I used this line on the opposite sex, only to get laughs instead of the actual deed. 

You show us everything you’ve got
You keep on dancing and the room gets hot
You drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy

You keep on shouting, you keep on shouting
I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day

Rock and Roll All Nite was co-written by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley.  These two guys need to do more co-writing together. This is what we wanted to do.  No one wanted to work nine to five jobs.  We all wanted to be musicians.  Kiss wrote the anthem for it.  To me the Rock n Roll all night isn’t about rocking per se, it is about getting down and having dirty sex. 

Lick It Up – kneel at the altar of Vinnie Vincent.  Gene likes to rewrite history that Vinnie Vincent’s contribution to KISS was as a salary paid employee, however the music doesn’t lie.  The songs that have Vincent’s involvement are a step above the other songs Kiss released in the 80’s and the 90’s.  Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent wrote this song.  The good thing about the Lick It Up album is that it was all written within the band.  That is why it works.   Lick It Up was their big album in the 80’s.  The best songs on Creatures of the Night were also co – written by Vincent and the best songs on Revenge where also co- written by Vincent.  Of course Revenge was their big album of the 90’s. 

Don’t wanna wait ’til you know me better
Let’s just be glad for the time together
Life’s such a treat and it’s time you taste it
There ain’t a reason on earth to waste it

We all know what Paul is saying in the lyrics to the women in the world.  Make sure that no mess is left ladies.  This song killed it when it got started. 

Black Diamond is another Paul Stanley penned tune.  In the concert Eric Singer sang the song, and I must say I was impressed with his vocal abilities. 

Out on the streets for a living
Picture’s only begun
Your day is sorrow and madness
Got you under their thumb

I must say Eric Singer played the part of Catman perfectly.  If Peter Criss was there or not, I don’t think it matters, however for some reason, Tommy Thayer pretending to be the Spaceman, matters.  I am still trying to work this one out.

And the show comes to an end.  I looked over at my boys and they had Joker style grins from ear to ear.  They were tired at midnight, but pumped.  For an eight and seven year old, they are just starting out.  To me, it was great to experience the concert with them.  Kiss and Motley have the biggest arena shows and it was a perfect first concert for my boys.  Kiss where far superior on the night, more professional and tighter.

To me, one of the best concerts i went to was a Black Crowes gig at the Wollongong Entertainment Center where about 1000 tickets where sold in a venue that holds about 10,000.  The band went on and they played and they jammed, extending their songs and just having fun.  They played all of their hits, but they didn’t play them the same as the album.  The band had fun doing their extended jams and the audience had fun along with them.  This is an important fact that seems to be missing from concerts these days.  Kiss might as well have lip synced as they didn’t really do anything different with the material.

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