© 1982, Casablanca Records; © 1997, KISS Catalog Ltd
Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance, Gene Simmons
According to the Bryan Adams's official website, "War Machine" started out as a song written by him and song-writing partner Jim Vallance which was first recorded by the band The Investigators. However, Jim believes that this is something of confusion on Bryan's part since a band with a similar name, The Instigators, covered the song on the KISS Tribute album "Hard To Believe" in 1990. Additionally, due to the timeframe of the writing of the piece in April 1982 KISS' July recording was most likely the first. It is still possible that the song was recorded in its original format by another band at the same time, the search continues.
What changes were made to the song by Gene Simmons for use on the "Creatures Of The Night" album are unclear, though from statements he has made, he turned what was mostly a cyclic-riff based song into one with more structure and can essentially be considered to have re-worked the original demo version for use on the album. This song, along with "Rock And Roll Hell" were submitted by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance to producer Michael James Jackson in July 1982. Gene did make substantial changes to the original version of the song, more so than the changes he had made to "Rock And Roll Hell," as his splits on the copyright are greater.
This is quite a different picture to that presented by Gene: "War Machine started off, strangely enough, on a cheap, miniature synthesizer. I had been recording demos at home on a small four-track recording facility and wanted to do some different kinds of things. I had bought the cheap synthesizer just to add a layer of sound in back of something, in back of a guitar. But while fiddling with it, I fell on the 'War Machine' riff. The original 'War Machine' was a song almost purely based around the riff. The riff never stopped and the vocals continued over the guitar figure. Michael James Jackson suggested bringing in a co-writer, who would help with the lyrics. He suggested a brand new writer, who was an up-and-coming recording artist himself, named Bryan Adams, and his writing partner Jim Vallance. Vallance, Adams, and I would co-write 'War Machine' and 'Rock And Roll Hell,' both of which appeared on 'Creatures Of The Night.' Adams and Vallance. Adams and Vallance added some chordal passages and the basic lyrical content including the title 'War Machine'" (KISS Box Set Liners). Gene played rhythm guitar on the track.
How did "War Machine" and "Rock And Roll Hell" end up in the KISS camp? During 1982 Michael James Jackson approached Jim Vallance to see if he and Bryan Adams would be willing to write material for KISS. They were, since at that point the Adams/Vallance song-writing partnership did not have the exposure that the KISS name had. The use of external material raises the interesting question of just how short of material the band were prior to the recording sessions. Without external writers for both "Killers" and "Creatures Of The Night" sessions there was little from either Paul and Gene to record.