Boxed Set Thoughts (7/97)

The KISS boxed set has eagerly been awaited for as long as the fans have looked forward to a Reunion. Indeed, when bands like the Clash and Aerosmith had boxed sets, it was not understood why a band such as KISS, with a long history and plethora of available material for inclusion, didn’t have one. Now it’s 1997, and the word from Gene Simmons is that the project is in hand, indeed there might be a certain amount of competition now that Vinnie Vincent’s box set nears shipping.... Whatever the cryptic monster means, he’s not giving much away for it’s anticipated release date or content, there are more important things for him to consider, like which of the 200+ song demos, of his own, to include, and how to spend the money made on the Reunion tour! With a 25 year history, there is a lot to choose from, and the fans are vocal. Some want an absolute monster, regardless of cost, while other want a slightly more economically viable product akin to the Beatles Anthology series. Though, it should be noted that many fans were willing to shell out a considerable amount of money for the KISStory book! This article is what I think the box set should be, from a fan point, encompassing the whole history of KISS, and more...

Disc 1 - Wicked Lester
Wicked Lester was Paul and Gene’s first band to record material in a studio. The date, 1972. Most bootleg copies include the standard tracks: "Love Her All I Can", "In The Darkness", "She", "Sweet Ophelia", "When The Bell Rings", "Molly", "Simple Type", "Keep Me Waiting", "(We Want To) Shout It Out Loud". Recently a second copy surfaced including a further Paul track, "Long Long Road", though the provedence of these tracks is unclear. And there are allegedly versions of "Goin’ Blind", then called "Little Lady", and Suitor. Though the two version of the Wicked Lester tracks vary I don’t think it would be necessary to include both, just the best examples of the songs while ensuring that both guitarists, Ron Leejack and Steve Coronel, are featured. Since an audio CD can hold more than 70 minutes of material there is plenty of room to add live cuts (which Suitor is as it was never recorded) and any other demos. I would hope that the CD package would include the original packaging as the album was intended to look on release.

Disc 2 - Early years GENE PAUL PETER ACE
This would probably be the most interesting disc containing tracks from Peter’s Chelsea album, Peter’s early material, Gene & Paul on Lyn Christopher’s album (possibly the songs that were released as singles, "Take Me With You" and "I Don’t Want To Hear It Anymore"), Gene & Pauls early bands tracks live "Chimney Sweeps", "About Her", "Stanley The Parrot", "Eskimo Sun", and "Never Living, Never Loving", though to hear some Uncle Joe material would be nice, but doubtful, Ace’s Molimo tracks (if they’re ever found - though there are 5 studio tracks!). Finally, KISS’ June 1973 demos.

Disc 3 - KISS ‘73/4 Live
There is a lot of interesting material that KISS did live in the early days. We know that KISS covered Lester material in the Clubs, Keep Me Waiting and Simple Type! It would also be cool to hear very early concert tracks from these club days, especially Gene’s tape from the Daisy, not to mention "Life In The Woods", an early KISS track that was only performed live. On their first tour KISS performed "Kissin’ Time" once in Portland, Oregon, so this would have to be included. "Love Theme From KISS" and "Much Too Young" are other rarities of which decent sounding versions whould be a must! Early live versions of KISS classics would have to be included, especially if they varied slightly from the recorded versions.

Disc 4 - Demos 1974 - 1977
Quite straight forward... any demos which vary from the recorded versions for the first three albums. The Destroyer demos are available, but decent quality version of Peter’s "None Of Your Business", the alternative version of "Great Expectations", Paul’s vocal "God Of Thunder", Ace’s unadulturated solos, and the acoustic "Beth". Any demos from RARO including the Perry/Simmons "Mongoloid Man" which was demoed, Simmon’s unfinished "Queen For A Day", which was probably demoed with Ace on vocals during both the Destroyer and Rock And Roll Over Sessions (so there are Kramer and Ezrin versions), while never being fully recorded. And then demos from Love Gun including Peter’s excellent "Love Bite" and "Hooligan" and Paul’s "Love Gun". And of course anything else like Paul’s "Too Much Too Soon"!! There is also word of some interesting first album demos: Versions of "Parasite", "Watchin’ You", "Life In The Woods" and "Much Too Young" recorded during the KISS album sessions, not to mention the Gene vocal version of "Strange Ways". Finally, the early demo of "Dirty Livin’" recorded during the Rock And Roll Over sessions.

Disc 5 - Solo Album Demos
There is plenty of great stuff from 1978.... Ace’s "All Or Nothing", Peter’s "Rumble" and "Spotlight" (though this sounds more like Tom Jones to me! Note: I recently discovered that it might be a track used on Sean Delaney's album), and Gene has a ton of stuff: "Fourever", "Love Is Blind", "Reputation", "Bad Bad Lovin’", "Heartthrob", "Love Came To Me", "It’s Gonna Be Alright", and there must be some Paul stuff apart from the alternative versions of "Tonight You Belong To Me", "Wouldn't You Like To Know Me", "Move On", and "It Ain't Quite Right". And of course from 1978’s Phantom Of The Park, it’d be nice to have "Rip And Destroy"!

Disc 6 - Demos 1979 - 1982
Again, plenty of material available. Peter’s Dynasty demos (which ended up on his solo albums), "Out Of Control", "Dirty Livin’", "There’s Nothing Better", the demo of "Charisma", "Tonight", the early version of "I Was Made For Lovin’ You", Paul’s excellent "Thunder (In My Heart)" and "Deadly Weapons" from 1981, The elder demos including "Don’t Run" and "Council Of The Elder". And of course, any Eric demos from the period, the alleged "Rock Me Slowly" and his Cellermen songs.... There must be something from unmasked (heard of a cool demo of Naked City...) and Creatures Of The Night apart from "It’s My Life", "Legends Never Die" and Eric’s drum track to "I Love It Loud", "Sexy Feel".

Disc 7 - Demos 1983 - 1988
Most of this era would feature Gene’s Asylum demos, of which there are at least 40 with 13 in circulation. "We Won’t Take It Anymore", "I Have Just Begun To Fight", "Hello Hello", "Take It Like A Man", "Russian Roulette", "100%", the excellent "Nobody’s Perfect", "What You See Is What You Get" (dubious), "Keep Your Tail Between Your Legs", "Secretly Cruel", and "Any Way You Slice It". But there must be some material from Animalize and Paul material from Asylum. The Lick It Up demos are already well circulated: "The Difference Between Me And Boys...", Vinnie’s "Boyz Wanna Rock" and "Back On The Streets" alternativley with Vinnie or Gene vocals, and "So Many Girls, So Little Time" and "You, It Was You Who Left Me". For Crazy Nights there were demos of "My Way", "Reason To Live", and "Bang Bang You", not to mention "Sword And Stone" and "Shocker".

Disc 8 - Demos & Cuts 1989 - 1996
Paul’s "Time Traveller", "Two Hearts Collide", "Best Man For U", "Hide Your Heart", and "Don’t Let Go" which might date to the Crazy Nights era, Gene’s "Betrayed" and "The Street Giveth". Bruce’s awsome "Zeptune", recorded in 1991 for the Marshall Guitar Tour is a must, as is his clinic cuts "495", "Going Down" and "Blues". There are also several Revenge cuts and of course the Simmons/Dylan composition! Finally, any songs which don’t make it onto the release of COS or demos from the recording session!

Disc 9 - Obscure Live 75-94
Throughout their career KISS have often messed around with their set list or only performed songs live a few times. Since they allegedly recorded all of their concerts it would be cool to have a live compilation of the rarer live material: "Exciter", "Rock And Roll Hell", "Betrayed", "Little Ceasar", "Ladies In Waiting", "Two Timer", "Radioactive", "Move On", "Tossin’ And Turnin’", "King Of The Mountain", "Any Way You Slice It", etc. Of course this disc could also include the obscure unplugged material, namely "Goodbye" and "Spit".

Simply, that’s what I think a box set should contain. And of course it’d require a think booklet full of photo’s and descriptions of the contents and opinions from the band! If it’s already been released then I don’t want it on a box set, which should detail KISS’ career from the start. Were all of this material to make it, then I’d be a happy camper! Were it to be released as 9 discs or 3 sets of 3 discs, it doesn’t matter because "It’s The Music, Stupid!"