Sack Trick: Sheep In KISS Make Up Tribute (11/04)

Since 1997 KISS Army Online's "Music From The Folder" has set the standard for KISS tribute albums. The first time I heard the original version of that CD it immediately established the benchmark as the best KISS tribute. Up to that point. Since then, there have been a plethora of tributes. None have stood out as different enough, good enough, or diverse enough. In fact, none have come remotely near to the standard established by KAOL, for my ears. Until now.

To be honest, Sack Trick, as a band name, didn't mean a thing to me prior to hearing about the "Sheep In KISS Makeup." I could dig up what they're all about, but I'd rather get on with giving this CD a few spins. "Shout It Out Loud" kicks off this tribute CD with numerous vocalists including the esteemed Bruce Dickinson. This version retains the anthemic nature of the original while retaining the power and strutting style. "Love Gun," follows with an electro-reggae interpretation. What I love the most about this song is the prominent Hammond organ with a killer solo. It totally changes the atmosphere of the song. This song is particularly textured with multiple sonic layers. Very fun!

"I'm A Legend Tonight" - immediately I started thinking of Adam Sandler's performance of "Guillani" at the 9/11 tribute/benefit concert. This version of the song is absolutely hilarious. "Almost Human." From the opening riffs, you can tell this one is going take you a different place. Vocals take a backseat to the incredible guitar and are so far down in the mix they're almost secondary. "I Stole Your Love (Pt. 1)" - Dead Kennedys, almost, for its 13 seconds. Another nice touch for this CD are the segues. Little vignettes, such as this brief track, or other story telling or effects, between the songs, blend the whole CD into a listening experience. I think Bob Ezrin would be amused. "Deuce" - take one part "Hayseed Dixie," a dose of slide, and a retro-mic, and mix 'em up in a blender and you've got this simple and sleazy, though elegant, interpretation of the core KISS classic. Why am I thinking of an in-tune Mark Manning at times vocally for this one? Dunno, though the Love Reaction couldn't play like this. Someone's got to be a bit mind warped to have come up with this highly original arrangement which ends with an acappella blend of "All American Man..."

"Beth (Robin Guy Vocal)" - Peter's classic with something of a Brit tinge. The spoken bit at the beginning sounds too much like Jamie Oliver. Hmmm, must get a snack! It's decent, but in contrast with the other material on the album, it's to close to the original for my liking. Nice country-lite guitar solo. "All Hell's Breakin' Loose (wid da Funky Groovz)" - I hate rap. But since this song was originally a white-boy semi-rap attempt, it's fun to hear it given more of a rap treatment. It's not Vanilla Ice, thank God, but not really knowing much about rap artists, I can't even compare it to anything. Likeable enough anyway, especially the drums 'n bass and the "What Makes The World Go 'Round" ending...

"I've Had Enough (Into The Fire)" - this was always one of my favourite album opening tracks. It's one of the few redeeming songs on the "Animalize" album, which I generally loath. This is an absolutely killer four-second cover! "Great Expectations" - acoustic tired lounge-singer? Oops, where did the music. Ah, wait, there's my baby sister's xylophone. This song starts out strangely, and manages to stay so for the duration. It's different. The next segue is a brief and heavy part of "Snowblind."

Things get exciting with the inclusion of a cover of "Audio/Video". This is a faithful rendition with Pete Friesen on lead vox/guitar. Excellent guitar tone on this one, which I'm glad wasn't reinterpreted apart from being less keyboard-oriented. It'll still make you wonder who chose half of the songs put on "Frehley's Comet", when this and other gems were omitted - reminds me of the comments made in Kerrang's review of the album in '87. I might place this track as one of my favourites on the album simply for the scorching solos. Another extra-KISS cover follows, briefly anyway, with "Stanley The Parrot." You've got to be brave to take on this eclectic Gene Simmons pre-KISS song. Ah, bravery of the larger kind, sounding like an inebriated tangent piss-take.

"I Stole Your Love (Pt. 2)" - another interlude which begins merges part of "I Was Made For Lovin' You" with the pre-chorus riff from "I Stole Your Love". They keep you wondering where they'll take you next. "Beth (Sponder Vocal)" - Bob Dylan + Adam Sandler + Kitchen Sink. This is more like it. It's fun, and musically it does seem to have everything including the kitchen sink and a few sheep thrown in. See, even you can make music, with nothing more than what is easily at hand! And then ending chorus is a nice mickey taking of old demon's solo extravagance or Chelsea's "Good Company". Have to put this one on my car mix comp. Next up: "Love Her All I Can" - a smooth and jazzy duet with a 70s feel. Very "enhanced and improved" Lester-feeling. Particularly great production qualities with some very subtle effects. I'm particularly impressed how parts of other KISS songs are blended into so many of these songs in a coherent fashion. It shows that a lot of effort was made to make this product. This song includes a little bit of "Black Diamond."

Crunch time for the CD. "War Machine" - no one will ever top Loungelizardboot's KAOL version of this song, but this eccentric farmer-funk version... Has left me on the floor. It provides a very unpleasant image to this exiled Englishman. Yes, me duck. I guess you might have to be British, or have visited England, to truly appreciate this, and some of the other humor on this song and the album. Does it top Loungelizardboots? Hmmm. Doesn't matter, the next song definitely takes you on a wild genre-bending experience. "I Still Love You" - oooh, Barry White. No. Oh! Might as well be. This song is rubbed down with duck-butter, baby. Sexy, damn my lights are dimming on their own and a disco ball has magically appeared. Evil. "I Stole Your Love (Pt. 3)" - Performed by The Who. Well, not, maybe a touch of a hyper-80s hair-metal screecher added in. Mark Slaughter would be proud. These three interludes were fun.

The final track on the album is appropriately titled "The Elder" - Hey, you guys nicked my sister's recorder. Give it back, now! Oh, bugger. Monty Python may be gone, but their legacy lives on. This condensed version of the "Elder" contains elements that range from reverence to downright mockery, notable with the beginning of "fanfare". And it works, when you take into account how pompous and disconnected the original concept was. Unlike KISS' album, this track at least tries to tell a story. A cool acoustic girlie version of "Just A Boy" starts things off. See Paul, that's how girls sing. Boys sound different. Very nicely done. "Odyssey" follows in a similar format, though sung by a bloke, retaining the extravagance of the original. "Only You" is different.

"Under The Rose" kills. Great vocals that would give many a run for their money. "The Oath" is substantial, with the "Dark Light-Jaws" intro riff, but while the vocalist's range doesn't match Paul's bollocks-grabbing falsetto, the tone of the guitars are a bit to muddy for my liking. Love the version, but would have preferred to have crisper lead and rhythm, though the solo is absolutely cranking. Personal taste perhaps, but this has always been one of my favourite KISS songs, so I'll be picky, wouldn't mind Ronnie James Dio or Rob Halford taking the vocals! Death-metal-electronica-Mr. Blackwell goes "Grease" meets rockabilly. This is another high-point for me. Totally schizophrenic which segues into "I" with a pinch of "100,000 Years" tossed in. Excellent stuff. "The Elder" end's with the "Braveheart" rendition of the "judgment"...

Track 20, unlisted on the packing, is a sheer continuation of the fun - as if the experience you've already had wasn't enough, you are provided with this musical collage. And behind door number three we have: Drums 'n bass "Do You Love Me," from the lounge, which gives way to a pseudo-Martin Briggs industrial version of "I Love It Loud". Achtung, love that backing track! That's how I hear it anyway, next room. Hmmm, what was that? "C'mon And Love Me" - an acoustic semi-Taime Downe. Slam, run... "God Of Thunder" as a death-metal acoustic ballad. "King Of The Night Time World" - a near perfect copy of KISS' intro which I would have liked to hear more of. Behind the next door is a piss-take of "Do You Wanna Make Love" followed by part of the fret-wanking from "Boyz Are Gonna Rock". Nice touch. A depressing acoustic snip of "Psycho Circus" follows. Actually pleasant. Ah, farmer John returns with his English country "Sure Know Something." Ah, another appearance of my sister's stolen recorder. Grab 'em.

Packaging: Excellent high quality booklet and CD screen print. The booklet is full featured with pictures, drawings, and song credits. Love the cover. Baaaaah!

How many Frehley signature guitar riffs out of ten does it rate? How many Gene Simmons' fireballs out of ten does it rate? How many Paul Stanley pouty-poses out of ten does it rate? How many Peter Criss drum fills out of ten does it rate? I'd give it 10 out of 10 simply for the inclusion of the obscure off-the-wall-related material, but the execution, humour, and production rate more than superlatives can describe. The whole album is an experience, and unlike the third installment of the KAOL tributes the storylines/intros (where applicable) don't detract from the product - in other words, they don't get in the way. This CD has already been played more than any of the other KISS Tributes I've heard in the past five years. To me, at least, that speaks volumes for the excellent work that has been done.

You can visit Sack Trick's website here. More importantly, you can order the "Sheep In KISS Make Up" CD HERE. I think I'll be checking out some of their other music!