© (p) 2001 Mercury/PolyGram Records, KISS Catalog Ltd.

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Uncle Joe: Stop, Look to Listen (Demo)

Paul Stanley

It is more likely that this song dates from 1970 than the quoted 1966. This song is suggested to have been Paul Stanley's first recorded song. The band, active between 1967 and 1970, was a trio that included Neal Teeman on drums and Matt Rael on guitar. During 1970 Stephen Coronel, who had been introduced to the band by Marty Cohen, replaced Matt Rael on guitar. Neal had grown up with Paul, having attended school with him from the 3rd grade. According to Neal, "The band was one of those on-and-off situations. We'd be together, break up, reform. There were a lot of things going on in our lives at that time. We also were never all that happy with the name of the band so it was always changing. I think we were Ratabagus before we became Incubus, but the story of how we became Uncle Joe was this: Stan's dad's boss had t-shirts made with his face printed on them for a company picnic and got us all some. We decided to wear these shirts when the band played and since this boss's name was 'Joe' we called the band Uncle Joe. Nothing to do with Stalin at all" (JG).

Now that KISS has released the box set, which includes this track, it is known that the recording was done at Mayfair Recording Studios in New York City. While the box set liner notes indicate that Neal had been working as a clean-up boy at the studio, which resulted in them being able to get studio time, Neal recounts a different situation: "Around 1967 I started to work part time in a recording studio (Century Sound). While there I became friendly with Jay and the Americans [JATA] (note - I was friendly with Marty Kupersmith and Kenny Vance). In 1970 while I was in my senior year of high school JATA got a big record deal and leased Mayfair Studios. They hired me to be their engineer (no I was not a clean-up boy there or at any other studio ever!!!!) and I worked there Mon thru Fri, from 3 to 11pm with them (for $5/hr). Part of the deal I had with them was that I could use the studio for my own stuff whenever JATA were not using it. I used to set up the room so Uncle Joe could rehearse and I'd let the tape roll without anybody at the controls. That is how we did those tapes. We later dubbed in the vocals but Stan would just put something down in one take. I don't think he really knew how to sing well in a studio yet. When I saw him do vocal overdubs years later at Electric Lady there was a big difference in the way he could sing" (JG).

According to Paul, the band was somewhat musically challenged and would resort to volume over skill to lead them wherever it would! It should be remembered that this was really Paul's first band and that he wasn't even 18 at the time the song was recorded. Therefore, all power chords and volume on 11 can be forgiven, especially when the guy became the "Starchild"! While the band did play live, they were more of a garage jam band, with two guitars and drums. Neal recounts the band's live experience: "We played parties and were very well received. One band that was playing the same gig as us refused to go on after we did our first set. They just packed up and went home" (JG). The band occasionally included a bass player, Jack Miller. According to Neal, "The only reason we had him in the band was because he was the only bass player we could find. When he would leave us to play with another band we always felt we sounded better without him - So maybe we didn't need a bass player? You must remember this was a time in our lives where what equipment you had was more important than how you played. I had a make shift set of drums. No two pieces matched... The few cymbals I had were absolute shit and Stan and Matt played out of the same amp (Gemini III, I think) as well as the vocal mike. When Jack was asked to play in a band that had more equipment than us he jumped ship. And that was that" (JG).

The comments of Neal Teeman seem to indicate that other material was recorded by Uncle Joe in the studio: "We were just practicing. Later we would listen back to the tapes to evaluate our playing and the arrangements. We were really learning then. We didn't know what we were doing" (JG). What sort of material the band recorded is unclear, but it is likely to have been the band running through the sort of covers they usually performed or simply jamming. The piece was probably recorded closer to 1970 than 1966 due to Neal's account of his studio work.

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