WHAT’S THE POINT OF TED CRUZ?

Aquarian Weekly
5/4/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

WHAT’S THE POINT OF TED CRUZ?
(Or For That Matter John Kasich)

So why should a bunch of principles get in the way of tactics?
-Matt Bai

Maybe I’m mistaken. It would not be the first time and will hardly be the last. But someone please tell me that the point and purpose of the presidential candidacy for Texas Senator Ted Cruz is not just “Vote for me, because I’m not Donald Trump”. Granted, I don’t always expect a “New Frontier” or “Morning in America” or even “Yes We Can”; inspiring generational movements that rally around both an idea and an individual who transcends an era. I can live with the middling “I Like Ike” or “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow”. I can wrap my mind around a flaccid “Compassionate Conservatism” routine or even the fifteen different versions of “Reformer” that come and go like mouthwash ads. But I’m not sure “If You Want To Stop Someone Else, I’m The Guy” is necessarily a goose-bump inducing rallying cry.

fc_0504

I never begrudge anyone who runs for office, and I am loathe to make any suggestions as to when a candidate should enter or exit a race, especially one of this magnitude; so if Ted Cruz wants to make victory speeches after getting his clocked cleaned in some 30 primaries or pick running mates when he is on death’s door, then I say more power to him. However, I think there should be a point to it. There seems to be none here; beyond one pathetic ploy after the other until the whole thing appears sad.

Lord knows I understand there are plenty of races wherein a candidate shows up to just stop a weakened opponent; the tried-and-true “lesser of two evils” jag. It is just damn rare for someone to articulate it as a campaign strategy. Hell, John Kerry and Mitt Romney ran on, “me or else”. Of course this worked out badly for them, but it’s not like they held press conferences talking like a tic-tac-toe X; “Play me to block!”

And just when you thought this nonsense couldn’t get more tragic, Cruz, now mathematically eliminated from a first-ballot contest, merely says, out loud (in campaign speeches, with people sitting in front of him, on television holding a microphone and everything), that “Sure, I can’t win, but neither can Trump if you vote for me. In fact, don’t even vote for me, vote for someone else in other states to prevent him from winning.”

It is so inspiring you can put music to it. The bumper sticker might be larger than normal, but it has a certain dramatic ring. Can’t you hear the women swooning and men fighting back the tears? I get chills writing this.

Okay, so Cruz is nuts, but I maintain he is not any crazier than your average politician. Granted, he may be a little crazier since he keep telling us he isn’t one. He’s like a salesman who begins his pitch by telling you he isn’t selling anything. Cruz is as political as they come. He will do or say anything to get elected. He reeks of Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon. For instance, early in the campaign his staff pulled a fast one on former sort-of candidate, Ben Carson by spreading false information to his voters during the Iowa caucuses that he had dropped out. When confronted about this at the following debate he had three ways to go; apologize, spin about false narratives, or lie. He chose lying. If you look at the campaigning and governing history of both Clinton and Nixon, they both had choices on several and varied occasions to handle their affairs, and in each case, they chose to lie.

But say what you want about the increasingly bizarre “I’m Not Him” strategy of Ted Cruz, what Ohio Governor John Kasich is running on is pure madness.

someone please tell me that the point and purpose of the presidential candidacy for Texas Senator Ted Cruz is not just “Vote for me, because I’m not Donald Trump”.

At least Cruz has managed to pull down a dozen states and a fair share of delegates, working his organization tirelessly within a hazy, backdoor system to gain the requisite votes to take this thing into an open convention come July. Kasich has won one state, his own, and gathered about ten delegates in the past six weeks. No one covers him. He never gets any traction. His argument from day-one has been, “I’m the adult, clear-thinking one.” I find this even less inspiring than the rousing “I’m No Him” scheme. Kasich doesn’t even care that he has less support than candidates who dropped out months ago. And he obviously doesn’t give a flying fart about his party, which will implode if somehow his fantasy of lying in the weeds to get the nomination on a sixth ballot comes true. No one really wants Cruz, but they really don’t want the damage John Kasich will inflict on the party now.

Kasich was the best candidate for the Republicans to defeat Hillary Clinton this past June. Now he looks like an establishment kook, who is just waiting for all this annoying surge voting to cease, so he and his cronies can get back to controlling the system. If Kasich is the nominee, Clinton could actually win southern states.

I’m not sure there was any point to Cruz or Kasich in the first place. Case in point: the goofy #NeverTrump alliance to join forces in their stirring “I’m Not Him” momentum. If either of them were truly principled or had a reason for anyone to vote for them, then how could they coalesce? Kasich is a centrist pro-government compromiser, everything Cruz claims to despise. And Kasich is actually running against the very concept of the agitator/non-compromising Cruz. It would seem by this move that these gentlemen would collude with the irrationally hated President Barrack Obama at this point if it meant there is the slimmest chance they could be in a position to be the nominee.

Apparently this nonsensical tactic backfired when neither campaign adhered to its incoherent messaging for more than a few hours; further illustrating all this pointlessness. Cruz could not stand abandoning futility completely, so he yanked poor Carly Fiorina into the fray in the hopes that Trump might once again blurt out another slice of misogynistic claptrap and scare people over to him.

This is what the year of Trump has wrought. Every campaign is about him, even the ones that claim to be alternatives. Before Trump, Cruz had it all planned. He was the “outsider” in a season of anger and resentment, and Kasich was the viable, electable candidate, who could stop the inevitability of corruptible Madam Shoo-In. Love him. Hate him. But Trump is real and his actual movement is happening. “Make America Great Again” is as vague and confusing as Trump himself, but at least it’s a slogan and an actual mission statement you can get behind or rail against. It’s not, “If I Can’t Play, I’m Making Up Another Game”.

If the Republican Party tries to stop this from happening, no matter what swinging dick is left to pick up the scraps, the whole mess will turn into #NeverGOP, making way for a Hillary Clinton landslide.

Read More

PRINCE ROGERS NELSON – 1958 – 2016

Aquarian Weekly
4/27/16

Cover Feature

James Campion

PRINCE ROGERS NELSON – 1958 – 2016

I do not want to write this shit.

Not now. Not ever.

This is personal.

But it’s either this or continue sitting around enduring this sick feeling of inertia on the edge of a loathsome face-off with mortality.

So…whew…here goes…

During the most prolific musical period of my life, my early twenties, when I wrote and played music for a living, more or less, there was only one artist that mattered; Prince Rogers Nelson.04-27_prince_cover

This was a dark time of transition for me from the late ‘70s Punk movement into New Wave and then a lot of stuff I did not relate to on any level beyond a strange imbalance of apathy and abhorrence. There was U2, the Violent Femmes, a little later, Jane’s Addiction, REM, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, but mostly, I was lost. But one thing that could always be counted on was a new Prince album that would snap me back into coherence and make me love new music again, as I did when I was a kid and wore out all my 1960s to early 1970s stuff.

From 1980 to about 1998, Prince was a motherfucker. He wrote, produced and played on more songs than any living human. Period. In a time when major artists put out an album every three to four years, Prince dropped one, and in some cases, two annually. He once released The Black Album, pulled it, and replaced with another one (Lovesexy) in two months, then leaked the former on bootleg. He bootlegged himself! The 1996 album, Emancipation had thirty-six (36!!) really good, really interesting songs on it. In ’98, Crystal Ball had fifty-one incredibly disparate and engaging tracks. On the bulk of these seemingly endless and brilliantly devised discs, the majority of which were huge hits with even bigger hit singles on them, he played every instrument, frighteningly well, and sang all of the parts; some five-part harmonies worthy of the Temptations meets Brian Wilson on a funk jag.

Prince lived in the studio. Literally. He built the damn thing where he lived. Turns out, he died in it. He did not drink. He did not use drugs. He did not attend gala industry parties. He rarely did any interviews or appearances. Hell, he barely ate or slept. He wrote, played and recorded music. When he left the studio to tour the world, he would jam with locals and members of his band in clubs in every city. He played the bass, drums, guitar, piano, and sang back-up and lead, or whatever was needed. He played every kind of music expertly. He listened to and absorbed every kind of music copiously. He was a sponge and he was a spigot that poured forth inspiration.

Those who sessioned for him swore he would force the best from musicians, because he was better than any of them. For a mind-numbing spurt in the mid-to-late 80s, Prince wrote, performed, and produced major hits for many artists; The Time, Sheena Easton, Chaka Kahn, TLC, The Bangles, Sheila E., Stevie Nicks, to name a very few. He started “mask” bands like The Time, The Family, Mazarati, Vanity 6, so he could put out four or five albums a year. Two years running he put out jazz albums under the name Madhouse and created characters to sing and produce other works, Camille and Jamie Starr to name just two. Later he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol just so he could record anywhere and everywhere to escape the confines of a music business that could not handle him.

Every single he released during this time came with an adjoining twelve-inch extended version with completely fresh B-sides that were often superior to some of the tracks on the albums. Time and space precludes me from making a very strong argument that “Erotic City” is the best side of anything anyone put out in the 1980s, and it was the B-Side to “Let’s Go Crazy”, which is the fifth best song on his monster album/film, Purple Rain. And Purple Rain, which won Prince an Oscar, Grammy’s, et al, and has sold a stunning 22-million copies worldwide to date, is not nearly as good as 1987’s Sign ‘O’ The Times, which I still believe is by far the finest, most diverse and experimental pop record of the decade.

Here’s one for you; I maintain that the best song Prince ever wrote is one he never even recorded as Prince or the symbol-thing, “Nothing Compares 2 U”, which Sinead O’Connor’s gorgeously heartrending version turned into a smash hit. I first heard it performed by one of his aforementioned “mask” bands, The Family on its only album in 1985; no doubt with a backing-track played entirely by the composer. If there is a more painfully framed slice of love-loss than “All the flowers that you planted, mama, in the backyard…all died when you went away”, I’m waiting to hear it. The thing floors me every time. Every time.

That kind of freedom is power and it led him, and us, to some pretty cool places.

Prince songs are genre-less. It was Prince – everyone else. There was rock, funk, punk, pop, jazz, fusion, reggae, ska, rap, classical and a collection of aural oddities that brought a dynamic charge to each successive listen; songs about sex and love and race and sex and God and loss and sex and power and dreams and sex and pain and joy and…yeah, sex. Sex was Prince’s gateway to the spiritual (orgasm as transmogrification), the political (seduction as liberation), the revolutionary (transgender identification), with all those substitute word/symbols thrown in to give it all a literary spark. Listening to Prince back then was a lesson; sit up, take notice, learn the craft, be the music, dig the vibe. It was the experience you looked forward to, because you would not be disappointed.

Maybe it’s because he controlled everything; his image, his fashion, and of course his music. It led to the outstanding and the outlandish. No one was there to say no to Prince, from the first album when he was barely 20 years-old and somehow convinced Warner Bros to allow him to produce his own records. There was no Quincy Jones or George Martin for Prince Rogers Nelson. He was the one who decided to pull the bass out of “When Doves Cry” or create an entire alternative-concept album around a Batman movie or direct a black-and-white French film that bombed so badly it is hard to believe he wasn’t ruined (for the record I like Under a Cherry Moon better than Purple Rain, so there), and certainly no one counseled him to demand everyone stop calling him Prince and release instrumental jazz-rock fusion records after multi-artist compilations and then shun the entire record industry altogether. Nope. It was all Prince, for good or ill. That kind of freedom is power and it led him, and us, to some pretty cool places.

My favorite Prince musical memories, beyond the dozen or so times I saw him play live with some of the best musicians I have ever heard/seen anywhere, is all that wonderful first-time stuff. You know, first time I heard “Purple Rain” at three in the morning driving home from some gig; letting the opening chords and the first verse sink in, then turn it up a little for the second, and by the third, where he shreds his vocal chords and the goddamn fret board, let it blast away. The first time I cracked open the shipping box for Around The World In A Day, still sort of my favorite Prince album, two days before it was to be put on the shelf (I was working at Record World in Westchester at the time), and running home to play it; the weird Indian raga and the screeching wail of a guitar into vocal, then all that stuff afterwards that runs into “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life”, and that weird shit at the end where he is fucking and talking to God or whatever the hell is going on there. Hearing “Kiss’ for the first time; the bare, stark, air-sucking naked compression of everything that thump-kicks you in the face and the gut and the balls; ushering in that pinch-chirping falsetto; “You don’t hafta be beautiful…” My first listen to Sign ‘O’ The Times; his masterpiece; his Exile on Main St., his White Album, his Blonde on Blonde – Fuck it; go listen to Sign … right now…do it!

I remember the friends and lovers too. We were the special ones, the ones who dug Prince before he was the shit and after he stopped being the shit when the shit came down on him. You know who you are, but I have a special place in my soul for my dear friend and drummer, Anthony Misuraca. Shit, Anthony and I would listen to Prince everywhere; the car, the house, the studio, the roof, the basement, the street; morning, noon, night. We’d pick out chords and riffs and lilts in his voice; You hear that? No? Listen to this…man! We drove from Raleigh, North Carolina to Madison Square Garden on August 2, 1986 to see The Revolution ply its trade. I remember it because it’s my brother’s birthday, and because we did it. It was my first Prince gig. I chased down Prince concerts after that; every single one better than the next – although for my money the Lovesexy Tour 1988 beats all-hell; in the round, a tour de force. I caught it three times.

That was the thing about Prince; it was personal for those of us who dug him. We got our copy of Uptown magazine every month at Revolver Records on West 8th Street and argued about the alternative mixes and studio outtake/live bootlegs and after-hour show tapes and how each song referenced the other song and it coalesced into this other thing entirely. It was a 70s kid thing for a lot of us, who grew up, like Prince, on imagination, amalgamation, and organic clout in our music. We understood when Prince released a B-Side at 45 rpm, but if you slowed it down to 33 rpm it is a tribute to the third track on the fourth Sly and the Family Stone album. We knew when he referenced James Brown in “Get Off”; “Some like ‘em fat…” or rolled into Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me” in the bridge of “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” or that odd Stones riff he hides in “Ronnie Talk To Russia” or the Hendrix feed-drenched guitar-screams in “All The Critics Love You In New York” or the Black Sabbath-esque foreboding intro to “1999”, or the blatantly obvious Marvin Gaye homage suite in “Do Me Baby”. We got it, man. We loved it. He understood what made us tick. He gave us a soundtrack to our soundtrack.

For the longest time, there was a Prince album and Woody Allen film every year. Like clockwork. And they were always challenging and engaging and inspiring. This was what I counted on. Like Christmas or birthdays for others. The other day I thought about a time when the 80 year-old Allen would no longer be able to tell his celluloid stories. This I get. It’s going to suck, but I get that. But Prince? He is 57. I am 53. We hail from the same post-Boomer/pre-X generation that produced a shitload of really cynical, wise-ass jerk-offs, who cannot believe there are still illogical, racist, sexually-repressed assholes running around using the same tired bullshit to tell us what we can listen to or eat or fuck or wear; that we thought we had somehow changed things by merely living on and making it to the future; it is what Prince meant when he wrote in the liner notes of every record, “May U Live To See The Dawn”.

Suddenly you wake up and the future is the past and your present is the dumb shit your parents and their parents had to deal with. You sleepwalked through all this proposed revolution. You expected something new and vibrant, because you imagined it. Maybe it was all just marketing. But you come to accept it. It’s fine. It’s life. And then with no warning and no reason Prince up and dies and dredges it all up. A wild, eccentric crazy man, whose art was life, is gone – who wore nothing but garters, silk-stockings and panties on stage and ass-less pants on Arsenio Hall and stuck the Lord’s Prayer in the middle of a funk song about interracial homosexuality and turned songs about Armageddon into a party-pop hit you could roll out on MTV with his interracial, cross-gender rock/funk/pop band, conflating images of Jesus, smack, slavery and cunninlingus into a song about flowers.

I was reminded today of that little nugget from Toure’s 2013 treatise on Prince, I Would Die For You – Why Prince Became An Icon, which I reviewed for this paper and truth be told, inspired my own foray into such an investigation on KISS in my last book, Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon. “Toure writes of “emerging adulthood” this way: “Sociologists say people fifteen to twenty-five are in active identity formulation mode, as opposed to thirty-somethings…part of why we like certain artists is that we like the other people who like them, we enjoy being associated with or attached to those people, we want to be in a tribe with them. After thirty that social transaction is less valuable.”

04-27_prince

Today, as I write this, those words ring true. I already knew all this, it’s obvious, but when that touchstone, the focal point of a tribe long gone dies, it can unsettle the odd illusion. I have to admit, it triggered something deeper in me than mere fandom. My friend, Anthony must have felt it too. I had not heard from him in about five or six years, yet he emailed me within minutes of the news of Prince dying. He just wrote, “Wow.” Yeah, wow. It is, I think, a real sense of something else dying; the youthful exuberance of discovery and a revolutionary spirit that always seems to be fading.

But that’s the nut. You see, Prince stopped becoming that interesting to me by the turn of the century. There were moments when I was pulled back by a random album or single, and I caught most of his tours through here, although I sadly missed the last one. It’s as though, over this past decade and a half, I’d been already mourning his passing as an influential artist in my life, but really that passing was that of time, this period of life when music could shift my entire being for more than an afternoon or evening, where it took me places, redefined me, set another course, a more dangerous one. It fueled me. It scared me. It soothed me.

Ahhh, but once that’s awakened in you, then you look for it everywhere. It’s a curse. And I think what became glaringly apparent with the passing of Prince is the curse can’t be lifted. Nope. It’s there. Always. And because Prince was visual and theatrical and worked on many thematic levels and played with perceptions and got Tipper Gore all hot and heavy over Darling Nikki “masturbating with a magazine”, it reminded me of it. It’s humor. It’s sedition. It’s exuberance to test parameters unseen. It reminded me that it makes all the rest of it worthwhile. I need to be reminded. We need to be reminded.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…”

Preach it, brutha

Read More

ACE FREHLEY LOOKS BACK IN PRIDE

Aquarian Weekly
4/6/16

BUZZ

James Campion


ACE FREHLEY LOOKS BACK IN PRIDE
Space Ace Hits the Road with New Album of Rock Classics and Talks Guitar Worship, Rock Star Team-ups, Imposters and a KISS Reunion?

Far from the noise of the rock star life; the clamoring fans, the roaring crowds, the constant bickering with ex-bandunnamed mates in the press, a recently minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer lounges on a couch in his suite high above Manhattan. He sips tea while blithely glancing at a muted TV across the room. This is Ace Frehley at 64; the fret-blistering Space Ace of KISS; the dominant and iconic harlequin outfit of 1970s fame, dressed rather casually in a blue tee shirt and jeans. An ace-of-spades locket, a reminder of his persona, dangles from a silver chain around his neck. He bends an ear to hear my questions and squints to remember the details of his answers, mildly clearing his throat, as if to conjure the wild mystery of his past. This is a genuine rock rebel in repose, a man at peace, but still very much rocking. Big time.

His latest album, Origins Vol. 1, sounding fat, bold and heavy, is due out this week, and he is very proud of it; the songs he’s chosen, beloved covers from classic rock acts, and his guest stars, not the least of which is former brother-in KISSdom, Paul Stanley. He is proud of having conjured it in his private studio in San Diego, where he now calls home, and his engineering and editing of many of the solos and vocal tracks on it.

Mostly, he is proud of his legacy in the pantheon of rock; the lineage of which is profoundly presented on Origins. Perhaps the most influential guitarist of his generation, whose unique shoot-from-the-hip style is often imitated but never duplicated, now pays homage to his heroes; Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and many more.  And although it is difficult for him to wrap his mind around his impact in the wake of such musical giants, what does find its way through resonates. KISS was indeed a major rock spectacle. Its anthemic songs, burlesque imagery, and groundbreaking theatrical concerts turned the whole culture upside down. He was there; designed its logo and was the first to don its make-up – showing up at the annual New York Dolls New Year’s Eve bash in 1972 with silver hair and that striking Spaceman face-paint.

We spoke for nearly an hour about his music, his legacy and his love of the guitar, which took this fellow Bronx boy from a dead-end subsistence to the top of the world.

This is Paul Daniel “Ace” Frehley at 64, unplugged; honest, reflective and charmingly defiant.

 

jc: I’m going to start with something I’m sure you’re bored with talking about, but I have to ask you; why a covers record now?

 

AF: Well, actually it was the record company’s idea. To be honest with you initially I wasn’t that excited about the project, because I had just come off the high of the success of Space Invader, which is all originals except for a cover of “The Joker”. It was almost like, “Okay, I’m going to go through the motions and get this out of the way and then jump into the studio for my next real studio album.” But I gotta tell ya, man, once I started the process and started remembering the groups that influenced me, narrowing down which songs I thought were going to be best for the record, and then started the recording process; I really started getting more excited about it.

Then once I got Slash on “Emerald,” he was the first guest star that recorded, and Paul (Stanley) agreed to do it. I was trying to get a hold of Gene (Simmons) and for some reason Gene didn’t get back to me. But when Paul agreed to do it, I already had Slash in the can and I knew I could count on Lita Ford, because I already spoke to her about it last year, and John 5. I also spoke to Mike McCready a year or two ago and he said he was up for doing a track on my new record. So, all the ducks were in a row.

The last two weeks of the record I went up to L.A. I got John 5 and Lita Ford on the record the same day and that weekend Paul recorded the vocal for “Fire and Water”, while I was doing overdubs, and then he emailed the vocal back to us. I put a guitar solo on and we just mixed it. That was it. The whole process for “Fire and Water” was about four days from beginning to end.

 

How long did it take you to make the record?

 

Well, I started tracking last spring, but I went on tour last year to Australia, New Zealand, and Europe, and then came back and finished the record. Maybe the whole process took six months, leaving out the time I was on the road.

 

I understand you recorded some the tracks in your home studio in San Diego?3dedf7c2-a7ce-438d-917e-4e36d61dad10

 

My place isn’t big enough for drums. We have a two-story townhouse, and I have a really great room with preamps and mikes and stuff. I can do everything there but drums. There’s a studio in San Diego called Signature Sound and that’s where I did a lot of the basic tracks with drums. I tracked the drums and then I flew my engineer in from New York (Alex Salzman), who I like working with since Anomaly, and we did a lot of the overdubs, and then I went up to L.A. to do the remainder of the overdubs. A lot of the solos I engineered, like “Fire and Water”, the intro solo and a lot of the guitars on “Bring It On Home.” What else did I do? I did the solo for “Till The End Of The Day” in my studio alone. I’ve really gotten good at Pro Tools, where I can actually engineer myself. The only drawback is when you are engineering some of the creativity goes out the window, because you’ve got to stay focused on what you’re doing instead of just thinking about creating. I prefer working with an engineer, but when I don’t have one around I can do it myself.

 

The record sounds very heavy and fat. Is that something you guys were going for or you just stumbled on?

 

No, that’s what I was going for. Warren Huart, the guy who also mixed Space Invader, he’s got all that stuff; SSL-board, and he uses old preamps. On some of my vocals he’s actually using real tape delay.

 

So, you did a lot of analog recording then?

 

Well, a lot of it was recorded digitally, but in the mixing and overdubbing process, we used a lot of analog equipment to achieve more of a vintage sound.

 

One thing I’ve read about you over the years, specifically your first solo album when you were still in KISS in the 70s, which I love – it’s the only one I bought – is that you use many different guitars and various amps and effects. Did you do the same thing for this since you were covering different kinds of music from a variety of artists?

 

I use a lot of Les Pauls, but I like doubling Les Pauls with Fenders. I’ve got about a half a dozen Telecasters and a half a dozen Strats that I use, but in conjunction with different amps. I have a couple old Vox amps, a couple old Fender amps, and some old Marshalls. Last year I picked up a 50-watt Marshall I got in a pawnshop outside of Palm Springs. I picked up the head for $900 bucks. (laughs) I stole it! It was from the 70s, so, you know, it’s the combination of all that stuff. Vintage microphones. Vintage preamps. Everything tube. That’s how I achieved that fat sound. But layering Les Pauls and Fenders are really one of my trademarks that I’ve been using since the 70s.

 

When I saw that Mike McCready was joining you, because I know he’s is a big KISS fan, I was reminded of your solo on “She”, which is very reminiscent of Robbie Krieger’s solo on The Doors’ “Five to One,” and then McCready took that solo and used it in Pearl Jam’s “Alive”. It’s a great lineage. You guys ever talk about that?

 

Yeah, we’ve spoken about that. I met Mike several years ago, because my daughter was a big Pearl Jam fan when she was a kid. They took care of us at one of the concerts. Then I found out he was sober. I got sober. So we had that common bond. I ended up jamming with them at Madison Square Garden one night. We did…

 

“Black Diamond”.

 

“Black Diamond.” I jammed with them at Atlantic City at the Borgata Casino. I have a good rapport with him and Eddie (Vedder). I’ve wanted to get him on one of my records for a long time and finally it transpired.

 

I love the way the different vocalists change the style of each track, but you’re the constant throughout the whole record. With Paul, how difficult or how easy was that when you guys first got together? Tell me the whole process there.

 

We actually were never in the same room together. (laughs) Like I said, once me and Paul decided on which song to do, I was up in L.A .doing overdubs with John 5 and Lita and that same weekend Paul recorded the vocals at a different studio. We just emailed him the tracks. He did the vocals, engineered it, and emailed them back to us, and boom. Technology has changed the recording process so much.

In the 70s, we had to carry around these bulky, two-inch thick reels of tape that only held two or three songs depending upon the length of the song. Big tape machines. Every time you wanted to do an edit was with a razor blade. Now with digital editing, it’s a dream. I mean, the sequence of solos that me and Slash did on “Emerald,” we had a dozen passes or more of solos and I pretty much put that together piece by piece; picked the best ones from each performance.

 

I’m sure these are influential songs, but did you realize while recording them where your influences came from?

 

I didn’t connect the dots in that way. It’s just that I thought back to all the groups that influenced me. I really wanted to do a Who song on the record, I just couldn’t get that together.

 

Which one would you have done?

timthumb

I couldn’t decide. That was the problem! (laughs) Actually, towards the very end, prior to deciding on “Fire and Water,” Paul was kicking around the idea with me to do “My Generation.” I just wanted to do a song that was a little more obscure, like in the same way with the Hendrix song. I did “Spanish Castle Magic” instead of “Purple Haze” or “Manic Depression” or something off the first album, which everybody is more familiar with. So I kind of went down that road when it came to choice of certain songs, but I’m really happy with the end result. It always amazes me, because some of these songs, it was just so easy to do. It was effortless to me. I’m just amazed after the mixing process how strong they sounded, ‘cause I don’t really pay that much attention to detail when I’m recording. I just go for feel. But I work with some of the best musicians in the world, so that must be the secret. (laughs)

 

It sounds like you gave some real love to the songs, a respect to the origins of them. I’ll take “White Room” for an example. You achieved that signature wah-wah sound; that great (Eric) Clapton wah-wah sound throughout the song and then into the solo. Did you make a concerted effort to pay sonic homage to each song?

 

I had two wah-wahs in one of my boxes and me and my engineer plugged in both of them and they were way too noisy. They were old. The potentiometers were all dirty and it was making a lot of noise, so we ran out to Guitar Center and bought a brand new wah-wah, (laughs) a Vox wah-wah. I only did two or three passes of the solos, and out of those three passes, my engineer pieced together one solo. Everything kind of came together really… I’m still sitting here listening to… I still listen to the album almost every day. I keep hearing things that I didn’t hear from a prior listen.

I improvised all the solos on the record. I didn’t play the other people’s solos, note for note. I stayed pretty true to most of the arrangement. I ended up extending “Emerald” by redoing the second half of the second verse when I came out of the solo, which isn’t in the original arrangement. I actually like my arrangement better. (laughs) It kind of brings the whole song to an end nicely.

I had a lot of fun with the record. Sometimes when you have too many chefs in the kitchen it spoils the stew. I work very streamlined. In most cases, I’m recording with just me and one other person and an engineer. More than three people in a studio is a lot for me. I don’t like it that way. That’s how I did my very first, 1978 solo album with “New York Groove” and that form has always worked for me.

 

The thing I found researching my book (Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon – Backbeat Books, Oct. 2015) was that speaking to Bob Ezrin and a lot of people that worked on Destroyer, and reading your memoir, you’re used to coming in, hearing the track, playing your solo, and bingo! In fact, you used to say you used to figure out solos, get to the studio, and everyone would be saying, “Nah, it’s not really…” and then you’d wing it and that take would be better. It would seem that nothing has changed over all these years.

 

It’s been a long time since I sat down prior to doing a solo and tried to figure it out before I hit the record button. I just empty out my head. It’s a lot easier to do four or five passes and then pick the best parts. Like I said, with digital editing you can pick the front of one pass, the middle of another, and the tail end of a third and piece them together seamlessly, so you really can’t hear the edit.

 

But you have to learn that to play it live.

 

Well, I memorize all my solos once I play live, because a lot of them are pieced together. (laughs) For instance, I’ll tell you what happened with the solo in “Fire and Water.” I did about fifteen passes after I got the lead vocal from Paul. He did a tremendous vocal. I thought it was amazing, one of his best vocal performances, and I wanted to do a really outstanding solo. So I did about fifteen passes of solos and I started trying to piece them together and it just didn’t sound right. So I took a break. I went downstairs and had a snack, went back up in the studio, and I just did one last take from beginning to end and that’s the solo! And that’s a long solo.

Also, the stuff that me and John 5 did at the end of “Spanish Castle Magic” is pretty amazing. John did an amazing solo in the second half of “Parasite.” I doubled the length of the solo. I played the original solo like it is on the first record and John came up with a great solo for the second half.

 

Why did you choose “Parasite” and “Cold Gin?”AceFrehley

 

The record company thought I should do a couple of KISS songs and I figure, “Why not redo the songs that I’ve written but didn’t sing?”

 

Ahhh. That’s what I thought.

 

Gene sang on those. At the time, I didn’t consider myself a lead singer and was really insecure about my lead vocals. I said, “Gene you got to sing this.” And of course Peter sang a couple songs I had written over the years and in the beginning. But once “Shock Me” happened it was like the cat was out of the bag. I’ve been singing them in concert for years. I figure it’s about time I get them on the record.

 

Could you possibly pick a favorite song that you’ve written over the years? One you love to play live?

 

I don’t know. My favorite KISS song is definitely “Deuce.” It was the first KISS song I ever heard. It was before KISS was even KISS. When I went in to audition for the band they played “Deuce” for me and then I ended up playing a solo to it off the top of my head. Pretty much, I think those guys after that one song thought I was the guy. At least that’s what I’ve read in retrospect.

 

What about something you’ve written?

 

Something that I’ve written? I don’t know. So many songs to choose from. One of my favorite solos is the one in “Strange Ways.” I normally do my solos in the control room with the amp in another room, but “Strange Ways” was one of the few solos I stood in front of the stack. I stood in front of the Marshall stack with a tight set of headphones and that’s how I got that natural feedback. There is an intensity on that. The stack was on ten! (laughs) I almost couldn’t hear the track with headphones on, but it’s a pretty radical solo.

 

I have to say, now that I’m sitting across from you, the “100,000 Years” solo is one of the most melodic that you’ve written and you always seem to nail that, every time, even in the reunion tours. Have you played it since KISS? I love it. It’s so beautifully melodic.

 

Thank you so much. I forget about that song. I haven’t played that song in a long time. Maybe we should try doing that live. Maybe my drummer, Scoty should sing it. He sings “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City”.

 

Who’s in your touring band?

 

Scot Coogan on the drums. He plays on nine tracks on this record and the other three tracks are played by Matt Starr, who did the drumming on Space Invader. Chris Wyse on bass. I’m playing bass on about four tracks. Richie Scarlet is on rhythm guitar for the tour.

 

The obvious question is will there going be a Volume II?

 

Yeah, it was actually my idea to call it Volume I. (laughs) I just thought it was a great marketing ploy and everyone’s going, “Is there going to be a Volume II? I go, “Maybe.” I have a feeling this is going to be a very successful record, because I think it has mass appeal. You don’t have to be an Ace Frehley fan to get off on some of the songs on this record. If the record does as well as I think it will, I definitely think there is going to be a Volume II, but not before I do another studio record.

 

Originals?

 

All originals, yeah, and then maybe after that, maybe Volume II. That would make sense.

 

I recently read that you would consider playing with KISS again.

 

I’ve always said that. I’ve always said, “Never say never. Leave the door open.” It’s really their call. I think it could be great. It would be a nice way for KISS to go out with a bang. You know, right now it’s really only half of KISS.

 

Right.

 

And everybody knows it. But like I said, the ball is in Paul and Gene’s court, but I would be open to the idea if it was presented to me in the right way. Sure.

 

I’ve been promoting my book now since October, and I’ve done a ton of podcasts and interviews and radio, and you’ve been the one member of the band that everybody gravitates to, perhaps because of your rebellious nature and the fact that you didn’t always buy into some of the more materialist KISS stuff; that you’ve been your own man. Do you realize how much people really love you?Ace_James_1-250

 

I don’t. The other thing that people always say to me, “Do you realize the impact you’ve had on so many guitar players? The influence you’ve had?” It’s just not something I think about. I’m really flattered when people say that to me. But, yeah, I’m kind of like the cool guy. (laughs) Let’s be honest. That’s what everybody said.

But it was never about the money for me either. I always wanted to be respected by my peers and I didn’t want to give up my integrity as a musician in lieu of a show or merchandise or anything. To me it was always the music first, the show second. Invariably with KISS, a lot of times the reviews would talk more about the show than the music. It was frustrating at times, but I think at this juncture I’m respected by my peers. I don’t know if Paul and Gene really are all the time.

 

What are your feelings about two other guys wearing the makeup? I know they can legally do it, but to fans know that’s not Ace Frehley out there.

 

Prior to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction a lot of people thought it was me, believe it or not! (laughs)

 

No shit. I don’t believe that.

 

People that aren’t hardcore fans and people that don’t really pay attention to the inner workings of KISS, a lot of them weren’t even aware of it. They’ve always downplayed Tommy (Thayer). But I think with all the controversy that surrounded the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that they decided not to play with me and Peter, a lot of people got hip to the fact that, “Hey that’s not Ace in the makeup!” I’m telling you, a lot of people didn’t know. I used to get phone calls when KISS played in certain areas and somebody would say, “Hey can you get me tickets? I want to go see you play.” I go, “That’s not me. What are you talking about?” I’m telling you. (laughs) The people that weren’t hardcore fans, casual fans, some of them didn’t know. They thought it might be Ace.

 

Well, does it bug you?

 

I still get checks. (laughs) Unlike Peter, I still do get checks.

 

Well, that’s good.

 

They pay me for the use of the makeup and I get checks for merchandise, but it bothers me. You know what bothers me more; the fact that the fans are upset about it. It’s gotten really silly over the last year or so when Paul or Gene make these ridiculous statements like, “Well, you know, once we can’t perform any more, even we’re going to be replaced.” They’re trying to legitimatize the fact that there are two fake guys in the band by making a statement like that. But let’s face it, those guys making that statement is like Mick Jagger and Keith Richards saying, “Yeah, once we’re gone The Stones are gonna continue with two guys that look like us.” Give me a break. They will try anything to pull the wool over some people’s eyes.

 

But like you said, the true fans know.

 

There is only one real Space Ace.

 

That’s right!

 

Whataya gonna do?

 

Whataya gonna do?” That’s classic Bronx.

 

Go feegya.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

THE GREAT REPUBLICAN LIE ON ABORTION

Aquarian Weekly
4/6/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

THE GREAT REPUBLICAN LIE ON ABORTION

This week Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, in his usual wing-it fashion, told an MSNBC audience that if abortion was illegal than the woman getting the abortion is committing a crime and therefore should stand trial for said crime. This caused the predictable outcry from pro-choice advocates and Democrats, but unconscionably, it also drew the ire of conservative Republicans. This makes no sense and someone should point this out.

dt_0406

Pro-Life advocates conveniently want it both ways; they continue to woo the woman vote while also stating that abortion is murder and should be deemed such. Who exactly then is the murderer? The doctor? Does the doctor enter the woman’s room late at night and yank the fetus from her or does the woman make a difficult choice to terminate the pregnancy, then, in their ideological view, walk willingly and knowingly into the clinic and murder the fetus?

This is why I state emphatically that if I were a woman in no way, shape or form would I ever support a major political party that stands by the concept of allowing the government to manipulate my insides. Ever. Whatever side you fall on in this very difficult issue, you cannot support the government deciding what happens inside the body of a tax-paying citizen protected by the Bill of Rights. It is not only unconstitutional, it is insane. It leads to a world in which if there is over-population, then the government can decide who lives and who dies and could one day force women with “too many children” to get abortions.

But if you strongly believe that it is the right and moral foundation for the United States government to protect innocents – unless innocents happen to be gay, undocumented, the elderly with no money, or the random black kid gunned down by rogue cops; then fuck them – it stands to reason you deem abortion murder, and therefore that murder must have a perpetrator. Conservative phonies like Ted Cruz, who is now fully immersed in the establishment, despite his charade of stating he is anti-establishment whilst asking the party to coalesce behind him to stop the actual anti-establishment candidate, like to tell us that in this weirdly constructed reality, the woman is the victim of this “crime”.

Really?

Then why do we put drug offenders in jail or bust drunk drivers? They are merely victims of the terrible drug dealers and liquor stores and bars who serve them dope and libations. When someone hits you with their car, do they seek out the manufacturer? Is Ford responsible for the guy who hits you? So, I ask; in what crazed dystopian nightmare does a woman who gets an abortion somehow translate to victim?

I guess Ted Cruz is a bleeding heart liberal who believes somehow that society, the prison system, and the Beatles were guilty of ritualistic murder, and not poor, victimized Charles Manson.

If abortion is murder, then the woman should go to jail. Trump is correct and has continued to be the gift that keeps giving for the free thinkers among us who believe that the abject lies the Republican Party has been selling for decades about military build-ups and asinine wars, Wall Street, free-trade unregulated nonsense, and haughty attacks on social issues are stupid and antiquated and have become sad, fringe positions that have no place in an advancing world.

But that is politics, and we are not dealing with politics today, just like we are not dealing in morals here, ever; we are merely dealing with personal liberty and the law, which rightly gives a tax-paying citizen protected by the Bill of Rights control over her body. However, if that law should change, and abortion becomes illegal; then you explain to me how a woman who seeks an abortion does not break the law? And if you break the law, should you not pay for your crime? And if that crime is murder, then should you not be sentenced to life imprisonment, and in some states, face execution?

This is about taking Trump down, while simultaneously keeping the false notion of deeming abortion a crime against humanity while somehow absolving the architect, so women will vote Republican in the fall.

I believe Trump when he repeatedly says, “You either have a country or you don’t.”

So, where does this dribbling nonsense of staunchly defending the unborn while simultaneously absolving the woman killing this child come from?

Now, the cynic in me understands the campaign landscape of shock and dismay is wholly motivated by a #nevertrump effort. Trump, like Obama, could espouse the entire GOP platform and someone on the right will get in a tizzy and blame them for pissing on God’s head. This is about taking Trump down, while simultaneously keeping the false notion of deeming abortion a crime against humanity while somehow absolving the architect, so women will vote Republican in the fall. Period.

The main discussion about abortion really comes down to the idea that you must accept that you are indeed terminating a life when you have one. As a supporter of pro-choice, I also get tough with those who support same when they deny that this is not the case, that somehow this glob of tissue is not life or to make things cushy, some sub-life or pre-form of life. Technology and advanced science now prove with no doubt that life is being terminated. Whether this constitutes murder, as it is described in the annals of civilization or our current structure of law, is another argument I shall not make here. But I have been asking my pro-life friends now for decades; how exactly do you accept the premise that the government has a right to adjudicate what is inside a citizen’s body? The government has no right to burst into your apartment and begin rummaging around, but your body is open season?

And how do you police this matter?

Donald Trump says you arrest the murderer, and he is right.

But that is shocking to us, because we cannot imagine someone being arrested for such a thing. So, in abject panic that we can now see their draconian oligarchy correctly, the right-wing moral loons scramble to tell you Trump is nuts. Well, of course he’s nuts, but so is the notion that the government can arrest a woman for this. So, they make up some wild story about the woman merely being a victim.

Poor, unknowing, weak, and distressed female, whose only purpose is to plunk out babies on demand; you will not be held responsible for the thing you just did. But, of course, you will, and you should, and if you don’t think that is coming if Roe v Wade is overturned, which the Republican Party wants – including Ted Cruz and John Kasich, no matter how much they try and distance themselves from it – then you are not listening to the pro-life movement. This is what they want; to make abortion illegal, which means if you happen to have a vagina; it is time to watch your step.

If the premise introduced to Donald Trump on MSNBC this week is correct, and one day we are faced with abortion being illegal, than women will need to stand trial for murder.

Any other conclusion to this is a lie.

Read More

MADAM SHOO-IN – THE SEQUEL

Aquarian Weekly
3/23/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MADAM SHOO-IN – THE SEQUEL
The Clinton Machine Revs Up

Can you hear it?

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

It is an old model, early 1990s to be exact, and though it was idling a tad shaky this past summer – not surprisingly, it hadn’t been cranked up since 2008 – it is starting to hum. The pistons were rusty and the fuel lines were clogged. A few spark plugs were less than optimal, and the radiator leaked. It may not be a perfect machine, right off the line, like the 2008 Barack Obama model that ran it off the road on the first turn and never looked back. But even that model has a few laps on it now. It is ancient history around these parts, the Clinton parts; where the sense memory is long and deep and needs no motivation beyond a push on the pedal to get her going.

hc_03-23

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is about to be the first woman to ever lead a major party’s ticket for the presidency in the 240-year history of this republic. It is only a matter of time before she gets the engine of The Machine at peak levels. It’s just about revving now; across the South and now through Midwest, with a few pit-stops for tuning up around New Hampshire and Michigan. But after the real Super Tuesday, where the delegate count started to look like something from Custer’s Last Stand, it is picking up steam. Even the Bernie Sanders supporters now begin talking about “changing the party” and “making our point” and “looking forward to marching into the Democratic Convention and pleading our ideological case.” Winning for them is out of the question now.

This is what happens when The Machine rolls over you. There are tire marks on your back and you wonder, what’s the point?

The late Paul Tsongas had a similar feeling in 1992. The Massachusetts senator entered Super Tuesday with momentum and was putting the screws to William Jefferson Clinton, an embattled and politically wounded Arkansas Governor. Clinton was a scandal working on another scandal while waiting for the last scandal to wrap up. Soon, without warning, Tsongas was headed back to Beantown not knowing what hit him. What hit him was The Machine.

I have seen The Machine up close. I felt its heat and heard its engines purr. They are a mother, let me tell you. In 2009, I went to Radio City Music Hall to listen to its main mechanic James Carville publically discuss how to build and maintain such a thing. He sat across from Karl Rove, a man I drank with more than once in early 2000, who ran an effective engine of his own. That tip-top bastard of an apparatus turned a garble-mouthed Texas bonus baby into Captain Shoo-In, who would become a Texas governor and later president of the United States. These are men who know how to put together a machine that instinctually warms up and finds the open road.

Right now that is where Hillary Clinton finds herself. There is no junior senator rock star in front of her now. The Bern has flamed out. Most it can do now to make news is have its youthfully exuberant charges bust up Donald Trump rallies, which is good for press but does nothing to stop whatever that maniac’s got going, which looks real and mean and unstoppable. But that is a problem for the Republican Party, which fears the real estate mogul’s dismal approval ratings might sink it and hand the senate back over the Democrats. Trump, they say, is even more untrustworthy and unpopular than Clinton, who has now approached Nixonian levels of icky. No one seems to know what the woman is capable of, but none of it matters. The Machine is on its way.

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

There is no junior senator rock star in front of her now.

For the record, this model has an easier ride than the ’92 model. That one was brand new but up against serious odds, and the Democratic Party didn’t give a shit who the hell lost to George Bush Sr. Eyes were already on 1996 when the whole Reagan Revolution finally died out and people could get on with things. But Big Bill had other ideas. He also had a madman Independent candidate called Ross Perot, sort of an antecedent to this Trump fellow, but crazier. Way crazier. The Texas billionaire garnered 18 percent of the vote, despite dropping out halfway through the summer haunted by delusions of CIA infiltrations of his daughter’s wedding and other weird shit he blurted out during odd moments on the Larry King Show. As a result of this mess, Clinton won the presidency with 43 percent of the popular vote. Only Richard Nixon in 1968, (43.4) Woodrow Wilson in 1912 (41.8) and Abraham Lincoln in 1860 (39.8) earned less. To fair, Honest Abe had three opponents and the entire South delivered zero votes.

The 2016 Clinton model could face a similar set-up, if anti-Trump Republicans decide to form a third party and siphon off 20 percent of the right-wing electorate.

Either way, you’d have to be a political novice to not see that The Machine has found its motor and is kicking up a storm now. It came alive somewhere along the southern rim of the contiguous United States in mid-to-late February, and it shows little sign of slowing down. Not until there is an opponent, and that looks malleable right now. For Bernie Sanders, as we have come to know and love him, is done; left by the roadside with his thumb out looking for a way back to the senate. It was a nice run, a short revolution, but one that had a mind-bending effect on Clinton. It may even hound her come late summer when the main laps for The Machine commence.

But know this: The Machine, the Clinton Machine, is back. And at some point all this fleeting hope for the FBI or some smoking gun to come out of any of these Clinton shenanigans to halt its momentum has got to cease. It will be time then for someone or something to stop it on the campaign trail, where is has shown at once a lethal effectiveness and an inability to get out of its own way. There is only one way to put The Machine down now; the ballot box, where all these things end up…eventually.

Vrooooooooooom. Vrooooooooom.

Read More

THAT METAL SHOW ON THE RUN

Buzz
Aquarian Weekly
3/16/16

THAT METAL SHOW ON THE RUN
Eddie Trunk on The Fate & Fortune of His Beloved Cable Show

There is little debate among fans of That Metal Show. It is great. It is fun. It is geeky and loose and relatable and the hosts, Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine are like buddies hanging at the bar arguing about the best thrash metal band or what guitar solo is the better or what live version of a song outdoes the studio version; important, life-affirming stuff. The interviews with the rock stars are intimate and disarming and have the air of same; hanging out talking hard rock and metal with the passion it deserves.three

This is why when a few months back, June to be exact, it was silenced, there was a hue and cry across the land. Its channel, VH1 Classic, owned by MTV Networks, did not renew its option, due in part to upheaval in upper management and the usual boardroom financial quarrels. The ratings were good. In fact, it far exceeded anything the network aired. It’s frugal, low-tech production, the only original content produced by the network, never wavered.  Yet, after 14 seasons, That Metal Show is no more and fans want to know why and what’s next?

The show’s brainchild and founder, Eddie Trunk comes clean in this exclusive interview with the Aquarian, and since Eddie was kind enough to read, rave about, my new book, Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon and interview me for his Sirius XM coast-to-coast radio show this past October, I have drawn the assignment to get the scoop.

What happened? What’s happening?

Here are the highlights of our discussion on the matter and the latest from the That Metal Show front lines.

 

james campion: First off, how did this all go down?

 

Eddie Trunk: For fourteen seasons, every time we’d finish one the network has about ninety days to let us know if they plan to pick up the option to do another season. The ninety days lapsed in April and they said that there were some changes going on at the network, at many levels; executives that were big champions of the show and were responsible for getting them on the air were either dismissed or quit.

We were told that the show initially was going to be moved to another network with the same company. There were a lot of things we were originally told and then each time another phone call came it was basically, “We’re not going to do that. We’re not going to do that.” And then they basically just released us completely from our deals. It’s just restructuring. It’s nothing personal.

 

jc: Do you, Don, and Jim have your own production company? How did you work all that with VH1 Classic and how are you guys moving forward?

 

ET: VH1 produced and owns every episode of That Metal Show including the name.

 

However, what happened is our producer, Jeff Baumgardner, who produced every episode and worked for VH1, as part of his exit out of the network he was able to make a deal to get the name of the show. So he now actually controls the name of the show and it’s under his world now. So we have the ability, because Jeff is in our corner, very much wanting to continue to do the show, we have the ability to continue doing the show exactly how it was and use the name and all the same features. It’s just that when that’s done the network that decides to pick it up would have to make a deal with VH1 for it. But there is a deal in place, so it’s very easy to do. So we can continue the show. We can continue it under the name That Metal Show. It’s just some paper work that needs to be done for that to happen, but VH1 has given us their blessings to continue to look for a new home for the show and to allow it to still be called That Metal Show.

 

jc: So where are we now with all this?

 

ET: Well, my agent, Adam Leibner is representing me and also helping to place the show. He was a huge fan of the show for many years long before he represented me and he is in the process now of talking to various parties to see what the options are. And at this point we don’t know. It’s a very slow moving process and I understand that’s frustrating for the fans. Frustrating for us as well. I would love to bounce right back and be right back on, but it’s not that simple. And the TV landscape is extremely convoluted right now, because you have all the over the air networks but then you also have the emergence of Netflix and Amazon and all these streaming services, apps, and all these different things in the media world today. So every single avenue is being explored and weighed and discussed to see what’s out there and what makes the most sense.

 

jc: Is there something you would prefer that would allow you to do the things you didn’t have the budget to do or you would even attempt to do to expand the show, to have bands play or have more production value or whatever?

 

ET: Absolutely. How realistic it is, I don’t know, but I always have lofty goals and I always am looking to make everything I’m doing bigger and better and have more opportunities at every level no matter what I do. I would certainly love to record more episodes a year than we have. I’d love to include band performances. And I would certainly love to broaden it out. People may find this pretty hard to believe, but I never ever, ever, wanted the name “metal” in the name of the show. And that’s not because of the fact that, I mean, God my whole reputation is in that genre, so it’s nothing to do with that. It’s just that I wanted it to be a little broader based. I thought it would be important to lure in other sort of acts that might be alienated by that name and still keep it a rock show.getty

So we would like to take some chances and do some different things. We’d like to make it bigger and better. It’s just a question of finding a dance partner that’s up for that and wants to do it. And listen, the flipside of that could very well be where we have to go a little leaner and meaner.  We have to even strip some things away maybe depending on what the opportunity presented to us is. So, again, we are listening to everything and everybody and taking it all in. It’s being digested and I’ve got a guy that I trust to process all this and go through it and see what’s going to make the most sense. We just simply don’t know right now. Truly anything can happen. We just have to let the process play out.

 

jc: What’s your preference for how this plays out?

 

ET: My dream would be to be on HBO. The reason why I say that is because I would also love to be uncensored. I think that dealing with the people that we talk to, the stories and stuff that we could get that we wouldn’t have to censor would be incredible. Or obviously my dream would be to be on a network, but that’s a pretty lofty thing. But again I don’t rule out anything. Nobody does. It’s just a question of where is there traction? Where is there interest? It’s funny, James, because, and I get this from a fan’s standpoint because they’ve lived with this show for so long and they love it and it’s ingrained in them, and I greatly appreciate that; but the huge amount of fans that I hear from, they all say the same thing, “Well, just take it here.” “Just take it there.” “Just put it on there.” Like I can do that! (Laughs)

There’s going to be a very sizable audience that when we do announce a new home is going to immediately come there. And we hope that that’s a powerful enough thing to get some interest from a network, but I gotta be honest with you, man, I’ve always been a guy that I never get too high and I never get too low. So nothing would surprise me that could happen here. And, of course, I hope for all the best stuff, but I’m prepared for anything and I’m hoping it all works out. If it doesn’t, I’ll do something else. I’ll do something new. I developed this. I’ll develop something new hopefully.

 

jc: So you guys are keeping all options open.

 

ET: Sure. There’s a ton of those networks that are merging. And somebody just told me the other day there’s a channel called Esquire, which I didn’t even know I had that’s on my cable system. And there’s a bunch of these channels that people honestly don’t even know about that are out there. And it’s kind of like, “Ok wow. That could actually work. That could be a fit. What’s involved in making that happen?” And again there’s so many of them. A lot of people have said, “Access TV!” Well, sure. That would be a logical place, but they have to want to do the show. And listen, doing That Metal Show is not cheap. It’s cheap by big network standards, but the way we were doing it, it’s an investment. They have to feel that it works for them. We’re going to explore everything. Also, the other thing I run into is people yell out networks that they get on their cable systems. For everybody that’s yelling at me, “Access TV!” there is just everybody else, the next person that says, “Well I don’t get that channel, so don’t go there.” (Laughs)

jc: So, what can fans do that read this? Also, I’m sure a lot of the guys, the acts and some of the rock stars you’ve gotten to know that have been on the show probably want to be in your corner and write emails and make phone calls and back you. What do fans do en masse to get That Metal Show back on the air?

 

ET: Well, there really isn’t one at the moment. There is a couple of fan ones that have been set up. I know, Tim Louie at the Aquarian had one going for a while. I don’t know how many signatures at last count, which is all wonderful and really very flattering and really very nice. And it is certainly, certainly appreciated, but I’d be lying, and I just don’t want to waste anybody’s time to tell them that there is something we can do like that now. There isn’t really anything like that to do just yet that is really going to mean something in the big picture here. There may very well come a time that we do need that and I’ll be the first to let everybody know when, where, and how to help. But as it stands right now we really are still just in this exploring phase and I’ve seen a lot people email networks and I know that Netflix in particularly, Access TV, because those are two that come up all the time, have been tagged on tweets and what have you. That’s all great! And it’s appreciated. I don’t know how much it means to the networks. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know if it gets to anybody there. But it certainly can’t hurt, as long as it’s done in a respectful way.

 

jc: I’ve come to learn since my KISS book came out, that these bands have a strong cult following, as does your show.  Metal Heads do not fool around.

 

ET: Well, thanks, man. And you know we appreciate that and we’ve heard that from a lot of people, and again, I can’t stress enough; our one-hundred percent goal is to absolutely get it back on. And there is nobody anywhere that’s deviating right now from the plan of saying “Ok. What’s out there? How can we do this? What’s the best home? Where can we bring it?” It’s just going to take a little time. I know that everybody expected and wanted a quick answer and a quick bounce back, but we don’t have that just yet. It’s a process and it has all got to play out. And again I hope that it truly does. In the meantime, I would tell everybody that for fun, I mean, the show is still on VH1 Classic. They repeat episodes constantly throughout the week.

 

jc: You guys still do road shows and appearances, right?group

 

ET: Yeah. It’s very important for people to know what we do on the road is certainly not a taping of the TV show. But for years now we have been going out together, the three of us, and we go out to clubs and we tell stories, behind the scenes stories, and Don and Jim do standup, and I do some Q & A, and we do some live “Stump the Trunk.” And we just have fun with the audience in a bar setting. People come out, obviously they have some drinks, we give away prizes, and we have a good time. There are no cameras. Sometimes there are no guests. It’s just really us.

Another thing, people have said, “Hey just go do the show on the road.” That’s a little more involved then you would think. Again, it comes down to money. You’re talking crews and sets and hiring guests and musicians. That’s a big operation that again we don’t have that sort of funding available.

So we do kind of a lean and mean road show. We get out there, we have fun, we thank the people that have supported the show and it’s something that we’ll keep doing with or without the show on a new network. The three of us are all still great friends. We have a good time out there together. We’ll see where it goes. But I can’t stress enough my thanks to everybody for their support through this whole thing. And also, of course, that we hear ya’ and it isn’t as easy as saying, “Go here.”

 

jc: It’s an exciting time. Something will come of it. I just have a good feeling about it.

 

ET: You never know. And again; I don’t get too high, I don’t get too low. I just kind of let the process play out and nothing usually ever surprises me. So we’ll hope for the best and who knows, maybe somewhere in the not too distant future we’ll be doing an interview talking about a bigger, better new home.

 

 

Read More

SIR GEORGE HENRY MARTIN – 1926 -2016

Aquarian Weekly
3/16/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

SIR GEORGE HENRY MARTIN – 1926 -2016

The Beatles: the cultural axis for a generation, whose music, style, language, and political impact was seismic, fueled by a hypnotic influence unrivaled in the pantheon of art. The Beatles invented a paradigm and then shifted it, over and over and over again. It is impossible to imagine there being a thing called rock and roll, arguably the most lasting global movement of the twentieth century, without it. Beside the four men who made up The Beatles; John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, there stand two others most responsible for this; Brain Epstein and George Martin. As manager and mentor, Epstein created the visual revolution that charmed a planet while Martin, as producer and creative Sherpa, did the heaviest lifting of all; he cajoled, conducted, re-imagined and realized the music that shook the very foundation of human spirit. He made songs, glorious songs; perhaps the best and most revered music of the modern age.

sgm_0316

You want to begin to comprehend George Martin’s genius and immense contribution to all this? Simply listen to the music. Do it now. Go ahead. You have heard it a million times, but do it with fresh ears and a pure heart. Deny it is not nostalgic and fresh, bold and endearing, an eruption of joy. I dare you. It is Mozart meets Chuck Berry meets Jackson Pollack meets Abby Hoffman meets vaudeville, theater, sock-hop and cathedral.

Then do yourself a huge favor and read Martin’s 1979 memoir, All You Need Is Ears, Here, There and Everywhere by Geoff Emerick, one of his partners in studio magic, and Mark Lewisohn’s brilliant and seminal, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.

I can write ten thousand words about George Martin. I may still do it. But for now I’ve asked some very talented friends from all ends of the music business to weigh in on his passing this week. But most of all, I needed to hear their musings on his wide-ranging influence. It is in the following words that the resonance of the man remains, as in every note he arranged, produced and then captured for posterity.

George Martin is the legacy of now. His lasting gift has no time or era; it continues, and will continue, as long as people can make the music wink.

Bob Ezrin, legendary producer of Alice Cooper, KISS, Lou Reed, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Taylor Swift, Rod Stewart, Deep Purple and much more is a direct descendent of Martin’s elaborate studio creativity. Classically trained, as was Martin, Ezrin’s “thematic” and aural storytelling continues to expand the scope of rock music’s oeuvre.

“He is the father of the entire modern recorded music industry. It is his genius and imagination that changed the recording studio from a place for the rigid and faithful reproduction of live performance to an instrument of sublime creativity and endless possibility. He saw in recording the ability to tell stories and create worlds through music and sound using techniques created for radio drama – many by him personally. He extended the “stage” of recorded music past the four walls of the studio out into a whole new universe of sonic imagery. Though it all seems almost commonplace now, this was truly revolutionary stuff in his time. And all of us who tell stories in sound and music owe our craft mostly to him and the Beatles.

At the same time, he was the archetypal refined English Gentleman; a soft and well spoken, brilliant man of profound principle and respect for the world in which he lived. He was warm, humble, impish and imposing all at the same time. And he was, above all, ethical and totally genuine in his dealings with others. He earned his title in every way and I’m sure many called him “sir” even before he was knighted.

I have a funny George Martin story. So many of us do. But right now, as I head to the studio in the same way I have for decades, I can only think of him and his wonderful story, and of my profound gratitude for his historical life and work – and for the wonderful life and career that he (and the late, great Jack Richardson) made possible for me.

And the answer to your question about the making of KISS’s Destroyer without Martin’s influence: Absolutely not. We used the studio as an instrument during the making of Destroyer, trying hard to create a ‘cinematic’ experience for each song. No one even knew that was possible before we heard Beatles records.”

Jay Messina, legendary engineer/producer of Aerosmith, Patti Smith, Miles Davis, Peter Frampton, Krishna Das, Supertramp, Cheap Trick, Ravi Shankar, and more not only worked with ex-Beatles, but many of the artists directly impacted by Martin’s talents. Messina has and still works today with the bedrock laid down by the innovations of the Abby Road edict.

“I can only recall one time I had the honor to meet and work with him. It was to record Aerosmith, doing “Come Together” for the Sgt. Pepper’s movie. The thing that impressed me the most about him, besides his calm and peaceful aura, was that he really didn’t give Jack Douglas (producer/engineer of John Lennon, Aerosmith, New York Dolls, The Who, and more) or myself any particular direction other than to do what we usually do. I was impressed with the confidence he displayed, in himself, by just being able to sit back and observe the session as it unfolded. I miss him.”

Robert “Corky” Stasiak, legendary engineer/producer of Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon, The Raspberries, Jim Croce, KISS, The Clash, Alice Cooper, Lou Reed, and more came as close as anyone to a Lennon/McCartney reunion before it was curtailed by happenstance that led to Elton John recording the #1 hit, “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” for Lennon’s 1974 album, Walls and Bridges. Stasiak’s love and honor as the consummate sound engineer put to the test much of Martin’s best-loved techniques during the classic era of rock.

“My thoughts and prayers go out to George and his family. I am gutted by the news of his passing. We did three albums together (Neil Sedaka, Jimmy Webb) and I was lucky to have worked at his studio in Montserrat (Air). He was a great inspiration to me, and the music universe. It’s hard to imagine a world without this Gentleman, musical Genius among us any longer. Anyone who has ever met him knows exactly what I mean. Our loss is Heavens gain. Rest in peace, Sir George.”

“He is the father of the entire modern recorded music industry.”

David Thoener, multiple Grammy winner and legendary producer/engineer of Carlos Santana, John Mellencamp, Heart, Meatloaf, Bon Jovi, AC/DC, Willie Nelson, J. Geils Band, and more works the world over continuing to spread the international musical flavor of Martin’s work with the Beatles that introduced several and varied styles to the world.

“2016 has brought us the unfortunate passing of such amazing music talent. As a Baby Boomer I guess we can expect more reading that our heroes have died, but the passing of George Martin was a tremendous loss for all of us in the music industry. His contributions have touched millions and many who don’t even know how they were indirectly affected by his genius. My direction in life changed the day I heard The Beatles “Love Me Do”. It sounded like nothing I had heard before. I was instantly not only a fan of the Beatles but was curious how they created such an amazing sound. I was 12.

Moving forward to “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” was transforming. At 15, I had decided my future; I was going to become a recording engineer and all, because George Martin changed my life forever. I had the opportunity to work with John Lennon in 1974, a memory I will never forget. 42 years later I am still making records, over 400 at this point. I have had a very satisfying journey through life and I owe it all to George Martin.
RIP, Mr. Martin.”

Rod O’Brien, engineer for Grand Funk Railroad, Edgar Winter, Blood Sweat & Tears, Talking Heads, Cindy Lauper, Patti Smith, Ozzy Osbourne has plied his trade in studios everywhere with every style of music, all of which has some connection to George Martin’s incredible body of work.

“I never met the man but like everyone in music I felt his influence and have the highest regard for all his work.”

Dan Bern, singer/songwriter/artist/author (albums include New American Language, Fleeting Days, Drifter, Breathe, among others, and books, World Cup, Quitting Science, 10,000 Crappy Songs) was and still is an avid Beatles freak. He speaks and writes adoringly about his time as a youth being awakened to the beauty and majesty of song through the recorded tapestry commandeered by George Martin. Dan’s hilarious tribute, “The Fifth Beatle” is one of his most beloved songs.

“George Martin did a great job producing Peter Sellers. And some other guys too. It’s hard to imagine The Beatles without George Martin. The Dave Clark 5 comes to mind. OK, that’s not fair. But the Beatles and George Martin went together like Muhammad Ali and Angelo Dundee, the Michael Jordan Bulls and Phil Jackson, Thomas Wolfe and Maxwell Perkins. OK, you get the idea. Three Beatles are gone and two are left. RIP, tall stodgy English man who talked like a schoolteacher and rocked like Amadeus.”

Eric Hutchinson, singer/songwriter/deejay (albums include Sounds Like This, Moving Up Living Down, Pure Fiction, Eric Hutchinson is Pretty Good, among others) is a songsmith and music nerd above all else. In the dozens of lunches and interviews we have had over the years not one failed to include some mention, deconstruction and celebration of Beatles music. We are still trying to formulate an increasingly difficult “Worst Beatles Songs Ever” list. How can we do it?

“Calling George Martin the 5th Beatle always felt a little too easy for me. To me, he was the father figure, the moral compass and the sophisticated class that made The Beatles come to life. Without a doubt his musical vernacular and knowledge enabled the group to grow and grow so quickly. Growing up, George Martin’s name was spoken in my house with the same reference as the president’s. He was that important.”

Nick Howard, singer/songwriter (albums include Something to Talk About, When the Lights Go Up, Stay Who You Are) and proud New Yorker by way of Britain, has carried on the Beatles tradition of pop sensibilities and a unifying message playfulness sometimes lost in today’s music environment.

“George Martin probably had a greater impact on popular music than any producer in history. Less we forget too that he SIGNED the Beatles when everyone else turned them down (something I remind myself of daily in my own quest for success)! In an age when bands and artists were signed on talent and not Instagram followers, he signed the best one of them all and allowed them to grow as men and musicians (to great effect!). To me he is a Beatle, and therefore has helped shaped my life in ways unimaginable.”

Eddie Trunk, radio and television personality, Megaforce Records executive, and author; (Trunk Nation, Sirius XM, That Metal Show, VH1 Classic – Books: Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Volumes I and II) has seen the music business from every angle and as a learned and well-traveled music historian, his voice heralds the many ages of rock music which begins in earnest with the dedication to growth exhibited by George Martin throughout his decades-long career.

“As someone who works in the world of hard rock the influence of George Martin may seem like a stretch. But consider this; almost every single rock and metal artist I’ve ever interviewed sites The Beatles as their primary influence and clearly George Martin had a huge role in that. Let’s also not forget he also produced some great albums for bands like UFO, Cheap Trick and others. The man was simply a giant in the landscape of music in so many ways.”

Scott Shannon, legendary record promoter and radio personality and member of the National Radio Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, watched the world turn upside down by the Beatles phenomenon and then turned its machinations into gold records for dozens of artists, not the least of which earning one of his own from Ringo Starr by breaking his 1974 hit, “No, No Song”.

“I really don’t have much to say that hasn’t been said by more important people than me. He was a genius and a gentleman.”

Ken Eustace, songwriter/producer; whose work with me as a recording artist lo those many years ago, had us scrambling to steal all of George Martin’s tricks with then modern equipment that dwarfed what the Beatles created masterpieces on. Hey, we tried.

“He was the context that gave meaning to Lennon/McCartney’s content.”

Read More

CIVIL WAR!

Aquarian Weekly
3/9/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

CIVIL WAR!
The Republican Party Vs Citizen Trump

For the first time since 1964, the Republican Party is engaged in an open and hostile coup de tat against its overwhelming frontrunner for the nomination. This space has it solid from deep insiders within the national party that the “motherload” is coming down on Citizen Donald Trump, who currently leads the field in delegates (represented by the affluent to the working class) and states won (from New England to the Bible Belt) with what these sources are calling a “carpet bombing” of television ads and a legal plan to wrest the nomination from him come July at its national convention.

dt_0309

The key word here that follows this is “if” – which entails Trump not reaching the requisite 1,237 delegates needed for a majority, and not a plurality of the vote, something most assuredly to happen now with three other candidates splitting the remaining tallies. If Trump fails to reach this crucial plateau, the increasingly apoplectic party leaders and establishment clan will pounce. These same sources describe a “brokered” convention as a very probable “shit show” that would see Trump march his 35 percent support out of the building and with them any chance of defeating a strengthened Hillary Clinton in the general election.

Yet, despite repeated calls, follow-ups and a lengthy discussion with several prominent voices in the GOP over the last couple of days that resulted in statements like “Trump is using the Republican Party as a tool he will later abandon to create a lane to the presidency”, I could not pin them down to a specific number: What if Trump gets to 800 or 900 and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, now in second in the delegate count, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a distant third, are a few hundred behind? No one would commit. However, the general consensus is without equivocation, if Trump is not at least at 1,000 pledged delegates by July 18, all bets are off.

And most of this is not back-room, off-the-record chatter; sitting senators, congressmen and governors have already gone on record throwing out all modes of legal shenanigans that could use party rules to simply deny a vast majority of millions of Republican voters their preferred candidate – on national television, cable news networks, and all over the Internet.

As stated in this space for months now, the neo-cons, buried by Trump along with the Bush Myth in South Carolina, the phony evangelical nationalists, buried by Trump on the Super Tuesday SEC Primaries, the international free trade elites, and Wall Street barons are in full panic mode – and although it is at the very edge of “too late”, are fully committed (monetarily or otherwise) to bring down the human hand grenade that is Donald Trump.

In a move that resembles the Mullahs of Iran defiantly robbing the voice of the people from a purported democratic system, the Republican Party, the very institution that forced Trump to sign a pledge of allegiance to not run against it as an independent in the general election, is floating rumors of running some bastardized Constitutional Party if he is close to the nomination. Crazies on the radio are calling for an illegal two-man anti-Trump combined ticket with Rubio/Cruz, which was dismissed as simple fantasy by my sources who cite that delegate must be appropriated by individual candidates, not magically shared in some half-baked cabal. The other more outlandish “plan” dismissed as “lunacy” involves the RNC systematically fusing its remaining Trump alternatives as a “three-headed majority” to claim their combined delegates that would add up to…whatever, my brain hurts.

if Trump is not at least at 1,000 pledged delegates by July 18, all bets are off.

Beating Trump with viable candidates and strong, defendable ideologies in an open primary season has thus far turned out to be a monumental bust. In fact, Trump is rocking it everywhere in every part of the country with every type of voter; while the party that for the past six years has welcomed a rousing anti-government fervor and piggybacked an alarmingly ill-suited mob of TEA Party non-politicians to gain control of both houses of congress, now works like mad to save its brand from Donald Trump. The party clearly absorbed what was a wholly grassroots movement into a political tool and then ignored it, creating Trump as its vengeance. Illustrating how out of touch with its electorate the party is they ironically now prop up two of its most opportunistic and fabricated TEA Party interlopers, Cruz and Rubio, as alternatives to the very system they exploited.

Whoops.

Thus, the sudden and pathetic re-entrance of two time presidential loser, Willard Mitt Romney, who began to frame the establishment narrative last week by announcing with no evidence at all that Trump had a “bomb shell” in his tax returns, something the flaccid campaigns of Cruz and Rubio vainly tried to use as a cudgel. This time, however, the once and rejected Massachusetts governor, with all the credibility of a man recently fleeced at a black jack table giving you tips on when to take a hit, stood on a stage in his home state of Utah and called his party’s nearly presumptive nominee a “fraud”, “bully”, and deemed him “disqualified”.

The man who blew an election that before he announced a doomed candidacy in 2012 had any Republican with a pulse with a seven to ten point advantage over a vulnerable incumbent by stating that 47 percent of the American electorate was filled with freeloaders is now calling people voting for Trump during record-turn-out primaries as “played for suckers”. The man who four years ago had to be dragged kicking and screaming to release his tainted tax returns now demands Trump release his. And in a spectacular example of utter lack of self-awareness, (the perfect foil for the party elites) Romney labeled Trump a flip-flopper; a term invented to describe his neck-wrenching shifts in policy over a very spotty political career.

There is only one cure to stop the GOP machine from taking to the convention in July and pulling a Democratic re-dux of the 1952 presidential nomination of Adlai Stevenson, who competed in zero primaries and yet received his party’s nomination to eventually be trounced by Dwight D. Eisenhower; Trump has to get to at least 1,000 delegates.

Or bring on the “shit show”!

Read More

MUSIC FROM THE ELDER: Explaining the KISS Album Everyone Hates

ROCK Magazine
2/18/16
James Campion

MUSIC FROM THE ELDER: Explaining the KISS Album Everyone Hates

KISS hates it. The fans hate it. The band’s late manager and its label hated it. Everyone hates Music from The Elder.

CbdL6kuW8AAJiVn

Time, almost 34 years now, has healed some of the wounds. You can find a loyal geeky contingent online and in the darker regions of KISS-dom that sing its praises. It even received nostalgic cheers from fans a decade after its release when the band would deign to play a song or two from it at KISS Conventions. There is even a British film-maker who is attempting to decipher its concept for a movie and an upcoming book from Tim McPhate and KISS historian non-parallel, Julian Gill called Odyssey, which will dissect every corner of it. But the general consensus is that KISS’s 1981 concept album was a monumental disaster and by far the band’s worst.

Guitarist and founder, Paul Stanley has called it “the biggest misstep of our careers” while his partner Gene Simmons described it as “pompous.” Former founding member, Ace Frehley, who thought it “offensive”, once threw a tape of it out of the window of his car while speeding down the Major Deegan Expressway. “It’s an abomination,” says its producer and mastermind, Bob Ezrin.

So why did KISS conceive, record, and release an album that was originally part of a trilogy, conjure a major theatrical tour, and consider an accompanying feature film for a project almost no one had much faith in and almost immediately disowned as if the entire episode was some kind of sophistic mirage?

Many a rock act has suffered the “whoops” moment, starting with a bevy of crappy Elvis movies to the mighty Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour television show fiasco to U2’s almost inconceivable Pop Mart Tour and, of course, Madonna’s Sex book, Garth Brooks becoming someone else, and a Bob Dylan Christmas album. But none could seriously compare with the story of Music from The Elder, which confuses the hell out of just about anyone coming in contact with it to this day.

This is an attempt – try and stick with me here – to explain it, not excuse or defend it, necessarily, just explain it. And for that we must go back to the final dark days of KISSmania, when the walls were closing in on our heroes…

THE END IS NIGH?KISS79b

It is March of 1981 and KISS is fading. Fast. The theatrical, image-driven, merchandising colossal band that once ruled the better part of the 1970s has endured faltering record sales, dwindling concert attendance, especially in the U.S., and depending on which party is consulted, the expulsion or defection of a founding member, drummer Peter Criss. The band’s original label, Casablanca Records, which had bet broadly and benefitted spectacularly on KISS’s success, came apart at the seams with the death of disco, a fad that it had wagered its considerable funds would last. It would be absorbed by Polygram Records, which boots its founder, Neil Bogart and negotiates a lavish contract with the band that it would hardly recoup in record sales. Aucoin Management, led by innovative marketing genius, Bill Aucoin, who guided KISS into the rock stratosphere, was also in dire straits. He had failed at every turn to duplicate his band’s once-in-a-lifetime meteoric rise with another act – he famously passed up one of the biggest bands on the planet, Van Halen for something called Piper in 1977.

Fading…

All around pop culture, signs of shifting fortunes are closing in. For perhaps the first time since the late 1960s’ hard rock is disappearing from the charts. The concussive rise of Punk, and its kinder and gentler cousin, New Wave in the late ‘70s has reset the agenda, torching the recent past. The latter is still going strong with hit albums by the Cars, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, the Pretenders, all competing mightily with the English New Romantic sound as it sweeps across America in the form of Duran Duran, Adam and the Ants, and Spandau Ballet. With the advent of MTV the following summer these acts and many more will usher in a new age.

Fading…

KISS is becoming a dinosaur; the make-up, costumes, theatrics, and the relentless merchandising that had attracted fans of all ages, now mostly children, has rendered the band somewhat of a joke. It didn’t help matters when in May of 1980 KISS releases Unmasked with its comic book self-mockery of the more infantile side of the band’s image on its cover – there is actually a frame of a kid announcing “I still say they stink!” – to its unbelievably soft single, “Shandi” accompanied by a video of what looks like a middling imposter of the once mighty KISS vamping poorly through a foggy lens.

Fading…

KISS is lost. Its image has taken all the hits it could withstand. Its music was never particularly experimental or groundbreaking, but is now failing to at least be fun. And when a band makes no bones from its outset that its only aim is fame and riches and suddenly both are rapidly going down the tubes, then what?

KISS is unsure of what that answer could be, but the band, its management and its label know one thing; this has happened before. Sort of. And when it did, in that fateful spring of 1975 with the band at a creative, financial and career-defining crossroad, KISS turned to Robert Alan Ezrin to pull them from the abyss.

THE MASTER IS IN17_Kiss176_2-32a_1976_Gruen

Long before selling out stadiums, seducing millions of dollars from merchandising, earning several platinum albums, and even starring in a hit television show and a popular Marvel comic book, KISS was a struggling rock oddity looking for footing in a rock world that had mostly ignored it. Paul Stanley (Star Child), Gene Simmons (Demon), Ace Frehley (Spaceman) and Peter Criss (Cat Man) had recorded three less than stellar efforts (KISS, Hotter Than Hell, Dressed To Kill) with little to no recognition or sales. The label and management were at odds on royalty payments and touring costs, and beneath a torrent of lawsuits the desperate result was to record a live album to salvage what was left of the record contract and regroup.

That regrouping included the recruiting of Bob Ezrin, who was riding high as the 26 years-old wunderkind who “created” the Alice Cooper group’s signature cinematic sound; producing, co-writing and conceiving the themes for each outlandish Cooper show and managing to also top the charts slowly but surely with Love It To Death, Killer, School’s Out and Billion Dollar Babies, the final one cresting at #1 in the U.S and U.K. Soon Alice would go solo and Ezrin would work his magic to unleash the innovative album, film, and tour, Welcome to My Nightmare.

Always one to grab onto talent with a definably odd charm, Ezrin was intrigued by KISS as early as 1974, something he shared with David McGee of Rolling Stone in 1976; “I could hear a rumble from the street, and I’ve always had a very good sense of that. I knew KISS was having a profound effect on people already and they weren’t even home yet. No airplay. No singles. No real big headlining tours.”

Ezrin met with the band in the spring of 1975 and broke down its issues; “I told them, ‘You’re super heroes of rock with a singular power and that’s it. There’s no depth to you!’ I just wanted there to be layers. I didn’t want to peel off the make-up and costume and find that there was nothing there.”

With the band yearning for direction and a legitimate producer, Paul, Gene, Ace and Peter willingly sublimated themselves to the will of Master Ezrin, who pushed them through a “boot camp” for weeks of music theory, song structure, signature composing, and relentless rehearsing. “We absolutely pulled out a blackboard and started introducing them to the very basics of music theory, just enough so we were speaking the same language,” recalls Ezrin.

Stanley concurs in his 2014 memoir, Face The Music, “For a bunch of guys who thought they were hot shit, it was initially jarring to go into a studio with somebody who treated us like children.”

Heading to New York City’s famed Record Plant, then the state of the art recording facility on the planet, the band spent a month cutting what would become its sonic manifesto, Destroyer, with its booming drum sounds, wall of guitars, backwards tracks, choirs, orchestra, calliope, and a one-minute and twenty-eight second radio-drama opening. It spawned one of the first ever power-ballads with the band’s biggest hit “Beth” and, with the ensuing unexpected popularity of Alive! that autumn, would catapult KISS into a world-wide phenomenon; crossing cultural and economic barriers rarely traversed by mere rock bands.

I spent hours speaking with the now legendary Bob Ezrin for my new book, Shout It Out Loud – The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, and throughout our many discussions, we always returned to how much Bob had “altered” KISS’s “sound” with Destroyer. However, Bob would have none of it: “KISS have proven that there’s no such thing as a KISS sound. They’re an incredibly versatile group with a KISS attitude and a KISS style of lyric writing since the band is comprised of characters.

Ezrin never accepted KISS as being a two-dimensional act, appealing only to those “15 year-old pimply boys”, as he described them. With Destroyer, Ezrin added a pathos to the KISS ethos, and a third dimension of vulnerability, teen angst and critical character development that assisted in taking the band into new audience territories, expanding the act into something transcending rock into pop culture and transforming them into icons. This was the mission of KISS from the band’s origins, but it took a few months with Bob Ezrin to realize it five years earlier, and there appeared no better time than to hand themselves over to him once more.

Turns out when Ezrin is chosen to lead the new project, he has not seen anyone inside the KISS camp since the release of Destroyer, when Bill Aucoin, taking a lead from his panicked charges that the album was too much a departure and began hearing from the press and fans that the “experiment” had eradicated the band’s hard rock credibility, sent the young producer a letter officially stating that he had missed the mark in getting the elusive “KISS sound”. Ezrin was shocked, dismayed and pissed off, telling his protégé, Jack Douglas, whom the band had already contacted to perhaps remix Destroyer and quickly record a back-up without him, to tell everyone associated with KISS to “…go fuck themselves!”

KISS indeed would follow up Destroyer by going in the completely opposite direction and rode the crest of Destroyer’s massive success with Rock and Roll Over, Love Gun, Alive II, Double Platinum, and Dynasty without him. And even though none of them hinted at the amazing aural imagery of Destroyer or the musical vastness provided by a classical trained and professionally astute artist like Bob Ezrin, there looked to be no end to this gravy train, until, of course, there was.

The way the KISS inner sanctum figure it now there are two ways the band could go at this crucial juncture; the same old route back to the cock rock, floor-on-the-floor assault of the early days, which is quite obviously out-of-touch with a ravaged rock landscape, or completely torch the thing and pass the smoldering ruins over to Ezrin for another “experiment” that could provide the band an end-around to all of its troubles.

Music from The Elder is the result.

Released in early November of 1981, the new KISS album was not only a complete departure from whatever the band had attempted before, including Destroyer, it appeared to many in the business, and more pressingly fans, despite the recognizable KISS logo, to not even be a KISS album. There were no photos of their famous painted faces on the cover, only a single hand reaching for an ancient knocker on a giant door. The gatefold image opened to a medieval setting of candles and a long wooden table. The music was also a curious mélange that separated the band from its glorious past; Paul Stanley singing falsetto, Gene Simmons crooning, an orchestra, wonderfully overwrought as a backdrop on Destroyer, now dominated the sound. Even the album’s title whispered bewilderment; if this is music from…, then what exactly is The Elder?

LET’S GET SERIOUS568A7D0F-kiss-new-odyssey-book-to-offer-definitive-examination-of-1981s-music-from-the-elder-album-video-trailer-image

Gene Simmons, a huge fan of comic books, horror films and sci-fi, had whipped off a short story/screenplay for a concept he developed around a single line scribbled in his notebook; “When the earth was young, they were already old.” It was to be a classic tale of good versus evil told over several worlds, not unlike the wildly popular Star Wars, which had just released a box office record-smashing sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. There is a council of elders called the Order of the Rose in search of a “chosen one”, ala Luke Skywalker and the Jedi Knights, trained by a mentor, Morpheus, ala Obi Wan Kenobi, to fight the evil villain, Mr. Blackwell ala Darth Vader, evoking a medieval to futuristic mash up of myth and mystery. It was anything but fleshed out, but evokes something in the cinematically motivated Ezrin, who puts the kibosh on a series of demos KISS had recently been working on to return the band to its harder edge.

In fact, earlier in the year the KISS newsletter had informed the disillusioned fan base that the band’s new material was “hard and heavy from start to finish” with “straight ahead rock and roll that will knock your socks off.” And so they were. Demos from the period with new drummer, Eric Carr, with his massive double-bass kit and tank-division style, had begun to breathe life back into the band. Although pictured on the cover of Unmasked, original drummer, Peter Criss had not played a single lick, as he had only played on one song, his own, “Dirty Livin’” on Dynasty. Session drummers filled in, as did players for Simmons on bass and Frehley on guitar for a few songs on Unmasked, which helps to explain the record’s poor attempt at flimsy pop and New Wave rip-offs. The new KISS demos sounded more like KISS, because members of the band were actually performing them.

But manager Bill Aucoin believed strongly that doing the same old thing was no tonic to the band’s decreasing popularity and had other ideas. He told KISS biographers, David Leaf and Ken Sharp in 1996, “I had a meeting with Bob (Ezrin) and said, ‘How about some sort of album that can tell a story?’ Bob’s very bright and we got into this mythological thing and it got way out of line.”

This one statement subtly encapsulates the aura surrounding KISS that Aucoin himself had built from day-one; against all odds and against all reason, this is the biggest band in the world and it will do whatever it wants without consequence. As much as Ezrin was a strong and lasting musical influence on KISS, Aucoin was its father figure. It was he who had developed a grab-bag glam rock outfit into a roaring image and stage machine. His word was sacrosanct in the KISS inner sanctum.

This singular notion of invincibility manifested in several ways, not the least of which was the notoriously wild spending on shows and costumes, and with greater fame and fortune it expanded to cars, houses, drugs, women, and the usual rock excesses; by 1980 they were all far from dealing in anything close to reality. “We were delusional,” Paul Stanley recalls. “We were at a point, individually and as a band when we were becoming complacent and very comfortable in our success. I think we got caught up in the Emperor’s new clothes.” Gene Simmons, a man armed with a monstrous ego even when he was a pauper, had gone completely Hollywood, dating Diana Ross (after a stint with Cher on his arm), and flirting with the movie business. “I blame me,” said Simmons in the same account. “I really believed in the vision. ‘Yeah, I am great!’ I take full responsibility for pushing it (The Elder). I wanted credibility, which is really stupid if you think about it. If you’ve got everything else, who cares?” Ace Frehely, a party animal from the day he joined the band in ’73, was now a full blown addict; coke, pills, and a spectacular run of uninterrupted alcohol abuse. His only ally in the band, Peter Criss, was gone, so he was outvoted routinely by Stanley and Simmons, and although he loved Eric Carr as a drummer, he knew he was merely nothing more than a hired musician and could offer no real fulcrum against the tide of the band he now decided was losing its edge.

Bob Ezrin, as is his wont, ignores the wining and over analysis and enthusiastically runs with the idea of a KISS concept album filled with fantasy. He is coming off the massive critical and commercial success of Pink Floyd’s conceptual opus, The Wall, in which he went deep into the terrifying psyche of its composer, Roger Waters; coming to grips with his past, his disassociation with stardom, and his constant battles within his band. Throughout the sessions that trudged on for months, Pink Floyd was splintering – original keyboardist Richard Wright was summarily sacked by Waters during its recording – and it is something of a miracle that such a seminal piece of rock art could emerge from this swirling turmoil. Ezrin takes charge of KISS in the same manner and forges ahead undaunted.

And so KISS, now summoned to Ezrin’s home country of Canada, abandons all of its earlier “returning to hard rock” ideas and in May of 1981 begin to embrace Simmons’s fantastical story of youth overcoming the evils of the universe one song at a time.

Well, at least half of KISS embraces it.

Ace Frehley is certain that this is not the band he signed up for and quickly rekindles his well-practiced “I’m out of here!” routine he had begun as early as 1976. As with the Destroyer sessions when he was replaced on several tunes by brilliant studio guitarist, Dick Wagner, Frehley rarely shows up. As Ezrin works out songs with Stanley in his home studio and fleshes out snippets of song ideas with Simmons, Frehley decides that he would hole up in his Connecticut home in his newly erected basement studio, Ace in the Hole, to work on his tracks separately.

For his part, Eric Carr is merely a bystander. Barely in the band a year, Carr started out powering the KISS sound back to its ‘70s rock roots, but with the fits and starts of trying to transition into the 1980s’ with struggles to keep up appearances as one of the top bands in the world, he is cast adrift in the “new concept project’ shuffle and is ordered to play in styles that he has hardly considered, much less conquered. Ezrin, who had driven former drummer, Peter Criss to near madness meticulously pushing him to play exact parts to click tracks during the making of Destroyer quickly tires of Carr’s inability to master the new material and eventually replaces him with studio drummer, Alan Schwartzberg.

Still Stanley, Simmons and Ezrin press on with vigor. It’s this triumvirate that poured their hearts and souls into Destroyer five years earlier when Frehley and Criss wilted under the pressure. Ezrin believes this was something of a cultural, almost familial connection he parlayed into this new challenge.

“You cannot diminish the kind of kindred sense of connection between Paul, Gene, had myself” Ezrin told me in 2013. “The three of us growing up in Jewish households with that same sort of Eastern European ethic of trying to push the kid to be great and putting an emphasis on education and the arts; having to take piano lessons, learn to dance, doing all this stuff we had to do as kids, we had kind of a common ground. So when we all got together we felt like long-lost cousins in a way.”

The “cousins” start the painstaking process of creating The Elder story by taking segments of songs already fleshed out, along with newly penned pieces, and attaching them to Simmons’s vague plotline. These include an old pre-KISS Gene Simmons tune from a 1970 demo tape called “Eskimo Sun”, reworked as “Only You”, a character back-story for the theme’s protagonist. A new Stanley/Ezrin composition, “Just A Boy” describes the young man’s reticence to take up the mantle of champion. Stanley’s “Every Little Bit of Your Heart” or in some bootleg circles titled “I Want You Only” slowly becomes, with embellishments from Simmons and Ezrin, the central ballad of the piece, “A World Without Heroes”, which provides the youthful hero to imagine an apathetic future with nothing to fight for and no one in which to fight.

Years later, Ezrin told reporter Chris Alexander; “At the time we were all looking for bigger and better things… we thought it would be the beginning of many projects to come out under the name Elder. Paul and Gene were very into it, and put everything in it. They both had to step out of their personas, and was really daring for them to do that. They were attracted to the classic rock, almost Beatle-esque style of the album – they were seduced by that.”

And as he did with Destroyer in January of 1976, Ezrin once again brings in outside material and writers. A key song to the plot ends up being a souring ballad called “Odyssey” written by a music-business veteran of nearly thirty years, Tony Powers. The New York based singer-songwriter-actor had pioneered the short-form video storyline later used by Michael Jackson to great effect during the height of music videos with a 1981 trilogy that included the song. It caught the eye and ear of Paul Stanley, who cornered Powers in an Upper West Side café in NYC and asked him if KISS could use it as a key theme for the piece. Another veteran of the New York music scene, Lou Reed, with whom Ezrin had worked in 1973, producing his dark concept album, Berlin, is brought in to add lyrical and theatrical flourishes (it is Reed who scribbles the title “World Without Heroes” on a pad in the studio, which prompts Simmons to move the song in that direction). These include the villain theme, “Mr. Blackwell” in which Reed wields his now famous use of tense-shifting/first-person to third-person storytelling to unveil a truly demonic presence.

However much fleshing-out the story of The Elder would thematically and musically take KISS outside its bubble, there is something strange happening that had not occurred since the Destroyer sessions of late 1975, early ’76; the members of KISS are indeed writing together. There would even be time for Eric Carr to contribute, as he did with a riff for the rocking “Under The Rose”, which introduces the listeners to the world of council and “Escape From The Island”, a thunderous instrumental conceived from a Carr/Frehley jam with Ezrin on bass, marking the first time since “Beth” that neither Stanley nor Simmons appear on a KISS track. And for the first time since Destroyer’s Stax-laden “Shout It Out Loud”, an attempt to recapture the verse-trading that worked to perfection on the band’s signature tune, “Rock and Roll All Nite”, Simmons and Stanley contributed the penultimate track of the album with “I”.

LET’S GET PRETENTIOUSelder-outtake

All of this “creative output” took an insane amount of time to get down; seven months all-told, of which most of it was to everyone’s memory spent jacking around and messing with sound effects and over-orchestrating in four different studios (Ace in The Whole, A & R, Record Plant, Ezrin Farm Studio & Sounds Interchange) in four cities and two countries, with a co-producer (Brian Christiansen) and seven documented engineers. Ezrin, the master of ceremonies, now comes clean about his serious drug problem throughout, which prevented him ceasing the over-indulgence, which pleased Simmons, since this was his story they were telling. He had designs on a feature film and a sequel to accompany the massively planned tour and all of it stemming from this simple tried-and-true idea of the power of good triumphing over evil; Biblical, Grecian, Shakespearean. But it is ultimately the power of these two men’s intimidating egos that looms large over the proceedings and lends another air of fantasy to what is being created; in their rather skewed estimation, a masterpiece.

“They wanted to make a record to combat the criticism of the last couple of records,” Ezrin recalled. “I had just done The Wall, so The Elder was a victim of The Wall and our mutual desire was to do something ‘different’.” The key ingredient to connecting the storytelling in The Wall and The Elder was a series of sessions adding extended narration to the music, furthering the album’s cinematic grandeur. “The idea of the narration was supposed to bridge some of the songs together, with some orchestral and choir underscoring,” recalled engineer Kevin Doyle to KISS FAQ’s Tim McPhate. “In keeping with the idea of The Elder as a goal of being a seamless concept idea, almost kind of like Dark Side of the Moon where side A is not really a bunch of songs, it’s one continuous play with no ending.” Canadian-based actors Robert Christie, Chris Makepeace and Antony Parr, (Makepeace and Parr having made it on the album as the final voices of the Council Elder and Morpheus) are brought in, as well as the services of the American Symphony Orchestra and the St. Roberts Choir. “It was antithetical to what KISS was about,” Ezrin continues. “KISS was never pretentious or precious, and never took themselves seriously. They were always about fun, sex and power, and always were, in effect, horror cartoon characters, so to suddenly make a concept album, which had something of ‘consequence’, was an idea anti-KISS. It was a flawed concept from the beginning.”

“You should never go for respect,” Simmons told his biographers in retrospect. “On the day that critics and your mom like the same music that you do, it’s over.”

Although not a motivating factor at its origins, perhaps beyond the illusions of manager, Bill Aucoin, who is also battling his own mounting drug issues, building the mystique that Music From The Elder is a conceptual masterpiece seems to grow with the months sunken deep in the project. The band, specifically Simmons and Stanley, fueled by Ezrin’s Herculean creativity, believe that if they had lost credibility by selling out to merchandizing and appealing to children with the KISS Meets The Phantom TV movie produced by children’s cartoon mavens, Hanna-Barbara and being turned into superheroes by Marvel Comics, then it is time to seduce the critics, who had not only ignored KISS for most of its existence, but had been openly hostile.

Thus, the first ten minutes of the original track listing of Music from The Elder is filled with Broadway-style, sing-song tomfoolery and an opening instrumental, “Fanfare”, written and arranged by Ezrin and Stanley and played with medieval-period instruments, followed by the flowery falsetto of “Just a Boy” (originally adorned with Bach-style “Toccata & Fuge” organ), and the epic piano-drenched Powers’ ballad, “Odyssey”. This ethereal beginning gives way to Simmons’s psychedelic phrasing of “Only You”, the lyrical changes from the 1970 demo of “Eskimo Sun” hardly echoing hard rock or KISS, nor does “Under The Rose”, replete with Genesis-esque keyboards and a chorus of monk chants. Not until Frehley’s only full contribution at the end of side one, “Dark Light” does this represent anything close to a KISS album.

Upon hearing the mixes, which also take an extended time to complete, Polygram freaks; completely dismissing it as trippy claptrap and begins hacking up the track list with no attention paid to the oddly formed storyline, slapping “The Oath” the heaviest number by far, but the eighth in the plotline, at the beginning of the record, followed quizzically by “Fanfare”, clearly an overture, then “Just a Boy” with “Dark Light” shoved in to keep up hard-rock appearances.

None of this deters the KISS camp from bringing to Polygram the curious but intriguing gatefold cover designed by their trusty Art/Creative Director Dennis Woloch, who had put together every KISS album after and including the breakthrough, Alive!. “The whole visual concept came out of my head,” Woloch says today. “I didn’t even listen to the album to tell you the truth. I don’t know what they were singing about.”

Woloch commissions New York photographer, David Spindel to photograph a pre-teen boy reaching for the ancient knocker in the middle of a prop-door he builds, but the band rejects it. Strangely, they believe this is too eclectic and confusing. Paul Stanley volunteers his hand for a reshoot. “I hated the whole idea,” concludes Woloch. “Not a concept album, per se, this concept; it just seemed so cliché and over done; wizards and ‘seeking the truth’. But they’re still doin’ it; The Hobbit and Star Wars, all that stuff.”

To complete the transformation, all the members of KISS shear their hair and reveal new, streamlined consumes with 80s pastel colors, then appear on the ABC Saturday Night Live rip-off, Fridays to perform “World Without Heroes”, “The Oath” and “I”, but with the album getting lambasted by confused and outraged fans, summarily bag the entire thing and return to rock form the following year with Creatures of the Night. Just like that, the entire enterprise, months of work and planning, disappears without a trace. It is almost as if The Elder or for that matter, the Music from…never existed. No tour. No film. No sequel. Nothing.

A side note of some irony is that Rolling Stone magazine, which had mocked KISS for a decade, gives Music from The Elder a rousing review. Go figure.

IN RETROSPECT…download

It was the KISS album that should not have happened, well…

Looking back, Gene Simmons has said more than once that Music from The Elder is a good album, just not a good KISS album. And maybe he has a point there. Maybe after years of being KISS, the band needed to be something else – hell, the Beatles did it with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Perhaps KISS just needed to blow off steam and dive completely into the self-indulgent deep end and swim in the conceptual waters with Bob Ezrin in order to reach the other side with a renewed spirit.

“Without all the ups and downs and following trends and taking chances, KISS would not have as interesting a career,” Michigan DJ, Steve Ponchaud told me recently. “All their albums would sound the same like AC/DC.”

Perhaps it was simply hubris that created Music from The Elder, but that would be an unfair final analysis, for wasn’t it a sense of unremitting pride that lifted KISS from queer notoriety to one of the biggest bands in the world?

“Regardless of its lack of commercial success or the artistic validation they had sought, Music from The Elder remains a critical part in the band’s recorded output and should never be shunned,” says Julian Gil. “Its failure set the stage for wholesale change and reinvention that would drive the band for the rest of the decade; and only through that abject failure could the passion continue to be discovered.”

After all, KISS survived the album everyone hates to literally reinvent itself without the iconic make-up, ingratiating its image into the 1980s hair-band craze, then later in the ‘90s when reuniting the original members and breaking concert attendance records all over the world. This “return” to the tried-and-true rock roots that bore them may have finally been the correct business, if not artistic, move, but truth be told none of it would be this interesting again.

“Believe me, I understand when it’s your career on the line and you do something very brave and very different and put your nuts on the line you hope that the world accepts and appreciates what you do,” says Bob Ezrin today about his work with KISS on both Destroyer and Music From The Elder. “But then there’s always that little voice in the back of your head that says, (sings) ‘Do you love me?’”

In the end, the album everyone hates may indeed be the last KISS album of merit.

.

Read More

MYTH BUSTER IN CHIEF

Aquarian Weekly
3/2/16

REALITY CHECK

James Campion

MYTH BUSTER IN CHIEF
Donald Trump Reshapes GOP Platform, Takes Down Bush Era Nonsense & Rolls On

Truth hurts.
– Lord Byron

Here’s all you need to know about the Trump juggernaut that dominated both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries back-to-back, not to mention a blow-out in the Nevada caucuses, which has effectively put the entire system on alert: The fantasy notion that the Bush Administration, which slept-walked through the first ten months of its time in power leading up to the most horrific attack on the U.S. mainland since 1812, was somehow magically free from responsibility, is now over. Donald Trump obliterated this nonsense once and for all by standing on a Republican debate stage with the former president’s brother three feet from him and not only blamed him for 9/11, but called George W. Bush a liar, a war monger, and even went so far as suggesting he might have better been impeached. Then, instead of being ruined, the electorate in a mostly conservative southern state with 50% military vote and a miraculous 88% approval rating for Bush, agreed in a big way.

dt_0302

Imagine, if you can, a Democratic debate in Illinois eight years from now wherein a leading candidate of the party stands next to Barack Obama’s kin and calls him a Muslim Communist, who should have been thrown in jail for repeated executive actions, and then wins overwhelmingly.

Now, once and for all, we can stop ignoring history and repeating the falderal that George Bush and Dick Cheney and the rest of that useless cabal kept anyone safe.

As far as Trump’s sound victory, it is hard to argue it is anything but historic and impressive by every conceivable measure.

A private citizen less than eight months ago has now managed to effectively burn down the entire idea, purpose and foundation of Republican politics. On the same debate stage that Trump unloaded unprecedented vitriol on the last GOP two-term president, he derided further intervention in unwinnable foreign conflicts, defended the irrationally maligned Planned Parenthood, talked up single-payer health care, heralded eminent domain, stood firm against open free trade, and attacked Wall Street so vociferously the Wall St. Journal rushed two bogus polls showing him behind nationally and only five points ahead in S.C. days before the primary, despite composite polls giving him a 12-point national bulge and a two-digit lead in the state.

If Rick Santorum turned RNC Chairman Reince Priebus into a staggering lush four years ago, these developments have sent him into the kind of spastic paroxysms of fear that no narcotic invented by man could abate.

But Priebus’s manic substance abuse in the wake of this political and ideological grenade is nothing compared to what kind of abject panic, hate and rage is exploding from all ends at the Koch Brothers headquarters. Having purchased nine out of every ten Republican candidates for the past dozen years, the billionaire duo is hemorrhaging money trying to halt this march towards a nomination that would unthinkably leave their influence out of the White House bid. The much-celebrated right-wing Citizens United ruling a few years ago that has the Bernie Sanders bunch (and quite frankly Trump) in a tizzy has thus far gone belly up.

The latest casualty in money-pissed-away-on-a whole-lotta-nothin’ is W’s brother, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, whose dead-on-arrival campaign spent $177 million to collect three delegates before ignominiously quitting in utter defeat. His little buddy, Florida Senator Marco Rubio also chucked a ton of cash away to gain, along with the millions spent by Wall St. puppet, Ted Cruz zero delegates in South Carolina. This in Cruz’s case despite its hearty chunk of glassy-eyed evangelicals who completely ignored his “blood of Jesus” rambling and ran to Trump in droves.

I want you to digest this for a moment; Rubio, Cruz and three other candidates got as many delegates as me and you in South Carolina. Congrats, you’re in the game – because both Rubio and Cruz called this spectacular ass-whup a victory. This is the kind of “everyone gets a trophy that participates” reasoning that has the Carolina Panthers as Super Bowl champs.

It also needs to be noted that the wide and highly qualified field of Republican candidates we were told were primed and ready for the White House, a daunting seven of which were sitting or former governors, are now down to a doctor, a real estate mogul, and two junior senators. Only Ohio Governor John Kasich, ironically the only traditionally electable candidate (whatever the hell that means now), stands – and he does so barely. Each one hardly got a foothold on this thing, as Trump dominated media coverage at every turn.

A private citizen less than eight months ago has now managed to effectively burn down the entire idea, purpose and foundation of Republican politics.

Pundits from all over the place are so flummoxed by all this there is now a cottage industry for coming up with magic math in which if everyone dropped out but, say, Rubio, then the field would take a candidate still only pulling in a third of the Republican electorate. This works at the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Wonderland, but where the rest of us hang out it is craziness.

If Ben Carson, who is merely selling books and getting his jollies speaking like a faith healer at a car show finally comes to what little senses he posses and drops out, where is his “we don’t want a politician” votes going; to establishment central-casting male model, Marco Rubio? I think not. So now Trump goes from 35% to around 42 to 45, which, by the way he surpassed in a rousing Nevada victory. Then, once Cruz is toast, which will not be for awhile, because his only reason for breathing is to do this; he has as much point in the senate as a Vegan at a pig roast; where does his “insurgent against the system” votes go; to centrist nice guy Kasich? I think not.

I am not ready to hand the Republican nomination over to Donald J. Trump, as I am on the Democratic side to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who pretty much ended Bernie Sanders’ 2016 bid in Nevada, but it is time to come to grips with this. If the Republican Party thinks it’s going to back-door this at the convention in Cleveland this summer and wrest the lion’s share of delegates from the Trump camp quietly and not cause a complete revolt and then exit of his supporters, subsequently handing the general election to Madam Shoo-In with less than 50% of the vote, as her husband did twice, then it is sadly mistaken.

The toothpaste is already out of the tube, jack; something I think Lord Byron would have said, and would have been right to say it.

Read More