All posts by Ken Pierce

Ken Pierce is an NYC based Music Journalist and the Editor In Chief of; He's been documenting the live Metal and Rock scene of the Big Apple since 2003 and believes that there is always something exciting happening in this Metropolis.

“Alive II” (remaster) by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “Alive II” (remaster)
Label: Mercury/Universal
Release Date: 8/12/1997
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 9/10

Recorded during the “Love Gun Tour” of 1977, the album Alive II is both a special and a powerful one from the second it begins. At the time before this album I remembered only listening to KISS a little bit yet when life was set to change that with the album hitting the record shops (yes, records were sold in shops once upon a time). I remember clearly almost blowing up the family stereo as the announcer growled “You Wanted The Best And You Got The Best”. The explosions literally shaking the house and making my Mother scream at me more than usual. As a budding musician as well I made sure to learn this album from top to bottom. While I don’t do that much anymore I am pretty sure that I can still knock out a bunch of these songs from memory. To this very day it remains one of my favorites in their catalog because it was among the first records I was allowed to buy and it had so many of the songs that were on the radio (“Dr. Love”, “Christine Sixteen” & “Detroit Rock City”). Alive II would focus on the three releases that followed the classic concert release Alive featuring material from “Destroyer”, “Love Gun” and “Rock & Roll Over”. The band was a little heavier now and walked a little taller over the competition – stepping over them in lizard faced platform boots. The stronger emphasis on their individual identities and bombastic shows made them officially referred to as Hard Rock super-heroes by this point. There was not a member of the now formed KISS Army that would argue this fact with you. KISS ruled, and that was that. While Alive is considered the original masterpiece, Alive II is a lot cleaner and tighter if you asked me. Songs like “King Of The Night Time World” and “I Want You” literally explode like the firebombs presented during the show. There is a hotter drum solo by Peter Criss and not only do we get a unique guitar solo from Frehley but we hear him sing live for the first time on record during “Shock Me”.
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“Ace Frehley Solo” (remaster) by KISS

Artist: KISS: Ace Frehley
Title: “Ace Frehley – Solo” (remaster)
Label: Mercury/Universal
Release Date: 9/16/1997
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 9/10

In 1978 KISS did the unthinkable and released solo albums for each individual member of the group. It allowed the band to showcase what drove them musically on an individual level. As soon as the opening riffs on Ace’s solo album began it was clear that this would be among the best of the individual releases. The songs all around this recording leaned to the creative aspect of the KISS guitarist very well and by kicking off with “Rip It Out” you were made to feel as though you were in a concert setting immediately. “Speedin’ Back To My Baby” and “Wiped Out” are also solid rockers and play against Ace’s established style perfectly. There were no new tricks and surprises to spring on the fans with his solo and if they expected a rocking guitar record they most certainly got one with this release. Despite the number of catchy songs the most unexpected part of Frehley’s solo would be the knock down hit he had with “New York Groove”. Instead of bandleaders Stanley and Simmons delivering such a track or even Criss (who found his “Beth” becoming one of the bands most staple tracks) we get this simple and basic blockbuster from The Space Ace.
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“Rock ‘N Roll” (remaster) by Motorhead

Artist: Motorhead
Title: “Rock ‘N Roll”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 3/28/2006
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

To celebrate the band’s 30 year career, Sanctuary Records is re-issuing expanded and remastered versions of some of their best albums. The double CD sets come with the original album in remastered form, along with a second CD that is loaded with bonus and unreleased tracks. The slip-cased package includes full-color booklets that are packed with topical information on the release as well as photos and notes from the time of the album’s release.
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“Live In Japan” by Flotsam and Jetsam

Artist: Flotsam & Jetsam
Title: “Live In Japan”
Label: Crash Music
Release Date: 2/21/2006
Genre: Thrash Metal
Rating: 6/10

Flotsam and Jetsam are considered one of the legendary Thrash bands from when the genre was building up a lot of steam in the early eighties. Despite having some kick ass music the band is most known for having once had Jason Newsted as their bassist. From humble beginnings the bassist went on to join Metallica for several albums. His band mates stuck with it and generated their own level of buzz remaining more of an underground force for Metal rather than something mainstream and easily found on all the Metal stations of the time. Japan was a strong supporter of their music and this concert filmed in Kawasaki at the Club Citta in 2005 finds the band performing their best material before an audience of sold out proportions. Mentioning Overkill at one point the band must have been part of a heavy hitter tour of some kind. The lineup for the DVD stands at Eric A.K. – Vocals, Edward Carlson – Guitar, Craig Nielsen – Drums, Jason Ward – Bass Guitar, & Mark Simpson – Guitar. A tight group and overall the concert is a good example of the band since they are performing mainly songs the cult following enjoys. It’s enough to give a new listener a fair idea of what the band is all about. There is a bonus video included on the DVD and the performance which runs at 55 minutes offers little else than sufficient head banging. Having recently left Metal Blade Records, this DVD comes to the listener/viewer courtesy of Crash Music. It would have been good for some more biographical information to be given, or perhaps a day in the life of feature that many are incorporating into such presentations.
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“Walls Of Jericho” (remaster) by Helloween

Artist: Helloween
Title: “Walls Of Jericho” (remaster)
Label: Castle Music/Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 4/25/2006
Genre: Power Metal
Rating: 8/10

When one thinks of Power Metal, one of the names that comes up as among the first to venture into this new genre of Metal is the one and only Helloween. The band was ahead of its time and mixed the newer speed metal riffing along with incredible melodic displays to an extraordinary result. This release of “Walls Of Jericho” in an expanded version is a treat for all Metal fans because not only does it include the original album, but it also has the impossible to find “Helloween” EP for its first 5 tracks. The lineup of these early years consisted of Kai Hansen (vocals and guitar), Ingo Schwichtenberg (drums), Markus Grosskopf (bass), & Michael Weikath (guitar) and when you listen to these formative songs you will find the band performing at blistering speeds on most of the tracks. By 1985’s standards this was a refreshing change from the “Hair Metal” stuff that was killing the real headbangers. Music of the 80’s in that style needed a kick in its own tail to remind the world that Metal was as much an attitude as a musical form. The band also had some chops in the live sense and they showcase this on the included tracks from the “Treasure Chest” EP.
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