“20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection 2” by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection – The Best Of KISS v.2”
Label: Mercury/Universal Records
Release Date: 6/15/2004
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 5/10

Released as a follow-up to the 1st volume in the Millennium Collection comes volume II which continues its “Best Of KISS” editions. The first CD handled a brief sampling of the bands earlier material from the “KISS” to “Dynasty” albums. This release delivers some choices from “Creatures Of The Night” to “Hot In The Shade” and as you can see the pickings are on the slim side. These releases under the “20th Century Masters” label seem to be merely a nice way to introduce a person to a particular band as they leave far too many seminal tracks off to fully be a “Best Of” with any note to it. In a nutshell this CD features 2 songs from each of the 6 albums that it covers and while there are a few highlights among them they have left off tracks that should be represented. For an introduction piece this is fine but for a retrospective piece it falls very short. This CD leaves off “Revenge”, “Carnival Of Souls” and “Psycho Circus” so perhaps a Volume 3 was being planned but of that I am not all that certain.
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“Cherry Pie” (remaster) by Warrant

Artist: Warrant
Title: “Cherry Pie” – Remastered
Label: Sony Music
Release Date: 4/13/2004 (1990)
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10

The second release by Warrant gave music fans a couple of things. The first is perhaps one of the most over-played songs in “Big Hair Metal” history with title track “Cherry Pie” and the second is the reminder of the lovely Bobbi Brown who danced and created fantasies for all young male rock fans in the video for that same song. Originally released in 1990 the world finds a chance to rediscover some of Warrants music when they were still very new in most peoples eyes. The production of the remaster is just as clean as was done for their re-issue of the bands first outing “Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” . As a result songs like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “I Saw Red” truly stand out more than they did before and since those were the songs that I liked (as a non Warrant fan) I enjoyed getting to hear a better produced version. “Train, Train” and “Sure Feels Good To Me” remain solid rockers and are perhaps among the more fast-moving of the albums content and merit a listen as well if you have never heard them. The CD has left the track “Ode To Tipper Gore” in place and that was actually a surprise. The track is not so much a song, but instead a loose collection of expletives designed to push in the face of the once annoying PMRC. At the time, a collection of over-empowered Washington Senator’s wives caused great dramas to the music industry by demanding labels of warning be placed on any album deemed suggestive in image or lyrical content. Many bands answered this in their own fashion as proven here in this cut. The inclusion of this track is more of a historical note than of anything that is relevant today.
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“20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection 1 by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “Millennium Collection: Best Of KISS v.1”
Label: Mercury/Universal Records
Release Date: 8/5/2003
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 5/10

KISS has released a number of Greatest Hits packages in their career and with “The Millennium Collection” series by Mercury/Universal Records you get a standard sampling of some of their best songs. This CD focuses on the years from the 1st album “KISS” to the “Dynasty” album and with only 12 tracks proves to be a real disappointment. The CD only runs about 41 minutes leaving over 35 available that could have been used correctly and given you additional tracks from these particular years. However, this is the record label move as all of the “20th Century Masters: Millennium Collection” editions are limited in the music they give you. It does come with a nice foldout insert that showcases some good photos of the band in full makeup from these years as well as liner notes that also cater to the era by Jeff Kitts. As a KISS fan I end up grabbing every release over time but the limited number and scope of this piece made me wait. Some highlights are of course “Strutter” and other early numbers yet “Hard Luck Woman” could have been omitted for tracks like “Shock Me” or “I Stole Your Love”. These songs had a greater impact on the band musically and should have been represented on this type of piece.
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“KISS My A**” [DVD] by KISS

Artist: KISS
Title: “KISS My A**”
Label: Mercury/Universal Music
Release Date: 1/25/2005
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 8/10

This DVD was released as a companion to the CD bearing the same name and on it we saw music superstars like Garth Brooks and Lenny Kravitz giving us their versions of KISS classics. There were a number of good performances on the record and served as a reminder that more people were influenced by KISS than you would have perceived. With the DVD you don’t get an exact copy of the music from the CD with all of those artists and instead are treated to a plethora of vintage makeup clips that are shown in full. When KISS released “X-Treme Closeup” the viewer was able to see a lot of these clips but they were not presented in their entirety. Having them in full to enjoy the complete song was a pleasant change to be found on this DVD. In the format of the CD we do have Anthrax doing their rendition of “She” and The Gin Blossoms performing a nice version of “Christine Sixteen”. The two tracks are pretty much shown as a whole but not a lot more in that aspect is showcased. KISS makes sure to treat you to added interview commentary and thoughts as well as maintaining a focus on vintage makeup era clips. The big product at the time was the comprehensive “KISSStory” book. This was a massive photo history tome that was 9 pounds and 400 pages. Gene and Paul give some background on this as well. There are 13 full clips with several being from the “Love Gun” and “Dynasty” tour which are nice to see. However, the teaser aspect of this makes you want the full show no matter how good or bad the quality is. KISS fans being very strong in what they want to purchase from the band will jump for even the grainiest of footage. Let’s hope for more full-content vintage shows in the future.
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“Penetrator” by Penetrator

Artist: Penetrator
Title: “Penetrator”
Label: Sonic Age Records
Release Date: 4/25/2005
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 7/10

Toronto Canada’s Penetrator have brought listeners a healthy dose of traditional styled Heavy Metal that mixes elements of the Power genre with the very familiar feel to a nice result. Founder Ross is an industry veteran and has dealt with some of the most prominent figures in Heavy Metal history. The music laid down on the album is strongly influenced by the likes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and has a quick solid drive throughout most of the piece. Joining “Bulldog” Bess Ross (guitars); the lineup is completed by David Green (bass), Maxel Black (vocals) and Ogie Dawg (their newest member of drums). The recording features the drumming of Simon Vanderzand who also engineered and mixed the CD. This is a tight lineup that certainly shows a degree of energy throughout the whole record. However of the nine total songs making the debut you will find that it is a very short release that runs just over 30 minutes. Despite this the group does get its point across by slamming out track after track with several highlights. I liked the opener “Unleash The Fury”, “Adulteress” and “Wheels Of Justice” the most and found myself referring back to those particular tracks on follow-up listens.
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Where Heavy Music & Pop Culture Collide

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