Wednesday, April 30, 2014


April 1, 2014
"Spring Sonata 1st Movement Allegro" composed by Ludvig Von Beethoven
"April In Paris" performed by Charlie Parker
"April In Paris" performed by Thelonious Monk
"Happiness Is Easy" performed by Talk Talk
"The Whistle Song" performed by Frankie Knuckles

"High Ball Stepper" performed by Jack White-WSPC PREMIERE

April 2, 2014
"Sometime In The Morning" performed by The Monkees
"Wildflowers" performed by Tom Petty
"Blow Away (For Bill)" performed by Kate Bush
"Cry Baby Cry" performed by The Beatles
"Is It Like Today?" performed by World Party
"Peace In The Neighborhood" performed by Paul McCartney

"I'm Amazed" performed by My Morning Jacket
"Lotus" performed by R.E.M.
"Soon I'll Be Loving You Again" performed by Marvin Gaye

April 3, 2014
"Fake Plastic Trees" performed by Kawehi-WSPC PREMIERE

"Communication" performed by The Power Station
"853-5937" performed by Squeeze
"Hanging On The Telephone" performed by Blondie
"Calling America" performed by Electric Light Orchestra
"Talk To Me" performed by Joni Mitchell
"Communication" performed by The Cardigans

April 4, 2014
"Friday On My Mind" performed by The Easybeats
"Every Night Is Friday Night (Without You)" performed by The Old 97's
"Friday Street" performed by Paul Weller
"Friday's Child" performed by Nancy Sinatra
"Friday Night, August 14th" performed by Funkadelic
"Friday" performed by Joe Jackson

"White" performed by Wendy and Lisa
"Gamera" performed by Tortoise
"The Time We Lost Our Way" performed by Thievery Corporation
"Feather" performed by Little Dragon
"Lana" performed by Tangerine Dream

April 5, 2014

all tracks performed by Nirvana
"The Man Who Sold The World"
"About A Girl"
"You Know You're Right"
"Pennyroyal Tea"
"On A Plain"
"Come As You Are"
"Something In The Way"

"Friend Of A Friend" performed by Foo Fighters
"Too Cool Queenie" performed by Stone Temple Pilots
"St. Cobain" performed by Vernon Reid
"About A Boy" performed by Patti Smith
"Sleeps With Angels" performed by Neil Young

April 6, 2014
"100,000 Years" performed by KISS
"Queen Bee" performed by Grand Funk Railroad
"Thanks For The Line" performed by The Birds Of Satan-WSPC PREMIERE

April 7, 2014
"When The People Cheer" performed by The Roots-WSPC PREMIERE
"The World Is Yours" performed by Nas
"Don't Blame Me" performed by Thelonious Monk

April 8, 2014
"Saltwater" performed by Julian Lennon
"I Want Love" performed by Elton John
"We Said Hello, Goodbye" performed by Phil Collins
"Your Latest Trick" performed by Dire Straits
"Look Over Your Shoulder performed by Steve Howe

April 9, 2014
"Talk About The Passion" performed by R.E.M.
"Love Of The Common Man" performed by Todd Rundgren
"The Bends" performed by Radiohead
"Ball And Biscuit" performed by The White Stripes
"Swamp" performed by Talking Heads

April 10, 2014
"Stop Dragging My Heart Around" performed by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"Oh Woman Oh Why" performed by Paul McCartney
"Barely In Love" performed by Q-Tip
"I Want You (She's So Heavy)" performed by Eddie Hazel
"The Knife Feels Like Justice" performed by Brian Setzer
"I'm Someone Who Loves You" performed by The Roches

April 11, 2014

"Brothers Gonna Work It Out"
"Fear Of A Black Planet"
"B-Side Wins Again"
"Who Stole The Soul?"

April 12, 2014
"I Need That Record" performed by The Tweeds
"Spin The Black Circle" performed by Pearl Jam
"Old Records never Die" performed by Ian Hunter
"Another Record" performed by Genesis
"Spiral" performed by XTC

"Hong Kong" performed by Gorillaz
"Tear" performed by The Smashing Pumpkins
"Cutter" performed by Echo & The Bunnymen
"Mr. Pharmacist" performed by The Fall
"Zero Hour" performed by The Plimsouls
"Never Say Never" performed by Romeo Void
"Spy Of Love" performed by INXS

April 13, 2014
"Don't Be Sad" performed by Whiskeytown
"Woman Of 1000 Years" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Storms" performed by Fleetwood Mac
"Like Clockwork" performed by Queens Of The Stone Age
"Sail Away Sweet Sister" performed by Queen
"Dumb" performed by Nirvana

April 14, 2014
"Turn Blue" performed by The Black Keys-WSPC PREMIERE
"Devil Came A Calling" performed by Prefab Sprout
"World War 24" performed by Ryan Adams
"Pearly Dewdrops Drops" performed by Cocteau Twins
"Lenny" performed by Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Sleepwalk" performed by Santo and Johnny

April 15, 2014
"Taxman" performed by The Beatles
"Money (That's What I Want)" performed by Barrett Strong
"Funky Dollar Bill" performed by Funkadelic
"Wizard Of Finance" performed by Parliament
"No Money Down" performed by Chuck Berry
"Shoppin' For Clothes" performed by The Coasters
"Blue Money" performed by Van Morrison
"For The Love Of Money" performed by The O'Jays
"Taxman, Mr. Thief" performed by Cheap Trick
"Low Budget" performed by The Kinks
"Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)" performed by Pet Shop Boys
"Gimmie Some Money" performed by Spinal Tap

April 17, 2014
"Under The Skin" performed by Lindsey Buckingham
"Ventura Highway" performed by America
"That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" performed by Carly Simon
"Is It Okay If I Call You Mine?" performed by Paul McCrane from the film "Fame"

"You Don't Own Me" performed by Dusty Springfield
"Why Can't I?" performed by Liz Phair
"Weak And Powerless" (live) performed by A Perfect Circle-WSPC PREMIERE
"Bambu Forest" performed by Jan Hammer
"Homosapien" performed by Pete Shelley"

April 18, 2014
"Crime" performed by Real Estate-WSPC PREMERE

"Death" composed by Mica Levi from the film "Under The Skin"-WSPC PREMIERE
"Stranded The Line" composed by Jonny Greenwood from the film "There Will Be Blood"
"Revolution #9" performed by The Beatles

April 19, 2014

"Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" performed by The Raspberries
"Vinyl Records" performed by Todd Snider
"Where It's At" performed by Beck
"B Side Baby" performed by Adam and the Ants
"78 RPM" performed by Stiff Little Fingers
"Record Collector" performed by The Planet Smashers
"I Love My Label" performed by Nick Lowe
"Phonograph Blues" performed by Robert Johnson

"The Breakdown" performed by Prince-WSPC PREMIERE

"Until The Quiet Comes" performed by Flying Lotus-WSPC PREMIERE
"Matangi" performed by M.I.A.
"Honey" performed by Erykah Badu


April 20, 2014


"Still" performed by Alanis Morissette
"One Of The Broken" performed by Prefab Sprout
"Bread And Wine" performed by Peter Gabriel

"I Am The Resurrection" performed by The Stone Roses
"Roll Away The Stone" performed by Mott The Hoople
"Resurrection Song" performed by Mark Lanegan
"The Resurrection" performed by Lenny Kravitz
"B Movie" performed by Gil Scott-Heron

"Women Of War" performed by Pixies-WSPC PREMIERE

"Jesus Shaves" by David Sedaris

April 21, 2014
"Hitsville UK" performed by The Clash
"I'm Lost And Then I'm Found" performed by The Godfathers
"It's My Life" performed by The Animals
"A Day Without Me" performed by U2
"Reap The Wild Wind" performed by Ultravox
"Wind Him Up" performed by Saga
"Lunatic Fringe" performed by Red Rider

"Lazaretto" performed by Jack White-WSPC PREMIERE

"Rough Boys" performed by Pete Townshend
"Transits" performed by Bonobo
"Don't Give Up" performed by Washed Out
"Saturdays" performed by Cut Copy
"Swift Coin" performed by Land Of Talk
"Namaste" performed by Beastie Boys

April 22, 2014

"Share The Land" performed by The  Guess Who
"Hungry Planet" performed by The Byrds
"3 R's" performed by Jack Johnson
"Save Me Now" performed by Jeff Lynne
"Natural Beauty" performed by Neil Young
"(Nothing But) Flowers" performed by Talking Heads
"Thank You World" performed by World Party

"I Wanna Go To The Sun" performed by Peter Framtpon
"Swing The Seeds Of Love" performed by Tears For Fears
""Let It Grow" performed by Eric Clapton

April 25, 2014
"Night In My Veins" performed by The Pretenders
"Less Cities, More Moving People" performed by The Fixx
"Silver Snail" performed by Pixies-WSPC PREMIERE
"Blues Power" performed by Albert King
"If 6 Was 9" performed by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

April 27, 2014
"Tomorrow" performed by The Roots-WSPC PREMIERE

"Carry My Love" performed by Tony Carey
"Top Of The World" performed by Planet P. Project
"The Snakepit" performed by The Cure
"Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice)/"It's Never Over" (Hey Orpheus)" performed by Arcade Fire
"Hello, I Love You" performed by Roger Waters

"Shelter Song" performed by Temples-WSPC PREMIERE
"Clap Hands" performed by Beck
"The Ballad Of The Birds Of Satan" performed by The Birds Of Satan-WSPC PREMIERE
"Death On Two Legs (dedicated to...)" performed by Queen
"Books Are Burning" performed by XTC

April 28, 2014
"Heavy Seas Of Love" performed by Damon Albarn-WSPC PREMIERE
"Magic" performed by Coldplay-WSPC PREMIERE
"Keep On Lying" performed by Tame Impala
"Magneto And Titanium Man" performed by Paul McCartney and Wings
"The Kiss" performed by The Sea And Cake

April 29, 2014
"Lilac Wine" performed by Jeff Buckley
"Memories Of Green" performed by Vangelis
"New Grass" performed by Talk Talk
"Night Birds" performed by Ryan Adams
"The Rain Song" performed by Led Zeppelin

"The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived" performed by Weezer
"Crybaby" performed by Utopia
"Bargain" performed by The Who

"Alcoholic" performed by Fishbone
"In The Moonlight" performed by Pearl Jam
"Behind My Camel" performed by The Police
"The Royal Scam" performed by Steely Dan
"Fred" performed by Tony Williams

April 30, 2014
"Blue In Green" performed by Miles Davis
"Bedouin" performed by Grant Green
"Maiden Voyage" performed by Herbie Hancock
"Maiden Voyage/Everything In It's Right Place" performed by The Robert Glasper Trio
"Reflections In D" performed by Duke Ellington

Monday, April 28, 2014


So, what do I listen to?

Dear readers and listeners, at this time, I am so proud to present to you "Now Playing In The Savage Jukebox," a new feature to Synesthesia, and the very feature that is essentially designed to replace the year long "On This Day In Music" series. 

Now that this site has been in existence for one year, I chose to retire the "On This Day In Music" series as as I was concerned that continuing it would only resort to an unnecessary repetitive nature that I really did not want this site to shoulder or to be burdened with. With that in mind, I thought that it would be fun to catalog a monthly chart of what I am listening to other than the albums that make their way into the main postings/features throughout the month. That way, you can gather not only how often I really do listen to music but what I am listening to during a given period. Additionally, it creates a series that will truly be on-going and ever changing as you will be able to see the threads that exist in my brain when it comes to what I will listen to and why I am listening to it. 

While some monthly musical milestones may still make their way into this area of Synesthesia, I wish for you to treat this feature as an extension of my lifelong audio diary...



"MARY STAR OF THE SEA"  ZWAN   Released January 28, 2003
THE DJALI ZWAN a collection of unreleased material 
-As I am writing this in the beginning of April,  honestly cannot remember what made me dig this album out to listen to it again But, something compelled me to hear Billy Corgan's sadly short lived quintet's one and only album. Created after the end of The Smashing Pumpkins in 2000, Corgan plus drummer Jimmy Chamberlin joined forces with guitarists Matt Sweeney and David Pajo plus bassist Paz Lenchantin to create essentially a double album length release that showcased superior musicianship and Corgan's more direct and more overtly positive, spiritual songwriting which often fund its roots in folk music as well as the alternative rock scene, power pop, glam rock and metal guitar heroics. When the album was first released, I listened to it as constantly as I had nearly every Pumpkins album before it and I was truly saddened once again when this band imploded. Listening to it now after many years was wonderful as I realized just how much of it I had forgotten yet loved just as much as I originally had.

The Djali Zwan represented the same set of musicians but in a more acoustic setting. Those songs, which will hopefully be included on a Zwan boxed set that Corgan is planning for the future, I discovered mostly through..shall we say..unofficial sources as they were widely shared. As bombastic as the official Zwan album is, The Djali Zwan is by turns haunting, fragile and just plain lovely.
Released March 2014
-When the official Frank Zappa Family Trust announced pre-orders for this album, a collection of material taken from the same performances that made up the outstanding "Roxy And Elsewhere" (released September 10, 1974) in the Summer of 2013, I plunked down my cash right away. Little did I know that it would be well into 2014 before that album would be released. Thankfully it was more than worth the wait.

Designed to accompany Dweezil Zappa's celebratory Zappa Plays Zappa tour which is playing the "Roxy And Elsewhere" album in its entirety (see the February 2014 section for my experiences at that show), "Roxy By Proxy" contains material performed and recorded during the original performances that captured the material found on "Roxy And Elsewhere." Some material does overlap between the two releases but as with the original album, "Roxy By Proxy" showcases the incomprehensible dexterity of this particular brand of musicians but also the incomprehensible creativity and com-positional skills of Frank Zappa. On this new release, you can hear the Zappa classic "Inca Roads" before it was even fully composed. You can even hear the selection "Cheepnis" performed solely with the drums and percussion section before the full band plays it together. There's evena closing medley featuring "Mr. Green Genes," "Chunga's Revenge" and the mighty "King Kong" as well. For Zappa devotees and neophytes, this is indeed a must!
Released October 3, 2006
-After seeing the outstanding Zappa Plays Zappa performance, I really wanted to see if I could find something that featured Dweezil Zappa's guitar playing. Thankfully, I discovered this album, a mostly instrumental work that really showcases the evolution of Dweezil's playing from his Eddie Van Halen styled roots to a more free form style akin to his Father's. This album made me anxious to hear what he is able to create in the future. 

Released April 28, 2008
-Inspired by a trip to B-Side Records to purchase the new Real Estate album and this collection was playing in the store. The music haunted me for days after having been at the store so, I called up my friend Steve to see if he still had it in stock and viola! It is indeed quite a musical undertaking and I haven't made it all the way through yet. But, that's OK as sometimes, music can feel almost like novels and this one is especially deep and delicate.
Released 1989

-I had not listened to this album, Wendy and Lisa's second release, in many years and I dug it out after I wrote my posting celebrating Prince's "Sign O' The Times" album last month. If you have never heard what Wendy & Lisa's music away from prince sounds like I strongly urge you to seek out any of their five albums, one EP, or een any f their television or film scores. As for this album, it is the most "Prince-ish," I guess and that is a good thing as you can easily hear the influence he had upon them while also hearing what they brought to the musical stew they created together. I especially love "Are You My Baby?," the jazz inflected ballad "Only In My Dreams," the power pop of "From Now On," and the slow, saucy funk of "Everyday."
Released 1957

-I chose this one to take to school one quiet, grey morning as something in the air spoke to me to dig it out, especially as I just wanted to hear something without singing. And this ended up being the perfect soundtrack to begin a new school day for me and the kids.

"KISS" KISS Released February 18, 1974
"ROCK AND ROLL OVER"  KISS Released November 11, 1976
"LOVE GUN"  KISS Released June 17, 1977
-To accompany the "KISS And Make Up" posting, I listened to these albums, especially as I had to honor the contributions made by guitarist/singer/songwriter Ace Frehley and drummer/singer/songwriter Peter Criss. No matter what Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley say, KISS would not have ever been what it was without what Ace and Peter brought to the table, the mythology and the hysteria. Period!
"BANG!" WORLD PARTY Released April 26, 1993
-I was inspired to listen to the third and fourth albums by World Party, the musical brainchild of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Karl Wallinger after playing "Is It Like Today?" from the album "Bang!" early in the month. With the "Bang!" album, Wallinger unleashes his inner Prince as that album is loaded with dance floor beat driven songs that are unlike much of the remainder of World Party's output but conversely, are just as introspective as all of the World Party albums. Tracks like "Radio Days," "Hollywood," "Give It All Away" and the extraordinary "Rescue Me" leap out of the speakers while "Sunshine" soothes the spirit. The fourth album "Egyptology" is decidedly a darker affair as Wallinger was mourning the loss of his Mother and turning his spirit towards atheism as detailed in the starkly Dylan-esque "Curse Of The Mummy's Tomb." But then, he can also summon a gorgeous song like "She's The One," which feels like one of the best songs Paul McCartney never wrote.


"IN UTERO" NIRVANA Released September 21, 1993
"UNPLUGGED IN NEW YORK"  NIRVANA Released November 1, 1994

-In writing the "Words For Kurt" posting, I found myself heading into my archives to dig out some Nirvana releases to re-acquaint myself with. As I wrote in that piece, Nirvana albums are not ones that I really ever listened to that much in comparison to their contemporaries. That said, it has truly been enlightening to really try to listen as I had not in the past. And "In Utero," in particular has a punishing wallop, musically and lyrically, that really speaks to me.
Released August 18, 2009
-I have been enjoying listening to the radio program "The Study Lounge" on the college radio station WSUM-FM on my Monday evening drives home. On that program , I happened to hear a song entitled "Go Jetsetter" from the band whose album is displayed right above these words and I was captivated. So, I bought this album and the entire experience is one that is darkly lush and presented as sort of an updated hybrid of '60s era lounge pop and tunes vaguely reminiscent of James Bond themes like "Goldfinger."
Released April 20, 2010
-I always wonder exactly how much actual music exists inside of every member of a band. Where Dave Grohl had Foo Fighters inside of him while drumming in Nirvana, I am finding out that Foo Fighters' drummer Taylor Hawkins has more than his share of music housed inside of him! This album, by one of his other bands, is very Foo-esque as this album is a collection of heavy, melodic power pop/hard rock songs. But unlike Foo Fighters, Hawkins' band makes their obvious nods to the likes of Queen and Rush more than apparent and wonderfully so.

"ICE CREAM CASTLE" THE TIME Released July 2, 1984

Released April 22, 1985
-I listened to all three of these albums to keep myself properly inspired as I was writing my "Savage Cinema's Favorite Movies" installment celebrating "Purple Rain."
Released March 23, 2004
-One of my favorite hip-hop producers/musicians is the ridiculously inventive and prolific Madlib and while I mostly listen to his instrumental albums, I found myself wanting to really introduce myself to this celebrated album, a collaboration with rapper MF Doom.
Released June 2, 2011
-I gravitated back to Wendy & Lisa with their self-released six track EP of rarities, primarily listening to the truly relaxing, dreamy instrumental called "Lemon Chiffon."
Released June 9, 1979
-This was my most modest Record Store Day purchase!!! Not only does it feature the classic hit single "Cruel To Be Kind," you can also find "Without Love," "Big Kick, Plain Scrap" and the amazing "American Squirm" among other goldmine tracks as performed by Lowe and his bandmates from Rockpile which included Dave Edmunds.
Released February 22, 1994
-Seeing as how the band Rockpile possessed both MAJOR talents of Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds, I found myself gravitating towards this album by the band The Grays, a group that featured the MAJOR singing/songwriting/multi-instrumentalist talents of both Jason Falkner and Jon Brion. While some of you very astute listeners may remember their single "Very Best Years," the album was completely overlooked as it was swept away during the alternative music scene BOOM and the aggressive acts of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden were all at the forefront while the slightly gentler power pop stylings of The Grays may have not sounded strong enough in comparison. But, let me tell you that this album is indeed one of the best albums of the 1990s and definitely one of the most overlooked as EVERY song is a killer track, filled with songwriting gold and performed with an infectious exuberance.While I believe that it is very hard to locate these days, it is well worth the hunt, should you choose to seek it out. And sadly, this is the one and only album by the band at that. Perhaps having Falkner and Brion in one band was just one too many geniuses to shoulder.
Released September 1970
-Every Easter, dear readers and listeners. Either the album or the film. This tradition has really nothing to do with any devout sense of religion or religious upbringing for me. It is something that I have always found some sort of comfort in at this specific time of year as well as a way for me to engage in this particular story through a fashion I can understand and that carries a sense of personal meaning for me.

"45:33" (EP)
Released October 17, 2006
-From somewhere within my mental musical jukebox, I "heard" some moments from this EP and I had to dig it out and listen to it on the drive to work over several mornings during one week in late April.
Released March 1978
-Inspired by listening to my Record Store Day purchase. The blissful track "Tonight" is a personal favorite that I found myself playing over and over and over again.
both released September 18, 1978
-Out of the four simultaneously released KISS solo albums from 1978, these are the only two I own on CD (I own them all on vinyl). Paul Stanley's album overall remains strong and the most KISS-like but his over-emotive and somewhat theatrical vocals (and the fact that the album's opening track "Tonight You Belong To Me" nearly sounds like a song of intense heartbreak that turns into date rape or more "innocently," something just solitary and masturbatory) haven't held up as well as they did in my memories. But, Ace Frehley's album?'s STILL the best one by a long-shot and even outdoes KISS albums through the muscle of the material.
Released December 14, 1992
-My further re-acclimation with Nirvana found itself moving towards this album, a compilation of b-sides, demos, outtakes, and radio recordings. The punk rock spirit flies high on this wildly energetic release and my favorite tracks include the almost metal tinged "Aero Zeppelin," as well as "Aneurysm," "Dive," "Beeswax" and "Been Long Now." 


On April 1, 2014, House music pioneer Frankie Knuckles passed away at the age of 59, coincidentally the 30th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's passing.
April 2, 2014 gave us the date on what would have been Marvin Gaye's 75th birthday. May we celebrate the unquestionable contributions both of these men have given to the world and to music itself.
On April 5, 1980, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, drummer Bill Berry and singer Michael Stipe, collectively known, of course, as R.E.M. performed its very first show, beginning a 31 year musical history that has impressed and enriched more and more with each passing year.
Let's see where the music takes me throughout next month. Keep your dial tuned into this station!

Sunday, April 27, 2014


On this year's Record Store Day, I made a point to venture to two of the local independent record stores in my city and I was so pleased to see that both stores were routinely visited throughout their respective business days.

The first store I visited was B-Side Records on State Street, owned and operated by my friend Steve Manley.
Being greeted by the image of Wilco's Jeff Tweedy was all the invitation I needed to venture inside my main record store of choice here in Madison. 
The aisles inside B-Side are notoriously narrow and yet, I was so pleased to see almost every nook and cranny in the store filled with people browsing and collecting.
While I do not possess a working turntable anymore (or better yet, two working speakers as my beloved yet mischievous feline Jada ate through a speaker wire back when she was a kitten), I have no use to purchase vinyl anymore. That being said, I just love the tactile experience of holding vinyl albums in my hands. Like this one...
...and these too!

I next went to MadCity Music Exchange, now owned and operated by friend Dave Zero. Like B-Side, this is a record store that I have frequented since my college years and the first time I ever stepped into its location was in early 1988. My first purchase? A bootlegged vinyl copy of Prince's notorious "The Black Album."
Unlike B-Side, MadCity possesses a larger, physical store space but like B-Side on Record Store Day, the space was equally filled up with music fans and collectors. Here's one image...
...and here's another.
Again, I just needed that tactile experience of holding the vinyl. In this case, a new vinyl only and brand new single from Madison's very own Garbage.
When I saw the new 5 LP boxed set from LCD Soundsystem, I truly wished that I was able to play my vinyl records again (and also have the kind of loot to purchase this item).
All in all, my visits, while brief, just filled me with joy. The sight of people being excited about music, the record store environment and the community that is forged in these specific spaces and places made me feel that this treasured experience that has graced my life just may have some more life to it.
Happy Record Store Day once again and please remember to support your local record stores all year long!

Friday, April 25, 2014


“What’s wrong with giving ten minutes of your time for the forty years that you’ve given us?” 
-Peter Criss on VH1 Classic’s "That Metal Show"

As deeply as I have intended for Synesthesia to be a virtual haven for celebration and uplift, I hope that you won't mind that I feel the need to vent.

By this time, the gargantuan rock band KISS has achieved two most significant milestones. First, the band was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine for the very first time, a most surprising feat, as I was certain that must have been featured on the cover during the 1970's. But even greater than that accomplishment, KISS has now been rightfully inducted into this year's class for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Now, all of that would be well and good but of course, there has been a certain amount of controversy regarding their induction. As with the Academy Awards, an event I celebrate and yet I am simultaneously irritated by due to the political structure of the event which sits at odds with the actual art of the movies, I do realize that being inducted the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame suffers from the same dubious issues.

While I am actually not terribly aware of the Hall Of Fame's rules and regulations, one that did indeed stand out this time around was brought to mass attention by KISS guitarist/singer/songwriter Paul Stanley forever known as "The Starchild," whether he wears the iconic make-up or not. He expressed his distaste when discovered that if KISS was going to be inducted, then only the four original members, which also include bassist/singer/songwriter Gene Simmons ("The Demon"), lead guitarist/songwriter/singer Ace Frehley ("Space Ace" or "The Spaceman") and drummer/singer/songwriter Peter Criss ("The Cat"), would officially be inducted and not any of the musicians who joined the band over the years after both Criss and Frehley departed. Yes, Stanley was indeed right to call out the Hall Of Fame for its inconsistencies, bringing up the Red Hot Chili Peppers' induction, which supposedly included every member who had ever taken part in that band.

But, this piece is not about the rules and regulations regarding induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Dear readers and listeners, this piece is simply about me expressing my dissatisfaction, or better yet my sadness, at the fact that Stanley, Simmons, Frehley and Criss could not get themselves together to perhaps perform together one more time just for the sake of the event, and most importantly, for the 40 years worth of fans whose devotion as members of the legendary "KISS Army" assisted greatly to bring the band to this monumental moment in time in the first place. And hey, even if the band did not perform, could they at least just stand shoulder to shoulder in musical and superheroic brotherhood instead of the deep animosity and acrimony that has remained entrenched between them?

With those sentiments, I am fully aware that I am dramatically speaking against feelings I have always harbored towards bands and musicians who once created music together but now do not for the waters under the bridge are just too terribly deep to cross. I am also more than aware that bands consist of real live human beings who sometimes have made great music and musical history despite the actual relationships that may or may not exist between the band members. In short, the people that comprise the members of a band are not always friends, and the very things one would have endured during one's late teens or twenties are not the things they would continue to endure in their forties, fifties or even sixties. People grow up. People move on and not always together and that fact of life is entirely understandable, especially under the intense and highly unusual circumstances of being professional musicians who have achieved a certain level of recognizable fame and fortune.

Sometimes, there is great harmony within and between band members, as in the band Rush, for instance, where the bonds of friendship and loyalty between bassist/keyboardist/songwriter/singer Geddy Lee, guitarist/songwriter Alex Lifeson and drummer/lyricist Neil Peart are seemingly carved into stone. But on the other hand, for a band like The Smashing Pumpkins, where the tensions between the original four band members have grown to be so paramount that it is extremely difficult to imagine them ever standing in the same room together let alone perform together, you realize that perhaps, and despite all of the great music they created together, those four people are probably individuals that possibly should have never joined forces together at all.

All of that being said, there is this part of me that wishes that KISS happened to be different than all of the others, which is an odd sentiment to have considering how I could see, understand and accept how even The Beatles disbanded and the emotional turbulence that followed immediately after the break-up. Yes, I know all about the tensions between the band members of KISS. Yes, I know of the variety of excesses that have fractured the original members' relationships with each other. Hell, they have each written tell-all books in which they have lacerated each other mercilessly. But even so, the rock and roll fantasy has remained in my heart for KISS and why not? For what else is KISS but a rock and roll fantasy world come to vibrant, explosive life?
If you grew up during the 1970s as I did, the band KISS most definitely carved out a specialized space within your memories. For me, and especially as I was under 10 years old during much of their towering notoriety, KISS just had it ALL!!! I loved them just as much as they terrified me. I just waited to hear their songs played on WLS-AM and loved every single one I heard from studio gems like "Hard Luck Woman," to the iconic live tracks line "Rock And Roll All Nite." I loved seeing KISS in photographs, on their album covers and especially on television programs which always presented me with images that were just unfathomable to my very young and impressionable mind. The costumes were outlandishly spectacular, the makeup equally so, the characters they played were appropriately from another universe and the band just looked as if all of its members were 18 feet tall!! While Gene Simmons frightened me terribly, I reasoned to myself that if Paul Stanley, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley could play music with him then he could not have been all bad.

And then, there was the music. Or better yet the performances, which re-defined what a spectacle could actually be. Screaming guitars, soaring vocals, and pounding drums augmented with all manner of flashing lights, glitter and sparkle and astounding pyrotechnics. KISS somehow combined rock and roll with horror films, the circus, comic books, science fiction and a massive theatricality that was impossible to resist and transformed the group into an organism that transcended existing as "just" a rock band. To me, as to millions upon millions of others, the members of KISS were real life superheroes.

Because of those feelings, I had a KISS lunchbox, KISS action figures as well as all four KISS solo albums which were all released on the same date of September 18, 1978. I watched their now infamous television movie "KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park" (1978) and of course, I possessed the famous KISS comic book from Marvel comics--the very one that was printed with their own blood and one that my Father heroically drove me around Chicago to locate at local comic book shops as it was sold out nearly everywhere! (THANK YOU, Dad!!!)

I loved, also like the superhero teams of The Avengers or The Justice League, how each band member possessed their own individual personality traits (and in the comic book version and television movie, their own brand of super powers), making it quite easy to gravitate towards certain members while loving them as a complete entity. As previously stated, Simmons was much too horrifying foe me, thus leaving the other three members, out of which I found myself gravitating to Ace Frehley for his interstellar aloofness and to Peter Criss because he really made me want to bash the skins just like he did.

And I think that this may sit at the core of why I am just so upset at the behavior of Simmons and Stanley towards Frehley and Criss at this time that should otherwise be completely celebratory. Everything just feels like what is occurring between them is so far beyond "artistic differences" or even four men who have long reached the end of their respective tethers with each other. It even feels like things have dissolved far past beyond even business transgressions because, let's face it, the business of KISS has always been a part of the package (and I am certain that some would argue that the business is what has solely fueled the band for most of its career). What is occurring right now feels like erasure propelled by emotions that are flat out mercenary.
The behavior of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley has truly been reprehensible as far as I am concerned. Yes, there has been the standard slagging off of the former bandmates' contributions as Frehley and Criss have long been criticized for supposedly not having any talent. Even in the current Rolling Stone issue, Paul Stanley proclaims, in regards to Ace Frehley's guitar hero status that "Just because you're voted number-one guitar player in Circus magazine over Jimmy Page doesn't mean you really are." As for his opinions on Peter Criss, well, those are even worse. In reference to KISS' signature ballad "Beth," which Peter Criss co-wrote and sang lead vocals in that endearing Rod Stewart-esque rasp, "Peter can't write a song because Peter can't play an instrument." Furthermore, Gene Simmons not only exclaims that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss "don't deserve to wear the paint," but that both former bandmates "never thought of anything anyway."

While Frehley and Criss certainly do not need any sense of protection from me, especially as they can give it as good as they get it (and do), with regards to the statements and sentiments expressed by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, I call bullshit on that!

With Ace Frehley, no matter how heavily Simmons and Stanley try to protest or discredit him, there is no denying that Frehley's flamethrower lead guitar heroics inspired a generation of guitarists as members of Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam among others have all attested. As for never having thought of anything regarding the evolution of KISS, I again call bullshit on that as Ace Frehley was the one who designed the iconic KISS logo! And as for those four simultaneously released solo albums, Ace Frehley's, which incidentally featured the one hit single ("New York Groove") from the quartet of albums, was and remains the very best one by a landslide!!! It is an album that I fell for the hardest as a child and tit is the one I have listened to consistently ever since--next to Paul Stanley's, which was a close second (and as flawed as Peter Criss' solo album is, I have to say that Gene Simmons' was easily the worst).

With Peter Criss, I would argue that he inspired as many drummers as Frehley inspired guitarists. With his jazzy, Gene Krupa styled playing, Criss propelled the band's rhythms in unpredictable ways that always elevated the song and made me want to find a set of drums for myself to bash along with. If anything, just listen to a song like "Calling Dr. Love," penned by Simmons, but was catapulted into the stratosphere by Frehley's blazing guitar work and Criss' aggressive, swinging performance as much as Stanley's power chords and Simmons' enthusiastic vocals and bass playing. If you took one element away from the song, it would collapse as no one person created the ferociousness that KISS was. It was a group effort. It was teamwork.

But hey, I get it. They all hate each other now. Even the relationship between Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley feels strained and more out of financial necessity than genuine emotions. But even so, why are Simmons and Stanley trying to erase their own past, or at least the existence of the other two men who were there with them from the beginning? What I am referring to is the fact that KISS now has welcomed drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer into the fold. Now dear readers and listeners, I have no issue whatsoever with KISS continuing onwards without Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. I have no issue whatsoever with KISS continuing onwards period. But what I do have a major issue with is that Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer are each dressed up to look like Peter Criss and Ace Frehley respectively, thus creating the image of a band that doesn't even exist anymore. It reduces KISS to essentially becoming a cover band version of themselves, which is also quite a slap in the face of the KISS cover bands in the world because those bands clearly love the music and the legend and are more reverential than Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley happen to be.

Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, in their actions, are pretending that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were never even part of the equation while they simultaneously have these two other musicians, who really are being treated as hired hand or understudies, emulating the original members for live audiences. It is disingenuous. It is deceitful. And it angers me that these two men would actually have audiences believe that they are indeed witnessing people who are really not on the stage at all. Why not have Singer and Thayer create their own make-up and KISS personas. That would take too much work and creativity, I guess, especially when they can make a fortune pretending they are something they have long ceased to be. Simmons and Stanley just should have created robots, as these actions are so shamelessly soulless.
And this all leads us to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. I was stunned and surprised to see Peter Criss as a guest on he VHI Classic program "That Metal Show" one morning and I was truly taken by his take on the proceedings, which had yet to fully occur.

“I got a call from [KISS leaders] Gene [Simmons] and Paul [Stanley], which I hadn’t got a call from them in many, many, many, many, many moons, including when I had my cancer...And so, all of a sudden, I get a call and I’m being congratulated. ‘We’re gonna have fun.’ And I’m thinking… And I know, as I wrote in my book, there’s a lot of bad blood, and I just don’t trust [those guys] anymore. And I took it with a grain of salt and said, ‘Maybe.’ But then again, I had to go back and read the book myself and go, ‘What, are you crazy? Nothing’s changing. It doesn’t matter what goes on. Something’s gonna happen.’ And I said to [my wife], ‘It sounds too good to be true.’...The fact that we’re not performing is heartbreaking. I wanted to. I thought we were going to. I was all up for it. I was crazy enough to think, even if I had to get back in the ‘Cat’ outfit, I would have been proud to do it. Because, whether in or out of makeup, I’ll always be the ‘Catman.’”

Yes!!! Peter Criss IS The Catman, and NOBODY else is.

Criss' interview continued with such earnestness that I had the feeling that he was being sincere and not out to gather please for sympathy. When he expressed to the audience that after leaving KISS, he purposefully never played with any other bands because he had already felt that he played in the best band in the world,  I felt a sense of pride, accomplishment and therefore, an honesty that has long eluded the likes of Gene Simmons. But then again, perhaps Simmons' behavior is as honest as Criss' as he's in it for the cold hard cash and he certainly does not try to hide that fact. But wasn't KISS supposed to be more than that? I don't know but maybe I just wanted them to be.
I am now 45 years old. I'm not an impressionable child anymore. I know the members of KISS are not superheroes. I know they are just men, filled with human frailties and failings like all of us. But still, KISS was larger than life! And their nastiness is just all too human for something that seemed to fly so incredibly far beyond something so pitifully ordinary.