Analysis, Music

Music Critic gets his balls busted for KISS review.

Music Critic Tony Bennett gets his balls busted for KISS review, and it’s not pretty.

KISS 40th Anniversary World Tour

PERTH, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 03: Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, Tommy Thayer and Paul Stanley of KISS, perform during their opening show for the Australian leg of their 40th anniversary world tour at Perth Arena on October 3, 2015 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

I have total respect for the profession known as “Music Critic” and though I may not always agree with their reviews, I always appreciate their perspective…assuming, of course, they have done their job professionally, accurately and objectively.  It’s perfectly acceptable for a critic to not like a band, an individual artist, a song or even an outfit. However, that does not give that critic a license to kill. Each and every critic has a fiduciary duty to as accurately and objectionably as possible inform the public. Their opinions are absolutely acceptable and wanted, as long as they are defined as such and not written as facts and with malice.

A review of the Wednesday night KISS concert in Duluth, MN by Tony Bennett for the Duluth News Tribune unequivocally reflects one of the most unprofessional, inappropriate, antagonistic and blatantly biased reviews I have ever read. Mr. Bennett clearly demonstrated in his “review” that he is not fit to be called a professional. His review read more like the rantings of a pissed off high school student than that of an educated, respectable journalism professional.

His review opens with the line “It’s extremely uncool to like KISS…and if we’re being honest, the hate is pretty justified”.  As a matter of reference, KISS is in the middle of doing 36 shows this summer across the United States in the span of 8 weeks – that’s basically a concert every other night for two months straight (yes, the band is off for Gene’s birthday August 25th). This tour marks their 43rd year selling out concert halls. Query: Mr. Bennett, did you get on the PA at the concert that night and tell the thousands that paid good money to see KISS that they are “uncool”? Did you then tell them you hated KISS and that they should too? Of course not, you waited until after the concert to litter your trash across the internet from the relative safety of your computer. That makes you a coward, plain and simple.

I find it mind-boggling how Bennett translates “uncool” to “hate”. This behavior is obviously demonstrative of someone with a severely skewed perception of reality and a very altered understanding of the most rudimentary of human psychology.


Let’s look at some of the other things Mr. Bennett had to say….

“…since the late 70’s, they’ve mostly trafficked in lecherous, brain-dead glam metal”. Query: Mr. Bennett, are you calling your readers that attended the concert “brain-dead”? If not, perhaps you could attend a few grammar courses and learn to more accurately, professionally and in a non-offending way, convey to your readers a clearer, complete thought.

“…the “good stuff” – is often subpar (have you listened to, say, “Great Expectations” recently?” Comment: Mr. Bennett, you start your review off by telling your viewers you hate KISS. With that in mind, your “subpar” comment is completely void of validity because you clearly can’t be objective. As for “Great Expectations”, you clearly had none and you were going to be sure KISS wasn’t going to deliver (at least in your own, biased & unprofessional mind).

“When you’re watching KISS, you don’t think about the times Simmons has made a fool out of himself.” Query: Mr. Bennett, you do realize that the idea of a concert is the to enjoy the concert experience and not the extracurricular activities of the individual artists correct? Do you want people to think about the times you have masturbated while they read your reviews? If not, then what purpose could your statement serve? There is absolutely no relevance to the job at hand (no pun intended).

“…with simple rock songs holding it all together.” Comment: Mr. Bennett, I will accept this comment when you put on 40-50 pounds of gear, run around a stage for 2 hours constantly surrounded by intense heat from pyrotechnics, interact with 6,000 fans and all the while singing and playing guitar. You are once again showing complete disregard for your profession and an undeniable lack of respect for musicians. Yet, you are a “music critic”. Ironic.

“After an opening set by painfully boring American Idol person Caleb Johnson…” Comment: Mr. Bennett, what exactly is “painfully boring”? You obviously have a bone to pick, a chip on your shoulder, a lack of respect for others, a gross misinterpretation of your job and above all absolutely no understanding of what it means to be a journalist. I would venture to guess you actually hate your job, at least based on what I have read.

“Stanley…screeching out goofy intros to many songs in a bizarre Edith Bunker voice (How’s it sound out d’ere?)” Query: Mr. Bennett, does your employer offer any sensitivity training? You do realize Paul has a geo-accent like everyone else correct? You probably have one, as does your mother. Is making fun of his accent something your employer approves? Do you make fun of your readers accents? How do your readers feel about that? I think you are grasping at straws – your personal hatred for KISS is clearly inhibiting your ability to do your job.

“…and thanking Duluth for putting the band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (which, uh, could be disputed).” Comment: Mr. Bennett, I’ll chip in and help you here. There is this thing called a KISS Army – it’s made up of fans all over the world who take to social media, snail-mail, etc. and show support KISS. Without a doubt, some of the fine people of Duluth directly reached out in support of KISS being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (not to mention supporting KISS over the years buying records, merchandise etc).

“After the fake Criss sang Criss’ hit song “Beth”” Comment: Mr. Bennett, you talk about Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer as “fake” because they wear the iconic makeup and costumes of the two previous original members (Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, respectively). Would you tell your children on a trip to Disney World that Mickey is “fake”? What about Mini Mouse…is she “fake”? KISS has never claimed Eric was Peter nor that Tommy was Ace. Bandmates may have changed but at no time was there any attempt to deceive the fans. You are once again using your media to spout out things that are simply not true. Again – VERY unprofessional.

“…but he didn’t play with the same feel as his predecessor”. Comment: Mr. Bennett, you do realize that two different people will do the same activity differently correct? After all, these musicians are humans, not robots. Query: Do you actually expect two different musicians to play the exact same way? How did you ever get a job as a music critic? You CLEARLY are not qualified for the job.

” The band, seemingly, now exists solely as a capitalistic money-farming machine” Query: Mr. Bennett, if millions of people all over the world want to continue to pay hard-earned money to experience a KISS concert, buy KISS merchandise and in general want to be KISS’ed, doesn’t business 101 & supply & demand clearly dictate the appropriate path? Should Disney World close down in your mind? Maybe even the Duluth News Tribune should close up shop – but wait – wouldn’t that mean you would loose your job? You, Mr. Bennett, are ignorant.

“Stanley often altered melody lines to accommodate his 64-year old voice”. Comment: Mr. Bennett, does your mother walk as fast today as she did when she was younger? Do you run as fast today as you did when you were 15? How in the world can you justify such a comment when millions of people all over the world are still happy to fork over their hard-earned money to hear Paul sing? You, once again, are illustrating your ignorance by grasping at straws in your feeble attempt of a review.

Even though I am a KISS fan, every point I have made is 100% valid. I show no bias, take no liberties, make no false assumptions and clearly illustrate my thoughts. Music is subjective. However, within subjectivity lies accountability.

It is my personal opinion that Tom Bennett should turn in his resignation, rethink if this profession is well suited for him, and if he thinks it is, go back to school and learn how to do it right (professionally).

Additionally, the editor in Chief either didn’t read this review prior to publication or he/she is equally incompetent, inept and undoubtedly not worthy of his/her position within the Duluth News Tribune. This total and complete lack of professionalism is surely not what the subscribers and readers of the Duluth News Tribune signed up for, or deserve.

Lastly, at the end of the day, I can’t help but wonder who has more money in the bank – KISS or Music Critic Tony Bennett. Actually, I don’t really wonder, it’s blatantly obvious. KISS wins, again!

–John J. Simpson
twitter: @johnjsimpson
email: john AT

Link to Tony Bennett review:

I found an email address for Mr. Bennett on the Duluth News Tribune website. Feel free to email him and let him know how you think he is doing. Tonybennettreviews@Gmail.Com

Twitter for Duluth News Tribune: @duluthnews


“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” Rocked the World!


I was just one of millions of fans all over the world who not only couldn’t wait to see the “KISS ROCKS VEGAS” movie, I couldn’t wait to EXPERIENC it. Because, as we all know, everything KISS does they do larger than life, in your face, loud & proud, and bigger & better than anyone else ever has, or ever will. KISS, for 43 years and counting, is bar none “The Hottest Band in World”.

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” was filmed in Las Vegas during the bands 9-show residency at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Casino in November of 2014. As someone who was there when the band landed in the parking lot of the casino in a helicopter on opening night through the last fans chanting “WE WANT KISS, WE WANT KISS!” when the band left the stage after the last show, I can tell you “KISS ROCKS VEGAS” was as close to being there as you can get. It was the ultimate way to re-live the best concert I had ever seen.

The amount of work and the number of people it took to pull of such a concert event is mindboggling. As each band-member points out during the interview segment of the movie, trying to bring in a stadium-sized stage and show into an intimate venue would be a huge undertaking, if at all even possible. Yet, in true KISS fashion, they not only did it, they blew away their own expectations. They hired the best set designers & builders, recruited the best light designers, sought out the best audio engineers, utilized the latest cutting-edge technology, planned, rehearsed and with great fanfare met their goal to do the impossible, yet again.

While it’s common to have fans getting out of their seats screaming, playing air-guitar/drums, singing, clapping, chanting & applauding at a concert venue, it’s doesn’t happen in a movie theater…unless KISS is involved.  On May 25th, 2016 all that and more was happening in theaters all over the world. It is truly a KISS world!

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” starts with a series of KISS factoids flashed on the screen, followed by an interview segment with each of the band members, then goes into the actual concert. During the interview segment, Gene, Paul, Tommy & Eric each discuss the challenges involved in this huge undertaking as well as tell some personal stories. The audience feels very connected to each member and this section really sets the tone for what was about to come.

The concert was nothing shy of magnificent. It was everything you’d expect from a KISS performance and so much more. I can’t understand how for 43 years and counting a band can continue to out-do themselves at every turn but this is obviously standard operating procedure for KISS. Each member relentlessly gives 110% to be sure the fans are happy. Unlike so many other bands, KISS empathizes with the fans and realizes they spend their hard-earned money to see the best rock and roll show on the planet and they each feel a sense of responsibility to deliver that – and they do. It’s not just personal experience for the fans, it’s a personal journey for the band.

“KISS ROCKS VEGAS” is another chapter in KISStory. And like every chapter so far, it exceeds all expectations, peaks all of the senses, and reminds you that the next chapter will be even better.

KISS – The Hottest Band in the World.


Special thanks to: Shannon T Simmons & Sara Tweed-Stafford



Review: “Octobersong” album by Aaron Hendra


“Octobersong” is the debut solo album of Aaron Hendra, an Australian-born songwriter, singer and guitarist currently based in Dallas. I came across this artist purely by


Tiffany & Aaron Hendra

happenstance. While tweeting with co-stars of Bravo TV’s up-coming “Real Housewives of Dallas” (premiering Monday April 11th, 2016), I discovered that cast member Tiffany Hendra was married to Aaron
and when I heard he had a solo album out I wanted to give it a listen. Without hesitation, I went to iTunes and purchased “Octobersong”.

Initial Impression:
In my traditional fashion, I sat down in my “man-cave”, put my iPhone in DND-mode and dimmed the lights so I could listen to the album start-to-finish with my undivided attention. Before I knew it, I had been taken on a delightful journey that ended way to soon. In other words, Aaron Hendra & his “Octobersong” did what relatively few can do, impress me enough that I immediately add them to my very short list of artists on my iPhone (a sacred place in which very few reside).

A Deeper Dive:
When I first started to write this review, I found myself describing in great detail the aspects of each and every song. I quickly realized I was being redundant due to so many awesome similarities in the songs. Therefore, I have tried to be a little more concise while still elaborating on the highlights. With that said….

Each song on this album truly holds it’s own. It’s very clear the objective when creating this album was to write/record a set of songs that each told a unique story yet collectively had a bigger message. And while that message may very listener-dependant, it structurally is based on the human condition. This album is very emotional, accurately drawing parallels to the ups & downs in life. What I especially love about this album is that I think everyone can relate to it in their own way. The lyrical phrases may or may not be a direct likeness to what you may be going through but the choice of words are so well suited that we can all see what we need to see.

A great example is in “One Man’s War”. The song starts with a two-acoustic guitar phrasing piece which immediately relaxes the listener. After a few bars the mood is slightly elevated when another guitar and bass very delicately find their way into the song. And just as you relax again, Aaron comes in singing “In this battlefield, God please be my guide”. This can apply to so many different situations and yet so purposefully the sound of his voice makes you feel like it will all be ok. The true magic moment in this song for me is when the Children of Shekinah Children’s Village are featured in the climax of the song singing “Lift your voice sing hallelujah”. The song stood it’s ground long before this part came in. But, when you hear those kids sing that phrase it matters not what your particular “war” is, they clearly send you the message that it will all be ok.

Aaron’s use of David Campbell, a master of the orchestra – conducting and arranging, and the LA Philharmonic are yet another example of how, in my mind, Aaron set out to create an album of great songs without a recipe, without boundaries and without sacrificing his objectives. Aaron obviously looked for, and got, whatever it took to make each song the best it could be.

Every word & every note of each song on this album is very specific. Each serving a purpose and ultimately serving the song and especially the listener. It’s not often an album contains so many attributes from the first note of the first song through the last note of the last song – “Octobersong” clearly does. The album personifies passion, meaning, definition, clarity and quite frankly does this all so well I just realized I’m on the 4th loop of the album. And that’s EXACTLY what I want an album to do.

Technical Impression:
I’m a sucker for dynamics, spatial characteristics, palatable instrumentation that enhances the phrasing and am overall a huge fan of musical exploration when it serves the song. This album is a great example of all of the above.

Aaron’s voice is quite unique, strong and sustainable in dynamic escapades and the engineers use of chosen gear only accentuates these attributes. What comes to mind is an AKG C-12 into an outboard Neve input module utilizing a Urei 1176LN peak limiter direct to the 2″. If you know audio, you’ll know what I mean and likely agree.

I’ve always said no one can harmonize with an artist like the artist him/her self. Other artists certainly enhance the movements but when the lead singer is passionately singing a song he believes in and also wrote, no one else can come close to truly capturing the moment and taking the listener on that special journey. That kind of performance can only come from the one most impacted/driven by the song. In this case, that is Aaron who once again stepped up to the plate for the grand slam.

I would be remiss if I didn’t state one of the best ways to know if a singer can actually sing is to listen for sections with little instrumentation and is dominated by the vocalist – especially when the engineer cuts way back on the reverb/echo type effects. Yep, you guessed it – Aaron passed this test with an A+.

Aaron’s guitar sounds couldn’t be more eloquently serving. There is a true art to getting that perfect guitar sound for each song and even each section within a song. This album delivers that from start to finish.

I also love a great sounding acoustic drum set and hats off to the engineer on this one too. Gigi sounds like he plays hard yet has a natural ability to temper his attacks in a very controlled yet natural manor. The kick drum is especially delightful and the engineers use of light limiting allowed the fancy dynamic footwork of Gigi to shine with great sophistication. And the symbols – impeccable.  I would also liken the sound to the C-12’s for overhead L+R.

Let’s not leave out the the Bass Guitar – I absolutely LOVE the way the bass builds off the drums in transitions and creates its own pulses that collectively are genius! The bass guitar is usually underrated and quite frankly usually exists to provide some bottom end and normalcy. However, the bass can be so much more and on this album it illustrates just how sonically serving it is when done right.

My favorite song?
On this album, I have 11 favorite songs. If you want me to pick just one, I respectfully decline.

— John J. Simpson
twitter: @johnjsimpson

Purchase “Octobersong” here via iTunes

Album info:
All songs written by Aaron Hendra
Bass :: Paul Bushnell :: Marcus Brown :: Dorian Heartsong
Piano and keyboards :: Rami Jaffee :: Jamie Mahoberac :: Marcus Brown
Background vocals on ‘The Reason’ :: Matt Jones
Background vocals on ‘One Mans War’ :: Matt Jones :: Gigi Gonaway :: EG Daily
Pedal Steel :: Jay Leach
Live strings performed by (24 piece orchestra) members LA Philharmonic
Strings Recorded by Allen Sides at Cello Studios, Hollywood
Strings Arranged & conducted by David Campbell*
Percussion on ‘One Mans War’  by Brian Kilgore
Choir on ‘One Mans War’ :: Special thanks to the children of the World Mission Shekinah Fellowship orphanage in Nimule, Sudan and the children of the Buziga Hill Primary school, Kampala, Uganda.

*David Campbell also wrote the arrangements for, & conducted, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra for the KISS SYMPHONY: ALIVE IV live concert and subsequent CD/DVD releases in 2003.


Review: Spinning Wheel by Engelbert Humperdinck & Gene Simmons

Engelbert & Gene

What happens when two music icons join forces to record an already great song? In this case, it’s pure magic! Engelbert Humperdinck and Gene Simmons joined forces and recorded “Spinning Wheel” for Engelbert’ “Calling” album and the result was magnificent.

Engelbert and Gene independently have charismatic, expressive, strong and mellifluous voices. They both exude total confidence and control yet can pepper in a dash of vulnerability when it suits the song.  In fact, there is an undertone to each of their voices that is quite similar and results in what seems to be a natural collaboration. Yet, at the same time, there voices offer very divergent characteristics that somehow couldn’t be more complementary to each other.

There are 12 notes in music. Therefore, what sets every melody, every groove & every song apart is what we do with those notes. Not just the arrangement/timing of the notes, but how we get from one note to the next. This process is what I call the “emotion of music” and both Engelbert and Gene exemplify an acute understanding and display of tremendous emotion in “Spinning Wheel”. This duet is real treat.

The song opens with an accelerating stacatto movement that immediately grabs your attention then quickly transitions into a slightly relaxed groove. Right as you get comfortable and settled in, Gene & Engelbert have a brief conversational-type exchange that lets you know you are in for a real treat and then the show begins.

In addition to the great vocal work by these two icons, the musicians who played all those instruments as the foundation of the song also did an outstanding job. “Spinning Wheel” holistically is strong, well recorded, mixed and mastered. It’s delightfully pleasing to the ear and emotionally energized for the soul.

“Spinning Wheel” – two iconic legends working together to create a unique work of art for the world to enjoy.

In a word: magnificent.

—John J. Simpson

on twitter at @johnjsimpson



Leaders, Music

1-yr Later, Gene Simmons was right: Rock is Dead

 (Photo by Daniel Knighton/WireImage)

(Photo by Daniel Knighton/WireImage)

It was just over 1 year ago that Nick Simmons, son of KISS co-founder & frontman Gene Simmons, published an interview in Esquire that he did with his father entitled: Gene Simmons “Rock is Finally Dead”.

It was a great article. In it, Nick interviews his father and asks some great questions about Gene’s views on the state of the Rock business. Gene was very direct and as always backed up his statements with facts and figures. As the title suggests, the article focused on the fact Gene believes that Rock is dead. What sets this article apart is that Gene explained in detail exactly why he believed rock was dead. He did such a great job of explaining his case, which is based on pure facts, that if he were in a court of law he could have ended with “I rest my case” and the ruling would have been a slam dunk in his favor.

The article got a lot of people talking which revealed numerous interesting behaviors of the human psyche. Two of the most intriguing displays to me were 1) the way so many seemed to read only the title and consequently based their views on incomplete information and 2) the way many more justified their own “stealing” of music. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all to me was just how many people didn’t seem to understand the very basic economic principles that proved Gene’s case. In retrospect, it’s probably due to a blatant disregard coupled with a likely sense of entitlement.

Gene said in the article “The masses do not recognize file-sharing and downloading as stealing…”. I believe it’s actually more sinister than that – I think people just don’t care. For some, it’s easy to steel and if they don’t get caught there are no consequences (at least in their own minds). Justification for criminalization.

Gene went on to say that “Rock did not die of old age. It was murdered”. He couldn’t have been any more correct. Case and point: when I was a teenager and wanted to get a new album, I had to go to the record store, thumb through a bunch of albums, pick out my selection, pay for it, then take it home and power up the record player to listen to it. It was a commitment and therefore I only did it when I truly wanted the music. It was an investment in both my time and money. Today, anyone with a computer can easily find the music of their choice and with one click have it downloaded onto their phone. No money, no time, no hassle. That is murder, plain and simple.

To those who think Gene is wrong about his remarks, I would suggest you take a step back and look at the big picture. He never said there were no longer fans of rock, nor did he say there were no longer kids in garages playing their hearts out hoping to one day make it big & nor did he say no one was even recording rock anymore. It’s the business of rock that is dead. Business – that key component that ultimately allows artists to make it their full-time jobs to entertain the public. The entire ecosystem that maintained rock as a viable business entity is without a doubt dead and was murdered by some of the very people that have the arrogance to call themselves fans.

When I acquire music (which I always proudly pay for), I am telling the artists that I believe in & appreciate their work. I recognize they, and everyone involved, worked long and hard to go from a riff in their head to an entire beautifully performed, engineered, mixed, produced and mastered work of art.

In my opinion, not a single person who acquires music illegally has the right to call themselves a fan. A fan recognizes the work an artist has put into a project and would only legitimately acquire their music. THAT is the core of what makes someone a true fan. Fair and honest: the band invests their time in the work and the fan invests their money in the product. If you acquire the music illegally, your are a thief. That is simply a fact.

I understand the economic principle that acquiring something for free is financially better than acquiring it for money. But there is a moral component, a human component that comes into play in the music business. Musicians create a product purely out of emotion – that emotion is as moral and human as anything can be. If they can’t get paid for their work, they can’t continue to do their work. No money, no honey.

If you believe you have the right to acquire music without paying for it, you should tell your employer you would like to reduce your salary to zero and while your at it you should also start adding in lots of overtime. In essence, that is exactly what you are asking your favorite artists to do (and you call yourself a fan).

If you now feel like shit for being such an asshole, good. You deserve it. You are an accessory to murder.

—John J. Simpson

twitter: @johnjsimpson


(Pre) Review: Bay City Rollers Latest Album

Bay City Rollers members (left to right) Stuart Wood, Les McKeown and Alan Longmuir announce their reunion in Glasgow. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

Bay City Rollers members (left to right) Stuart Wood, Les McKeown and Alan Longmuir announce their reunion in Glasgow. Photograph: Andrew Milligan/PA

The Backstory:

Upon learning that the 70’s boy-band the Bay City Rollers were getting back together after a 30-something year hiatus, I was quite excited as I have always been fond of their music and their 70’s television show. While this may date me, I recall every person I knew while growing up being huge fans of these Scottish gents wearing tartan kilts and dominating the airwaves and magazine covers at the grocery store checkout lines. It was called Rollermania and the only way you could avoid hearing about the Bay City Rollers was to be in a coma. There was no escaping it! Back to present day, they are working on an album together (the first since 1978) and are already selling out dates on their tour which starts in December.

As of this writing, the confirmed original members signed up are: lead vocalist Les McKeown, guitarist/backing vocalist, Stuart “Woody” Wood and bass guitarist/backing vocalist Alan Longmuir. According to CNN, guitarist Eric Faulkner is interested but former drummer Derik Longmuir (now a cardiologist nurse) is not. The band is now managed by John Mclaughlin who, if I may say so, is doing great job – he is just the right guy to manage this project.

When the band announced it’s first reunion concert in over 30 years was going to be December 20th at the Borrowland in Glasgow, Scotland (Scotland’s premier rock venue), tickets went so fast they added another night, and then another night and then yet another night. Rollermania has obviously been defibrillated & resuscitated (that one’s for you Derik). The dates are Dec 20th, Dec 21st, Dec 22nd and Dec 23rd. And yes, the boys will be sporting their tartans!

In honor of this good news, I decided to venture on a slightly different path and write a review of their forthcoming album – before it was even recorded. In fact, to my knowledge the songs haven’t even been written. But, being so familiar with their work both as a group and as individual artists, I feel quite confident I can nail this.

The Review:

When I heard the Bay City Rollers had a new album out, I immediately went to iTunes to buy it. The moment I saw the artwork for the album, I was both taken back in time to my teen years  filled with great memories listening to and watching these guys AND I was taken to present day where I could tell by their pictures they too had added a few years but somehow the two different emotions quickly merged into one which I’ll refer to as “The Modern Day Rollermania”. I didn’t know for sure what was to come, but I was sure it was going to be awesome!

With the album downloaded on my iPhone, I put in my Beats Earbuds by Dr Dre and hit the play button. With the first note, I was already happy. Perhaps it was the anticipation. Maybe it was the excitement. Actually, it was all that and so much more. I was immediately treated to a familiar yet unknown sound that brought a smile to my face, a dance to my step and a beat to my heart.

Every song on this album is equally magnificent, each with it’s own unique message and personality. Each members voice adds a very special characteristic to the songs. Their melodic structures with their perfectly accented harmonies are complex in structure yet somehow sound effortless. The familiarity of their voices, instrumentation and musical composition immediately invite you in and yet the new songs keep you on your toes in anticipation of the unknown that’s still to come. It’s truly a treat to be able to experience so much from music.

The album is full of these familiar, yet unknown journeys which draw you in and make you feel awesome. It’s great music, fun music, captivating vocals & harmonies that are layered atop instrumentation that morphs into a delightfully great experience.

To each member of the Bay City Rollers, I thank you for your willingness to get back together and for giving the world something fun, entertaining and meaningful. One of the reasons I think Rollermania is so powerful is that it is somewhat like the fountain of youth we all yearn for…it takes us all back in time to our own special & happy places and that’s a journey we all embrace with open arms.

I give this album and each individual band member an A+ in all categories.

John J. Simpson


Rock and Roll All Nite: The Quintessential Anthem by KISS Turns 40

(AP Photo/dpa,Britta Pedersen)

(AP Photo/dpa,Britta Pedersen)

What is an anthem? Merriam-Webster says it’s “a formal song of loyalty, praise, or happiness”. While that definition properly suits most cases, when it comes to the Rock and Roll Anthem, aka “Rock and Roll All Nite” (by the Hottest Band in the World, KISS), that definition falls very short.

40 years ago, 4 guys wearing 8″ platforms and more makeup than your mother (credit to Gene Simmons for that phrase) were in New York City working on their 3rd album (Dressed to Kill) and it was suggested they write an anthem for the very genre they quickly came to redefine and dominate, Rock and Roll. The idea was to create a song that would in and of itself represent all that the music stood for. In other words, if you had to sum up what Rock and Roll was all about, listening to this song would do the trick. Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley got together and did just that. The year was 1975.

40 years later, “Rock and Roll All Nite” has endured as THE Rock and Roll anthem. It was initially released on April 2nd 1975 via Casablanca records and was produced by Neil Bogart and KISS. The song was originally recorded by Gene SimmonsPaul StanleyAce Frehley and Peter Criss.  KISS has recorded several versions of the song (1 studio, many live) which have appeared on 18 KISS albums/DVD’s and the song was most recently featured in the “Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery” movie (released July 10, 2015). In 2008 it was named the 16th greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.

What makes a great song and what makes a great anthem are two different things. However, you can’t have the latter without the former. A great song has a melody you can’t get out of your head, lyrics that resonate with the listener, a beat you find yourself moving to and that magical something that can instantly turn a bad mood into a great one the moment the song starts playing. A great anthem is all of that yet so much more. An anthem is somewhat like a corporate mission statement. It doesn’t represent just an idea, it represents and defines a path for an entire philosophy. “Rock and Roll All Nite” clearly not only meets that objective, it eclipses it.

There are numerous songs that are considered staples in Rock and Roll. However, when you ask virtually anyone on the planet which one song best represents what Rock and Roll is all about they will undoubtedly say “Rock and Roll All Nite by KISS“. Simply stated, there is no other song that properly epitomizes or even closely exemplifies what Rock and Roll is all about. The genius of “Rock and Roll All Nite” is that the message is clearly yet succinctly stated (lyrics) and the vehicle by which that message is delivered (KISS) is truly larger than life. These two distinct properties coalesced resulting in a newly-defined perpetual masterpiece. It would become KISS‘s magnum opus.

For  Gene Simmons   and Paul Stanley, the song’s title was an obvious one “Rock and Roll All Nite”.  It summed up exactly what they were all about – being the band they always wanted to see (credit to Paul Stanley for that phrase).

The second lyrical phrase in the chorus “and party every day” is a brilliant phrase not just because the statement naturally expands the predecessors message and not just because those that “party” in the traditional sense can relate to it, but because anyone can relate to it. “Party every day” means different things to different people – but the very nature of the phrase in this context is about continuing the journey experienced during the concert throughout the next day. In other words, the excitement doesn’t have to stop at the end of the night. You can embrace it as part of your daily life.

While the lyrics can be interpreted many ways, the song is about a movement, a state of mind, a way of life and a celebration of all of the above. As for the music itself, it is beautifully  simplistic in structure (rooted to the 1, 4, 5-7) yet is brilliantly accented and carried with a rolling bass line throughout that completely supports and compliments the melodic structure of the lead vocals (bass guitar and lead vocals by  Gene Simmons).

The chorus of any great anthem represents the very foundation of your soul. It’s the icing on the cake (Gene  loves sweets so I wanted to throw that in there just for him). “I wanna Rock and Roll all nite, and party every day”. So simple, yet so right.

“Rock and Roll all Nite” is the song every  KISS  fan can’t wait to hear live. It’s usually the last song of the show and therefore it’s a bitter-sweet experience. However, the song is so powerful and the energy and heart KISS  puts into playing it live make every audience feel like they are a part of the concert – as if the audience was on stage performing it with KISS. 64,000 people nightly are singing along, playing air-guitars and drums, clapping, screaming, cheering and are one with the hottest band in the world.

In sporting events, the National Anthem is performed at the beginning of the event which gets the audience and both teams excited and pumped up for what is yet to come. With one team usually winning a game, playing the National Anthem at the end of the event when 1/2 of the audience just had their team lose the game would not be nearly as exciting or effective. It simply wouldn’t work. Conversely, every audience member at a KISS concert is first treated to the ultimate two-hour Rock and Roll show and therefore when KISS plays “Rock and Roll All Nite” as the encore, every single person in attendance is celebrating as they have ALL just won the Super Bowl of Rock. There are no losers at a KISS concert.

And, when KISS  finishes “Rock and Roll All Nite” & thus the concert, each member of the audience is probably as tired and yet equally as energized as the 4 guys on stage who just spent two hours giving them everything they had (not to mention doing this while running around a huge stage blasted with hot lights, fog, explosions, fireworks and all while wearing 30-50 pounds of costumes/gear). This is the essence of why KISS  and their “Rock and Roll All Nite” anthem have endured and why KISS  will live on long after Gene and Paul  stop performing.

Thank you, Gene and Paul, for creating this quintessential anthem and thank you to each and every KISS member past (Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, Bruce Kulick) and present (Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Tommy Thayer, Eric Singer) that has had the privilege of performing this prodigious piece of art.

For 40 years, fans all over the world “keep on shoutin’ I wanna Rock and Roll all Night, and party every day” and they owe it all to you.

— John J. Simpson