Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

July 2, 2010

Peter Criss ~ Out Of Control

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Style: hard rock, adult alternative
Label: Mercury
Year: 1980
Home: New York

Members: Peter Criss ~ vocals/drums/percussion
Stan Penridge ~ guitars/b. vocals
David Wolfert ~ guitars/synthesizer
Tony Mercandante ~ bass/b. vocals
Stu Woods ~ bass
Benny Harrison ~ keyboards/b. vocals
Ed Walsh, Greg Zanthus Winter ~ synthesizer
David Buskin ~ b. vocals
George Young ~ saxophone

I've got a few hardcore KISS fans that are wondering when I'm going to cater to them, so to open the month, no, not KISS but a solo album from original drummer Peter Criss ... you know, the gravelly voiced one who sang "Beth". Criss had already released one solo album, but was basically out of KISS in all but name when he recorded this under-appreciatd & somewhat poorly received album. It's apparent on that release that Criss had inclinations beyond the in your face KISS rock blast, which had he'd already hinted at & came to maturity here. This is not an album for everyone. For some it'll be too slow. For others it'll be too un-KISS, though no worse than their lowest points, but far enough away from expectations to make it's lowly status understandable. This is also far more personal than most KISS lyrics. Thus, it falls into the adult alternative world of rock. No one is going to be talking about who put the X in sex here. Maybe that's a good thing. "By myself, starting over again, by myself, looks like this time I'm on my own" opens the album, preceeded by flutes & softly plucked acoustic guitars. It's a prolific opening laying out what the listener should expect. The lyrics end up being so autobiographical that it saves the near moribund sobriety of the song, actually, it makes it more sober & you end up actually wanting to hear what Criss has on his mind. Actually, its the lyrics that are the strongest thing on the album. Straight forward, not pretencious or too literary nor going for grand social troubles (i.e. the problem with fellow drummer Roger Taylor's solo career). While the album is largely full of simple melodies ("In Trouble Again") that are so different from Kiss's bombastic rock that you'd never know where Criss had come from. While "There's Nothing Better" could be off of a Buddy Holly album with honky tonk piano, Chicago blues guitar & horns. Again, expectations are defeated. But, that's the thing with drummers. You never know what to expect. Drummers are some greatly under appreciated musicians with one of the more important roles in a band &, from the point of view of this non-drummer, one of the more demanding. You can mess up a solo but not the beat. But, there's also a stigma with solo albums from drummers. Roger Taylor of Queen is the most prominent example whose solo career never came close to what he did with Queen, let alone he occassionally relied too much on electric pre-programmed drums. Dave Grohl of Nirvana might be a good example on the other end when he found success with the Foo Fighters, albeit he now plays guitar. Phil Collins of Genesis also doesn't play drums live though he records everything on his own but he's generally been a success story. Though, has anyone listened to a Ringo Starr, Mo Tucker or Ginger Baker album lately? While Charlie Watts gave up rock-n-roll for jazz in his under-appreciated solo career. So, one really never knows what to expect from drummers - either success-wise or musically. I'll confess that I'm a mixed KISS fan. Some of their stuff I like & some of it I don't. I like their early stuff live & their later stuff in the studio, while their unplugged work is my favorite. But, maybe because I'm not a big KISS fan I don't come to Criss from the normal perspective. I have no expectations ... actually, being that I'm not a fan of KISS he can only excel beyond my expectations. This is not a hard rocking album. A little more lowkey, sometimes a bit 70's/80's. Keyboards & synthesizers highlight more than a few songs ("Where Will They Run", "I Found Love", "Out Of Control" & "My Life"). What separates this from KISS is the lack of pretenciousness. I've always felt like KISS is aiming for the next greatest rock album ever versus just a great album ... & after all their work they end up with their own Chinese Democracy. Criss is not aiming for the greatest album, probably believing his band will beat him to the punch, but just for good songs ... & thus ends up with a great album.

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