Momoiro Clover Z vs. KISS – Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina
2015, King Records/Evil Line Records
1. “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina”
2. “Rock and Roll All Nite”
3. “SAMURAI SON”
4. “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina” [off vocals version]
5. “Rock and Roll All Nite” [off vocals version]
6. “SAMURAI SON” [off vocals version]
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Tommy Thayer – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Backing Vocals
Momoiro Clover Z
Kanako Momota – Vocals
Shiori Tamai – Vocals
Ayaka Sasaki – Vocals
Momoka Ariyasu – Vocals
Reni Takagi – Vocals
Narasaki – Guitar
Greg Collins – Synth
Producers: Paul Stanley & Greg Collins
Ordered this one off of CDBaby.com of all places. Never thought I’d see a KISS release on CDBaby! In truth, this is a Japanese import released through Japan’s King Records label and Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina is collaborative effort between KISS and Momoiro Clover Z, a popular J-pop girl group in Japan. Why? As Paul Stanley, “Why not?” It’s a great bit of PR and marketing though as this project was released right about the time KISS went on a brief tour of Japan.
“Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina” is a pretty catchy song. The music is especially good. Momoiro Clover Z handles the lead vocals while KISS helps out in the chorus. Then there’s the cover of “Rock and Roll All Nite”, which again features Clover Z on the vocals with a few musical nods to other KISS songs such as “Love Gun” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”. “SAMURAI SON” is a reworking of “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina”, featuring Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons on lead vocals, new lyrics and the Clover Z girls on backing vocals.
The “off vocals” versions are what you’d guess they are: instrumentals.
I know people will laugh at or hate this project because #1: it’s KISS and #2: it’s KISS teaming up with a Japanese pop girl group but the songs are actually kinda fun. It’s a quirky one-off thing and it’s not the band selling out or anything like that. They’ve been at this for 40+ years now, I don’t blame them for wanting to try something different. And this is definitely different. If you’re still longing for the days of Ace & Peter, then go back to your old vinyl record collection but I’m a fan of all eras of KISS and this is an odd yet entertaining release as far as I’m concerned.
The album comes in two different editions. One for KISS and one for Momoiro Clover Z. Of course I picked the KISS version. It’s a pretty nice package with a clear slip cover, nice insert and cardstock featuring credits & lyrics and even the CD’s artwork is pretty cool.
1. Something From Nothing
2. The Feast and The Famine
4. What Did I Do?/God As My Witness
6. In The Clear
8. I Am A River
Finally! An album with only eight tracks! Dave Grohl gets it. He’s kind of an old school guy when it comes to rock, so I’m not sure it he did it on purpose but to release only 8-10 tracks on your album seems like a throwback idea to me (and always a good one). I’m always wary of any band that wants to put 15 or 17 songs on an album because you know just there’s going to be tons of filler.
Plus, as I’m getting older, I’m finding I’m unfortunately devoting less and less time to listening to music so it’s nice to see a fairly short album. Okay, so there’s only one song clocking in at under four minutes (just barely, and the longest song is seven minutes long), but it’s still nice to not stare at a wall of track list.
Sonic Highways almost seems more like a project in a way, rather than a band album. Does it sound like the Foo Fighters? Yes. But it’s different in that the album was recorded in conjunction with a HBO series and each song was recorded in a different city with various special guests. The guest list includes Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielson, Zac Brown, Joe Walsh and band-mates from Grohl’s ’80s band, Scream.
Not as star studded (IMO) as the Sound City: Real to Reel album, but in a way, Sonic Highways seems like an expansion of Grohl’s Sound City documentary/album project.
As I said, the songs still sound like Foo Fighters, despite the fact “Something From Nothing” lifts from Dio’s “Holy Diver”! The rest is what you’d expect from the Foo Fighters from this point and it stands as a worthy addition to the band’s catalog but I think it falls short from being as good as 2011’s Wasting Light.
Highlights: “Something From Nothing”, “What Did I Do?/God As My Witness”, “Subterranean”
Sammy Hagar with Vic Johnson – Lite Roast
2014, Mailboat Records
Buy the album
1. Red Voodoo
2. One Sip
3. Finish What Ya Started
4. Eagles Fly
5. The Love
6. Father Sun
8. Deeper Kinda Love
9. Who Has the Right?
11. Halfway to Memphis
Well, it’s no surprise that Sammy’s latest release comes from Jimmy Buffett’s record label as it seems like Hagar has tried to emulate elements of Jimmy Buffett over the last decade (right down to covering his songs and touring with him). As the album cover and title would suggest, Lite Roast is a laid back and mellow acoustic affair. What’s notable is that Hagar’s longtime guitarist, Vic Johnson from the Waboritas, is featured on the cover and the album is officially credited to them both.
Essentially, this is kind of a compilation of solo/Van Hagar tracks reworked acoustically. “The Love”, from Hagar’s 1999 album Red Voodoo is excellent in this setting. I think I might actually prefer this stripped down version over the original. It’s also nice to see the inclusion of that album’s title track as Red Voodoo holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. Yes, I’m nostalgic about a Sammy Hagar album that was released in 1999.
There’s a couple of tracks that fall flat with me (okay, more than a couple). “One Sip” is from Hagar’s Buffett-inspired Livin’ It Up! album which was co-written with another Buffett emulator Kenny Chesney. That was an album I passed on and “One Sip” proves to me I was right. I doubt the original version is any better. “Sailin'” is also from that album is, frankly, a bland ballad. Van Halen’s “Finish What Ya Started” holds up well, as expected, when given the full acoustic treatment. “Dreams” also sounds good here. MelodicRock.com said this version of “Dreams” is “horrible” but I don’t get that at all. I think it holds up well.
Despite the spotty picks of tracks, one thing I like about this album is the production. It sounds like there’s not a whole lot and I mean that in a good way. It really sounds like Sammy and Vic simply pulled up a couple of stools, started playing and recorded everything live. I’m not sure if that’s what actually happened, but every track sounds like it was done that way in an intimate setting. There’s no attempt to set the atmosphere with a piano or anything. Just a couple of guys with acoustic guitars singing.
I guess it’s no surprise that I found myself most enjoying the songs that I already knew. Much of Hagar’s solo work beyond Red Voodoo has been very uninspired and, dare I say, lazy (although I LOVE “Serious Juju” from Ten 13). Lite Roast is a mixed bag of varying quality coffee grounds. There’s really only four tracks here that I think are enjoyable. The rest is kinda forgettable and boring. A Sammy Hagar acoustic album isn’t a bad idea, it’s just that the song selection is pretty poor. I’d like Hagar to revisit the acoustic setting at some point with the idea of doing a greatest hits package.
Highlight: “Finish What Ya Started”, “Eagles Fly”, “The Love”, “Dreams”