bill bodkin goes deep with the demon and the starchild…
First things, first…KISS rules.
You might think that Kiss is nothing but a make-up covered gimmick band. Well, my friend, you’d be wrong, because Kiss is a wickedly talented band that puts on one of the most fun live shows you’ll ever experience.
And the reason I write about them in this installment of Lost Songs is because they will be bringing their blood spewing, fire-breathing, pyrotechnic rock ‘n’ roll show to Pop-Break’s backyard — the summer shed known as the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey. They, along with Motley Crue, will be closing out the theater’s outdoor season — and in true Kiss fashion, they’ll be doing it with a bang.
Most people are familiar with Kiss’ seminal party anthem “Rock ‘n’ Roll All Night” and casual fans might know “Detroit Rock City” or “I Was Made For Lovin’ You.” But hardcore fans, like myself, will remember and relish in the pure heavy metal magnificence that is “War Machine.”
I first heard “War Machine” through the now defunct professional wrestling promotion, Extreme Championship Wrestling. The wrestler Taz, who also competed and announced in WWE and now TNA, would stalk to the ring to Kiss’ version and a later, more generic version. The thunderous intro fit Taz perfectly, intense, in your face and imposing, the song built an aura around the shootfighting “human suplex machine” out of Brooklyn.
The attitude and aggression of the song are supplemented by the gravelly, basement level deep vocals of bassist Gene Simmons. Also the guitar work of Vinnie Vincent, who replaced longtime guitarist Ace Frehley on the record, is quite impressive.
The song also stands out from the Kiss catalog because the song was co-written by Bryan Adams. Yes, Mr. “Run to You” himself, the man who wrote one of the biggest ballads of the early 90s, co-wrote one of Kiss’ most badass songs. Go figure.
This song, is also an important part of KISStory, because it marks a massive turning point in the band’s career. The album Creatures of the Night, which “War Machine” appears on marked the end of their run on Casablanca Records, their longtime label. It also marked the departure of guitarist Ace Frehley from the band. What’s weird is Ace still appeared on the original album cover and some press junkets due to his contract with the band, while never recording any of the songs (as mentioned before, Vinnie Vincent did all the guitar work).
Then in another weird turn of events, the album was re-issued in 1985 (originally released in ’82) with the band completely without make-up and now guitarist Bruce Kulick on the cover. Just a series of odd events.
However, despite all this nonsense, “War Machine” still remains the best track off Creatures of the Night and one of the best, most killer tracks in Kiss’ catalog. It might not be the most fun like “Cold Gin Time” or “Detroit Rock City,” but when it comes to something truly badass, you better watch out, because the answer will always be “War Machine.”