Style Over Substance

Style Over Substance


Speaking of messy guitar technique…Another favorurite band of mine is Black Sabbath. I love their music all the way from their first album up to Heaven and Hell…I even like some of Born Again and some of Mob Rules.
There’s a video that was made in the 80’s of Tony Iommi giving guitar lessons, teaching how to play some Sabbath solos…He was messy as hell. I couldn’t believe it !

I appreciate a guy like Steve Vai, Steve Morse, Satriani and Van Halen for their technically proficiency…I kind of lose respect for messy, sloppy guitarists…They just sound lazy to me. If I had never learned how to play, maybe I wouldn’t be so judgmental of their crappy, lazy playing. Jeez, there’s thousands upon thousands of guys playing in bars that have better technique than some of these guitar heros.


I thought Dick also did the leads in Flaming Youth?
Wasn’t there another guy who filled in for some of the solos on that album? I read about this a long time ago. I thought someone filled in on King Of The Nighttime World also.


Check this…


I’m glad I’ve found a forum where I can talk about Kiss. Everyone seems to call them a “kiddy” band and it’s infuriating.



They are criminally pummeled by many critics.
People talk about how talentless they are and in the same breath they bow down to The Ramones, AC/DC , …Greenday??? WTF?

Actually I love AC/DC and I like some Ramones tunes too, but I was just trying to make a point.

Gene Simmons is an A-hole but he wrote some great tunes and he had some of the sweetest basslines back in the day. Paul Stanley was a GREAT singer…wicked range, wicked power AND he wrote so many GREAT songs!! Ace Frehley wrote some really cool tunes and had many awesome solos. Peter Criss…had a cool voice, but he couldn’t write a good song if his life depended on it. :grin:


Great voice. I think Paul did helium before this awful song, and also probably listened to every Survivor album up to that point. Cool high notes though.


Yeah, his natural range is…I mean WAS ridiculous. Crazy Nights was a huge disappointment but, yeah, he had a great vocal range while still singing with power, unlike a lot of other singers that have high voices. In the 80’s he might have gone overboard with all the high notes…I preferred when he sang with a rasp and didn’t push his voice so high…, but I’d like to see some of the other 80’s bands try to sing like that…I love Halford. Everyone thinks he has a super high range but I’ve never heard him sing this high in his NATURAL range…, not even close. But, don’t get me wrong. I love Priest and Rob Halford too.


I love his '70s voice too, but I think Ron Nevison coaxed his best vocal out of him even though it was for super pop material. I think it was the recording of the old stuff, needed a hi-shelf because his voice sounded dull and I know it wasn’t him just the recording. Especially on some of the Eddie Kramer ones, so much so it almost sounds as though he has a lisp because the S’s almost completely disappear.


I might upset CPF again when I say, I don’t like KISS.

My problem with KISS is that they don’t sound like they look. They look like they should be playing heavy rock/metal in a ‘doomy’ style like Black Sabbath, but they don’t, they just sound like a Rock ‘n’ Roll band.

As such they’re okay, but I just can’t get past that audio-visual mismatch.


Was one of them “God of Thunder”? That just came to me. It sounds like Ace (or I thought it did), but it could easily be a studio musician interpretation.

I call it “woodshedding”. In other words, those guys were great when they were on top of the world. Some of that is studio “trickery”, but mostly it’s hard work and dedication. Once the guitar legends make it to guitar video land, they can be lazy and out of practice. I’m always amazed how unimpressive they are, but I learned they just aren’t at their peak. I am (was) only at my peak at certain times. It’s the ebb and flow.

I love KISS. Always have. At least their old stuff. I learned to appreciate some of the early 80’s things after Ace and Peter left, but not so much. There are exceptions. I have always liked their purpose and image to some degree, even with Gene’s merchandising obsession. He’s cool, though I might disagree with his conservative politics on some issues.

I loved Gene’s basslines. Paul’s guitar was a steady rhythm (a few leads?) that always kept things going. Vocals were good, very boisterous, but I tended to like Gene’s vocals better, even Peter’s. Paul has a “tinny” thing to his voice and an attitude that is both rock-starish and annoying at the same time. There are exceptions. :wink:

Ace wrote Cold Gin, which is one of my favorites and sung by Gene. #classic Peter wrote “Beth”, which was not ever a strong favorite of mine, but I recognized it was huge with the ladies and a legend on its own. It was a crossover radio hit, and HUGE for KISS at the time. Peter tossed roses at the gals at shows during that song, and they ate it up. Also, “Strange Ways” was writen by Ace and sung by Peter and Gene, and was a killer track though totally overlooked.


I always assumed that was Ace, but I could be wrong. I’ve seen some interviews where Ace says he’s not even sure which solos he played because for many years he was doing so many drugs and drinking a lot.

That’s what I tend to think also.

For a long, long time I thought that playing guitar is like riding a bike…Like, you can stop playing for a long time a start back up at the same level as when you stopped playing. I always assumed I could do that, but recently I have seen some slippage in my own skills because I’ve been focusing so much more on my drumming, songwriting, and recording chops. I always assumed my guitar and vocal skills were strong enough that they wouldn’t degrade…, but unfortunately that’s not completely true. I notice my voice is a bit more fragile than it used to be also…:dizzy_face: I just noticed that this year…It kind of disturbs me! Maybe it’s an age thing…physical atrophy/ decline.

I love Gene’s voice too but I always tended to like the Stanley songs the most. Paul sounded like he had a thick , full voice to me (like an opera baritone/ tenor opera singer with a wild rasp). There are some songs where he intentionally sings softer. Songs like Magic Touch and other songs from Dynasty and Unmasked especially. But songs like Detroit Rock City, I Want You, I Stole Your Love, Tonight You belong To Me, It’s Alright, Nowhere To Run…etc, etc., he sounds so powerful and aggressive. But yes, Simmons had/ has a real cool tone…I love his voice too…Actually Peter had a really cool voice also…Damn, I know not many people would agree with me on this one, but I even like Ace’s crappy voice. I love how Ace sounds on Hard Times and Save Your Love…and 2000 Man, but he sounds horrible live in concert.

Yeah, Cold Gin is a great tune. Simmons does a great job on that. Stanley and Simmons both sing the chorus. I always loved the way their voices work together. Especially when they harmonize together, like they do on Shock Me, See You In Your Dreams or Getaway…etc, etc.

Peter got credit for writing Beth with Stan Penridge and Bob Ezrin but if you read the story about the writing of that song you’ll find that Bob Ezrin and Stan Penridge were very important in the construction of that song…I’ve even read that Peter initially wrote Beth with someone else who got no credit for it and that Ezrin came along and changed the song significantly. I think if Peter was a good writer he would have showed it…I just don’t see any proof that he was ever a good songwriter. I loved Peter’s vocals though, especially on Black Diamond! Strange Ways was a cool too. Not a very typical sounding KISS song.


Yeah, he was like the opposite of a poster child for musicians and mental health.

The body declines. There’s not much we can do about it except put in extra effort for good health and fitness. Even then, we’re battling time.

Good to know, I was unaware of a lot of this.

Yes, Black Diamond was awesome! It was a bit later, not much, that I discovered Strange Ways. I always seemed to be stoned when I listened to it. :crazy_face: So the slow sludgy tempo was actually quite cool from that standpoint. I had this weird ambivalence about the fast tempo KISS Alive and their first 3 albums which had ridiculously slow sludgy tempos. I actually like the slow tempos, though they sounded weird and unnatural. KISS Alive sounded too fast though, like they were on speed. It was exciting, but I think they were nervous on stage. I wondered if they slowed the tape down on those first three albums? I did notice this on my own when I first began recording my own songs; the tempo was slow and sludgy, but when I played live (cover songs mainly) I played much faster because of the crowd energy and being an “entertainer”. It’s an odd musical reality.


I like KISS Alive and the first 3 albums a lot. I found Alive 2 (the second live KISS record) to be much weaker than the first live album. They played the songs too fast and many of the songs didn’t have the same feel that they had in the studio. I really like side 4 of that album (the studio tracks) but many of the live songs sound kind of lacking. I’ve heard much better live versions of Shout It Out Loud than the version they have on Alive 2.

Speaking of bands/ musician’s tendency to play things faster in a live setting,…I’ve been aware of how that can detract from a lot of songs, so it’s a mistake that I’ve made a conscious effort to try to avoid… not always successfully. I hate when bands go overboard and speed things up too much. I don’t want to hear a slow, sludgy song like Strange Ways to be played at 160 bpm! That would kill the vibe.


That’s about the time I lost interest in KISS, and the later albums didn’t help. I learned to appreciate the early 80’s material to some degree in retrospect, but the early stuff was their golden age. When Peter and Ace left, so did I for the most part. :confounded:

Exactly. I don’t think KISS ever played Strange Ways live, or very rarely.


Here’s Ace and Peter doing it in 1995.


I saw this a few years ago. It was cool that they did it, but you can barely hear his vocals on the video. It’s fun to watch the stage banter though, and Ace did the solo pretty much spot on to the record.


Remember when they tried to market him as sober during the Frehley’s Comet years? When I saw him signing autographs in 1987, he could barely stand.


I’ve always liked the stuff that Joe Perry played on the classic Aerosmith albums. Sometimes he would sound so loose and sloppy, and yet everything he played seemed to work. I listen to some of it and think “how the hell did he think of playing that ?” Maybe it was all the drugs? :wink: Still love every one of those albums.


wow, its 2017 and people still pull out the 'ol “fast players have no soul” thing? just, wow
I doubt that’s what people are meaning. You can obviously play fast and soulfully, and I’d love to have the technique some of the shredders have. To me, there was just a period of time where shredders were coming off the assembly line and showing that they came complete with every trick in the book, but you had to search for guys who could do all that and get you emotionally involved too.

As for Kiss, I’ve never been a fan. They always sounded like a circus act to me, and I always got the feeling that their fans were not seeing through the veil. Almost a cult-like following of lemmings being led to the cliff. I’m sure they are nice boys though.

After reading through the thread, I would agree that Steve Vai is the prototype for where guitar should evolve. Incredible technique, and great musical sense, where most of his compositions rely on melodic content which he refers to in his solos to tie things together perfectly. Eric Johnson would be in that category too. It is more of a situation where the music allows them to display great technique without it sounding like it’s showing off what they can do,.

My only beef with the whole shredder thing is when it sounds like the producer grabbed the guitarist and told him “We need an over the top finger tapping, dive bomb whammy, horsey harmonics pull off kind of solo in here to show how much the dude in the song loves his mom” kind of juxtaposition.


the flip side is…there are tons of sucky slow players with no soul at all lol. I hate to slay a sacred cow but take away the makeup and gimmick and Ace Frehley would be lucky to be in a bar band. Im supposing he had some kind of overarching “soul” in his playing? nah, he plain sucked lol

or Clapton. If Clapton ever actually practiced and grew on his instrument after 1970, would have had all of a sudden lost his almighty “soul” and “feel”?

Hendrix was fast for his day and he destroyed Clapton. More speed AND tons more soul and emotion.

What about VanHalen? pretty much obsoleted his own heroes as far as speed and creativity yet dude had gobs of feel and emotion.

Yngwie? Again, some use him as the poster child for “omg, its just tasteless shred” but im assuming they are simply not fans of the genre or its a generational thing. I guess fans of JJ Cale might just not be able to get into a power metal type of thing just the same as I could never stomach Metallica.

But id run out of internet if I tried to post up all of Yngwies solos showing huge soul and emotion…nevermind his vibrato which is possibly the greatest ever. did he throw in filler songs and some autopilot playing sometimes? yes, over the course of 20 albums there is some filler…same as ALL guitar heroes. Clapton himself pretty much phoned in the whole 70s while he was busy with heroin etc

Ironically id almost put Vai in the “soulless” category lol. Lots of expression, yes, but somehow something always seemed to be missing to me.

Are any of these players “perfect”? No, no such thing. My biggest 4 heroes may be (no order) Hendrix, Page, Halen, Yngwie…followed by Jake E Lee, John Sykes, Michael Schenker, Gary Moore. All guys who have various combinations of style, speed, songwriting etc etc.

Mindless soulless shredder? Hate to pick on anyone but MichaelAngelo comes to mind and yeah, Vinnie Vincent just played a lot of atonal stuff for whatever reason. His “instructional” vid id kinda sad lol

have you ever heard the Clapton and Duane Allman jams from the layla sessions. You want to talk about mindless coke fueled excess, there it is. Yeah, lets jam on a 1 chord for 20 minutes using the same 5 notes

soul and technique together? no problem. This is about as emotional as it gets. TONE, vibrato, etc. Trust me I WISH Clapton would have continued to evolve so we could have heard this kind of stuff from him.

John Sykes in Blue Murder, him singing too. 10/10

We all know this one. John Sykes again. A master at work period. Those who “replaced” him…Vandenberg, Vai, Campbell, no disrespect but they simply arent as good as John.

of course there is the Swedish bad boy. is he over the top?? absolutely. Were Paganini and Bach over the top? absolutely. But Yngwie had emotion dripping off of most everything he did, especially of course on ballads. Dudes vibrato alone!! again, if you hate the genre then it is what it is. I hate everything Bob Dylan ever did lol.

VanHalen? yep, I guess for some its mindless party rock but its pretty soulful stuff. Like I said, if Clapton and Gilmour would have done some scales lol