Bob Kulick. The shadowy, fast-fingered eminence grise who played all your fave Ace Frehley solos on the late seventies/early eighties Kiss albums. The bald-headed baron of bombast who acted as musical director for the mighty Meat Loaf during the Neverland Express years. The master craftsman behind AOR gods Balance and sundry other bands and projects. Kulick’s been a busy man for the last FIFTY years, so it should probably come as no surprise to find out that Skeletons in the Closet is the man’s first ever solo album. But is it any good?
Well, yes and no. When it’s good it’s very good, but they are a few too many genuinely dodgy moments included within the album’s ten tracks to mark this out as a truly essential purchase. As a rule of thumb, it seems to be the better the vocalist the better the all-round performance. Consequently the cheap and nasty version of Goldfinger featured here can be safely buried after a solitary listen, the vocals of former Tokyo Blade man Vic Wright collapsing under the pompous weight of the grandiose structure of the song. If you want a metal version of the Goldfinger theme, look no further than Tarja Turunen’s sumptuous reading of the track that came out last year.
Similarly, and surprisingly, London, which features Twisted Sister man Dee Snider on vox, is a bit of a duffer. Ponderous and seemingly in search of a reason for being, it doesn’t really add anything to the album.
Three tracks feature former Giuffria/Dirty White Boy alumnus David Glen Eisley, with the title track and the excellent Can’t Stop the Rock being real highlights. It’s always a treat to hear Eisley sing, and his voice complements Kulick’s muscular riffage perfectly, even if the chorus on India sounds a bit muddled. The same enjoyment is also derived from the tracks featuring Dennis St James – who the keen-eyed among you will know as Dennis Feldman, a Balance compadre as well as a comrade from the sessions that spawned Michael Bolton’s titanic Everybody’s Crazy opus – who adds superb throatal accompaniment to the last brace of songs on the album, viz the spectacularly good Guitar Commandos and closer Eyes of a Stranger.
There are three other tracks, Rich Man, Not Before You (both a bit ordinary, if truth be told, the former featuring Todd Kerns on vocals, the latter Robin ‘MSG’ MacAuley) and Player, which features a good performance from Last in Line man Andrew Freeman, all of which gives a fair bit for Bob Kulick completists to get their teeth into. However the casually interested may find this to be of strictly limited allure, even though there’s some fine singing and playing to be heard.
Bob Kulick will see his Skeletons in the Closet released by Vanity Music on September 15th.