Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010, Twenty 4 Records/Rocket Science Ventures)
- Ain’t Gonna Die
- No Friend Of Mine
- Hand Of The King
- I’ll Survive
- Dirty Girl
- Final Mile
- I’m The Animal
- And I Know
- Between The Lines
Bruce Kulick – Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Jeremy Rubofino – Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards
Brent Fitz – Drums
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals on ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’
John Corabi – Lead Vocals on ‘No Friend Of Mine’
Nick Simmons – Lead Vocals on ‘Hand Of The King’
George Kerhulas – Hammond B3
Doug Fieger – Lead Vocals & Percussion on ‘Dirty Girl’
Tobias Sammet – Lead Vocals on ‘I’m The Animal’
Eric Singer – Drums on ‘I’m The Animal’
Steve Lukather – Guitars on ‘Between The Lines’
Jimmy Haslip – Bass on ‘Between The Lines’
Kenny Aronoff – Drums on ‘Between The Lines’
Producers: Jeremy Rubofino & Bruce Kulick
Total Time = 46:14
The last 6 months or so have been a great time to be a KISS fan with new albums from KISS and Ace Frehley finally seeing the light of day and now former KISS lead guitarist Bruce Kulick releases his third solo album BK3. After having no new material for so long, KISS fans like myself are revelling in this recording rebirth! I grew up in the ’80s so the non-makeup KISS was my focal point and Bruce was a big part of the KISS machine at a time when stability and musicianship was desperately needed. From the ANIMALIZE TOUR in 1984 to the MTV Unplugged session in 1995, Bruce Kulick was a talented mainstay in the band and helped right the KISS ship and keep it on a steady course for 11 years until the inevitable reunion with Peter Criss & Ace Frehley. I make it a point to follow former members of KISS through their solo careers but I haven’t really followed Bruce past UNION, the excellent band project with John Corabi, to his solo albums. BK3 is Bruce’s third solo effort and I decided to check it out.
BK3 is like an all-star solo album with a lot of big name guest musicians making appearances on half the tracks and Bruce handling vocals on the other half. KISS fans will take note that Gene Simmons co-wrote and and lead vocals on ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ while his son, Nick Simmons, helped write and sang on the first single ‘Hand Of The King’. ‘Ain’t Gonna Die’ sounds like it could easily fit into the ’90s REVENGE/CARNIVAL OF SOULS KISS era and it is one of the best Gene related songs to be released in the last 15 years. Nick Simmons puts in a solid vocal performance on ‘Hand Of The King’ and he sounds very much like his famous father when he sings, I didn’t even realize that it was Nick singing this song until I read the liner notes, I thought it was Gene doing a subdued vocal with Bruce on backup harmonies. Just goes to show you the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! ‘Hand Of The King’ is another song that could have easily fit on a ’90s KISS album, it has a certain bite to it, a dirty Hard Rock sound that was so prevalent on REVENGE and CARNIVAL OF SOULS. Current KISS drummer Eric Singer also makes an appearance by playing drums on ‘I’m The Animal’ and Bruce’s Union partner John Corabi (former The Scream & Motley Crue) adds a great vocal to ‘No Friend Of Mine’, a song that could easily be a long lost Union track and one of my favorites on the album.
This isn’t an all-star KISS related project though, Bruce has brought in a few other friends to add some different sounds to the album. Former singer of The Knack, Doug Fieger, adds a really catchy vocal to the power-Pop of ‘Dirty Girl’ (a title that sounds like a Gene Simmons song!) and Tobias Sammet of Edguy/Avantasia fame contributes his great set of pipes to ‘I’m the Animal’, a song originally meant for Gene to sing but is a much better fit for Tobias. It’s a guitar heavy track with that REVENGE style main riff and aggressive vocal but the harmonies on the chorus break it up a bit. Sammet is well-known for his Power Metal/Melodic Hard Rock vocals but here he filss in an aggressive ballsy vocal with a ton of attitude. ‘Between The Lines’ is an all-star instrumental with Bruce and Steve Lukather (Toto) trading off guitar parts so smoothly. Seeing that this is his solo album, Bruce takes the reins on the other half of the album singing on the record’s other five tracks. No offense to Bruce but he’s no Joe Lynn Turner or Paul Stanley vocally but his performance is pretty good. ‘Fate’ opens with a fast Hard Rock style and an edgy vocal while ‘And I Know’ goes for a more melodic approach. Where Bruce shines vocally is on the slower songs, kind of like his KISS vocal debut on ‘I Walk Alone’ from CARNIVAL OF SOULS. ‘I’ll Survive’ is laid back (like Bruce!) and he sounds a bit like Space Ace at the mic. ‘Final Mile’ is a melodic mid-tempo track that really spotlights Bruce vocally as does ‘Life’, a song that has a cool Beatles and Queen laid back vibe to it…..cool guitar on this song too.
I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot from this album because I hadn’t heard Bruce’s previous solo albums but I was pleasantly surprised at how varied and well done this album is. Maybe I wasn’t expecting much because Bruce is never really a focal point in the bands he has been in, he is always a solid part of the supporting cast. BK3 turns things around though, the writing is solid and Bruce’s vocals are pretty good. He’s always been an underrated guitar player so his guitar work is as solid as it’s always been. The collaborations are the highlights, especially the Gene and Nick songs for KISS fans, but the Corabi, Feiger and Sammet songs are the best on the album. ‘No Friend Of Mine’ is reason enough to buy this record and it’s probably my favorite of the album with ‘Dirty Girl’ coming in a close second. Overall I would say this is a really good solid album that flows very well. I’ve been giving this a lot of time on the stereo and iPod and I’m really enjoying it…..this album is going to surprise a few people and it’s going to win Bruce some extra fans outside of the KISS realm.