The Eric Singer Project - Live At The Marquee (DVD)/Live In Japan (CD)
Two new releases by The Eric Singer Project. The CD has been out for a couple of months but the DVD has finally been unleashed so I figured it best to review both at the same time (besides which they arrived in the same mailer).
Some background. Union is a project put together by ex-Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick and ex-Scream/Motley Crue frontman John Corabi and they've released at least three albums over the last few years and toured here and there including a storming UK tour last year which also featured Chuck Garric on bass/vocals from the Alice Cooper band. The band play a mix of their original songs as well as a few crowd pleasers from the various musicians past, especially Kiss.
The Eric Singer Project Was put together around 1999 by Eric with Kulick, Corabi and released an album called 'Lost and Spaced'.
Fast forward to these releases and what we basically have is either ESP with Chuck Garric, or Union with Eric Singer. But with three quarters of Union on the stage, and most of that bands current setlist being played, the addition of Eric really just adds to what is already a great band.
So first up the DVD which was recorded in Sydney, Australia during April last year. 'Do Your Own Thing' opens the show it fine style as it did on the last Union tour before we head straight into the Kiss back catalogue for 'Watchin' You' and 'Unholy'. As proved on tour with Union Chuck is really a revelation when you see him away from Alice. He's an excellent vocalist in his own right and proves it each time he moves to the mic as with these two songs. He sounds better then Gene ever has (sorry, never been a fan of Gene's vocals) and with the guaranteed quality of musicianship behind him the band do more then justice to the older songs.
Next it's back to Union with 'Love (I Don't Need It Anymore)' before more Kiss with 'Jungle' (from Kiss' "lost" album 'Carnival Of Souls'), 'Nothin' To Lose', all with Corabi at the mic, and 'War Machine' with Chuck taking over again. I do find it odd that the band play Kiss songs from the 70s and 80s, a period that none of the band were part of. They sound great but surely it would make more sense to just play songs that they had written themselves, or at least played on originally, like 'Jungle' which sounds immense. Still, you can't fault the performances so I suppose that justifies it alone.
'Jump The Shark' is Kulick's showpiece taken from his solo album 'Transformer' but covering Motorhead's 'Born To Raise Hell' was a surprise. 'Free Ride' and 'Four Day Creep' are from the ESP album. 'Power To The Music' is from the Corabi fronted 'Motley Crue' album.
Then comes what is possibly the highlight of the whole show. I know I said earlier it was odd that they did Kiss songs they didn't record originally, but their version of the Kiss classic 'Black Diamond' is simple brilliant. Kulick teases out the opening melody (or a version of it) before the band come crashing in and it's every bit as good as if Kiss were doing it themselves. Eric's vocals recall Peter Criss singing it, Corabi and Kulick pull off the twin leads perfectly. The band are all smiling and obviously know how good it is. It really is electric and almost worth the price on it's own.
The show closes with Grand Funks 'We're An American Band', and 'I Love It Loud' with Garric back on vocals to finish off what was a great show. Corabi is a cool frontman with a great voice. Kulick is an excellent guitarist. Chuck is a surprisingly fine vocalist (and we know he can play!), and Eric is the virtuoso drummer we all know. All great performers out enjoying themselves.
The multi-camera footage does a good job at making sure each musician get's pretty much equal time on screen and although the sound is only stereo it's perfectly fine for me although there do appear to be times when the lead guitar is a little low in the mix. Bonus footage consists of two tracks shot from one camera (presumably why they aren`t included in the main film) which are still excellent quality and are nice to complete the performance.
The CD 'Live In Japan' is taken from the same period but recorded a couple of months before the DVD. All but two tracks on the CD are duplicated on DVD, but as one of the ones that isn't is 'School's Out' many people reading this could be drawn more to the CD then the DVD. The CD again contains first rate performances of all the songs with, again, 'Black Diamond' being a highlight (okay, it's one of my favourite Kiss songs to start with...). 'Oh Darling'' by The Beatles is an odd choice to cover but it's an amusing little diversion, allowing for cute guitar solos, before 'School's Out' arrives, and in truth it's a little bit heavy handed and maybe doesn't fit that great with the rest of the material. What I'd like to hear is Union/ESP taking on something from 'Eyes...' or 'Dirty Diamonds' to represent Chuck's output. The other three are all represented on DVD and CD with Kiss, Motley Crue or Kulick's 'Transformer' tracks they wrote or performed on, but Chuck isn't which is a shame. ESP playing 'Man Of The Year' Or 'Dirty Diamonds' would be very cool (big hint for the London show in March haha).
So to sum up, what you get is a cool DVD with excellent performances and/or a cool CD with excellent performances. If I had to recommend one over the other it would be the DVD. I think the performance in Sydney has a certain something extra I don't hear on the CD. Maybe it's having the visuals, or maybe it's something else, but with the longer song list and added visual element that would be the one I'd go for. That isn't to say the CD is at all bad, it's just that the DVD is better!