BOB KULICK
"Skeletons In The Closet"

(Vanity Music Group)

01. Rich Man
02. Not Before You
03. London
04. Goldfinger
05. Player
06. India
07. Skeletons In The Closet
08. Can't Stop The Rock
09. Guitar Commandos
10. Eyes Of A Stranger

RATING: 7/10

Every hard rock fan knows the name Bob Kulick, often by way of his younger brother, Bruce. Both were, at various stages, part of KISS, the latter coming through recommendation by his elder sibling. Bob contributed guitars to three of the studio tracks on side four of KISS's "Alive II", plus "Unmasked", the four newer cuts to "Killers", and though his pieces were cut, on "Creatures of the Night". Bob also played behind Paul Stanley on "The Starchild"'s 1978 solo album. You might even recall Bob Kulick had a quick run in W.A.S.P. on "The Crimson Idol" and "Still Not Black Enough". Digging deeper, he has played with Meat Loaf, Doro, Lou Reed, Michael Wendroff, Tim "Ripper" Owens, BALANCE, SKULL, BLACKTHORNE, MURDERER'S ROW, and, believe it or not, Michael Bolton.

Yet for his guitar-wrangling prowess, Bob Kulick's biggest claim to fame (aside from laying down the sick grooves to WWE wrestler Triple H's entrance theme) comes from the production console. Most prominently, his construction work behind MOTÖRHEAD's Grammy-winning cover of METALLICA's "Whiplash". Then you have Bob Kulick's spearheading of a parade of tribute albums to THE BEATLES, AEROSMITH, QUEEN, IRON MAIDEN, Alice Cooper, Cher, Frank Sinatra, Shania Twain and of course: KISS. Lest we forget 2008's metal-themed yuletide bash, "We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year".

Unfathomably, it's taken Bob Kulick all these years to whip up a solo album, but now, with "Skeletons in the Closet", add that to his glittering resume. Ten songs of retro hard rock that fit nice 'n' cozy between your umpteenth listen to KICK AXE's "Vices", ALCATRAZZ's "Disturbing the Peace" and the self-titled ROUGH CUTT album. Kulick's proverbial skeletons are made up of a cavalcade of all-star guests (try reciting them all in one breath): Dee Snider, Vinny Appice, Eric Singer, Robin McAuley, Rudy Sarzo, Frankie Banali, Bobby Ferrari, Scot Coogan, Jimmy Waldo, Dennis St. James, Chuck Wright, Bobby Rock, Andrew Freeman, Vick Wright, David Glen Eisley, Brent Fitz, Todd Kerns, Jay Schellen, Kjell Benner, Chuck Burgi and Doug Katsaros. Naturally, baby brother Bruce makes a couple of appearances.

Given that this is Bob Rock's first individual project, we'll cut him slack for the initial choppiness of "Skeletons in the Closet", especially since the album turns like a proverbial vinyl platter to a bitchin' second half. Dee Snider does rock the house on the overlong and muddy "London", and Vinny Appice slams the snot out of the fret-squealing opening number, "Rich Man". Bob and Bruce have a noticeable trip tearing off riffs through the squelchy and bobbling "Not Before You", rescued by a sharp, melodic bridge and a gallant vocal attack from Robin McAuley. Let's not go there, however, with a dreadful cover of the unforgettable James Bond theme, "Goldfinger".

Former GIUFFRIA and SORCERY, vocalist David Glen Eisley inherits vocal duties for three successive tracks at the backend of the album, beginning with the progressive and poignant "India", and followed by the title track and "Can't Stop the Rock". Bob Kulick's playing (and songwriting) is the tightest on "India", with Eisley capturing the essence of Graham Bonnett, without hitting any outrageous falsettos. It might've been as encapsulating as ALCATRAZZ's immense "Desert Diamond" with even more thump, since "India" wafts airily of the former. Nonetheless, "India" is a sure winner. If "Skeletons in the Closet" and the would-be party jam "Can't Stop the Rock" sound reminiscent of W.A.S.P., with Eisley striking a few conspicuous nods to Blackie Lawless, it's probably no accident. Still, the tracks are entertaining, even if remiss of a smidge of heat that would've made them colossal.

"Guitar Commandos" will prompt the most smiles from diehard rockers with Chuck Burgi's steady banging alongside the snappy bass hum and more tag-team pleasure from the Kulick bros. Dennis St. James drops a convincing vocal track that adds more pump to "Guitar Commandos", and then he lofts overtop the poppy blues rock closer, "Eyes of a Stranger".

For a debut solo album, "Skeletons in the Closet" is certainly not bad, though one might've expected better production and tighter rhythms from this widely acknowledged pro in the business. When the songs click, they're fun to grab onto, as is Bob Kulick's playing. Fun being the operative word, it's plain this album was done for kicks, and to give Bob Kulick a reminiscent touch of the limelight he's cast from behind-the-scenes over the years.

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