Listen, if you’re a fan of hard rock and you DON’T know the name Bob Kulick well then there’s pretty much no hope for you, and that’s that. But for those of us that know about his contributions to some of the greatest bands in rock, as well as his famous lineage, the sight of his debut solo album Skeletons In the Closet (September 15, Vanity Music) is enough to make our hearts leap like gazelles. This man is an incredible guitarist and a great songwriter, so who wouldn’t want to hear a full album’s worth of his tunes, right? Especially when you factor in the star-studded cast he assembled for this one.
Right from the opening tip-off we have four brand new tracks starting with “Rich Man.” Kulick tells how this came to be: “I started writing new music in 2015 which then turned-into songs co-written with my former BALANCE bandmate, Doug Katsaros and my brother Bruce. I’ve had the thought of doing a solo project using some of the musicians I had worked with in the past for some time. Now armed with four new original songs my girlfriend (photographer, Julie Bergonz) introduced me to producer Bobby Ferrari at Vegas View Recording and he loved the idea of working with me, the guest artists and the four new songs and that introduction led to the making of this album.”
“Rich Man” features Todd Kerns on vocals, the incomparable Rudy Sarzo on bass, and legend Vinny Appice on drums. Katsaros plays keyboards and provides backing vocals on this as well as several others. “Not Before You” showcases the dynamic vocals of Robin McAuley as well as one hell of a serpentine riff from Kulick himself that drummer Brent Fitz plays alongside nicely. Interestingly, Bruce Kulick does the bass on this track as well. Dee Snider brings a sinister vocal to “London” a song that is very much a musical Jack the Ripper (a personal hero of mine) and quite frankly there’s no one out there who could pull this off the way he does. Frankie Banali lays down a heavy beat that punctuates the song like the Ripper’s blade stabbing into unsuspecting flesh.
“Player” features one of my current favorites in the game, Andrew Freeman on the vocals. I love his tone, feel, and delivery, especially here. Sarzo is back on bass for this one, and the groovalicious Scot Coogan plays the drums. Bob’s past work makes its first appearance with MURDERER’S ROW’S “India,” starring Kulick (who also plays a coral sitar solo), David Glen Eisley (vocals), Jay Schellen (drums), Chuck Wright (bass), and Jimmy Waldo (keys). This team also hits us with title track “Skeletons In the Closet,” making me realize that these guys should do a full album, and do it soon. Their chemistry is undeniable on these songs.
“Can’t Stop the Rock” was born from the sessions where Eisley and Kulick came up with the Spongebob Squarepants song “Sweet Victory” (don’t even act like you don’t know that one…just stop it, ok?), and if I close my eyes it’s 1989 again and I’m rounding up carts in the King Kullen parking lot with my Walkman going full blast. KISS’ Eric Singer pounds the skins here. The disc closes with a pair from Bob’s SKULL days, “Guitar Commandos” and “Eyes of a Stranger.” The former is very, very cool because it features both of the Kulick brothers trading licks and some impressive vocals from Dennis St. James (who also plays bass), while the latter has one of my favorite drummers, Bobby Rock laying down a tasty groove alongside one of the album’s best riffs and hooks.
At the end of the day Bob Kulick has delivered one monster of an album with Skeletons In the Closet, and I sincerely hope he tours, or at the very least assembles an all-star band and comes to Philly. Screw the rest of the country, I just wanna see and hear this stuff live in my city. The record comes out September 15 and I can’t stress enough how much you need to pick it up and play it loud!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Guitar Commandos”, “Eyes of a Stranger”, “Player”, “Not Before You”, “London”