Bruce Kulick- BK3
Release Date: February 2, 2010
Label: Twenty4 Records/Rocket Science

out of

Since being unceremoniously dumped from KISS in 1996 to make room for original guitarist Ace Frehley's return, Bruce Kulick has been quite productive musically. After KISS, he formed Union with ex-Motley Crue/Scream vocalist John Corabi. After three albums, Union disbanded and Kulick began playing with former/current KISS drummer Eric Singer in E.S.P. Then, in 2001, Kulick landed the role of guitarist in Grand Funk Railroad. Since 2001, Kulick has also released three solo albums, the most recent of which is 2010's BK3.

Unlike Kulick's first two solo albums, BK3 features multiple vocalists and songwriters. Each track takes on a different personality depending on who's singing. (Most of the guest vocalists also co-wrote along with Kulick and co-producer Jeremy Rubolino.) Appealing to the KISS fans, there's a track called "Ain't Gonna Die," featuring Gene Simmons in typically demonic form. Gene's son, Nick, co-wrote and sings on the surprisingly heavy "Hand of the King." Tobias Sammet, vocalist for Edguy and Avantasia, joins Kulick on "I'm the Animal," a stomping, if somewhat generic, rocker.

The late Doug Fiegler, former vocalist of The Knack, joined Kulick for "Dirty Girl", a supremely catchy power-pop number that may be the last recording Fiegler appeared on before his passing in 2010.

Perhaps the finest cut on BK3, however, is the song co-written and sung by Kulick's former Union bandmate, John Corabi. "No Friend of Mine" is a brilliant, uplifting, and thoroughly modern-sounding song that wouldn't sound out of place in heavy rotation on any rock radio station today.

Kulick handles the vocals on the remaining songs. While admittedly not much of a singer, Kulick's voice lends a heaping slab of earnestness to songs like "The Final Mile" "And I Know," and "Life." The honesty is even more prevalent in "I'll Survive," which references the 2003 shooting that resulted in Kulick taking a stray bullet in his right leg. ("The warm smoking gun couldn't take me away / Life was spared, I was blessed that day')

Aside from vocalists, BK3 includes a number of guest musicians as well, including KISS drummer Eric Singer, John Mellencamp's drummer Kenny Aronoff, former Blackjack bassist Jimmy Haslip, and guitarist Steve Lukather, who does a nice guitar duet with Kulick on the jazzy "Between the Lines," BK3's sole instrumental.

Kulick and Rubolino have crafted a great-sounding rock record that should generate appeal outside the KISS fan base. Sure, there are some mindless KISS-type tracks here but there are quite a few songs that show maturity in both songwriting and performing that go a long way to prove that Kulick is a vastly underrated guitarist. He may be compared to Ace Frehley because of his former job title but BK3 shows that when it comes to versatility, Bruce Kulick takes a backseat to no one.

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