Post Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:45 am

Song Premiere: Heat "What Does It Take" Ft. Vinnie Cusano

Exclusive Song Premiere: Heat's "What Does It Take" Feat. Vinnie Cusano
Unreleased 1981 track from West Coast R&B/rock/fusion collective Heat features lead guitar from KISS alumnus

Vinnie Cusano circa 1981

By Tim McPhate

Heat -- an early '80s West Coast R&B/rock/fusion collective led by bandleader/principal songwriter Tom Saviano -- are set to release "Heat Revisited" in Japan on July 17. In advance of the release, KissFAQ has the exclusive online premiere for "What Does it Take," an infectious up-tempo rock shuffle dusted off from the Heat vaults. Recorded circa 1981, the track features lead guitar by a then-young hotshot guitarist named Vinnie Cusano, who would later be rechristened Vinnie Vincent in KISS.

Listen to the track HERE

"I thought [Vinnie] played real melodic on this track," says Saviano. "He played like a studio musician."

Starting at 0:13, Vinnie takes charge during the tune's introduction, playing for 8 bars over a chord progression that infers a B Dorian tonality. Vinnie's note choices draw heavily from B minor pentatonic, adding the major sixth (G#) and ninth (C#) tones for color. At 1:28, Vinnie restates the second half of his introductory melody over 4 bars. Beginning at 2:52, Vinnie builds a strong, concise 8-bar solo that displays a few hallmarks of his style, including unison bends, the use of the whammy bar and a few flurries of notes for good measure. In the song's outro vamp, Vinnie gets some more licks in, including a brief flashy repetitive motif at 3:53 that is similar to a lick he brandished in "Boyz Are Gonna Rock."

Other cool musical things to look out for in "What Does It Take": Listen to how the verse modulates up a fourth, adding tension before resolving back down to the original tonal center. The chord that leads into the chorus? It's the "Hendrix" chord in the form of F#7#9. And listen to the song's dynamic modulation for the 8-bar bridge, which sets the stage for Vinnie's solo.

With a sound that evokes comparisons to Steely Dan, Earth, Wind & Fire and Chicago, Heat emerged on the Southern California music scene with their eponymous debut album in 1980. The album was co-produced by Tom Saviano and David Wolfert. Wolfert that same year produced Peter Criss' first post-KISS solo album, "Out Of Control." In 1981 Heat issued their sophomore effort, "Still Waiting" produced by Tom Saviano. In a June 20, 1981, review, "Billboard" wrote, "This title is extremely apt as this trio is still waiting for the recognition that it’s due. The eight cuts here are satin soul polished to a high gloss while the rhythm section keeps things down to earth."

Original Heat promotional photo

"Heat Revisited" features 16 tracks, including 11 tracks from the first two Heat studio albums, plus five previously unreleased songs originally recorded during the same period. The set was re-recorded, remixed and remastered by Saviano with the goal of adding more fidelity and sonic impact. The band is made up of Saviano and vocalists Jean Marie Arnold, Joe Pizzulo and Ed Whiting. In addition to Cusano, contributing session musician talent includes Bill Champlin, Michael O’Neill, Bruce Gaitsch, Neil Stubenhaus, Vinnie Colaiuta, Nathan East, Paul Jackson Jr., Carmen Grillo, Bill Bodine, and Harvey Mason, among others.

Knowledgeable KISS fans will recognize the name Tom Saviano from the credit sheet tucked within the 1978 "Peter Criss" solo album. Saviano arranged horns on select tracks on the Vini Poncia-produced platinum set, including Criss' energetic take on the classic Bobby Lewis hit "Tossin' And Turnin'."

Treasure featuring Felix Cavaliere, Jack Scarangella and Vinnie Cusano

Prior to his stint in KISS and with his Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Vinnie Cusano had collaborated with Felix Cavaliere in Treasure, a project that released an eponymous debut in 1977. In the late '70s and early '80s, Vinnie landed session gigs with artists such as Dan Hartman, Laura Nyro, Cavaliere, and Heat, in addition to composing music for "Happy Days" and the short-lived "Joanie Love Chachi" series.

Though Vinnie was credited on Heat's "Still Waiting" album, he actually does not play on the album, according to Saviano. However, Vinnie did play guitar on "What Does It Take," one of the five "Heat Revisited" tracks that has been lying dormant for more than 30 years. The song offers KISS fans a unique glimpse into Vinnie's musicality and pre-KISS guitar style. The recording also marks the first commercial release of new music featuring Vinnie since 2002's "Speedball Jamm."

"What Does It Take"
(Written, arranged and produced by Tom Saviano)

Drums: Gary Mallaber
Bass: Eddie Watkins Jr.
Rhythm guitar and HARN: Bruce Gaitsch
Piano: Tom Saviano
Lead guitar: Vinnie Cusano
Lead and background vocals: Jean Marie Arnold and Joe Pizzulo
Horn section: Sarah Underwood Saviano and Tom Saviano


(KissFAQ thanks Tom Saviano for the privilege of debuting the unreleased Heat track "What Does It Take," featuring Vinnie Cusano. Check out "Heat Revisited" promo videos below and read more about Tom Saviano and his career at

To purchase a SHM-CD copy of Heat's "Revisited," visit or