Kiss: Album by Album (1983 - 1998)

Let us continue our Kiss odyssey (Kissodyssey?) down through the years.

This period of the band's career saw big changes. Casablanca Records went out in a blaze of debt and angel dust, and their new label was more bottom-line-oriented. Bye-bye 24-hour limo service. Ace and Peter were out, Gene and Paul parted ways with manager Bill Aucoin, and then went through four guitarists in as many years. While they were still on the first of those four (Vinnie) they decided to ditch the make-up for the release of:

Lick It Up (1983)
Track Listing: Exciter / Not for the Innocent / Lick It Up / Young and Wasted / Give Me More / All Hell's Breaking Loose / A Million to One / Fits Like a Glove / Dance All Over Your Face / And On the 8th Day
Shrewd move. The visual impact of Kiss was known the world over, but it was strongly associated with their adventures in the 1970s. The band needed to re-brand themselves for the new decade.

Favorite tunes: Title track, "Exciter," "All Hell's Breaking Loose." The rest range from "meh" to not bad. "Dance All Over Your Face" is a damn funny title, though not a fave.

"Lick It Up" is such a crazy tune. Rock classic, definitely. Whatever else can be said of this era of Kiss, they produced at least three bona-fide classics. (Not to mention at least a dozen personal favorites.) This is the first of them. Beyond the rocking-ness, it is one of the funniest videos ever filmed. I'm positive they didn't mean it to be, but such are the waters 80s videos often navigate.

The other video from the album was for "All Hell's Breaking Loose." As a song, it clocks in at about Mach-2 on the absurdity-radar. But it's got nothing on the video. I was originally going to devote a whole blog to this one, but I think I can make do with only a few screencaps. Here's the full vid itself:

After fending off an attack by slow mutants, Gene pauses to roast his turkey leg on a random street fire.
They round the corner and meet a little person in Victorian garb accompanied by a man on stilts.
This little-person-and-man-with-stilts sequence is bizarrely paired with the lines "Street hustler comes up to me one day / And I'm walkin' down the street, mindin' my own business / Now he looks me up and he looks me down and says / Hey man, what be this and what be that / And why you gotta look like that?" In the video itself, the little man pantomimes haranguing Paul in such a manner.

Is this what was meant by "street hustler?" Paul's response by the way, is epic: "Well I just looked at him, I kinda laughed, I said Hey man, I am cool, I am the breeze..." You just know he really wanted people to take this and run with it. "Call me 'The Breeze,' damn it!"

From here, they continue to some kind of club, where a thrown knife is a visual reminder of the danger they navigate on our behalf.

The knife-thrower
This is followed by almost thirty seconds of fire-breathing and suggestive apple-eating by those inside whatever club this is.

Finally, they take the stage.
The ladies are taken with Paul.
An impromptu sword fight breaks out.
The little man re-appears. (No sign of the man on stilts.) Obviously Paul's "I am the breeze" line inspired him to follow Kiss to the club, where he throws Paul a sword so Kiss can escape the fray.
And off they go.

I'm not sure if this video was filmed before or after Motley Crue's "Too Young to Fall in Love," but there are a lot of similarities. Then again, when it comes to 80s metal, all rivers tend to empty in the same sea.

Ownability Factor: 8 out of 10. Nah, 10 out of 10. Why not.

Animalize (1984)
Track Listing: I've Had Enough (Into the Fire) / Heaven's On Fire / Burn Bitch Burn / Get All You Can Take / Lonely Is the Hunter / Under the Gun / Thrills in the Night / While the City Sleeps / Murder in High Heels
(God, that cover. Ugh. You just know it's something totally disgusting, as well, like their used furry Kiss thongs or something after a night banging the same blow-up doll, or something. Gross.)

I'd written some things about this album for this here overview but after another listen last night while making pasta, I decided it deserves its own entry. Stay tuned to this space for more details.

Ownability Factor: 10 out of 10.

Asylum (1985)
Kiss's glam phase continues; it's difficult to truly explain this stuff, now or then. It has its precedent in the 70s, of course, and even older than that, but how all that translated to hard rock acts on Dial-MTV remains a single, very powerful radio emission aimed at Jupiter: still a total mystery.
Track listing: King of the Mountain / Any Way You Slice It / Who Wants To Be Lonely / Trial By Fire / I'm Alive / Love's a Deadly Weapon / Tears Are Falling / Secretly Cruel / Radar for Love / Uh! All Night
Favorite tunes: "Tears Are Falling" (the third of the three bona-fide classics aforementioned. Three guesses what the remaining one is. Hint: It's "Heaven's On Fire.") "Uh! All Night" (one of Paul's silliest, but also one of all rock's silliest) "I'm Alive" (another if-they-could-have-bottled-the-80s-it-would-have-smelled-like-this tunes) and "Who Wants To Be Lonely." The video for that one is just jawdropping. Not just the softcore porn of it all, but how exuberant everyone is. One of my favorite Kiss tunes, nonetheless. The "oh-whoah-OHH-OHH!"s in the chorus are so ridiculously fun. When explaining Paul Stanley to anyone, be sure to include this one, "I'm Alive," and maybe even "I Still Love You" from Animalize. (Okay, that's twice I've brought up Animalize since saying I'd save it for another blog, so zip it, McMillan.)

Actually, forget what I said. As Ch'gyam Trungpa once said of Wavy Gravy, "That man is self-explanatory."
So Dumb It Might Actually Be Brilliant: "Any Way You Slice It."

Ownability Factor: 8 out of 10.

Crazy Nights (1987)
Track Listing: Crazy Crazy Nights / I'll Fight Hell to Hold You / Bang Bang You / No No No / Hell or High Water / My Way / When Your Walls Come Down / Reason To Live / Good Girl Gone Bad / Turn On the Night / Thief in the Night
A comeback album of sorts, as it was their highest-selling record of the 80s. I'll spare you any further shots of Paul Stanley's thong from the back cover.

Favorite tunes: Title track, and (see below) Least favorites: "Turn On the Night" is just... words fail me. I'm shocked this was written by Paul and not Gene, actually.

Sagacity of the Starchild: I have no idea if this is the actual case or not, but it sure seems like Paul had so much fun writing "Uh! All Night" on the last album that he said, "You know what? Why even bother with innuendo?" And "Bang Bang You" is the result. You'd figure the chorus (I'm gonna bang, bang you! I'll shoot you down with my love gun, baby!) would be the silliest line in the song, but you'd figure wrong: If love's a crime I've got a hundred schemes / I'll be the villain in your book of dreams. This should probably be a "So Dumb It May Actually Be Brilliant" entry, but I'm pretty sure it's both with no ambiguity.

Ownability Factor: 5 out of 10.
In 1988, Kiss released another compilation album: 

The band recorded two new tracks: another facepalm-rocker from Paul ("Let's Put the X in Sex") and for my money the closest thing to "Love Gun" he ever wrote, "(You Make Me) Rock Hard." Not as cool as "LG," but minus the silliness of the parenthetical, there, this is a surprisingly melodic tune. It's definitely the prettiest song ever written about getting an erection.

Personal note: I hadn't heard too much 70s Kiss at the time this came out, so getting this one was akin to discovering "Space Seed" after having watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan so many times. And for that reason I'll give it an Ownability Factor of 9 out of 10. Plus, "Rock Hard." Maybe 10 out of 10.

Hot in the Shade (1989)
Track Listing: Rise to It / Betrayed / Hide Your Heart / Prisoner of Love / Read My Body (!?) / Love's a Slap in the Face / Forever / Silver Spoons / Cadillac Dreams / King of Hearts / The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh
Away (?!) / You Love Me To Hate You / Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell / Little Caesar/ Boomerang
At the time of its release, I really hated this album, and it seemed my decision to go with the Space Ace over these guys was the right one. Ace released Trouble Walkin' the same year, something I always let my buddy Dan know when he'd try and convince this was the superior release. Many a lunchtime argument over that one. My opinion has since been upgraded to "meh." I still consider it the band's weakest effort.

Favorite track: Technically, it's not a fave - and Ace Frehley's version is a little more to my liking, to boot - but the video for "Hide Your Heart" is pretty funny. 80s videos have several trends, and Kiss made a point - as they always do with any trend that overlaps with their target market - to check off each and every box: the live concert video, (everything from Crazy Nights) the rockers-in-post-apocalyptic-landscape video (we got two of those on Lick It Up,) the models-in-strange-make-up / band-on-neon-soundstage video, etc. ("Who Wants To Be Lonely.") And then this sort of thing: the pretense to social commentary/ story-video, usually (as is the case here) about a pair of star-crossed lovers whose tale is told interspersed between shots of the band performing.

"Boomerang" has its moments, even if it, too, is kind of generic. That's my main beef with Hot in the Shade. It sounds like literally every other hard rock album from this era. Maybe it's what the guys were going for. Their competition at this point were bands like Winger, after all.

Ownability factor: 3 out of 10.

Around this time, Kiss contributed a cover of Argent's "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" to the Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey soundtrack.

I'd always assumed it was written by Petra, who covered it for their '84 album Beat the System, which is where I first heard it as that album got a lot of play in my brother's Dungeons and Dragons group. Petra was a Christian rock band - not the most predictable company for a group that listened mainly to Demon, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden et al.
Kiss opened for Argent back in the early days, before getting kicked off the tour. (One of the many bands to fire them as their opening act.) The song's been retconned as a "tribute to Eric Carr," who would sadly die of cancer in 1991. As a tribute, it's a little lame. It may be bad manners to say that, but it's too silly to be taken seriously. If I was at a funeral and the choir broke into this, I'd feel like they were making light of the affair. If I find out, however, that one night, the band was all down, and Eric started quietly preaching the gospel of rock and roll and how God put it in the souls of everyone, and then touched a wand to Paul's, Gene's, and Bruce's foreheads, who then rose as avatars of this new religion, well, all right.

Even without this scenario, if there is a man on Earth who actually feels about rock and roll the way all frontmen preach it to the crowd, it may be Paul Stanley. Here he raises it to the highest platitude. His "straight-talk" over the ending minute has all the feel of a baptist tent revival.

It was included on:

Revenge (1992)
Track listing: Unholy / Take It Off / Tough Love / Spit / God Gave Rock and Roll To You / Domino / Heart of Chrome / Thou Shalt Not / Every Time I Look at You / Paralyzed / I Just Wanna / Carr Jam 1981
Despite the terrible title and the even more terrible cover, this album unexpectedly (and perhaps even unreasonably) kicks a lot of ass. Vinnie Vincent returned to co-write some songs, though apparently he got along with Paul and Gene even worse this time around.

Sometimes The Demon Surprises Me: Although the song wouldn't surface until Gene's solo album over 10 years later, even Bob freaking Dylan worked on it. A fact so bizarre that it bears repeating in boldface: Bob Dylan and Gene Simmons collaborated on a song. The experience must have inspired Gene, as he contributes some of his best work here: "Unholy" - a cover version by the German band Die Artze must be heard to be believed - "Spit," and "Domino." (It's amusing to think of Gene showing these songs to Bob Dylan, and Dylan singing them to himself on the way home.)

Sagacity of the Starchild: Ditto for Paul, who seems especially committed to exaggerating his usual tricks on this album. Whether it's the Uh-huhs that punctuate the verses of "Take It Off" or the ridiculous fun of "I Just Wanna" to the chomp-and-stomp surreality of "Heart of Chrome," (You taped our sexy conversations / and you sold them to the BBC has been puzzling me for 20 years now) it's Paul's strongest presence on a Kiss record since Asylum.

Ownability factor: 10 out of 10.

Alive III (1993)
Track listing at the wiki.
Another one that is way better than it should be. The version of "I Was Made For Loving You" is heavier than any that appear elsewhere, and Paul's stage banter is from another planet.

Just a great collection of tunes altogether. Ownability factor: 15 out of 10. (Yes, even more than the first Alive.)

MTV Unplugged (1995)

Favorite tunes: The acoustic version of "I Still Love You" is somehow even more bombastic and gothic than the electric one. The same can't be said for "Sure Know Something," but it's an equally surprising choice for an acoustic album and a great version of it. I love that damn song. I love both damn songs. And Gene dusts off "Goin' Blind" for some damn reason - something he does again on Alive IV.  * Ownability Factor: 10 out of 10.

* I only this weekend began reading Gene's book (Kiss and Make-up) and discovered his old buddy and Wicked Lester bandmate Stephen Coronel co-wrote this one. I knew that part of it, I guess, but what never occurred to me was the reason this one pops up so much on other recordings is so Steve can continue to realize royalties from it. That's a cool enough little story for me to give "Goin' Blind" a pass from here on out.

The main attraction is the original line-up getting together for the last few songs. Which is cool, but it's just an appetizer for the course to come. After:

Carnival of Souls (1997)
Track listing: Hate / Rain / Master and Slave / Childhood's End / I Will Be There / Jungle / In My Head / It Never Goes Away / Seduction of the Innocent / I Confess / In the Mirror / I Walk Along
What's weirder, that Kiss cut a grunge-y record or that it's actually a perfectly legitimate grunge record? If you replaced Paul Stanley's vocals with Lane Staley's, "Jungle" would be one of Alice in Chains' best songs. Not that I'm suggesting Paul's vocals are bad on that - or any of these - track(s), just a) you'd have to remove Paul's vocals to fool anyone, as his voice is so distinctively Kiss, and b) if you did, no one would blink if this was slipped onto an Alice in Chains CD.

Ownability Factor: 10 out of 10. Like The Elder, despite its being a solid record, Kiss more or less distanced themselves completely from it. They had good reason to, though, as they did the reunion tour and then the reunion record:

Psycho Circus (1998)
Track listing: Psycho Circus / Within / I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock and Roll / Into the Void / We Are One / You Wanted the Best / Raise Your Glasses / I Finally Found My Way / Dreamin' / Journey of 1000 Years
In the 90s, grunge did to metal what Rome did to Carthage. Kiss survived with its fan base intact - they and Metallica seemed to be the only metal acts of the 80s to do so - but even had they not, they always had a trump card. If times got tough, they could put the make-up back on, grab Ace and Peter from their respective small-venue tours / IRS problems, and go on tour.

Which is exactly what they did. And they made a gazillion dollars. (Well, $147 million, more precisely. The highest grossing tour in their history.)

Ace and Peter were paid per show and didn't get a cut of the merchandising/ ticket sales. Something both complain about a lot in their books. While I can sympathize - it's got to be tough to be hired back into the band you once quarter-owned as only an employee and seeing your former mates rake in the lion's share of the profits - let's keep this in mind. Peter got paid $40k per show, Ace $50k. They played around 400 shows between 1996 and 2001. That's over $16 million for Peter and $20 million for Ace.

Those are only estimations, obviously, but still. Not a bad chunk of change.

It's got to be tough to see yourself only "moderately" enriched while working just as hard as the guys who are getting five times as rich, sure. But we'll get to all of this in the solo books.

The tours aside, Psycho Circus is a reunion in name only. Peter and Ace appear basically only on "Into the Void" though Ace plays on a couple of other tracks.

Favorite tracks: Title track, "Into the Void," "Dreamin'."

Sometimes the Demon Surprises Me: It's Gene's songs that are the most surprising. There's not a clunker in the bunch - that makes Psycho Circus the only Kiss record where Gene outshines Paul. Even crazier: neither "Within," "We Are One," nor "Journey of 1000 Years" allude in any way to genitalia, his or anyone else's. This should have been the cover story of every magazine in 1998. (Compounding the oversight instead of correcting it, Time Magazine gave its "Men of the Year" Award to Kenneth Starr and Bill Clinton. Way to go, nerds.)

And Men Shall Call Him... Space Ace: When Ace belts out "I'm losing power and I don't know wh-y-y-y..." it's a more-than-words moment of what's been missing from every Kiss record since The Elder.

Ownability Factor: 10 out of 10

At some point, I'll blog up my thoughts on Alive IV, (the DVD) Sonic Boom, and Monster. I always roll my eyes when a band goes on a Farewell tour, then keeps touring and putting out albums. I don't quibble with their right to do whatever they want, of course, but as my small protest to the practice, I won't include those in this 2-part overview. The albums are worth covering, though, and I'll probably turn my attention to other aspects of the Kissverse before I get there. 


  1. I don't think I'd ever seen that video for "Lick It Up." Holy God, what in the hell is going on in that thing?!? Apart from Paul Stanley being in the closet and Gene Simmons being abominably creepy, I mean. Wow.

    As for "All Hell's Breakin' Loose," there's really nothing I can possibly say. It kinda just speaks for itself. I will add that I prefer it to the video for "Lick It Up," if only because I don't feel like I can smell Gene's breath on my shoulder blades during this one. I sorta can during "Lick It Up," and the feeling is not to my liking.

    "Who Wants to Be Lonely:" I'd totally forgotten about that song! I dig it. Jesus Christ, could Paul be any gayer? I guess if he was getting cornholed by George Michael he could, but apart from that, I dunno. But every second he's on the screen is a second that Gene isn't, and I'm all for that. And even if he IS gay, he's still kind of a badass.

    "Facepalm-rocker"! That's awesome. And appropriate.

    "Hide Your Heart" -- which I still quite like -- has always struck me as a successful attempt to do a Bon Jovi song. I bet I hadn't heard, or thought of, that song in twenty years before reading this retrospective! Kiss nostalgia reaching max level, dammit...

    I had no idea Dylan had ever collaborated with Gene Simmons. I knew he'd co-written a Michael Bolton song; but the Simmons one was complete news to me. Wow.

    I know none of the stuff from "Revenge" onward. I was out of my Kiss fandom by '92, and the spark never quite reignited. The closest it got was when they showed up in that dreadful episode of "Millennium," and that was a hindrance moreso than an incentive. But I do like "Into the Void," which I have now heard exactly once; and dammit, adding Ace back into the mix really does put it into a different level.

    1. Man, I have watched the videos for "Lick It Up" and "Who Wants To Be Lonely" so many times, particularly over the past couple weeks, but at various times since both originally aired. I still am just stunned when I see them. I mean, literally stunned. I tried to review these videos, but any words (that I can come up with anyway) are moot next to the videos. Damn.

      Vinnie Vincent looks like a muppet of some kind in the former. Chuck Klosterman referred to him as the hot Asian chick in the band, which I have to admit, I find very amusing. He definitely seems an anime element to things, at any rate.

      Two things about "Who Wants To Be Lonely," while I'm here. (I have a sinking feeling this comment-reply is going to bloat to high heaven...) 1) It's a damn shame no one has cut in footage of the beginning of this where Paul advances towards the camera, dressed as he is, singing this song (which I absolutely love - let me state that again) with footage from any of the boiler room sequences in the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. I have a feeling this would be hilarious. 2) This is a world war of gender going on in this video. I'm not sure if matches up to the song especially well, but the combination is so fucking disorienting.

      And awesome! Lest I forget awesome.

      The Starchild's sexuality is really something. (I think he'd be such an interesting casting choice for Celestine in Fashion Beast - off topic, but totally on at the same time. All right, now that I've brought it up: I want Paul Stanley to write a musical based on Fashion Beast.) There's a really funny blog out there about a guy who left his job and left all of these is-Paul-gay pictures on his hard drive (ahem! Seriously, this shit writes itself.) I just googled it, but the link kept setting off my malware alarm, so I won't link to it. It's worth tracking down, though, as it's damn funny. I'll see if I can't find an uninfected version of it.

      Funny, tho, that searching for that raised a potential net-STD. It all seems so symbolic.

    2. Oh and I forgot all about Millennium - was that the whole gang or just Ace and Peter? I remember their being on Mad-TV right around when the reunion tour started. That may even be on Kissology vol. 3... have to check.

    3. One last thing - absolutely, re: writing a Bon Jovi tune for "Hide Your Heart." The Stanley/Simmons approach seems to be: identify the prevalent popular trend and Kissify.

      Various degrees of success with said Kissification, of course. ("Heaven's on Fire" rode the satanic-metal popularity of the early 80s to ridiculous (and personal favorite) heights, whereas "Forever" might have been a perfect late 80s rock ballad but I always always always skip that one.) "Hide Your Heart" seems to me born of that approach.

    4. A Nightmare on Paul Street -- that really does need to happen. It'd be all chest hair and knife-fingers; horrifying.

      From what I remember, the "Millennium" episode ("...Thirteen Years Later") featured all four of the original guys. Frank kept having visions (or whatever) of the band performing "Psycho Circus." It was a weirdo attempt at a comedic episode, and it did not work. The entire third season didn't work, though, so it at least fit in.

    5. It scares me a little, that I've got as many and more thoughts on these records. One quick thought I've got, from the we've-all-got-different-tastes department, Asylum & Hot In the Shade are my favorites from the no-makeup years. Not by a landslide or nothin; I just like those two best I think.

      And hells yeah, Gene was on point on the Psycho Circus record. I think he's the winner on the new fake-Kiss records as well.

      You really gonna make an entry on Animalize by itself? That album is a weird one to be sure.

    6. The new fake-Kiss records... I'm struggling with those. They're okay, I guess, but they seem kinda pointless. I don't know. I'll keep listening to them pursuant to a 21st Century Kiss post somewhere down the line, but so far nothing's really jumping out at me. They should just stick with the Kiss Kruises.

      I probably will do an "Animalize" post. I was gung-ho about it a couple of Saturdays ago, but my ardor has cooled somewhat. We'll see.

  2. "Lick It Up":

    (1) "Exciter": This is a terrible and wonderful song, all at once. I'm a sucker for songs that have rhythm sections that sounds like a galloping horse, and there were a lot of those during this era. This is a good example; overwrought, trashy, energetic.

    (2) "Not for the Innocent": Also not for Bryant. I can't honestly say it's a bad song, but it annoys me for some reason I can't explain.

    (3) "Lick It Up": I don't know for sure what this song is about, but I have my suspicions. This may be one of the all-time champions of bad taste (no pun intended). You've got to love it, though.

    (4) "Young and Wasted": I just don't want to hear Gene singing about somebody who is both young and wasted. I don't think he's even being gross here, but it still seems that way, somehow. I'm indifferent toward the song's actual content.

    (5) "Gimme More": Seems more like Vinnie Vincent than Paul Stanley, but in this case, that's okay, even though Paul sings "wanna feel you deep inside." Mm-hmm. I bet you do, Paul.

    (6) "All Hell's Breakin' Loose": Not breaking loose. Breakin' loose. Big difference. God damn, what can you say about this song? It's wacky even without the video accompanying it. I love it.

    (7) "A Million to One": It is illegal in seven states to listen to this song if you are not wearing a headband of some sort. A ripped t-shirt is encouraged, but not mandatory.

    (8) "Fits Like a Glove": I wonder what Gene is singing about? I think he means something specific, but I cant quite my finger in, uh, on it.

    (9) "Dance All Over Your Face": You're right; that IS a great title for a song. And I like the song alright, but it's a disappointment compared to the title, yes indeed.

    (10) "And on the 8th Day": God created rock and roll once he was done with his nap, evidently. I'm unconvinced. Not a bad song, but the cheesiness is off-putting for me personally.

    Overall -- a step down from "Creatures of the Night," in my opinion, but still basically a good album.

  3. "Animalize":

    (1) "I've Had Enough (Into the Fire)": Great mid-eighties rocker. Feels like it ought to have been laid over some sort of Stallone training montage at some point. Maybe even a Chuck Norris one.

    (2) "Heaven's on Fire": A perfect melding of '70s-style Kiss with '80s-style Kiss. One of their very best songs from this era, as far as I'm concerned.

    (3) "Burn Bitch Burn": Bryant votes no to this song.

    (4) "Get All You Can Take": About as Stanley as it gets. Was this one of the first instances of the f-bomb being dropped on a major-label release? It's kind of dialed down in the mix, and I'm not sure I ever even noticed that's what was being said before. Nobody else must have, either, or it would have been a big controversy, methinks.

    (5) "Lonely Is the Hunter": I ought to like this song, but I don't.

    (6) "Under the Gun": Ditto.

    (7) "Thrills in the Night": Another one that reminds me of Bon Jovi for no reason that makes sense. It may simply be that it's got a really strong chorus.

    (8) "While the City Sleeps": The naked city? I'm not a fan of this song, particularly, but it's alright.

    (9) "Murder in High Heels": The guitar riff alone has been proven to make one more susceptible to venereal disease. I like this song better than the previous one, but those are two fairly weak songs to close an album with.

    Overall -- you like this one more than I do. Not bad by any means, but I would say it's far from being one of my favorites.

  4. "Asylum":

    (1) "King of the Mountain": Thanks to Wikipedia, I know Vinnie Vincent was gone by now, but this sounds like one of his songs to me. I like it up until the chorus, which is weak.

    (2) "Any Way You Slice It": Not a fan.

    (3) "Who Wants to Be Lonely": God bless Paul Stanley. Who could do this stuff, if not him? Dude was, and is, one of a kind. This song is kind of gross in the best Kiss fashion. Gotta love it.

    (4) "Trial By Fire": I can live without this one. It's okay until the chorus, which is terrible.

    (5) "I'm Alive": Good Eric Carr drum section up top, leading into a fun hair-metal rocker.

    (6) "Love's a Deadly Weapon": I mean, seriously, you could put your eye out with that thing...

    (7) "Tears Are Falling": I'd sympathize with someone who disliked this song, especially if the basis was the way Stanley sings it. But I like it a lot, personally.

    (8) "Secretly Cruel": I forget what this song sounds like even while I'm listening to it.

    (9) "Radar for Love": Not "Radar Love," but a radar FOR love. This is maybe the bluesiest I've ever heard Paul, but I don't like the song at all.

    (10) "Uh! All Night": The lyrics are so cheesy that they almost go full-circle and become awesome. But they annoy me. I like the actual music a lot, though, so this one gets a reluctant thumbs up from me.

    Overall -- this is easily my least favorite Kiss album up to its release date.

  5. "Crazy Nights":

    (1) "Crazy Crazy Nights": You've got to love an anthem, and this is a pretty good one. If I were in a band, we WOULD play this song on a semi-regular basis when on tour.

    (2) "I'll Fight Hell to Hold You": Was there a video for this? If there wasn't, and it did not involve Paul Stanley literally sword-fighting demons and dragons and whatnot to save some slut's life, then that is a crying shame.

    (3) "Bang Bang You": Uh...no.

    (4) "No, No, No": Echoing my sentiments about the previous track, here's Gene Simmons, in feisty hard-rock mode. Good stuff. Great Eric Carr drums.

    (5) "Hell or High Water": I really like this song's beat. There's nothing special about it; it just works. Pretty good song.

    (6) "My Way": Paul has radically altered the lyrics from the Sinatra song. And the music, too, for that matter. In fact, this might actually be a completely different composition. Cheesy, but not bad.

    (7) "When Your Walls Come Down": Addressed not to Jericho, methinks, but to some slut. I can live without this one, to say the least.

    (8) "Reason to Live": Am I crazy, or does this sound like Kiss covering "I Want to Know What Love Is"? I like the song well enough, I guess, but it feels a bit like a swing and a miss.

    (9) "Good Girl Gone Bad": Unremarkable.

    (10) "Turn on the Night": Man, the synth! I bet Paul Stanley had about as much fun during the '80s as a human being has ever had on the face of the Earth. I like this song, against my better judgment. Feels like it ought to be in a Will Ferrell movie of some sort; possibly a foosball movie.

    (11) "Thief in the Night": Lots going on during the night on this album. Makes sense, given the title. I like this song. Reminds me a bit of Ace's "Into the Night," although of the two, I'd take Ace's hands down.

    Overall -- Better than "Animalize," in my opinion, but still a bit off from the high-water mark of "Creatures of the Night."

  6. "Hot in the Shade":

    (1) "Rise to It": Well, this Is the age of knowing what you're made of. 1989 wasn't, though. Still, I like this song, even though I would feel embarrassed to be observed listening to it.

    (2) "Betrayed": I'd forgotten all about this one! This is a great song!

    (3) "Hide Your Heart": I think Paul's theatrical voice works for the song slightly more than Ace's street-grit, but only by a hair. It's a terrific song, no matter who's singing it.

    (4) "Prisoner of Love": Another one I like a lot, and had forgotten about almost totally.

    (5) "Read My Body": Sounds a bit like "I Love It Loud" at the beginning. This is an utterly ridiculous song, one which ought to make me feel bad for being a Kiss fan. Guess what? It doesn't, and I'm not.

    (6) "Love's a Slap in the Face": Another pretty good effort from Gene.

    (7) "Forever": Co-written by Michael Bolton, yessir. Why does it not surprise me that Paul Stanley and Michael Bolton working on a song together sounds seamless? I like this song, and can actually imagine Bolton doing a good job singing it.

    (8) "Silver Spoon": Definitely has the generic feel that you find this entire album to be guilty of, but it's generic-leaning-toward-good, for my tastes.

    (9) "Cadillac Dreams": Gene in a much more playful mode than he tends to exhibit. I like this song, probably mostly on the back of the change-of-pace quality. You've also got to love how very honest it is.

    (10) "King of Hearts": I like the guitar at the beginning, and the song as a whole works for me in something similar to the same way "Hide Your Heart" does.

    (11) "The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away": This one isn't bad, but it doesn't do much for me personally.

    (12) "You Love Me to Hate You": Not a fan. Stanley's vocals annoy me here.

    (13) "Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell": I like this one pretty well.

    (14) "Little Caesar": Eric Carr on vocals! I like that, although I can't honestly claim to like the song all that much.

    (15) "Boomerang": I like the drums, but this is another case of a weak chorus sabotaging the overall song.

    Overall -- I'm a bigger fan of this one than you, but it does sound a bit like a band in search of an identity.

  7. "Revenge":

    If asked, I'd have told you that my Kiss fandom had ended before this album came out, and that I'd never heard it. Imagine my surprise, then, to discover that not only HAD I heard it, but that it's a damn fine album.

    (1) "Unholy": Great Gene song in the vein of "War Machine," but even better.

    (2) "Take It Off": If I were a big-titted female stripper, I'd have this as one of my normal songs. Frankly, if I were a big-titted male stripper, I'd probably STILL have this as one of my normal songs. It's bad taste personified, but Paul Stanley does this stuff effortlessly.

    (3) "Tough Love": Not a big fan of this one. I think I'd like it more if Ace Frehley were singing it; his voice would fit it pretty well.

    (4) "Spit": Do I have any other options? I'm not a big fan of this one, either.

    (5) "God Gave Rock 'n' Roll to You II": Another song I'd totally forgotten about. This is good stuff, although I don't think I knew it was a cover. Fine by me; it works. And hey, Paul and Gene are sharing vocals!

    (6) "Domino": It's icky as it gets, but god damn, what a great song. Arguably one of the best Simmons ever wrote, as far as I'm concerned.

    (7) "Heart of Chrome": Not bad, but unremarkable.

    (8) "Thou Shalt Not": Ditto. But it does at least stick in the mind a bit more solidly.

    (9) "Every Time I Look At You": This feels like Kiss trying to conjure up a "More Than Words"-style hit. It doesn't do much for me, unfortunately.

    (10) "Paralyzed": Meh.

    (11) "I Just Wanna": Dumb as a sack full of other sacks. If you like Kiss, though, I find it hard to imagine you disliking this song.

    (12) "Carr Jam 1981": This seems like it begins with an early version of "Get All You Can Take" -- got any idea if I'm right about that?

    Overall -- pretty strong, to be honest. Not all of the songs are winners, but several of them really are.

  8. Bryant, thanks for all of these. Very entertaining. I fear the kind of reply I'd want to leave would be 8 more blogs, but still chuckling over a lot of these remarks. To answer that Carr Jam question immediately above, I know that tune's left over from the Elder sessions but there is definitely a "Get All You Can Take" feel to it.

    Man, this stuff is so much fun.

    I have to disagree with you on "Heart of Chrome"'s being unremarkable. Perhaps it's not in a top 50 Stanley rockers, but that BBC line is the definition of remarkable to me! Probably one of my top 5 Stanley wtf lyrics, actually. I like the song, but without that line, I could probably be talked into "unremarkable, though."

    The Bon Jovi influence is 100% spot-on.

    Speaking of, I always wonder if Paul chose the particular title-structure he did for "I've Had Enough (Into the Fire)" because of Bon Jovi's "(I Don't Wanna Fall) To the Fire."

    1. Good call on that line about the BBC. I always forget about that.

      I've heard tell of there being a bootleg that is nothing but excerpts of Paul's stage banter throughout the years. Like a whole disc's worth. I need to try and find that.

    2. I'm not sure if it's what you mean, but I have something called "PEOPLE PEOPLE LET ME GET THIS OFF MY CHEST." 70 tracks of nothing but Paul's craziness. I'd be happy to send it your way.

    3. Sign me up.

      I'm guessing that at least 54 of those tracks contain references to his "love gun."