Category Archives: KISS

Momoiro Clover Z vs. KISS – Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina [EP Review]

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Momoiro Clover Z vs. KISS – Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina
2015, King Records/Evil Line Records

Buy the album

1. “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina”
2. “Rock and Roll All Nite”
3. “SAMURAI SON”
4. “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina” [off vocals version]
5. “Rock and Roll All Nite” [off vocals version]
6. “SAMURAI SON” [off vocals version]

Musicians:
KISS
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Tommy Thayer – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Backing Vocals

Momoiro Clover Z

Kanako Momota – Vocals
Shiori Tamai – Vocals
Ayaka Sasaki – Vocals
Momoka Ariyasu – Vocals
Reni Takagi – Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Narasaki – Guitar
Greg Collins – Synth

Producers: Paul Stanley & Greg Collins

Ordered this one off of CDBaby.com of all places. Never thought I’d see a KISS release on CDBaby! In truth, this is a Japanese import released through Japan’s King Records label and Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina is collaborative effort between KISS and Momoiro Clover Z, a popular J-pop girl group in Japan. Why? As Paul Stanley, “Why not?” It’s a great bit of PR and marketing though as this project was released right about the time KISS went on a brief tour of Japan.

“Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina” is a pretty catchy song. The music is especially good. Momoiro Clover Z handles the lead vocals while KISS helps out in the chorus. Then there’s the cover of “Rock and Roll All Nite”, which again features Clover Z on the vocals with a few musical nods to other KISS songs such as “Love Gun” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”. “SAMURAI SON” is a reworking of “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina”, featuring Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons on lead vocals, new lyrics and the Clover Z girls on backing vocals.

The “off vocals” versions are what you’d guess they are: instrumentals.

I know people will laugh at or hate this project because #1: it’s KISS and #2: it’s KISS teaming up with a Japanese pop girl group but the songs are actually kinda fun. It’s a quirky one-off thing and it’s not the band selling out or anything like that. They’ve been at this for 40+ years now, I don’t blame them for wanting to try something different. And this is definitely different. If you’re still longing for the days of Ace & Peter, then go back to your old vinyl record collection but I’m a fan of all eras of KISS and this is an odd yet entertaining release as far as I’m concerned.

The album comes in two different editions. One for KISS and one for Momoiro Clover Z. Of course I picked the KISS version. It’s a pretty nice package with a clear slip cover, nice insert and cardstock featuring credits & lyrics and even the CD’s artwork is pretty cool.

The KISS Album Focus Volumes, 1 – 4 [Book Review]

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 The KISS Album Focus, Volume 1: Kings of the Night Time World (1972 – 1982)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 2: Hell or High Water (1983 – 1996)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 3: Roar of Greasepaint (1997 – 2006)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 4: Never Enough (2006 – 2013)
by Julian Gill
KISSFAQ.com Publishing

For many years, the website KISSFAQ.com (not affiliated with or endorsed by the band KISS) was the source of a lot of great info on the band. What I found most entertaining and informative was the website’s “KISS Album Focus” series where the band’s recording history was broken down into detail. These considerably lengthy articles were all posted and available for free. Eventually, he Album Focus articles were pulled from the site and were slowly released in book format starting in 2002 (with updated editions being published at various points). As of this writing, the series covers the band beginnings all the way up to 2013.

In addition to KISS albums, these books also focus on what every band member was up to pre- & post-KISS. Various editions of albums and singles are discussed as well.

I’ve read a lot of KISS books over the years and these are some of the best. While this isn’t technically a biography of the band, it does cover every album the band has released (including compilations and live albums) and talks about events during and leading up those releases.

I started with Volume 2 because it covers my favorite era of the band. I think KISS’ run during the ’80s and early ’90s is much more interesting than the classic period. We’ve heard all the stories from the band’s 1970s heyday a million times. so my eyes and ears always perk up when I get to read about what went on post-originals/pre-reunion.

Next I purchased volumes three and four. Volume 3 was interesting because it focuses on the reunion and while I already knew that Psycho Circus wasn’t a true reunion album, I didn’t realize how much of a mess relations were in the band from the get-go. Volume 4 covers the shortest amount of time out of all the books and according has the least amount of pages. I was a bit disappointed with this one because I felt surely there’d be much more to say with the band kick-starting their creatives juices with the releases of Sonic Boom and Monster.

Finally, I picked up Volume 1. I almost bought the $5 Kindle version because the paperback was listed as being out of print and prices on copies of it skyrocketed up around $40. Just a few days earlier the paperback was in stock and had been listed at around $17 or so. I mulled over whether I wanted an e-book to complete the set but after doing that for a few weeks, Amazon got more paperback copies in, so everything turned out okay.

My biggest complaint about this series is that Julian Gill really could’ve used an editor (or a spell-check/grammar check program). Words are omitted, words are misspelled, entire paragraphs are repeated but worded differently… This happens throughout the entire series but seems to happen the most in Volume 1.

I wouldn’t recommend these books to a casual KISS fan that may only pick up a Gene Simmons book for a quick read, but all hardcore KISS fans should read and love this series. These are books I’ll be referring to and re-reading certain chapters for many more years to come!

KISS – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions [Review]

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KISS – Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions
1997, Mercury Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Hate”
2. “Rain”
3. “Master & Slave”
4. “Childhood’s End”
5. “I Will Be There”
6. “Jungle”
7. “In My Head”
8. “It Never Goes Away”
9. “Seduction of the Innocent”
10. “I Confess”
11. “In the Mirror”
12. “I Walk Alone”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Bruce Kulick – Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Producer: Toby Wright, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley

The subtitle of this album is a bit misleading as the only thing “final” about it is that it is the last studio recorded by the Stanley/Simmons/Kulick/Singer line-up and it is also the last album from the band’s non-makeup era. The album was recorded in late 1995/early 1996 and was scheduled for a release in ’96 but then the big reunion with the original four members took place and this album was quickly forgotten about… just not by the fans. Bootleg copies of the album began circulating and despite the fact that KISS had put the make up back on and Ace & Peter were back in, this album was quietly released this album in October of 1997 because of demand for it. “Jungle” was released as a single and actually made it to #8 on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts, despite the fact that the band wasn’t really promoting the release and they certainly weren’t playing any of these songs live.

Carnival of Souls shows a band definitely trying to keep up with the times, much as they were doing in the 1980s. This time around, the band was mimicking the grunge/alternative rock scene, specifically bands like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. You can even hear elements of Black Sabbath. I can imagine “It Never Goes Away” during that band’s Tony Martin era. The tone of the music and the lyrics are angry, serious and heavy. It’s a bit weird seeing KISS look so grungy and dour on the cover of the album. This is one of the band’s heaviest albums and I actually think it’s one of their best as well. Admittedly, KISS was already in the process of toughening up their image in 1992 with Revenge, so Carnival of Souls is just the next step. To point out the Revenge connection even more, I’ve always felt that “Hate” & “I Will Be There” were the next evolution of “Unholy” & “Every Time I Look at You”.

Granted, when you think of KISS, the sound and style on Carnival of Souls is probably not what you’d expect (or even want) to hear from the band. When I first heard it, I thought was weird but there was still something about it. I kept spinning it over and over and I started to become a big fan of the album. My first time hearing the album was probably somewhere between 1998 and 2000 and it’s something I still reach for every now and then all these years later. Songs like “Hate”, “Master & Slave”, “Jungle”, “I Will Be There” and “I Walk Alone” (Bruce Kulick finally get to shine!) still randomly pop up my head and bring me back.

Had the reunion not taken place, it would have been interesting to see how this album would have been received had it gotten a full promotional push and if KISS would’ve continued with this sound. Carnival of Souls is something different but also something good.

Highlights: “Hate”, “Rain”, “Master & Slave”, “Childhood’s End”, “I Will Be There”, “Jungle”, “Seduction of the Innocent”, “I Confess”, “I Walk Alone”

KISS – Revenge [Review]

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KISS – Revenge
1992, Mercury Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Unholy”
2. “Take It Off”
3. “Tough Love”
4. “Spit”
5. “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”
6. “Domino”
7. “Heart of Chrome”
8. “Thou Shalt Not”
9. “Every Time I Look at You”
10. “Paralyzed”
11. “I Just Wanna”
12. “Carr Jam 1981”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Bruce Kulick – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass
Eric Carr – Backing Vocals (“God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”), Drums & Guitar (“Carr Jam 1981”)
Eric Singer – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Personnel:
Dick Wagner – Guitar (“Every Time I Look at You”)
Kevin Valentine – Drums (“Take It Off”)
Tommy Thayer – Backing Vocals
Jesse Damon – Backing Vocals

Producer: Bob Ezrin

By the mid-1980s, KISS was becoming a hair metal band. Not that I have a problem with that, because I consider KISS to be among the godfathers of hair metal (along with Aerosmith, Alice Cooper and Van Halen). But by the early ’90s, the world was changing and music was definitely changing. Bubblegum metal was no longer the flavor of choice. Bands like Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, Megadeth and the like were starting to experience great commercial success with a harder sound. While the band didn’t make a drastic change in sound like they would do for 1997’s Carnival of Souls, their was a conscious effort on their part to retool their image a bit and get a bit tougher. Most of the promo shots from this era feature the band in black denim and black leather.

The album was also a shot at “redemption” for Bob Ezrin as he helped take the band to new heights with Destroyer but his collaboration with the band on Music From “The Elder” took the band to new lows in popularity. What’s funny now is, in hindsight, it seems most KISS fans now enjoy Music from “The Elder”. Of course, the band reunited with someone else from their past in Vinnie Vincent, but in a songwriting capacity only. He receives writing credits on “Unholy”, “Heart of Chrome” and “I Just Wanna”. With Ezrin and Vincent having been called in, the band was making a serious effort to deliver the best KISS album yet. According to Bruce Kulick, Gene, Paul & Bob Ezrin were extremely picky when it came to song writing on the album.

In fact, Revenge is the album where KISS’ past, present & future unite. Gene, Paul, Vinnie, Bruce Kulick, Eric Carr, Eric Singer and future guitarist Tommy Thayer all participate on the album in some form or another. I guess Ace, Peter and Mark St. John were too busy to stop by!

For the music itself, Revenge generally receives good praise. Among fans, it competes most often with Lick It Up as the best non-makeup album. Given that this was one of the last KISS albums I needed to fill the hole in my own collection, I tend to look at many of KISS’ other outputs more fondly just because I’ve spent more time with them. In fact, I heard Alive III and MTV Unplugged before I ever heard Revenge, so even now the studio versions sound “off” to me because I’m used to the live/acoustic versions .

There’s definitely some great cuts on this album though. “Unholy” kicks off the album with a darker sound than KISS had previously employed. Gene completely owns this song, it’s one of his best and it works even better when performed live in the Demon make-up. “Take It Off” is a strip club song (and a great one at that), “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II” is a re-imagining of the Argent song that will forever be tied to Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey and “Domino” is yet again another amazing Gene track. Meanwhile, Paul shines on the ballad “Every Time I Look at You” and the fun and nearly-naughty “I Just Wanna” (“fuh-fuh-fuh-forget you!”).

The album closes with “Carr Jam 1981”, which was a demo recorded by Eric Carr early in his tenure in the band and was included as a tribute due to his passing away from complications of heart cancer on November 24, 1991. I believe Bruce Kulick did some work on the track after Eric’s passing in preparation for its inclusion on the album.

Though it’s not without some filler (“Spit”, “Paralyzed”), Revenge is not only one of the band’s best non-makeup albums, it’s also one of their best albums in their whole catalog.

Highlights: “Unholy”, “Take It Off”, “Tough Love”, “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to You II”, “Domino”, “Heart of Chrome”, “Every Time I Look at You”, “I Just Wanna”

KISS – Hot In The Shade [Review]

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KISS – Hot In The Shade
1989, Mercury Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Rise to It”
2. “Betrayed”
3. “Hide Your Heart”
4. “Prisoner of Love”
5. “Read My Body”
6. “Love’s a Slap in the Face”
7. “Forever”
8. “Silver Spoon”
9. “Cadillac Dreams”
10. “King of Hearts”
11. “The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away”
12. “You Love Me to Hate You”
13. “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell”
14. “Little Caesar”
15. “Boomerang”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Bruce Kulick – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass
Eric Carr – Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Bass

Additional Musicians:
Tommy Thayer – Guitar (“Betrayed” & “The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away”)
Phil Ashley – Keyboards
Kevin Valentine – Drums (“You Love Me to Hate You”)

Producer: Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley

Another very commercial album though not as slick as Crazy Nights, even if it did produce the ballad “Forever” (that Paul Stanley co-wrote with Michael Bolton) which reached #8 on the Billboard charts as a single and the band’s first major radio hit in years.

The main problem with Hot In The Shade is that at 15 songs, it’s just too much and there’s obvious filler like pretty much ever Gene song. “Cadillac Dreams”, “Prisoner of Love”, “The Street Giveth and the Street Taketh Away” and “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” could’ve easily been left off but I’m sure Gene wanted equal time to Paul, even if the quality wasn’t there.

“Hide My Heart” was the lead single and was a very minor hit. I actually remember hearing that song on the radio when I was a kid though. It wasn’t until years later when I got into KISS that my mind was blown  after having heard the song again for the first time in nearly 10 years — “That was KISS?!?”

Anyway, this album is underrated despite being a bit bloated. “Rise to It” and “Betrayed” sound like they could’ve come from the Asylum album, “Hide Your Heart” is a pop-metal masterpiece, “Read My Body” is an enjoyable Def Leppard rip-off, “Love’s a Slap in the Face” is the one good Gene song here, “Forever” is one of the greatest hair metal ballads ever and “Silver Spoon” and “King of Hearts” feature Paul in all his pop-metal glory. “King of Hearts” starts off reminding me of “Shocker” from soundtrack for the film of the same name (which Paul also sang on).

Hot In Shade is a fine 1980s glossy slab of hard rock but in the early 1990s, the band would decide to get a bit tougher with their next release.

Highlights: “Rise to It”, “Betrayed”, “Hide Your Heart”, “Read My Body”, “Love’s a Slap in the Face”, “Forever”, “Silver Spoon”,”King of Hearts”

KISS – Crazy Nights [Review]

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KISS – Crazy Nights [Remastered]
1998, Mercury Records
Originally Released: 1987, Mercury Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Crazy Crazy Nights”
2. “I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You”
3. “Bang Bang You”
4. “No, No, No”
5. “Hell or High Water”
6. “My Way”
7. “When Your Walls Come Down”
8. “Reason to Live”
9. “Good Girl Gone Bad”
10. “Turn On the Night”
11. “Thief in the Night”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
Bruce Kulick – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Bass
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Eric Carr – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Phil Ashley – Keyboards

Producer: Ron Nevison

KISS were no strangers to experimenting with pop music in the past (DynastyUnmasked) and Crazy Nights is a culmination of the lighter metal sound the band had started with Asylum. “Crazy Crazy Nights” immediately sets the pace, it’s drenched in keyboards has a high cheese factor. So, of course, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. And “I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You”, “My Way”, “Reason to Live” and “Turn On the Night” continue to work the keyboards into overtime.

The band was obviously in trend-chasing mode as bands like Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Heart were huge acts in the late ’80s with their very polished hard rock/pop sounds. In fact, they recruited just the right producer if slick rock/pop was their goal as Ron Nevison was quite in demand, having recently worked with such acts like Ozzy Osbourne (The Ultimate Sin), Heart, Survivor and even on the soundtrack for the first Karate Kid movie.

At one point, both Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley denounced this album as a mistake, but apparently their stance softened a bit because just a few years back “Crazy Crazy Nights” made an appearance in their set list while they were touring in support of Sonic Boom over in Europe. “Reason to Live” is the big power ballad of the album. It’s very much of its era and features Paul in his element. He was made for this type of stuff. It was released as a single and it’s surprising that the song wasn’t a big mainstream hit for the band.

Just like “Crazy Crazy Nights”, this entire album is a guilty pleasure album. It’s glossy but it’s not without a little bite. “Bang Bang You” is a solid oversexed polished rocker that would’ve sounded fine right next to “Let’s Put the X in Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” on Smashes, Thrashes and Hits. “No, No, No” is frenetic and features some great guitar work from Bruce Kulick. “Good Girl Gone Bad” is a mid-paced rocker that’s one of Gene’s better songs from the 1980s.

I initially didn’t like this album but I’ve come to love it. It was given to me as a graduation present from my girlfriend at the time. I popped it in my car as we were driving somewhere and she immediately apologized for giving me a bad graduation gift! It wasn’t what I was expecting but I told her she did good. After all, I was trying to complete my KISS collection and, bad or not, I wanted the album.

If you’re a fan of glossy commercial hard rock from the 1980s, Crazy Nights is sure to please.

Highlights: “Crazy Crazy Nights”, “I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You”, “Bang Bang You”, “No, No, No”, “My Way”, “Reason to Live”, “Good Girl Gone Bad”, “Turn On the Night”

KISS – Animalize [Review]

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KISS – Animalize [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Originally Released: 1984, Mercury Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)”
2. “Heaven’s On Fire”
3. “Burn Bitch Burn”
4. “Get All You Can Take”
5. “Lonely Is the Hunter”
6. “Under the Gun”
7. “Thrills in the Night”
8. “While the City Sleeps”
9. “Murder in High Heels”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Mark St. John – Guitar
Eric Carr – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Bruce Kulick – Guitar (“Lonely Is the Hunter”, “Murder in High Heels”)
Jean Beauvoir – Bass (“Get All You Can Take”, Under the Gun”, “Thrills in the Night”)

Producer: Paul Stanley

At this point in the band’s history, it’s a game of musical chairs as to who plays on what. Then again, that was always kind of the case when it came to recording music. Even new lead guitarist Mark St. John only had a cup of coffee in the group as his tenure lasted only about half a year. This was due to a combination of personality clashes and the fact that St. John ended up being diagnosed with Reiter’s Syndrome. He played only 3 live shows with KISS before being replaced on the Animalize tour by Bruce Kulick (who later went on to have a 12 year career in the band).

What’s weird is that Gene Simmons would later say St. John was too flashy of a player and wasn’t a good fit for KISS… so why’d  they hire him in the first place? They already had one flashy player with Vinnie Vincent (who was also a great songwriter) so why did they think it would work out any better the second time around?

It was also during this time that Paul Stanley began to take control of the direction of KISS. Typically, the fate of KISS was determine by Paul and Gene Simmons, but Gene had stars in his eyes and was trying to make a name for himself as an actor, band manager and music producer which left Paul to carry on with the day-to-day duties of KISS. This included writing, recording and producing KISS albums. Due to Gene taking less active role in the band, Paul has stated that Animalize was pretty close to what a Paul Stanley solo album would’ve sounded like at that time.

Despite friction and changes within the band, Animalize is a solid album that delivered at least one classic in “Heaven’s On Fire”. It’s notable that this was one of two non-makeup songs (along with “Lick It Up”) that initially made it into the set list after the original four members reunited in 1996. It also happens to be one of the first KISS albums I ever bought so it’s got a special place in my heart.

This is when KISS started going glam and although the record is step down from Creatures of the Night and Lick It Up it’s still pretty enjoyable and was a commercial success upon its release. “I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)” is one of my favorite songs from this era as is “Heaven’s On Fire”. “Burn Bitch Burn” seems a bit too simplistic for KISS and has a touch of misogyny, but even so, it’s another favorite from the album for me.

Some numbers are stronger than others but I don’t feel like there’s any duds here, but then again, they may just be because I have a soft spot for the album and have listened to it so much. All told, I think it’s a very good album but I can see why others would be quick to point out its faults.

Highlights: “I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)”, “Heaven’s On Fire”, “Get All You Can Take”, “Burn Bitch Burn”, “Thrills in the Night”

KISS – Rock and Roll Over [Review]

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KISS – Rock and Roll Over [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Originally Release: 1976, Casablanca Records

1. “I Want You”
2. “Take Me”
3. “Calling Dr. Love”
4. “Ladies Room”
5. “Baby Driver”
6. “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”
7. “Mr. Speed”
8. “See You In Your Dreams”
9. “Hard Luck Woman”
10. “Makin’ Love”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Guitar
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals

Producer: Eddie Kramer

After the experimental and successful Destroyer, KISS changed directions yet again with the release of Rock and Roll Over, which came just 8 months after Destroyer. While I always assumed KISS didn’t want to rest on their laurels or make Destroyer II, according to Paul Stanley, without Bob Ezrin producing the band was scared to blaze further down the trail that Destroyer had set. So they reverted back to the no-frills hard rock heard on Rock and Roll Over because that was what they knew best.

While Paul has stated this album was a “letdown” and that he didn’t think Eddie Kramer captured the proper sound of the band, I have to disagree as far as it being a letdown. Proper production on the other hand, whether a product of times or what, plagued KISS during the 1970s. I agree that this album doesn’t sound all that powerful but other than the Ezrin-produced Destroyer, nothing KISS did in the ’70s sounded all that energetic from a production standpoint.

The songs are top notch though with only “Take Me” and “See You In Your Dreams” coming across as a bit of filler. “I Want You”, “Ladies Room”, “Baby Driver”, “Mr. Speed” and “Makin’ Love” are some of the band’s best rockers. “Makin’ Love” especially so. Then you’ve got one of Gene’s signature songs — “Calling Dr. Love” while “Hard Luck Woman” is a trademark for Peter right up there with “Beth”. In fact, Peter gets lead vocals on “Baby Driver” as well and I wish he was given more vocal duties during his time spent in KISS.

For this KISS fan, Rock and Roll Over is one of the band’s best and most consistent efforts.

Highlights: ” I Want You”, “Calling Dr. Love”, “Ladies Room”, “Baby Driver”, “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em”, “Mr. Speed”, “Hard Luck Woman”, “Makin’ Love”

KISS – Destroyer [Review]

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KISS – Destroyer [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Originally Released: 1976, Casablanca Records Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Detroit Rock City”
2. “King of the Night Time World”
3. “God of Thunder”
4. “Great Expectations”
5. “Flaming Youth”
6. “Sweet Pain”
7. “Shout It Out Loud”
8. “Beth”
9. “Do You Love Me?”
10. “Rock and Roll Party” [hidden track]

Band:
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Dick Wagner – Guitar (“Sweet Pain” & “Beth”)

Producer: Bob Ezrin

You have to give KISS credit after having just come off the success of the Alive! album — instead of coming up with a new studio release that sounded similar to their three first studio albums, they wanted something a little different and tapped Alice Cooper/Pink Floyd producer Bob Ezrin to help them come up with it. Ezrin hold a co-writing credit on every song but “Sweet Pain” and “God of Thunder”.

There’s some weird stuff here. “Great Expectations” is complete with an orchestra. It’s odd, but I like it. “Flaming Youth” could’ve easily been an Alice Cooper track, I think. “Sweet Pain” is standard fare that could’ve easily been on Rock and Roll Over (which would be the band’s second album release for 1976!). “Rock and Roll Party” is a hidden track that uses echos and what sounds like backmasking and comes off as kinda creepy and I’m sure it probably only served as fuel to those that thought KISS were Knights In Satan’s Service.

Then, of course you’ve got “Detroit Rock City”, “Shout It Out Loud” and “God of Thunder”. All of which are stone-cold classics that still make it to the set list. “Beth” is another vintage KISS track and I’ve always had a soft spot for “Do You Love Me?” (which the band had a great performance of during their MTV Unplugged set).

Gene & Paul might say this is the best album KISS ever made but that probably has more to do with it making the most money. For me, it’s not their best, there’s a few quirky numbers here. They aren’t bad but they get totally outshined by “Beth, “Shout It Out Loud”, “God of Thunder” and “Detroit Rock City”.

Highlights: “Detroit Rock City”, “King of the Night Time World”, “God of Thunder”, “Great Expectations”, “Shout It Loud”, “Beth”, “Do You Love Me?”

KISS – Dressed to Kill [Review]

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KISS – Dressed to Kill [Remastered]
1997, Mercury Records
Original Release: 1975, Casablanca Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “Room Service”
2. “Two Timer”
3. “Ladies in Waiting”
4. “Getaway”
5. “Rock Bottom”
6. “C’mon and Love Me”
7. “Anything for My Baby”
8. “She”
9. “Love Her All I Can”
10. “Rock and Roll All Nite”

Band:
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass
Ace Frehley – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Peter Criss – Drums, percussion, Lead/Backing Vocals

Producer: Neil Bogart

Dressed to Kill is the band’s third album and it was released only 13 months after the band’s debut! They don’t crank ’em out like that anymore. In the case of KISS and Casablanca Records, they were determined to be a success and that was the cause of the rapid fire release of new studio albums. As a live act, KISS’ popularity was unquestioned but still weren’t finding chart success like they or the label had hoped (that wouldn’t come until the release of Alive! later in 1975).

This album is the very embodiment 1970s KISS and it’s gotta be the most consistent album from that decade for the band. There’s really no dud track here. This classic album captures a band that was still hungry and scrappy. Though they were gaining a large following, this was before they tasted true commercial success on music charts and before all of the merchandise.

Obviously, the most well-known song is “Rock and Roll All Nite” (which didn’t become a hit until a live version was released from the Alive! album) but I’m extremely tired of that song and actually believe it’s overrated. It was the most dumb and commercial song in their catalog at that point, so that’s why it caught on.

“Rock Bottom” is one of my favorite songs in the band’s catalog and Ace’s nearly classical sounding acoustic intro (which was tacked on to the rest of the song that Paul wrote) is fantastic and proves that Ace should’ve had a bigger musical influence during his time in the band. “C’mon and Love Me” is another one of my all time KISS favorites.

As I said before, Dressed to Kill truly is what KISS was all about in those early years and it’s the most KISS-like of all their studio albums from the 1970s, if that makes any sense.

Highlights: “Room Service”, “Two Timer”, “Getaway”, “Rock Bottom”, “C’mon and Love Me”, “Anything for My Baby”, “She”, “Love Her All I can”

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