For my first Top 10 List, I am going to choose the band that started it all for me…KISS! When I was a kid, it was all about Kiss. My brother, Gary, had his entire walls in his bedroom (sort of bedroom) covered with pictures of Kiss. My other brother, Jimmy, and his friends dressed up as Kiss and made their own costumes. How could I not be influenced to like them.
I have seen them in concert at least a 1/2 dozen times with and without make-up. Sadly, the with make-up was only after they put the make-up back on for the reunion tour. I was too young to see them early on.
Everyone has albums they love and hate for Kiss. For me, there are definitely 10 albums that I think are good enough to be on the list. For this list, I will actually include a live album and I will explain why later.
Here are my Top 10 favorite Kiss albums and why:
10. Paul Stanley
Kiss released the four solo albums in 1978. Paul’s release was more like what I was used to with his songs in Kiss and probably why I liked it so much. I enjoy Paul’s vocals over Gene’s which is why Gene won’t make the list. Neither will Peter’s as it was my least favorite (even disliked it more than The Elder).
The standout songs for me were “Tonight, You Belong to Me”, “Move On”, “Take Me Away (Together as One)” and “Hold Me, Touch Me”. This was the 2nd best of the 4 solo albums. We all know who had the best solo album. I will get to him later.
9. Crazy, Crazy Nights
Crazy, Crazy Nights came out in 1987 and was their 14th album. It might not be a favorite for a lot of people, but I find there is a lot on here that is great.
After Ace, Bruce Kulick is the best guitarist they ever had. I think he really shines on this album. His opening solo on “No, No, No” was sick and what I wish they would have done more of on their albums.
Kiss got stuck in the 80’s with the obligatory ballad and “Reason to Live” is another example of that. But I did enjoy it. My other favorites on the album were “I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You”, “Crazy, Crazy Nights”, “My Way” and “Good Girl Gone Bad”.
Revenge was the hardest album they had done. The album came out in 1992 in the middle of grunge, so they tried to go a little darker on this one. This is one of the few albums that I thought Gene had the better songs. This was also the last album to feature anything from Eric Carr (their best drummer they ever had – no offense to Eric Singer because he is awesome as well).
You knew the tone of this album was much darker with the opening song “Unholy” which is one of my favorite Gene songs ever. I believe Vinnie Vincent helped write this song as well. The song that really hits for me is “Carr Jam ’81” which is an instrumental featuring Eric Carr on drums and guitar in honor of his passing before the album was finished.
The other outstanding songs on this album are “Domino”, “Thou Shalt Not”, “God Gave Rock & Roll To You II” and the ballad “Every Time I Look At You”.
Their first album, the self-titled Kiss, was where it all began and has some of their most famous songs of the band. The only reason it is so far down on the list is due to the production quality. The songs don’t capture their essence but they are still great.
My favorite songs are many on this one. They are “Deuce”, “Strutter”, “Black Diamond”, “100,000 Year”, “Cold Gin”, “Firehouse” and “Nothin’ to Lose”. All classic Kiss songs so maybe this album should be higher. But I am going to leave it here and hope you understand when you see the rest.
6. Lick It Up
The first album without make-up and one of their best. This was 1983 and I was really getting into music around this time. MTV made such a big deal about this album and rightfully so as this is where the make-up came off. I remember watching the MTV special when they first showed their faces and I thought they needed to put the make-up back on after I saw their faces.
The videos were really bad for this album (well actually, all their videos were really bad) but the songs were good and you could look past that. My favorites were “Lick It Up”, “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose”, “A Million to One”, “Exciter”, “Fits Like A Glove” and “Not For the Innocent”.
5. Creatures of the Night
This album was spectacular as far as Kiss albums go. Actually, this album was spectacular period. The heaviness of the album is only 2nd to Revenge. It was solid rock & roll from beginning to end. Vinnie Vincent did most of the guitar work even though Ace is credited on the album.
The first single, “I Love It Loud” was a great song to release first. The video was actually pretty good (so take back what I said above about all their videos being bad). They also introduced their Tank Stage set for this album. Which was so cool.
There is not a song on here I do not like, but if I had to pick favorites I would go with “Creatures of the Night”, “I Still Love You”, “Rock & Roll Hell” and “Danger”.
4. Ace Frehley
Ace Frehley’s solo album was by far the best of the four. This was the best selling of the solo albums and the only one where I wouldn’t delete a song. To this day, I still go back and blast this album. There was something really special about it.
The instrumental “Fractured Mirror” is one of the best he has ever done and has been covered by numerous artist, including another of my favorite guitarist, John 5.
My favorites are numerous from “New York Groove”, “Speedin’ Back to My Baby”, “Snowblind”, “Rip It Out”, “I’m In Need of Love” all the way to “Wiped Out”. You can’t go wrong with this album.
3. Love Gun
Love Gun came out in 1977 during Kiss’ heyday. This is the last of their albums that had that classic Kiss sound. They want on to change things up with Dynasty, Unmasked and The Elder. On a side note, when I was a kid, the cover of this album was awesome with all the scantily clad women in the Kiss make-up. Now as I am older with two daughters, it is not as awesome.
If I am not mistaken, this is the first album to feature Ace Frehley as lead vocals on a song, “Shock Me”. This is one of my favorite Ace songs he has done. “Love Gun” has one of the most famous drum parts in any song. The minute you hear it, you know what song is being played.
My other favorite songs on this album are “I Stole Your Love”, “Christine Sixteen” and “Tomorrow and Tonight”.
Okay, I know this is not technically a studio album, even though we know they went back in and re-recorded most of the album. However, this is the album that made the band over-the-top famous. The Alive! album finally captured the bands true essence.
The first three albums sound was not the greatest. This album took all the best songs from those albums and brought them to another level. I have never loved live albums (though there are some great ones out there) but this one ranks among one of the best.
The live version of “Rock & Roll All Nite” is their biggest rock anthem they have done and even non Kiss fans know this song and love this song. This is an album I can still listen to and not skip a song.
My favorite Kiss album is DESTROYER!! Destroyer was their fourth studio album and the first one after the release of Alive! The success of Alive! was continued on this album and it became their first album to go platinum thanks to the ballad “Beth”. “Beth” was their highest charting song in the U.S. And probably the only song I liked from Peter with the exception of “Hard Luck Woman” on Rock & Roll Over.
My all-time favorite Kiss song is off Destroyer. That song is the first track, “Detroit Rock City”. This song was so different than any other song they had done. It told such a vivid and tragic story and I loved how it perfectly transitioned into the next song “King of the Night Time World”. The best opening tracks for any album they had done before and since.
The other great songs on the album are “God of Thunder”, “Shout it Out Loud”, “Do You Love Me” and “Flaming Youth”.
You wanted the best, I gave you the best…well at least my Top 10. I hope you enjoyed the list and let me know whether you agree or not. What are your favorite Kiss albums?