Kiss had to get back to their hard rock roots after the disaster of their last studio album ‘Music from the Elder’. The band had been on a downward spiral since ‘Dynasty’ with their sound going softer, Peter Criss leaving the band and now Ace was pretty much done. Due to his disillusionment the last few years with the band, the fact he had no say in anything, his alcohol problem and his prescription drug problem related to a car crash, Ace was done. He was so done in fact, he does not show up anywhere on this album. Well, that isn’t entirely true. Kiss still credited him as a member of the band, his picture is on the cover and he made some public appearances in support of the band including appearing in the music video for ‘I Love it Loud” which he didn’t even play on. After that video shoot though, Ace was no longer in the band.
Kiss was basically a trio for this whole album. Additional musicians and songwriters were brought in to help them write and record this album. Michael James Jackson was brought in as the producer and Michael had worked on the four new songs used on the ‘Killers’ album early in the year. They went in to the studio with the sole purpose of bringing back the heavy rock. Paul’s writing friend, Adam Mitchell, was back to help as well as Jim Vallance, Bryan Adams and Mikel Japp. All these guys co-wrote on the ‘Killers’ album, so it stands to reason that all these songs for both ‘Killers’ and ‘Creatures’ were part of the same writing sessions.
Not only was Kiss using a lot of outside writers, they were using outside musicians as well. Especially guitarists. They had Robben Ford, Steve Farris and I’ve even heard that Rick Derringer was used. Adam Mitchell introduced the band to a guitar slinger named Vinnie Vincent. Vinnie not only played solo on several songs, he co-wrote them as well. And it wasn’t only guitar players as they brought in some bass players as well because Gene was so busy with Diana Ross and whatever movie roles he was trying to get.
When it came to drums, there was only one drummer and that was Eric Carr. Eric was finally getting to do what he has wanted to do since joining Kiss and that was record a hard and heavy rock album. “Elder” wasn’t that and Eric was really unhappy with that whole process. Michael James Jackson captured some of the best drum sounds of any Kiss album with this one. Eric’s playing was immense, powerful and the driving force to these songs. It is some of the best playing we have ever seen on any Kiss album…ever!! With this album, Eric quickly became a fan favorite.
With all these guitarists coming in and some not even being used on the album, they were basically brought in to audition for a spot in Kiss. Vinnie Vincent was the lucky slinger that was given the gig. Sorry, his real name is Vincent John Cusano but we all know him as Vinnie Vincent. Yet another example of a band member changing their name because it sounded too ethnic. Since Kiss was in make-up, they needed to come up with make-up for Vinnie and it was decided on an Egyptian Ankh symbol which was quickly designed by Paul Stanley. Vinnie looked like this…
The copy of the album I have has no inserts and I don’t think there were any. The album had the sleeve with the lyrics and my pressing was a second pressing as it has the black label on the vinyl (as seen below). My copy also had a little cut-out on the top right corner so I’m not sure if it was used as a promo or thrown in to the cheap bin. It is not pictured as my copy is still in the wrapper and caused too much of a glare for a good photo so I used pictures from Discogs. The labels below are mine. Enough chatting, let us get to the music.
The first song on the album is also the first single, “Creatures of the Night”. The song was written by Paul Stanley and Adam Mitchell and had Steve Farris on lead guitar. Steve would go on to play for the band Mr. Mister. Also on the album was Adam as additional guitars and Mike Porcaro on bass as Gene wasn’t available or something. The song starts off explosive with Eric’s drums and then some wicked, heavy guitar riffs. Paul sings with a swagger not had in years. He is sounds confident and serious and this is a much heavier and more determined Kiss.
Now that the tone is set with the first song, the Demon comes next with the sinister, “Saint and Sinner”. Written by Gene Simmons and Mikel Japp, the song also gives us our fist taste of Vinnie on lead guitar and it is obvious we have a different guitarist than the first song as the tone and style are very different. The solo is great and not a shred fest, it actually has some good melody. Two songs in and we know that Kiss is back and in full force.
“Keep Me Comin'” is another Stanley and Mitchell song with Vinnie on the lead. The song is a little over-the-top and will get you moving and actually sounds a little 80’s when the other songs don’t. Paul sounds fantastic again and he is strutting around like a peacock with those lyrics shaking his tailfeather. It is a fun song.
We get back to business with “Rock and Roll Hell” from Gene, Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams one of two contributions to the album and both with Gene. Gene on vocals and bass, Robben Ford on guitar and Eric destroying those drums. The song is dark, menacing and pure Demon. There are so many great Gene songs on the album. I love the song’s theme which is Gene is afraid of losing his place in the world and I bet by this time, they were afraid of losing everything. It lit a fire in the beast and they played like they were hungry again.
The last track on Side 1 is the fantastic song “Danger”. The third and final Stanley and Mitchell track, “Danger” is quick tempo barn stormer. Vinnie lets it fly on the guitar with some great riffs and Paul sings his all. It is a catchy chorus and the song sounds like old school Kiss with such great harmonies on the chorus as well. You have Jimmy Halsip on bass and Eric’s drumming is explosive and the overall song kicks some major ass.
Side 2 kicks off with the first song I heard from the album, “I Love it Loud”. MTV played it a lot and every time it came on it was event TV for me. I actually remember having our little black & white TV in the dining room on at dinner one night because I knew the song was coming on. When it did, I stoped eating to watch and made everyone else watch it too. Ace was in the video and I thought Kiss was chugging along just fine. Plus, I loved seeing the Giant Tank stage and Eric was slamming away on those drums. The song was written by Gene Simmons and Vinnie Vincent and it was our first glimpse in to Vinnie as a song writer and it was awesome. This was such a heavy metal track and it was the Demon rejuvenated. A massive anthem despite the simple, somewhat stupid lyrics. I love the fade out at the end to then come back again for a few more pointless seconds. Not sure the need, but as a kid, I thought it was cool.
Then we can take a breath as we get the one and only ballad on the album and one of my favorite Paul ballads, “I Still Love You”…plus I can play those opening notes on guitar!!! The slow tempo, the soft vocals and then the build up to the powerful chorus might be one of Paul’s best ever vocal performances for the band. Is that a grand enough statement for you! The guitar work was by Robben Ford and his playing was subtle, yet effective and reserved enough to let the song and Paul shine throughout. Damn good song!! Oh, and Vinnie wrote it with Paul, but didn’t play on it which is good because I think Robben’s style fit it better.
The last two songs are Gene songs and the first one is “Killer”...that is the name of the song and yes, it is killer. Another Vinnie and Gene song and Vinnie’s guitar work is obvious. Another heavy, uptempo beast that has Eric’s drums destroying everything in his way.
Then we end the album with one of Gene’s best songs, “War Machine”. One of the heaviest songs I think the band has ever done and to think it was written by Gene, Jim Vallance and Bryan Adams is surprising. Bryan Adams can rock the hell out of you…cool!! The song is so evil and menacing it would scare your enemy if you played this going in to battle. A popular song Gene plays live and for him to get in a full demon mode. Think of God of Thunder on steroids and you have an idea of this song.
- Creatures of the Night – Keeper
- Saint and Sinner – Keeper
- Keep Me Comin’ – Keeper
- Rock and Roll Hell – Keeper
- Danger – Keeper
- I Love It Loud – Keeper
- I still Love You – Keeper
- Killer – Keeper
- War Machine – Keeper
The Track Score is 9 out of 9 or 100%. It don’t get much better than this!! There is not a bad song on this album. Kiss wanted to re-capture their metal and hard rock roots and they did that in spades. With a Track Score like that you would expect the overall rating to be as good and you’d be right. I would give this a 5.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is still one of my favorite Kiss albums and over the years it stands the test of time. It sounds just as relevant today as it did back then. Despite all the musicians and writers, for us as kids, it was still Kiss. For me, Kiss was back and better than ever…
…too bad the buying public didn’t give a damn as the album only went to #45 on the Billboard Charts and only sold Gold. Kiss was still not getting any love. The tour was a failure and all was still not right in the Kiss world. Something had to give. They needed to do something to be noticed and it had to be big. And with the next album, they would do something that would bring them back to the top. What is it? We will find out next week.
Next Up: Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
The Kiss Review Series:
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
- Kiss – Kiss (1974)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
- Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
- Kiss – Alive! (1975)
- Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
- Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
- Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
- Kiss – The Originals (1976)
- Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
- Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
- Kiss – Alive II (1977)
- Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
- Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
- Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
- Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
- Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
- Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
- Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
- Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
- Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
- Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
- Kiss – Killers (1982)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
The Bootleg Series:
- Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
- Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
- Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
- Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
- Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
- Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
- Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
- Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
- Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
- Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
- Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
- Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
- Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
- Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
- Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
Kiss – The Box Set:
- The Box Set (Part 1 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc One 1966-1975 (Part 2 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Two 1975-1977 (Part 3 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Three 1976-1982 (Part 4 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Four 1983-1989 (Part 5 of 6)
- The Box Set – Disc Five 1992-1999 (Part 6 of 6)
Gene Simmons – The Vault:
- Part 1 – The Grand Opening
- Part 2 – Disk 1
- Part 3 – Disk 2
- Part 4 – Disk 3
- Part 5 – Disk 4
- Part 6 – Disk 5
- Part 7 – Disk 6
- Part 8 – Disk 7
- Part 9 – Disk 8
- Part 10 – Disk 9
- Part 11 – Disk 10
- Part 12 – The Bonus Disk
- Part 13 – The Best Songs of the Vault
- Part 14 – The Worst Songs of the Vault
- Part 15 – The Final Verdict