Kiss – ‘Lick it Up’ (1983) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Right after the Creatures of the Night Tour, the band went back in to the studio to complete the follow-up album. Michael James Jackson would stay on board as the producer as the sound he got on “Creatures” was amazing and the band wanted to continue that harder sound. Vinnie Vincent was now an official member of the band as he was on the cover. However, he actually wasn’t an “official member of the band” as he never signed his contract which became an extreme soar spot with Vinnie and the band which we will discuss a little later on in our story.

The ‘Lick it Up’ album, which came out on September 23, 1983, garnered way more attention than ‘Creatures’ for one main reason. The band finally took off the make-up which is something they had been talking about doing since at least the ‘Music from the Elder’ era. They finally did it and the big reveal was on MTV during primetime. I remember this vividly as this was event TV for me as I was a lifelong Kiss fan at the time (and still am today). I remember seeing each member in make-up and then without and I remember thinking, “PUT IT BACK ON!!! OOOOH THE HORROR!!!” No, it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty cool. And just like that Kiss was back in the public eye and they had some songs that could back it up.

Okay, now back to Vinnie Vincent. Vinnie co-wrote 8 of the 10 songs on this album as well as several on “Creatures of the Night. As a result, his ego was starting to ride higher than Snoop Dogg on a Saturday night. Vinnie felt he was fully responsible for reviving Kiss. He was their savior and as a result deserved more money. The band was able to get him to go on Tour with them for the ‘Lick It Up’ Tour, but Vinnie became more and more difficult. If you’ve been to Kiss shows, you know they are pretty timed-out and Vinnie would let his solos drag out longer and longer each night. It got so bad that after one show he and Paul almost came to blows. After the tour, Vinnie was done and he was out of the band. And for the record, Vinnie DID NOT SAVE KISS!! I think it was a mixture of Michael James Jackson, Vinnie, Paul, Eric and the make-up coming off.

The album was just as heavy as ‘Creatures’ but for some reason, they didn’t capture the same bombastic drum sound they had before. Eric still sounded great, but it wasn’t as front and center. When asked why they didn’t repeat that sound from ‘Creatures’, the simple answer was because that album didn’t sell so why would they repeat it. Good point. That doesn’t mean this album didn’t sound great, in fact, it sounded incredible and was almost as good as ‘Creatures’.

The album did very well, in fact, it was the best performing album since at least ‘Dynasty’. The album went Platinum and reached #24 on the Billboard Charts. Kiss was back and they would hang around throughout the rest of the decade without make-up and on to a new era of Kiss…the 80’s Non Make Up Era. In fact, this was the first tour I got to see Kiss. I had been listening to Kiss for about 10 years at this point and I was only about 14 at this time. However, now it was me discovering Kiss on my own and not from my brother’s albums. Except for my brother did buy me the ticket and gave it to me as a birthday present on my 15th Birthday and the show was the very next day. I got to go see them for the first time on December 26, 1983. Here is the ticket stub which I still have today.

Enough of the memories, let us get to the music.

SIDE 1:

The album picks up right where ‘Creatures of the Night’ left off with the song “Exciter”. It was loud, it was heavy and it was awesome.  Paul takes on the vocals for the opener and in a much higher range. The song is a frantic barrage of sound and is such a screamer that it was great opening choice and sets the tone for the whole album. The song was written by Paul and Vinnie, but strangely the solo on this song was not Vinnie. They brought in Rick Derringer to handle the solo.  It is a great solo!!  Rick was brought in since Vinnie didn’t have the right feel for the song. He struggled getting the solo they wanted and Rick could.

Up next is “Not For The Innocent” which was written by Gene and Vinnie. The song is perfect for Gene as it is so dark and foreboding as it drips with the demon personae telling the world to “lock up your daughters”.  The album has a couple of my favorite Gene songs and this is one of them.  The drum sound by Eric Carr is sensational although not as powerful as ‘Creatures’ is still packs a wallop. Vinnie’s guitar solo on this was spectacular and seemed quite long.  Outside of “Exciter”, Vinnie was sensational throughout.

“Lick It Up” is the band’s first single and first video without make-up and the song only went to #66.  It opens with a nice little riff and a little scream from Paul.  Paul’s second song on the album and it was meant for the radio.  This is a pure 80’s, melodic rock song and no wonder it still gets played a lot.  The video was so 80’s as well.  Real cheesy and had the band in a post-apocalyptic world.  It is a little comical watching it now.  The song, however, is about a guy trying to talk his girlfriend in to doing the nasty so doesn’t really fit with the video.

“Young and Wasted” is up next and it is Gene’s turn again which is obvious as the song is a little heavier and the bass is a little more prominent.  Another great rocker.  The cool thing about this song was when they played it live, Eric Carr wound up singing and it was awesome.  Eric had a great rock voice and I wish he would have gotten to do more on their albums. A major opportunity “wasted”.

“Gimme More” was actually a sign of what was to come on future albums.  It was fast paced and featured Paul on vocals, but it was one of the weaker songs.  It got you moving as they seem to be flirting with a little speed metal here, but it was lacking something overall.  Maybe heart, I am not sure. I wouldn’t take it off the album, only a comment that it is a weaker strong song.

SIDE 2:

The second single of the album, “All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose”, kicks off side two.  This might have been a first for Kiss as it actually contained a little rapping by Paul.  Maybe not rapping, but a lot of speaking in that style which could be confused for rapping.  Whatever he is doing, I loved it, but I read somewhere that Eric was not fond of it.  Musically, it has a memorable guitar riff that when I hear it I know within milliseconds that this is the song. The song is actually one of the rare times where all band members are credited with writing credit which is great to see Eric get in on the fun.  Eric was actually the primary writer of the song which might explain why he wasn’t fond of Paul’s take on the lyrics.

“A Million to One” was up next and the song was written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent which tells the story of our hero of the song telling his ex-lover that there is basically no hope in hell she will find a love as great as his.  Paul’s cocky attitude in the lyrics and the vocals propel this into one of his greatest performances on a song on any album. Musically, the song hits on all cylinders as well.  The powerful sound coming from Eric’s drum gave this song an extra punch that you felt with each swing of the sticks. Not to be outshined, Vinnie’s guitar playing is masterful with great riffs and a great solo all along with the underrated rhythm guitar of Paul.

Gene now controls the final three songs on the album and it starts with my favorite one of his from this one called “Fits Like a Glove”.  The guitar playing is freaking incredible on this song.  Vinnie lets it completely rip from opening riff to the final notes.  Vocally, Gene nails it as well. He has these long, drawn out screams that are killer.  It is fast and heavy and all I want in a Gene sung song.  It is a “hot knife, through butter”. And that is a good example of how cheesy and crappy the lyrics are, but mixed with the music all is right with the world.

“Dance All Over Your Face” is a rather dark, violent song.  It sounds like Gene is going to beat the crap out of his girlfriend for cheating on him with another man.  It is the weakest Gene song on the album and not one of my favorites for the violence against women feel to it. As a result, I don’t really feel anything else needs to be mentioned about this song.

The final song on the album, “And on the 8th Day”, is about God creating Rock & Roll on the 8th day and sadly this song came from it.  It isn’t a powerful enough song for the topic.  It is another weak one of Gene’s which will become common for the next several albums.  I did like Eric’s drumming as there are some bombastic moments and he even has a marching beat that drives the song forward, but I am just not a fan of it overall. Never connected to it.

Track Listing:

  1. Exciter – Keeper
  2. Not for the Innocent – Keeper
  3. Lick it Up – Keeper
  4. Young and Wasted – Keeper
  5. Gimme More – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  6. All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose – Keeper
  7. A Million to One – Keeper
  8. Fits Like a Glove – Keeper
  9. Dance All Over Your Face – Delete
  10. And on the 8th Day – Delete

The Track Score is 7 1/2 out of 10 or 75%. The album could have used a little more Paul then Gene and we will get that on future 80’s album as Gene became a little less than involved (again, another story for another time). The overall album was fantastic. It wasn’t as perfect as ‘Creatures of the Night”, but it is still one of the upper echelon of albums they have done. I would give the album a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars as the songs that are on here that are good are really good and “A Million to One” might be one of my all time favorite tracks. The first of the Non Make-up era album is a smash, but how long will that continue? And now that Vinnie is out as guitarist, who is next and how long will they last?? So many questions.

Next Up: Kiss – Animalize (1984)

Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!

The Kiss Review Series:

  1. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)
  2. Kiss – Kiss (1974)
  3. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
  4. Kiss – Dressed to Kill (1975)
  5. Kiss – Alive! (1975)
  6. Kiss – Destroyer (1976)
  7. Kiss – “Flaming Youth” 45 Promo Single – Bonus Edition (1976)
  8. Kiss – Special Kiss Album For Their Summer Tour (1976)
  9. Kiss – The Originals (1976)
  10. Kiss – Rock & Roll Over (1976)
  11. Kiss – Love Gun (1977)
  12. Kiss – Alive II (1977)
  13. Kiss – Double Platinum (1978)
  14. Kiss – Paul Stanley (1978)
  15. Kiss – Gene Simmons (1978)
  16. Kiss – Peter Criss (1978)
  17. Kiss – Ace Frehley (1978)
  18. Kiss – Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park Movie (1978)
  19. Kiss – Dynasty (1979)
  20. Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition)
  21. Kiss – Unmasked (1980)
  22. Peter Criss – Out of Control (1980)
  23. Kiss – Music From The Elder (1981)
  24. Kiss – Killers (1982)
  25. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1982)
  26. Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)

The Bootleg Series:

  1. Kiss – ‘Accept No Imitations’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ASYLUM TOUR)
  2. Kiss – Look Wot You Dun to Me (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (CRAZY NIGHTS TOUR)
  3. Kiss – The Summer of Satan: The Devils Ride Out! (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DESTROYER TOUR)
  4. Kiss – Return to Capital Center (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DYNASTY TOUR)
  5. Kiss – With Fire & Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (HOTTER THAN HELL TOUR)
  6. Kiss – Northhampton PA March 19th, 1975 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (DRESSED TO KILL TOUR)
  7. Kiss – The Hottest Show On Earth (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH TOUR 2010)
  8. Kiss – All the Way to the Ball Room (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (Australian Tour 1995)
  9. Kiss – Kiss of Thunder (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (The Rising Sun Tour 2006)
  10. Kiss – Agora Ballroom 1974: The Cleveland Broadcast plus Bonus Cuts (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (THE KISS TOUR)
  11. Kiss – Hotter Than Hell: Radio Broadcast 1976 (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ROCK & ROLL OVER TOUR)
  12. Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (LICK IT UP TOUR 1983)
  13. Kiss – Barbarize (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – North American Tour)
  14. Kiss – They Only Come Out At Night (Bootleg Series) – Album Review (ANIMALIZE WORLD TOUR 1984 – EUROPEAN TOUR)
  15. Wicked Lester and the Progeny Demo Sessions (Bootleg)

Kiss – The Box Set:

Gene Simmons – The Vault:

27 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Lick it Up’ (1983) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

  1. I think ‘Creatures of the Night’ is a way better album, but there are some great tunes on ‘Lick It Up.” I agree with you about deleting “Dance All Over Your Face” and “On the 8th Day,” especially the latter. The message with that one was weird and cheesy to me. Unpopular opinion, ‘Lick It Up’ wouldn’t have been a success if the band hadn’t taken off their makeup!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh thank goodness. I was worried my opinion was stupid, ok. I think even Paul said that he thinks the album sold well do to the hype of the unmasking era. I think the unmasking gave ‘Lick it Up’ an unfair advantage.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I knew a few ladies at the time, including my sister, who said that KISS should have stayed in makeup because they were that ugly. Still, I liked this album and agreed with your point that they were well and truly back.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great write up and a easy listen as I can play this album without skipping tracks!
    I like this era of KISS but a shame Vinnie came unglued in this band as he was a contributing force. That’s why they call it the Music Business!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Taking off the makeup definitely helped start them up again…it must have been nice not to hide from reporters reporters anymore when they didn’t have it on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How good is Exciter?
    It’s got a brilliant riff, it’s so Metal and now it’s forgotten.

    And that Lick It Up clip.

    I still remember the cheese 37 years later. And Gene Simmons. What was up with his look when it was all four of him singing Lick It Up.

    Liked by 1 person

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