With the success of ‘Lick It Up’, Kiss was back on top…well as close to on top as they were going to get for awhile. They were somewhat relevant again, but things weren’t easy. Vinnie Vincent was officially out of the band by around April 1984 and they needed a guitarist quick as it was time to record a new album. They settled on a guitarists by the name of Mark St. John. He was a proper shredder which was typical of the time thanks in large part to the late, great Eddie Van Halen. Now fully staffed again, they went in to the studio in May and worked through July on the album.
I said “they”, but that was a loose term. This project was really more Paul’s than Gene’s. Gene was out doing movies, trying to produce new rock bands and pretty much anything else that wasn’t Kiss. Paul Stanley ran the shop and actually ended up producing the album. Gene Simmons showed up on occasion to give us a handful of a mediocre songs. But he didn’t play on all the songs.
There were several guest musicians on this album. On bass, we have the Plasmatics’ bass player, Jean Beauvoir who also co-wrote a song with Paul and on guitar, we had a guy named Bruce Kulick who played on a couple songs which I find weird as they now had a guitarist. More on Bruce in a minute. And there was Allan Schwartzberg who did some drum overdubs, but Eric Carr did most of the heavy lifting as his drum is loud and proud throughout.
As far as songwriting, there were more outside writers. Desmond Child was back for three co-writes; Mitch Weissman had three co-writes; Jean Beauvior, I mentioned earlier, and even Eric Carr got a co-write on one. There were none for Mark St. John. Now Gene had credits on all of his songs he sung and of course, Paul did on his. It was now a typical pattern that Gene and Paul no longer wrote together.
The album was done and released on September 17, 1984 and it did pretty good going to #19 on the Billboard Charts and going platinum which was a new trend thanks to ‘Lick It Up’. The album sparked two singles, however, nothing broke the Billboard Top 40. Still, the band was back, MTV was playing their videos and maybe it was cool again to like Kiss (I’m not sure, but people stopped giving me grief about it).
The album cover is one of only a handful of covers that doesn’t feature the band. Instead it was a very unusual multi-animal print to go with the title off ‘Animalized’. It isn’t the best cover and the back cover isn’t much better with another apocalyptic picture of the band reminiscent of the ‘Lick It Up’ music videos, but this was the new band with Mark St. John and I knew it would last forever.
Forever didn’t last very long as poor Mark St. John was diagnosed with reactive arthritis in his hands and it started to impact his playing. So much so, that Bruce was brought in as a back up on the tour in case Mark couldn’t play. Bruce Kulick already had a huge tie to Kiss as his brother Bob Kulick auditioned for Kiss (but was beat by Ace) and has played lead guitar on a number of Kiss songs due to Ace’s little issues. Bruce didn’t have to wait very long as Mark’s problem was so bad he actually only played on 3 live shows before Bruce completely took over. And when I say completely, I mean completely. Mark came in to the band in April 1984 and he was out by November 1984. Bruce became official on December 8, 1984 and would rule the world with Kiss for the next decade.
I think I have rambled on long enough with the history lesson so let us get to the music.
The opening track, “I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)” was written by Paul Stanley and Desmond Child. A powerful combination. The song is a scorcher with Eric’s explosive drums and Mark’s frantic shredding and a nasty solo that says, “Hello, I have arrived” (although staying would be the issue). The song is heavy and Paul sounds in his prime as he vocals are sublime. It is borderline metal and Kiss knows how to pick a song to open an album as this one quickly grabs hold and pulls you in to the album. There is no Gene on this song as Paul plays both rhythm guitar and bass.
And then Paul shows off with a little “Oooh Oooh Oooh” that I’m not sure he could hit today as it is so high, but it is a perfect way to kick off the song “Heaven’s On Fire” which is another Paul and Desmond song and the first single. The song is another rocker and a very typical 80’s sounding song. It was all over MTV and helped propel the album to Platinum status. On radio, it didn’t fare as well not breaking the Top 40 and hanging around #49. The song is one of the few 80’s song to actually get occasionally played live after they went back to make-up which is cool. Now sadly, this was the only video that contains Mark as he was gone before anything else was done, but at least we have this to remember him by.
Since Gene can’t be left out, the next track is Gene’s called “Burn Bitch Burn”. It is a darker sounding song and it is an uptempo rocker that moves along at a breakneck speed. Sadly, this is not one of the better Gene songs on the album and the lyrics might be some of the worst I’ve heard from Gene and that is saying something. I think the lyric that stands out to everyone is “I Wanna Put My Log in Your Fireplace”…yes, subtle he is not. Now Mark’s riff are gritty and a little nasty and he lays down a pretty solid solo and I have to say his work on here was really great so it is sad what happened.
“Get All You Can Take” is another Paul song and was written with Mitch Weismann. Paul vocally goes really high in his register to fit the singing of the time. It is almost too high. The band contributes backing vocals on the chorus and I remember hearing the “F” word and thinking that was cool, however the song really wasn’t cool or that memorable. A little too over-the-top with the singing and overall fairly forgettable except for the solo. This is another Gene song that he didn’t play on and that works was handled by Jean Beauvoir and he does do a nice job.
Gene ends the first side with “Lonely is the Hunter” and it was written by Gene. It is mid-tempo and a little boring as it is missing a little heart and soul. It is like Gene was painting by numbers. The guitar sound on here is different than most of the album and that is because it is our future Kiss star Bruce Kulick, but sadly even his bitchin’ solo couldn’t save it. I think Gene was too busy doing his movie with Tom Selleck called ‘Runaway’ to give a damn about this album and it shows. On a side note, there is a demo of this song on Gene’s ‘The Vault” and the style is similar and still not any good.
If you thought the scorcher opening track was great, hang on to your hat because this one, “Under the Gun”, is even faster and just as awesome. I swear it is almost Thrash. This is the final Paul and Desmond song with help from Eric Carr on the writing (yeah Eric!!). And let me tell you, Eric’s drums were prominent and pounding throughout. He was such a powerhouse! It is a fun track and a great tune to wake you up after the last track.
The next single (or promotional track) was “Thrills in the Night” written by Paul and Jean Beauvoir which means he played bass on it as well (oh, and he played bass on “Under the Gun” too). The promotional video for this song actually featured Bruce since it was released and filmed in 1985. It is more of a softer rock song, almost pop and definitely radio-friendly. The drums were toned back and it was really focused on Paul and guitar as all 80’s had to have guitar. The song never charted though.
Gene finishes off the album with the last 2 songs and first up is “While the City Sleeps”. This was written by Gene and Weissman and is based off old 50’s movies as Gene was a huge movie buff and if you read the book from ‘The Vault’, you learn just how much. It is a more reserved Gene song and the playing on it is fantastic. I would have to say this is a sleeper track and might be his best one on the album which isn’t really saying a whole lot.
The final track is “Murder in High Heels” which has a nice groove and is a little funky. It seems to be throwback track in style and is yet another song written by Gene and Weissman. The guitar work is masterfully handled by Bruce Kulick and shows why the band kept him around. However, it was a rather subdued way to end the album and never quite clicked with me. I am huge fan of Gene’s, but this album from his songs is a disappointment. Thankfully Paul saves it.
- I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire) – Keeper
- Heaven’s on Fire – Keeper
- Burn Bitch Burn – Delete
- Get All You Can Take – Keeper (1/2 Point)
- Lonely is the Hunter – Delete
- Under the Gun – Keeper
- Thrills in the Night – Keeper
- While the City Sleeps – Keeper
- Murder in High Heels – Delete
The Track Score on the album was 5 1/2 out of 9 or 61%. Paul’s songs were by far the best part of the album and I like to consider this a mini Paul Stanley solo album as he had to be the captain and steer the ship while his First Mate lost his way and his attention was elsewhere. Overall, it was a good 80’s, non make-up era album and so-so Kiss album. For me though at the time of its release, I loved it but I loved all things Kiss, my perspective has changed and I realized it wasn’t the best representation of the band. With all of that in mind, I will still give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars as it is cool we have this representation of Kiss with Mark St. John and it is overall interesting as I know what was going on behind the scenes and that makes the songs a little more interesting to me as an overall grouping.
Next Up: Wendy O. Williams – ‘WOW’ (1984) – Bonus Edition
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)
- Kiss – Lick It Up (1983)
- Kiss – Animalize (1984)
- Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
- Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
- Kiss – Asylum (1985)
- Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
- Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
- Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
- Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
- Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
- Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
- Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)
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