Kiss – ‘Asylum’ (1985) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

We are now on the 13th Kiss studio album called ‘Asylum’ which came out on September 16, 1985. And this is actually the 30th review in the Kiss Review Series…I can’t believe we are already to #30 is pretty much the half way mark of the series. I have thoroughly enjoyed it thus far and I hope you have as well.

Now Kiss is in a good place, for the most part. Yes, Gene isn’t as involved as he should be and Paul is still running the show, but they have a solid line-up now that Bruce Kulick is an official member of the band. The line-up seems to be relatively issue you free (except for the Gene part). The line-up was now Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick. It would stay this way for the next 6 years and there would not be as much drama as before…thank goodness, but at the same time it does make for great story telling.

As a result of this lack of drama, I don’t have a ton of behind the scenes stuff to bring up. You already know Gene’s mind was not solely Kiss and that Paul is the one that truly saved Kiss by keeping the machine moving forward. It is a little boring in the world of Kiss now except for the Music. But before we get to that, let’s talk about the album packaging. The front cover above is a very, should we say, colorful cover. Each member is drawn and the lips are painted with the traditional Kiss colors of the role. Paul is still purple and Gene is still red so the guitar player Bruce has to be blue (like Ace) and the drummer Eric has to be green (like Peter). I liked the fact they tied in the make-up Kisstory to the modern day (well, modern day 1985). The back cover as you can see above continues that theme and has the guys dressed in typical 80’s fashion. It is nice, but wait until you see the outfits in the videos…WOW!! 80’s Glam turned up to 11!

There were no inserts as the band wasn’t really doing that anymore…that was a whole make-up era thing. But the record sleeve did have some more pictures and the song lyrics which were fun to read as the songs play. So yeah, even the albums packaging was as boring as the behind the scenes. For that fact, it is time to get to the music as that is why we are really here now aren’t we.

SIDE 1:

The album kicks off with a bang with “King of the Mountain”. Typical rocker with Paul on vocals and it is something that will get your blood flowing, your fist pumping and your head banging. Eric’s drums are thunderous and Bruce’s playing is technically brilliant as his shredding is reminiscent of times. The difference between his shredding and Vinnie’s and Mark’s is that I think Bruce was playing for the song and his solos were more melodic. The song was written by Paul Stanley with Desmond Child (who seems to be involved in most of Paul’s songs at this point) and Bruce Kulick who gets his first writing credit on the very first song on the album!!

Next up is “Any Way You Slice It” and is Gene’s first song on the album and it is typical Gene with the inane, sexually charge lyrics and a little been there done that. The song is saved of course by Bruce because for me, anything he touches is gold. Bruce became my favorite member very quickly. The song does have a little spoken interlude with Gene sort of talking through the lyrics and Eric’s drums, it is a nice change of pace in the song, but it is still so over-the-top. And I like the way the song ends with long drawn out guitar riffs, drum beats, and Gene’s little ad libs. It is an okay song at best though in the end. The song was written by Gene and Howard Rice who I am not familiar with so nothing more to add on him.

The first ballad comes quick with “Who Want to Be Lonely” written by Paul and Desmond, no surprise as well as Jean Beauvoir from The Plasmatics. Jean also plays bass on this one as Gene was probably too busy doing other things. Paul’s vocals on this are sensational, some of his best on the album. And what is a power ballad with a great guitar solo and Bruce doesn’t disappoint. For me, the song holds up great today as a fantastic example of a great power ballad. I think it holds up better than “Tears Are Falling” from this album. I liked it more anyway.

“Trial By Fire” is the next Gene song written with the help of Bruce (now two writing credits). The song is not a full out rocker nor a ballad. It kind of plods along going nowhere special. Gene’s heart wasn’t in any of these songs so far and it shows. Thank goodness we have Paul to hold down the fort. There wasn’t much of a chorus and nothing overly memorable about the song except Bruce. Did I mention, I really like Bruce?? You can also get a demo of this song on Disc 3 of ‘The Vault’.

Side 1 ends with a Speed Metal song called “I’m Alive” written by Paul, Desmond and Bruce (#3). This song reminds me of “Under the Gun” off ‘Animalize’, but I don’t care. It is fast, heavy and a blast. I love all the showmanship Bruce lays down with all his fills and his fire-blazing fret work during that solo. It is a song that flies through the notes and leaves you breathing hard by the end. It definitely makes you want to flip over the vinyl to Side 2 to see what else is in store for us.

SIDE 2:

Side 2 kicks off with “Love’s A Deadly Weapon” which was written by Paul, Gene, Rod Swenson and Wes Beach. If you remember the Wendy O. Williams review for ‘WOW’, both Rod and Wes wrote a lot of songs on that album. My guess is this is a leftover track from that album or they brought them in to write a song for this one either way there is a connection. The other thing on the writing credit you don’t see often anymore is a shared credit with both Paul and Gene which leads me to believe this was written years ago, but I don’t know. I am speculating here. The song is a heavy, fast paced barn stormer of a song and has some heavy ass drums from Eric which might be the best part of the song. Another Gene song that is okay, but not great.

The only single off the album was the next song called “Tears Are Falling” which was written by only Paul Stanley. And an interesting note, this is the last solo writing credit Paul has until his solo album in 2006…how’s that for trivia. It was so much just Paul that he plays the bass on it as well…no Gene. The song just missed the Top 40 by going to #51 on the Hot 100 Chart which for Kiss, that is pretty good. Now, on MTV this song was played way more than the radio because it was a power ballad and fit the mold MTV was trying to fit. The song is sugary sweet to a point of being a parody of the power ballad movement. It is a great song, don’t get me wrong, but doesn’t hold up as well. Plus, Paul can’t sing this way any more as it is sung too high.

The final Gene song on the album is “Secretly Cruel” and is solely written by him. Shakespeare, Gene is not, heck he ain’t even Dr. Seuss, but Gene can pen together the silliest sexual innuendos you can imagine. I have to say Gene’s contributions on this album aren’t up to snuff. Do I like this song? No, I didn’t even like the demo on Disc 3 of ‘The Vault’ where I gave the song a 1. This version might be a 1.5 or 2.0. Not much better.

The final two tracks are both Paul’s and the first one is a Stanley / Child composition called “Radar For Love”. If you had to categorize this song, Filler, would be the appropriate category. With the exception of the killer Bruce solo (which saves the song) is mostly a throwaway. For some reason though, I still kind of like it…I know…I’m strange.

The last track is the mot vulgar song that Paul has done called “Uh! All Night”. Listen to the song to know what the “Uh!” means. It was written by Paul, Desmond and Jean who also plays bass on this one. I think this makes 3 non-Gene bass playing songs, but who’s counting. I think Paul took Gene’s playbook and tried to come up with the most absurd lyrics you can possibly imagine for a sexual driven song and he succeeded. You know what, who the hell cares. It is a fun and stupid song and I sadly love every minute of it. I hope the #MeToo movement can forgive me for this one. When I was a teenager, I almost felt guilty for liking this song and as an adult I do feel guilty, but I like it nonetheless.

Track Listing:

  1. King of the Mountain – Keeper
  2. Any Way You Slice It – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  3. Who Wants to Be Lonely – Keeper
  4. Trial by Fire – Keeper
  5. I’m Alive – Keeper
  6. Love’s A Deadly Weapon – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  7. Tears Are Falling – Keeper
  8. Secretly Cruel – Delete
  9. Radar for Love – Keeper (1/2 Point)
  10. Uh! All Night – Keeper

The Track Score is a surprising 7.5 out of 10.0 or 75%. Surprising because there are some weak songs on here, but I can’t help but like them. The problem with this album is that is so cliched 80’s era rock and the great thing about this album is that is so cliched 80’s era rock. Crazy right! I still dig this album as much today as I did back then. This tour was great and everything about it is great. I am not stupid to think this is anywhere near their best albums, but I like just the same. Bruce’s playing was stellar on this album. I quickly became a fan and between him and Eric Carr, they made Kiss cool again for me. I will give it a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars. It is a fun, absolutely mindless listen and sometimes that is all you need.

Next Up: Kiss – Tears Are Falling 7″ Single (1985) – Bonus Edition

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)
  27. Kiss – Animalize (1984)
  28. Wendy O. Williams – WOW (1984) (Bonus Edition)
  29. Kiss – Animalize Live Uncensored (1985)
  30. Kiss – Asylum (1985)
  31. Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” 7″ Single (Bonus Edition) (1985)
  32. Kiss – Creatures of the Night (1985 Re-Issue)
  33. Vinnie Vincent Invasion – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986)
  34. Black N’ Blue – Nasty Nasty (1986)
  35. Ace Frehley – Frehley’s Comet (1987)
  36. Kiss – Exposed VHS (1987)
  37. Kiss – Crazy Nights (1987)

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:

68 thoughts on “Kiss – ‘Asylum’ (1985) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

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