Kiss – ‘Smashes, Thrashes & Hits’ (1988) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After Kiss released the greatest hits package ‘Chikara’ to Japanese and European audiences, the U.S. finally got its own greatest hits package. This was now the fourth greatest hits set the other two being Killers and Double Platinum. Of the four, the U.S. only saw two official releases. ‘Smashes, Thrashes & Hits’ was released on November 15, 1988. Kiss wasn’t doing much at this time. They were done touring for ‘Crazy Night’, they wouldn’t start working on their next album for about at least half a year or more, Gene had his side projects of his own record label and the band was in limbo.

The album sold pretty well selling over 2 million copies in the U.S. alone. The album did have two brand new songs to help drive fans to buy it (and it worked, I bought it). And like the compilation, ‘Killers’, the two new songs were solely done by Paul Stanley. Gene was not involved yet again as he was too busy. Paul saves the day yet again. The album did contain 15 tracks, but the European release of this album saw 16 tracks which the extra track was “Crazy, Crazy Nights” from the album ‘Crazy Nights’. Apparently in the U.S., they thought that album was too new to include a song on the compilation I guess.

Now my copy of this album is very special. It was autographed by Lori if you look in the Kiss logo on the front cover. I don’t know who she is, but I bet she owned this record many years ago. All I know her signature actually isn’t worth much because it brought down the price of the album by around $50 and I only paid like $15-20 for it. Thanks Lori. You saved me a lot.

The song covered one song from each of the non-makeup ear songs with the exception of ‘Crazy Nights’ and the rest of the songs were from the classic ear of Kiss. An interesting thing on this release is that almost all the songs had been remixed or tweaked in some way which as a Kiss fan, that means different versions of the songs and that means you have to buy the album. I won’t go through every song, but I will hit the most jarring changes and focus on the two new songs as well.

SIDE 1:

The album opens with the two new Paul Stanley tracks. The first one was written with Desmond Child (no surprise there) and the song has all the slick and polish as the songs did from the ‘Crazy Nights’ album. The song “Let’s Put the X in Sex” is just as jarring as that title suggests. It is lyrically a horrible song as the title would suggest, but there is something terribly catchy about the song. It has a great beat, great melodies and a fun chorus. Bruce lays down a great solo and Eric’s playing is non-existent as they actually used a drum machine (yikes). This could be categorized as a song that is so bad, it is good. And in the video, when did Paul stop playing guitar and become “THE” frontman??

Paul teams up with Diane Warren and the next new track, “(You Make Me) Rock Hard”. Yes, if you thought the previous song was over the top, well this one goes completely over and crashes down the hill like a locomotive. The play on words for this is almost groan worthy. It isn’t as good as the first track, but the chorus is extremely catchy. The problem with this one is that it wants to sound serious with the music, but those lyrics are cringingly awful. Thanks to Bruce and Eric for saving this one.

The next four tracks are some of their biggest with “Love Gun” kicking it off and the song is sped up even faster than the original if that can be believed and Paul’s vocals have a ton of echo added to them. “Detroit Rock City” loses all the cool story effects and car sounds that make the original so impactful. And “I Love It Loud” loses some of the punch of the drums on the original as they have been softened and not in a good way. There are now no balls to the song. “Deuce” was remixed as well to bring it up to more of an 80’s sound with some added effects thrown in (or maybe I’m hearing things, who knows). The last song on the album “Lick it Up” doesn’t seem to be tweaked.

SIDE 2:

Side Two kicks off perfectly with the great “Heaven’s on Fire” and Paul’s “Waaa Oooohs”. “Calling Dr. Love” had some extra effects added in and it has also lost some of the punch as the original. Gene’s vocals seem to be tweaked but not sure on that one. “Strutter” sounds way better here than the mix they did on ‘Double Platinum’…thank goodness they learned from that mistake. This one is back to being more of a rocker.

The biggest hiccup/mistake on this album was on “Beth”. The band wanted to include it, which they should, but they made Eric Carr re-record it with this vocals. The good news is this was Eric’s first vocal appearance on any Kiss album, the bad news, it was covering Peter’s song. Kiss fans were not happy about this as they felt it was a massive slap in the face to Peter…and it was. Hell, Eric wasn’t happy at all to do it, but Eric was the good little soldier and did what he was paid to do. He does a great version and his vocals are smooth, but the song misses Peter’s raspiness in the vocals.

“Tears are Falling” and “I was Made For Loving You” are up next and seem untouched and are great songs to include on the set. The last two song are a couple Kiss anthems and first up is “Rock And Roll All Night”…wait…”Night”???? Shouldn’t it be spelled as “Nite”…wow, that was a major screw up. The song itself sounds very different with a much shortened opening drum beat. And listen to that bassline, I don’t think it is the same as the original. Interesting. The last track “Shout It Out Loud” is little cleaner sounding then the original. A little punchier and a slightly different ending.

I don’t have the European version of this album…yet. One day I will get it with the extra track. As far as compilation goes, I do like this one, but I still think ‘Double Platinum’ and ‘Killers’ are tough to beat as solid greatest hits packages. The new songs are good, they are fun, but they are horrible at the same time which is part of their charm. Some of the mixes I like, some I don’t. It is a little uneven at times, but still not a bad one to have if you want different mixes. I think I will give it a 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars for the new songs and different mixes. I think they could’ve had some better tracks on here, but they didn’t ask me. Thanks and next week, back to a studio album!!

Next Up: Kiss – Hot In The Shade (1989)

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)
  38. Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition)
  39. Kiss – “Reason To Live” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)
  40. Kiss – Chikara (1988)
  41. Kiss – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)

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 – ‘Smashes, Thrashes & Hits’ (1988) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

  1. The next studio album in the series will be Eric Carr’s last full studio album with Kiss!!! 😦 I love that we have different opinions because I actually prefer “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” over “Let’s Put the X in Sex.” I can’t take the latter seriously, whereas “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” has a good beat and it’s a fun song (despite the music video being ridiculous). I agree with you about “Beth” though; Peter’s raspy voice gave the song an edge and it wasn’t the same with Eric. Though Eric does have a nice voice (had a nice voice, may him rest in peace).

    Liked by 2 people

      1. They’re so stupid that they almost cross the line back into enjoyable. Almost. The video for Let’s Put the X in Xylophone when the X comes spinning in from off screen is priceless.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember this one really well. I never owned it but my school buddy Benny did and we covered X in Sex in band rehearsal for a laugh one time and fell about the place laughing doing our best Gene, Paul, Peter, Ace, Eric and Vinnie impressions for hours. It’s a good track list. Makes some of the lesser respected Kiss singles look OK. Those two bonus tracks though. Hilarious and awful but brilliantly so

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A good compilation for the times except for 3 songs! lol. Greatest Hits albums were not a huge deal back then as many bands weren’t putting them out. Come the 90s though that was a different story. lol.
    Another thing with KISS albums in the 80s at least they had some decent packaging always including the lyrics etc and pics.
    Cool review and let’s it for Lori!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Part of me really dislikes when they put different mixes and live versions of songs on Hits sets. Like, just collect album tracks and put it out there. But I do get why they do it, to hook in fans who already own all the albums, but it’s new/different stuff at that point, isn’t it, not hits? I dunno, I’m tired today ha!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, I get where you are coming from. I like a couple new songs, but remixing most of the songs is a little unnecessary. How many versions of the song do we need. I like demos and the studio and live songs are fine…but 20 mixes of a song is not needed…EVER!!!

      Like

      1. Well, even the Beasties had multiple versions of tracks, but they went on singles, not Hits sets… I just think a Hits set should be studio tracks. Make a second one of mixes and live, if you want, but I like straight forward.

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  5. You’re pretty much spot on here in regards to the two new songs. There is something catchy about “Put the X in Sex” and it’s Bruce’s guitar solo which saves “Rock Hard.” However, if they are going to screw up the remix on my favourite KISS song, “I Love it Loud,” then I shall refrain from getting this album.

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  6. OMG you got the Lori edition! The Holy Grail of KISS collecting! Never sell this one!

    I actually chuckled aloud when you wrote “Gene was too busy”. I guess the reason I chuckled is that even as a kid, I resented him for having priorities other than Kiss. Even I could see Kiss were weaker with Gene on the sidelines like this.

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