We are finally to the end of the Kiss Review Series. And like I like to do at the end of each series is Rank the Studio Albums from Worst to First and we aren’t going to do it any differently here. There are 24 Studio albums and since there are so many, I am keeping the summaries brief and no videos as I usually like to post a video with each album, but just way too many to do this time around.
Kiss began in 1973 and are still around today, but the last studio album was in 2012. It started with the original four – Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Then came Eric Carr who replaced Peter Criss; then Vinnie Vincent who replaced Ace Frehley; then Mark St. John to replace Vinnie and then Bruce Kulick replaced Mark; and it continues with Eric Singer replacing Eric Carr after his death and then Peter & Ace came back in and out after the reunion and then finally Tommy Thayer replaced Ace for good. Lots of changes, but Gene and Paul are always the consistent formula that has kept Kiss “Alive” all these years. For the diehard fan, remember, this is my opinion and your favorites are probably going to be different, but it is okay as we both love Kiss. For the newbie, this is a good guideline on where to focus.
Now, if the band ever decides to do another Studio album, I will gladly come back and update this, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen. If you want to check out the review of each album in detail, there are links at the bottom to all the reviews in the series and there were only 72 of them!! It took me almost 14 months to get through them all and it is still the most fun I have had on the site.
Thanks for spending all this time with me going through the Kiss catalog and my Kiss collection. I hope you enjoyed it. Enough chit chat as there is a lot to get through so sit back, grab a coffee or a beer and enjoy!!
The first concert video Kiss had ever released was ‘Animalize Live Uncensored’ and I had this on VHS and I remember it vividly although I did watch it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It came out on April 19, 1985 and I was so excited when this came out mainly because I saw this tour. My second Kiss show ever and now I was getting a video from that tour, how cool was that. Here is my ticket stub and you can view the Animalize Tour Book which I bought at the show by clicking the link.
The stage was a simple set up in Kiss terms. A couple ramps on each side of the drum set with an elevated platform behind them. The stage floor was covered in the same animal print as the Animalize album cover…makes sense. The show had a varied setlist with some old and some new. They kick off and end with some classic Kiss songs, but everything else in the middle was all 80’s from ‘Creatures of the Night’ (4 songs) to ‘Lick It Up’ (3 Songs) to ‘Animalize’ (3 Songs). For me, this is where I wanted them to spend their time as I was discovering Kiss on my own with these albums so I wanted these songs and I got my money worth with it.
The video opens with Kiss rising from the stage and then they explode in to “Detroit Rock City” and they are in Detroit! The song is so sped up and Eric’s drums are so heavy. I don’t think I’ve seen it played this fast before. After the song, Paul goes in to his his “Cold Gin” spill and they blast in to “Cold Gin” with Bruce Kulick laying down that nasty riff. Bruce was a full time member of the band at this point (which they announced before this very show) since Mark St. John was let go around the beginning of the tour due to his health issues. The show was also a radio broadcast and being filmed for an MTV concert (and this video).
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.
In my quest for collecting Kiss Bootlegs for eery tour they have done, I found another fantastic addition to the collection. My local record shop, Hardy Boy Records, has been a goldmine of late for Bootlegs. I have now bought four over the last few months and all for tours I didn’t have (or a collection of Wicked Lester demos – that is another story that will be told later).
The last 2 I bought were actually the same store, so I guess that statement was entirely true. The difference was one was the North American Tour setlist (which will come in the next week or two) and this one is the European leg of that tour with an ever so slightly different setlist.
Before we get to the show and the music, let’s discuss the cover of the album. This album is listed as “For Promotional Use Only” and is a really cheap production. The album jacket is plain white cover with this paper picture of the band that wraps around the back. It is glued down and not going anywhere. But the strange thing is the people on the cover. Now, I get it this the Animalize Tour so you would expect Mark St. John to be on the cover, but there is a problem. This is not one of the 3 shows that Mark actually played on. This has Bruce Kulick playing before he was an official member which would come about two months later.
The show is from October 26, 1984 at the Johanneshov Isstadion in Stockholm, Sweden on the first leg of the tour. The recording if an audience recording actually sounds quite excellent. Not much crowd noise and everyone sounds pretty clear with minor instances where the sound was off a little. This was released a year later in 1985 by a group called Poverty Records at least that’s what it says on the album itself. Continue reading “Kiss – ‘They Only Come Out At Night’ (Bootleg Series) – Album Review”→
On January 9th, 1985, I went to my 2nd Kiss concert which as the old arena called the Omni. That arena is no longer around, but the memories I do still have. The opening act was Krokus and they were great. The tour was for the Animalize Tour and the lead guitarist on this one was supposed to be Mark St. John, but he was fired in December of the previous year. Bruce Kulick took over duties for the remainder of the tour and for years later. I hate I didn’t get to see Mark. He is the only Kiss guitarist I have not seen live.
The setlist for this show was below and not all too different from the Lick It Up Tour I saw before.
Welcome to a two-fer Book Review of ‘Take it Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato. Not only am I doing a review but my friendDeke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock is doing one as well. So click on his name and go read his when you are done with this one. I am sure his will be better!!
A little backstory on Kiss during the Unmasked years. I was a teenager during most of this time and I discovered Kiss for myself in these years. I say that because I was introduced to Kiss in the 70’s as I had one brother in particular that was huge in to the band. He had posters and magazine pictures plastered all over his bedroom all…and I mean ALL over it. I listened to all the 70’s albums, but I was seeing it through his eyes. In 1982 with Creatures of the Night, I was now buying Kiss and loving Kiss on my own.
After the Lick It Up album came out, I finally got to see them live and I saw them live 3 times during the Unmasked years. I bought every album during this period and have them today in some form or fashion. So, needless to say, I am a huge fan of the Unmasked years so when I heard about this fantastic book by Greg Prato, I had to have a copy. And I got one as a Christmas gift. So, no more waiting, let’s review the book.
Greg’s book covers the entire era of Kiss without makeup. All the way from 1983’s ‘Lick It Up until 1997’s album ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’. And if you didn’t know, that is 12 albums mixed with Studio albums, live albums and compilation albums as well as one tribute album. And here they are…
Thanks to the Kiss Box Set Series I reviewed and most especially, Disc Four (which covers the 80’s), I have been on a Non Make-Up Era Kiss fix of late.. I have been playing all the albums and I am even getting Greg Prato’s book “Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked” for Christmas (Review in January 2020). So, I figured why not do a list of my favorite Kiss songs from that time and here we are. I am going to cover the albums from ‘Lick it Up’ in 1983 to ‘Carnival of Souls’ in 1997 and although I included the cover to “Thrashes, Smashes & Hits’ on the post header picture, there are no songs from it as the two new songs are really, really bad.
So, why wait any longer. Here are what I say are the Top 20 Songs of Kiss (The Non-Makeup Era)…
#20 – “Master & Slave” off ‘Carnival of Souls’ (1997)
I had to have one song from ‘Carnival of Souls’ which is not a good album, but there was one song I did like and that is “Master & Slave”. It was written by Paul Stanley, Bruce Kulick and Curtis Coumo. When you hear it, it is not normal Kiss. This is dark, brooding and completely centered in the Grunge era (which was a couple years too late). I liked the biting guitar work from Bruce and it is something completely different.
#19 – “Thou Shalt Not” off ‘Revenge’ (1992)
I really like a lot of Gene’s songs and there are quite a few on here despite Paul still leading the pack. The ‘Revenge’ album was a return to glory for Gene as he seemed lost for a few years. This is Gene, plain and simple. It is heavy and sounds evil which is just what the doctor ordered. The guitar solo is just as menacing as the rest of the song (good job Bruce).
Welcome back to Part 5 of the 6 Part series. We have already talked about the Box Set and its packaging in Part 1 and we have covered Disc 1 and Disc 2 in the set. For those, we got about 20 unreleased tracks between those two. Quite impressive. For Disc Three, we only get 3 unreleased tracks and now for Disc Four we only get 2 unreleased tracks. As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.
Disc Four is a fun one for me. It covers the Unmasked years of the 80’s. Not the album, Unmasked, the non-makeup years unmasked. The 80’s is where I got back in to the band. My first show was the Lick It Up tour plus I saw the Asylum Tour and the Crazy Nights Tour as well. It was all Kiss all the time (well, when it wasn’t Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Whitesnake). I think this era of Kiss is so overlooked and unfairly so as I love it!! Here’s what you get…
Now here is where Kiss messed up the box set. Yes, I get they had to put Ace’s picture on a disc like they did the other original members, but Ace isn’t on any of these songs…not a one. They should have put Eric Carr on this disc and Ace on the next one. Yes, it would have been out of order, but at least it would fit the timeline.
I was out and about at one of my favorite local record stores and came across this old 45 Single from Kiss. It was for the song “Tears Are Falling” off their 1985 album ‘Asylum. By 1985, Kiss was fully ensconced into the 80’s Hair Metal scene. Starting with their previous album, ‘Animalize’, the band’s sound shifted from the heavier albums like ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick It Up’, to more of the Glam Rock sound to keep up with the music of the time. That meant power ballads. “Tears Are Falling” fit that mold quite nicely.
“Tears Are Falling” was released as a single in 1985 and made it to #20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, just not technically not a Top 40 hit since it only reached #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song did have better success on MTV where it was in frequent rotation on the station.
The song was written by Paul Stanley and one of the few times we ever get a true Stanley Only song. The next we got was not until his solo album in 2006. That bit of tidbit surprised me, but the internet can’t be wrong…can it?? The song was recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios which is Jimi Hendrix’s old studio and produced by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Interesting enough, Gene didn’t play bass on the song, it was played by Paul.