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!!
Whenever I have a single, a 12″ or anything remotely collectible musically, I like to highlight it at its place in time with the Kiss Review Series. Since we just did the album ‘Asylum, I thought it was time to pull out the 7″ Single for the one single from the album “Tears Are Falling”. There were two other promotional videos released and were on MTV, but nothing else to the radio. The song didn’t break the Top 40 hitting #51 on the Hot 100 Chart. It did go to #20 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks which is great, but not a radio darling.
It was an MTV darling as it was requested for months on MTV’s Dial Up MTV where the fans could request their favorite videos. It was eventually retired as MTV came up with a rule that a song could only be a few weeks old and not a few months so it was not played as frequently. But I saw it a lot and loved how extremely embarrassing those costumes were. Yes, even then you knew it was a little over the top.
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.
I started 1985 with a Kiss concert (Animalize Tour) so I had to end it with a Kiss concert. This one was on December 31, 1985 and where else, but at the Omni. This show was for the Asylum Tour this time. The opening act for this show was Black n Blue. Gene had produced their album so no wonder they opened. Same line-up as the earlier show so nothing really new except the costumes were quite colorful and loud and looking back are quite hideous.
This setlist was different in the sense that Rock and Roll All Nite was not the encore. This encore was a big jam session with a lot of covers and I remember it being pretty cool.
Detroit Rock City
Fits Like a Glove
Guitar Solo (Paul)
Uh! All Night
Under the Gun
Guitar Solo (Bruce)
I Still Love You
I Love it Loud
Tears Are Falling
Rock and Roll All Nite
La Bamba (Encore)
Whole Lotta Love (Encore)
Heaven’s On Fire (Encore)
Oh! Susanna (Encore)
Won’t Get Fooled Again (Encore)
Lick It Up (Encore)
And like the last show, I bought a Tour Book which I still have today and we are going to go through it right now. Bruce finally gets his spotlight in the Tour Book as he wasn’t in the last one even though he performed. It was still Mark St. John as the band didn’t have time to change it out or want to spend the money to do so. I have him now and that is all that matters.
The first page, as always, is a list of all the albums they have released. This page isn’t much different than the last tour book since it has only been one album. Well, there is one big difference. The ‘Creatures of the Night’ cover is different. It now has the band unmasked and Bruce was on the cover…wait…I don’t think he was on that album…but then again, neither was Ace and he was on the original cover. I guess it is okay…not really!!
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.