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 friend Deke 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…
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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).
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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.
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For My Sunday Song #136, We are going to talk about the 80’s classic “No, No, No” off the 1987 album ‘Crazy Nights” and the B-Side of their first single “Crazy, Crazy Nights”. ‘Crazy Nights’ was a platinum selling album and might be considered as one of the bands weaker albums in some circles as they were chasing the trend at this point rather than creating it.
The song was originally titled “Assume the Position” (get your mind out of the gutter…because I am sure that is where their mind was with that title) and later it was called “Down on All Fours” (hmmm…I think their mind is still in the gutter). The song was originally written off a riff by Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr put his stamp on it as well. It was later handed over to Gene Simmons for completion.
The song opens with a blistering, solo by Bruce. It is fast and ferocious and shows why he is so highly regarded as one of the best Kiss Guitarists!! The drums are heavy thanks to the late, great Eric Carr and Gene finally has a decent song as over the last few albums, his weren’t always so stellar. Well, really this is great mostly because of Bruce, but we won’t tell Gene that as we don’t want to hurt his fragile little ego.
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