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.

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Kiss – ‘Crazy Nights’ (1987) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series

We are now in 1987 in the Kiss timeline and something odd has happened. For the first time in Kisstory, Kiss did not release an album in a given year. 1986 did not see a Kiss studio album release. For a band that started out doing 2 a year and then one a year, it is a huge surprise that 1986 saw nothing. Not even a greatest hits package. After the Asylum Tour ended, Kiss took a break as they had been going strong for 12 years non-stop. Gene went off and produced other albums such as Black N’ Blue and Paul, well Paul was left trying to keep Kiss alive (no pun intended).

By this time, Paul was pretty sick of Gene’s lack of commitment and confronted Gene about. He told Gene that it wasn’t fair that he was off doing all these side projects while reaping the benefits of Kiss thanks to Paul doing all the work and heavy lifting and you know, Paul is right. Paul was the one to save Kiss and keep the wheel’s turning. I don’t know how much that worked, because Gene’s input on this album is still pretty minimal with only 4 of the 11 songs on the album. Heck, Bruce had 4 writing credits on this album and Eric had one. Paul brought in some of the same people to help write the album including Adam Mitchell, Desmond Child and even Diane Warren. The band took on a more pop, radio-friendly sound with this one and saw them use synthesizers a great deal more with Paul, Bruce and Phil Ashley helping out on that instrument. The one cool thing about the album is that the line-up is unchanged from ‘Asylum’. Kiss saw no turnover this time around and this band would stay together for at least one more album.

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My Sunday Song – “Wild is the Wind” by Bon Jovi

For My Sunday Song #197, we are going to go with a song off Bon Jovi’s New Jersey album called “Wild is the Wind”.  The song was from 1988 and it was never released as a single, but it stuck with me and was one of my favorites on the album.  Like a lot of their albums, the deep cuts can sometimes be better than the actual singles and this was one of those for me.  Next to “Blood on Blood” from the New Jersey album, this is one I go to more than others.

This song seems to be an admission of guilt for Jon as he seems to be feeling bad for not being there for his wife.  It is something deeply imbedded in him that drives him to be on the road all the time.  He feels she would probably do better finding someone else that can give her what she needs because he feels he is failing at that task.  And as much as he lived that rock star lifestyle, I would say he failed quite a bit at giving her what she needed.  In the end, we know how the story ends in real life as he and his wife are still together after all these years.

What I loved about the song is something that was a common theme on the New Jersey songs, it was this cowboy spirit drenched in the music style.  It wasn’t a country twang or anything like that, it was mostly in how the acoustic guitar is used in the songs.  There is this restless feeling in the songs.  Musically, it is a cross between a ballad and just a plain old rock song. It has its slow moments, but rocks out in the end with some damn fine guitar work by Mr. Richie Sambora, the backbone of the band.  Tico Torres has some nice drum fills and great moments as well so I don’t want to leave him out.  Jon sings with all his heart and his emotions on his sleeve like he always did back then (now the new stuff feels like is his just going through the motions, but that is another story for another day).

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Ratt – ‘Detonator’ – Album Review

The year is 1990 and we are getting to the end of the Hair Metal era, but at the time, no one knew that end was coming.  Ratt released their fifth album in August of 1990 and it brings us to the end the long running stream of Platinum albums.  It is also the last Ratt album with the line-up that has been on all 5 of their albums.

  • Stephen Pearcy – vocals
  • Robbin Crosby – lead guitar
  • Warren DeMartini – lead guitar
  • Juan Croucier – bass guitar
  • Bobby Blotzer – drums

After the disappointing reception for ‘Reach for the Sky’ (although it did go Platinum), the band needed to make a change.  That change was not to use Beau Hill as producer on the next album as he had produced all previous albums to much success.  The band (or label) brought in powerhouse songwriter Desmond Child.  You know Desmond…he had great success writing with Kiss, Aerosmith and a few Bon Jovi classics.

And did he ever get involved in the songwriting as he has writing credits on 10 of the 11 tracks on the album.  Not only did Desmond assist with songwriting, he was also the executive producer along with Sir Arthur Payson.  While Ratt did maintain the classic Ratt sound which was a little bluesy and little sleazy, the songs were much more polished and contained more hooks than a fisherman’s tackle box.  It definitely leaned to a more Glam rock image than prior albums.

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My Sunday Song – “Because You Loved Me” by Celine Dion

For My Sunday Song #23, my wife has chosen the Celine Dion song “Because You Loved Me”.  I will let her tell you why…enjoy:

This song was written by Diane Warren and produced by David Foster for the movie “Up Close & Personal” starring Robert Redford and Michelle Pfeiffer. Michelle Pfeiffer’s character is thanking Robert Redford’s character for believing in her. Warren could not have picked a more soulful artist to sing this song. Dion has this way of taking you to another place when you are listening to her and it’s like there is no one else around.

I’m pretty sure we all have that certain someone who has supported us even when we didn’t even believe in ourselves, someone who really looked out for us despite our know it all attitude, someone who saw a side of us no one else ever saw and someone who was always there no matter what. For the first part of my life, that person was my dad and still is to a certain degree but for the past 16 years or so this person is definitely my husband. For those who say they have never had anyone like this, remember that God loves you. He does all these things…and more!

This song was on Dion’s “Falling Into You” album released in 1996. It won a Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

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