Kiss – ‘Hot in the Shade’ (1989) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

It had been two years since the last studio album, ‘Crazy Nights’ and still the band wasn’t working on a new album. Gene Simmons was out producing bands on his record label and Paul Stanley decided that in early 1989, he was going to go out on a solo tour. People were freaking out as was this the end of Kiss. Paul’s solo band on the tour had two major Kiss connections. On guitar was Bob Kulick and on drums was future Kiss drummer Eric Singer who would take over after the death of Eric Carr. Paul even went so far as to sing and record the title song to the Wes Craven movie ‘Shocker’. Kiss in my eyes, seemed doomed.

But it wasn’t the end. In mid-1989, the band got back together and finally started working on the new album. They had a very small budget for this album so instead of going in and fully recording a new album, they grabbed a bunch of demos and re-worked or even overdubbed them to turn them in to the album we have here. ‘Hot in The Shade’ has a crazy number of songs with 15 and the album was about an hour long. This was the late 80’s when bands felt they needed to fill up the entire CD and as a result, we got a lot of bloated albums at that time. If you knocked a few songs off this album, it would be a lot better but still suck.

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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 – ‘Chikara’ (1988) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

Kiss were plugging along and everything is still right in the world. In 1988, as they were preparing for their Tour of Japan, the label and the band decided to release a greatest hits compilation. The CD was issued on May 25, 1988 and was limited to only 100,000 copies and only released in Japan. The was the 2nd greatest hits package to not be issued in the U.S., the first being 1982’s ‘Killers’. For that fact, this is a hot collector’s item for Kiss collectors and I didn’t even know about it until years after its release and I still don’t have a physical copy of this release (but I will get one someday).

The Japanese character on the back of the case and on the CD might look familiar. It is the same symbol that was on the bottom of the cover art for the band’s 1974 album, ‘Hotter Than Hell’. Eric Carr also used that symbol on his drum kits for quite some time. Chikara is the Japanese word for Power if you are interested in knowing that fact. And when you are looking to buy this CD on ebay or somewhere, the prize to get is the OBI strip with all the Japanese writing. A lot of the ones I’ve seen out there don’t have that strip anymore.

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Kiss – “Crazy Crazy Nights” (1987) – 12″ Single (Bonus Edition) – (The Kiss Review Series)

We are going to take a little break and highlight a couple singles I have in my collection. This is a little bonus material for you in the series. First up is the 12″ single for the band’s first single off ‘Crazy Nights’. It is the title track, but called “Crazy, Crazy Night” because one crazy wasn’t enough. The single was released on August 18, 1987 and was the highest charting song for the band in the UK hitting at #4 and selling over 200,000 copies (that would be the 7″ single I am sure). In the US, it only reached #64 on the Top 100 songs, but I do remember seeing the video on MTV a lot.

This 12″ single does come with 4 songs, but I can’t find much about this release at all. It does not appear that any of these songs are anything other than the album release version. I do know this version is the UK release and was not in the US so glad I was able to find a copy. The picture sleeve is nothing new as it is basically the album cover. The cool thing about it are those Vertigo Labels. Strange not seeing Mercury or Casablanca.

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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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Kiss – ‘Exposed’ VHS (1987) – Video Review (The Kiss Review Series)

We have come to the part of the Kiss timeline in which I believe Kiss would like to completely forget. The Kiss ‘Exposed’ VHS tape that was released on May 18, 1987. In an MTV world and the 80’s rock screaming of women and excess, Kiss decided to put together a collection of their 80’s music videos that they had so far. But no, that wasn’t enough. Gene and Paul wanted to give you so much more. Some exclusive interviews, some vintage videos and a lot of women (and we will get to that in a minute).

In what can be described simply as a train wreck, we get a semi-scripted, badly acted performance of Kiss doing little sketches and some actually real and great interviews. The set for this fantasmic masterpiece is what is supposed to be Paul’s mansion…guess what…it wasn’t. They rented it for this video shoot and brought a lot of Kiss memorabilia in to make you think it was Paul’s actual bachelor pad. The set up was supposed to be some sort of documentary where this clumsy, nerdy news-type guy and a horny cameraman follow Gene and Paul around and do interviews. The sketches are horribly bad, Paul is not funny…and I mean groaningly not funny and Gene is well…Gene.

On top of that the house and every scene is covered with half-naked, and in some cases, very naked women lying around being horribly objectified and they are being misogynistic towards. In today’s world, it is completely and utterly unacceptable. However, when you are 17-18 years old in 1987, it is totally AWESOME!! I got to see Boobies!!! Because at 17/18, that was not something I was getting to see on a regular basis. I had this on VHS at the time and can’t believe my parents let me watch it. Thankfully they never saw it or I wouldn’t get to see it again. When I watched this a couple weeks ago, it was suddenly very painful to watch.

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Ace Frehley – ‘Frehley’s Comet’ (1987) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After Ace Frehley left Kiss in 1982, it took him awhile to get going on a solo project. Where Peter had a solo album out within a year of leaving Kiss (if not sooner), it took Ace 5 years before his first bit of music was released. There was a reason for that. When Ace left Kiss, he still maintained a 1/4 share in the band and was not able to release anything until at least 1985. He basically had a non-compete contract for a limited time. However, around 1984, he did start piecing together a band and of course he started with drummer Anton Fig. Anton had played on Ace’s 1978 solo album and had done a few things with Kiss as well on some of their records. After Anton, he recruited John Regan on bass and Richie Scarlett on guitar and vocals. Ace now had a band.

The band recorded some demos in 1984-85 with famed producer Eddie Kramer, who had produced Ace’s 1978 solo album as well as other Kiss album, and actually played their first live show on November 30, 1984. He wasn’t releasing any music yet, so not breaking his contract. The band played some more in 1985, but in the end, Richie Scarlett wanted to pursue his own solo career and left the band. Not a good start so far.

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Kiss – ‘Creatures of the Night’ (1985 – Reissue) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

You saw the title to this and you are probably saying to yourself, “John, you’ve already reviewed ‘Creatures of the Night’. Have you lost your rocker?” And the answer to that question is YES! I have reviewed ‘Creatures’ and I am off my rocker. The thing is, the band re-released the album in 1985 for some strange reason. The new line-up of Kiss with Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick was riding high. The fans loved the line-up, the last album was successful, the tour went off well, so all was good in the Kiss world. Someone, somewhere in the Kiss camp thought, “Hey, we should re-release the album ‘Creatures of the Night’ because why not.” I have no idea the rational or reasoning behind this at all as it makes no sense.

If you are going to re-release it, why not put a brand new cover on the album with the band without make-up. Check! Why not stick a picture of Gene’s Ass on it in tight-fitting leather pants. Check! Here’s the thing. The picture of the band without make-up has Bruce Kulick on it and if you aren’t aware, he didn’t play on the album. I guess that isn’t a problem because the original picture on the album had Ace Frehley, and if you read my review earlier, you know he didn’t play a note on the album either. So in the end, I guess it doesn’t matter whose picture is on the cover. And here’s the other thing, it was never fun looking at the back cover because there was a giant ass staring you in the face. You felt a little grossed out looking at that….thing!!

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Kiss – “Tears Are Falling” (1985) – 7″ Single (Bonus Edition -The Kiss Review Series)

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.

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Kiss – ‘Asylum’ (1985) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

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.

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