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!!
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.
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.
Right after the Creatures of the Night Tour, the band went back in to the studio to complete the follow-up album. Michael James Jackson would stay on board as the producer as the sound he got on “Creatures” was amazing and the band wanted to continue that harder sound. Vinnie Vincent was now an official member of the band as he was on the cover. However, he actually wasn’t an “official member of the band” as he never signed his contract which became an extreme soar spot with Vinnie and the band which we will discuss a little later on in our story.
The ‘Lick it Up’ album, which came out on September 23, 1983, garnered way more attention than ‘Creatures’ for one main reason. The band finally took off the make-up which is something they had been talking about doing since at least the ‘Music from the Elder’ era. They finally did it and the big reveal was on MTV during primetime. I remember this vividly as this was event TV for me as I was a lifelong Kiss fan at the time (and still am today). I remember seeing each member in make-up and then without and I remember thinking, “PUT IT BACK ON!!! OOOOH THE HORROR!!!” No, it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually pretty cool. And just like that Kiss was back in the public eye and they had some songs that could back it up.
A month ago, local record shop Hardy Boys Records bought a Kiss collection and offered up for sale. Everything was going to drop on that next Saturday at 10am. I got up, showered, dressed and headed out the door and arrive about 9:50 and luckily only one person was in line ahead of me. Great conversations were had about our love for Kiss. I picked up 6 different Kiss pieces that were not in my collection one was this Bootleg called The Tickler.
‘The Tickler’ is an independent released bootleg of the bands concert from the Scandinavium which is in Gothenburg, Sweden. The show was on the Lick It up Tour and dates to November 18, 1983. It isn’t the full show as that show had 17 songs. This one is only 8 songs and 2 solos including Gene Simmon’s bass solo and Vinnie Vincent’s guitar solo.
The bootleg is limited to 500 copies (no, it’s not numbered). It has the green cover as there is one with a red cover floating around as well. The packaging is very limited. you get the horrible black & white photos on the front and back of the album jackets is blank. The labels on the vinyl are pretty basic black with an A & B on each side and the name of the label, Roxy Records. No special inserts or any bonus items. Plain and simple. My guess this came out in the 80’s. Now the copy I bought was sealed, but to me that is a complete and utter waste. I want to hear it, so I opened it and played it…SUE ME!!! Continue reading “Kiss – The Tickler (Bootleg Series) – Album Review”→
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.
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming of Tuesday’s Memes to bring you this special announcement…
August 10th, 2019, Kiss bid farewell to the city of Charlotte, NC. The End of the rode made a stop on a beautifully, hot night and a venue that holds 19,500 people was pretty freaking packed!! If it wasn’t sold out, it wasn’t by much. The place was filled with young and old alike and the costumes and make-up were a plenty including leather pants so tight, I don’t know how the women got them on (or off for that matter).
My first show was December 26, 1983 and August 10, 2019 was my last. That is according to Kiss as this is the Farewell Tour or so they say. I tried to drag my kids to it, but in the end, my oldest was the only one to go so I let her bring a friend. My youngest has a few issues with noise sensitivity and after the show, I realized, she was probably right not to go as it would have been too much for her as the explosions and music were pretty darn loud. Hell, my ears are still ringing a little this morning as I type.
With tickets in hand, we found our seats and were ready to see “The Hottest Band in the Land…KISS”
But first, we had to sit through the opening act. No, not a rock band. Nope, not a comedian either. We got the great pleasure of having David Girabaldi doing some performance art…painting. What? Painting is a performance art? I was not aware of this. David is immensely talented and whipped through 3 paintings in about 30 minutes. He did one of Jon Bon Jovi, while their music played. His final one was of Kiss which was raffled off with proceeds going to Make a Wish Foundation which is cool. The 2nd painting was of Ozzy!! And it was really great…heck…they all were. The problem was it was so boring and unexciting. The crowd liked it somewhat, I thought it sucked. I would have liked a band to play, a young up & coming band or someone that had toured with Kiss before…Actually, Bruce Kulick’s band would have be the bomb!!
For My Sunday Song #132, we continue the Kiss theme going with the song “A Million to One” from the 1983 album ‘Lick it Up’. ‘Lick it Up’ is the first non-makeup era Kiss album and saw the band see a resurgence in popularity. Taking the make-up off made them slightly relevant again. “A Million to One” was never released as a single and is arguably the best song on the album…IMO!!
The song was written by Paul Stanley and Vinnie Vincent (who did not save Kiss) which tells the story of our hero of the song telling his ex-lover that there is basically no hope in hell she will find a love as great as his. Paul’s cocky attitude in the lyrics and the vocals propel this into one of his greatest performances on a song.
Musically, the song hits on all cylinders as well. The powerful sound coming from Eric’s drum gave this song an extra punch that you felt with each swing of the sticks. Between ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick it Up’, I don’t know if the drum sound from Kiss ever sounded better. Not to be outshined, Vinnie’s guitar playing is masterful with great riffs and a great solo all along with the underrated rhythm guitar of Paul.