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!!
By the end of they Dynasty Tour, the Kiss Empire was eroding quickly. Between Ace’s and Peter’s drinking problems (among other things), the band was at an all time low. During an interview on October 31, 1979 on the Tom Snyder Show, Ace was totally hammered and you could see the faces of Gene and Paul and they did not look altogether happy. Pissed is a probably a good word for it. And let us not forget Peter during the Tour. By the end, he would make so many screw-ups and some times would simply stop playing. Gene and Paul had had enough and so had Peter.
When 1980 rolls around, the band have to make a new album and this would become the first album without all four members of the band. Peter did not play on the album at all and there are no Peter sung songs, but he was credited to play and he was on the cover as Kiss wanted to keep the illusion going the band was fine for as long as they could. Who handled the drumming, well that would’ve been Anton Fig.
Now Ace, well, he was on the album, however, he only shows up on probably 5 of the 11 songs with the rest of the guitar parts being handled by Paul, Gene or Bob Kulick. It was becoming more and more obvious that the end was near for Ace as well although it wouldn’t be for another year or two. He somehow managed to hang in there for a little while longer.
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 4 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. Rather a big let down after the first two. As a result, I will also talk about the other songs on here to make it a fair representation.
Disc Three covers the years 1976-1982, which were some very rough years for the band. Coming off the fantastic Alive II album, the band released 4 solo albums, Dynasty, Unmasked, The Elder and Creatures of the Night. Creatures being the only album that was truly fantastic…one of their absolute best. The others were not so great. The solo albums were a mixed bag, Dynasty was too Disco, Unmasked was too Pop and I don’t know what the hell The Elder was (I like it better as I am older). Kiss lost a lot of fans during this era and probably for good reason.
Disc Three contains 19 songs covering all the album I mentioned above and then some. Like the albums from this time, the songs for me are a mixed bag as well. It starts off with “Detroit Rock City” and omits the opening intro which is a version I don’t have so I will gladly take it. The next song is “King of the Night Time World” off the Alive II album. This is the only live song off that album which to be honest, I am a little surprised. Instead, we get two of the studio tracks from that album which more than makes up for it as the songs are “Larger Than Life” and “Rocket Ride”, with “Rocket Ride” being one of my favorite Ace Frehley tracks. It rocks out quite nicely.
For My Sunday Song #134, I am going to discuss “Naked City” off the underrated 1980 album ‘Unmasked’ by Kiss. I say underrated now because I have grown to like this album now. I didn’t appreciate it back in the day, but there were some great songs on this album, including this one.
First, the song was written by Gene Simmons, Vini Poncia, Bob Kulick and Pepe Castro. The bass on the song is Gene and the rhythm guitar is Paul, but that is it…no Ace & no Peter. Drums are handled by Anton Fig and actually he did all the drums on the album even though Peter is credited. Lead guitar on the song is Ace Frehley, but it is said that former Kiss bandmate Bruce Kulick’s brother, Bob Kulick played some guitar on the album as well.
The song is more of a pop/rock song and doesn’t have the full edge of the classic Kiss tunes, but it is smoking when it comes to overall tone, groove and Gene’s vocals. Even without all original members, it is still Kiss and it is still fantastic. The song is about New York City (which a lot of their songs are about). The song talks about the fact there are so many people in the city, so many lonely and lost people. It is actually quite a sad, insightful and observant viewpoint of the city.