Kiss – ‘Unmasked’ (1980) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

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.

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Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (1979) – 12″ & 7″ Singles (Bonus Edition) – (The Kiss Review Series)

As a Bonus Edition to The Kiss Review Series, we are going to look at a couple singles I have for the Song “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” off the band’s 1979 album, ‘Dynasty’. The song was a commercial success for the band reaching all the way to the #11 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 and one of only a handful of times they have broke the Top 40.

The music, however, was quite a departure for the band. The song was labeled as Disco and if you listen to it, it really was. The song was written by Paul Stanley, Vini Poncia and the great Desmond Child makes his first of many appears with the band (only one on this album). The story goes that Disco was really big at the time and the record company wanted the band to be a little more commercial. Paul thought any idiot could write a disco song and a bet was made and a few hours later, the song was written and the Paul proved his point. This song did have every trapping of a disco song, the tempo, the beat, the pop sound, the disco sound effects…I mean it was disco…but it was good and it was catchy and they still play it live today. Now on a side note, this is Gene’s least favorite song (and Peter and Ace hate it too).

I have two versions of the Single. I have the Radio Edit 45 Single with “Hard Times” as the B-Side and I have the 12″ Dance Mix with “Charisma as the B-Side. First we will talk about the 7” Single, which might be the Radio edit.

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Kiss – ‘Dynasty’ (1979) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After the solo albums, Kiss jumped back in to the studio in January/February 1979 and began work on their seventh studio album (the solo albums aren’t really considered Kiss Studio albums) to be called ‘Dynasty’. It was set up to be the return of Kiss as it was the band’s first “band” album since 1977’s Love Gun. I say “band” because by this point, “band” is a very loose term.

The band was having serious problems with Peter Criss at this point. Peter had hurt his hand in a car accident, he was heavy in to drugs and alcohol and he was basically difficult to work with. To help try and ease things with Peter, the band hired Vini Poncia as the producer as he produced Peter’s solo album so they thought it would make things easier…it didn’t! In fact, Vini did not feel’s Peter’s playing on the recordings was sub par…basically, it sucked. So, they brought in a drummer to do all the drum parts. His name was Anton Fig and he played drums on Ace’s solo album. Anton played on every song, but one. The one song Peter played on was the one he sang, “Dirty Livin'”. It would also be the last Kiss song he played on any album until 1998’s Pyscho Circus (which is a whole other story to be discussed much later in the series).

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Kiss – ‘Peter Criss’ (1978) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

The third Kiss solo album in the review series is none other than the Catman, Peter Criss.  Peter’s album was released on the same day as all the other band members on September 18, 1978.  And Peter, sadly, had the least selling and the lowest chart placing on Billboard charts at #43, however, that doesn’t mean it was the worst of the group…ok, yes it does!

Peter’s album was my least favorite, by far, and I haven’t heard it in over 30+ years probably.  And when I pulled it out for this review and gave it a listen, it isn’t bad as I remember.  I think that stems from the fact I know so much more about who Peter is that I feel the album fits him perfectly.  Peter is not a real rock drummer, he has more of a jazz feel and this is more of his style of music.  Does that mean I like this one, no, not at all, but I get it now and I respect him for it.

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My Sunday Song – “Naked City” by Kiss

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.

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Kiss – “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” (The 45 Single)

Disco era Kiss!  Does it get any better than that??  Well, yes it actually does.  Nonetheless, it was still Kiss and still awesome.  I was out at my favorite little record spot and came across a 7″ single of Kiss and of course I had to have it.  It was the 1979 single off the Dynasty album called “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.

The single was only the band’s second Gold single and it went on to sell over a 1 million copies so needless to say, it was a hit.  Which proved Gene and Paul correct that during the Disco era, anyone could write a disco song.  Speaking of writing, this was the first time Kiss co-wrote a song with Desmond Child and it wouldn’t be the last.  It was also Desmond’s first hit he ever had.  The song was also written by Paul Stanley and Vini Poncia who played piano on the song and did backing vocals.

The really isn’t much to talk about in regards to the song.  Think disco and you know what the song sounds like.  You can get up and dance to it and sing along to the catchy, pop chorus.  It is simple.  One thing I guess I can talk about is that wikipedia has the 7″ single listed at 4:01, but my version has it at 3:57 which might not seem like a lot, but that is a big difference.  The song is already cut down from the album version which was at 4:30.  Not sure if I have a different version or wikipedia is just wrong.

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