My Life With KISS
I first heard KISS in 1975 when one of my older brothers brought home DRESSED TO KILL. Before even hearing it, I asked, “Why do they look like evil clowns?” Anyway, this is where my life-long affection for heavy metal began…with KISS. It was only shortly thereafter that I head the first Black Sabbath album. Now follows my album by album review of the first band I loved.
KISS – 1974
Going back and listening to this album again after a few years, it still sounds fresh to me. There are only a few songs on here I never cared for: Firehouse, Kissin’ Time, Let Me Know and The Love Theme From Kiss. For a debut album, this was a good one. KISS were pretty far ahead of the curve and were already smart with marketing. They were doing something new with the makeup and were just starting to take NYC by storm. I would say my favorite songs from this LP are Black Diamond and 100,000 Years and gotta love Strutter.
Hotter Than Hell – 1974
This one is in my top 3, if not my favorite album by them. Great album artwork, great songs, it had it all. Production was a tad lacking but it didn’t hurt the balls of this album. Favorite songs are Goin’ Blind, Mainline and Parasite and there are no real stinkers in the bunch.
Dressed to Kill – 1975
Again, my introduction to hard rock/metal. This album was pretty good but nowhere close to what Hotter Than Hell had going. I can remember sitting in my brother’s room after school listening to it over and over. His original LP had a skip in it about halfway through Two Timer and to this day, it still sounds wrong when I hear it without the skip. The only song on there I don’t like and really never did was Rock and Roll All Nite.
Destroyer – 1976
The KISS Army is growing by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to join. This is a great album beginning to end. Detroit Rock City and Shout It Out Loud are way played out, but for their time, they were definitivie rock anthems. God of Thunder and King of the Night Time World are my faves. Ever hear the Wicked Lester version of God of Thunder with Paul singing? It’s pretty cool. Beth was pretty wimpy but I had the 45 when I was a kid and having it made Cindy Clary from across the street want to be my girlfriend. hahaha
Rock and Roll Over – 1976
This is in my top 3 as well. Every song on it good although I could live without Baby Driver. I never cared much for Peter Criss’ songs. My favorites would be I Want You and Ladies Room. This LP still gets heavy rotation in my player, always as.
Love Gun – 1977
This album never did that much for me but KISS were marketing geniuses by this point. It has some really good songs on it but for whatever reason, I only found it to be average. Stinkers: Got Love For Sale, Tomorrow and Tonight and Hooligan. Gems: I Stole Your Love, Shock Me, Christine Sixteen and Plaster Caster.
Dynasty – 1979
The album everyone loved to hate. No, it wasn’t a great album and KISS probably was (posthumously) trying to get on the dance phase, but it still wasn’t that bad overall. Their cover of 2,000 Man was awesome. Ace was showcasing his voice for sure. I always liked I Was Made for Loving You. Yes, it was different for them but it was catchy which was a trademark of theirs.
Unmasked – 1980
I remember reading interviews with KISS about this album coming out and how we were all going to see their faces finally. All of us fans were pretty stoked about that. Then it hit the streets and everyone was like “WTF?” Brilliant marketing once again by the masters. The album wasn’t that good overall. Shandi, Tomorrow and Two Sides of the Coin are the standout tracks, and they aren’t even that good.
Music from the Elder – 1981
Peter left? Who could ever replace such an average drummer? Enter Eric Carr. I know so many KISS “fans” who have never even heard this album. I have always liked it. Talk about progressive? This is KISS being progressive. Too bad it wa such a miserable failure for them. It had some really good songs on it…World Without Heros (Gene cries in the video and Paul plays a great solo), I, Mr. Blackwell, Odyssey. I like the whole album, but it’s so very different. By the way, nice hair, guys.
Creatures of the Night – 1982
This is such a fine album. War Machine, Saint and Sinner, Creatures of the Night, Killer. The weak track would be I Love It Loud, only because it got so played out on the radio.
Lick It Up – 1983
They lose the makeup and we find out why they wore it to start with. This is a pretty damned fine piece of music for KISS. They got heavier and still kept their trademark cheese factor in tact. Exciter, All Hell’s Breaking Loose, Not for the Innocent and A Million to One are my faves. I even like the title track. Dance All Over Your Face is probably the worst song on here.
Animalize – 1984
I think I am one of the few people who liked this album beginning to end. Heaven’s On Fire (awful video) and Lonely is the Hunter are my two faves.
Asylum – 1985
OK, here’s where KISS really starts to lose it. I blame Kulick. Other then Tears are Falling an King of the Mountain, this album was pretty awful.
Crazy Nights – 1987
WTF? Hell or High Water is about the only song I can stomach from this one. It was just bad.
Hot In the Shade – 1989
Then it got worse. Forever was an OK song but this album just sucked.
Revenge – 1992
OK, let’s wear a bunch of black leather and try to be a metal band. Sorry guys, it didn’t work. Unholy was better than anything on the last few records, but it was just so blatantly contrived. The real metalheads saw right through it! haha. That being said, Domino is probably in my top 5 all-time favorite KISS songs. It’s perfect.
I just couldn’t be bothered with anything else after that one. I didn’t review Alive or Alive II as I’ve never been a big fan of live albums. I don’t have either one of those in my collection although I have thought of picking up Alive lately since it’s got such a good set list.
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