Category Archives: 70’s KISS Reviews

KISS: Unmasked(1980)

 

 

Hey Folks this wraps up for the time being my KISS 70’s Review’s for a bit. I was going to go all out and do the four 1978 KISS solo albums but I’m a little fried out  so bear with me on that ok? I mean I gotta try to focus and listen to the Peter Criss album  and give it a fair shake right??!

Seriously ,thanks for reading along  as I know KISS is not everyone’s cup of tea or maybe  they are but make no mistake about it every one has an opinion  on them that’s for sure whether its good or bad!

First of all I have to give a few shout outs with this review. The first being to Arena Rock reader Muc who was the first guy in Thunder Bay I’m sure to have scooped this album as Muc was in Kansas City back when Unmasked hit the streets! When Muc got home and showed me this record   I couldn’t believe it! A new KISS album?? Score…

Also to my Pal Tbone in which I sold him back in 1981 Unmasked for the price of a Hit Parader Magazine for about $2.00. After I was done reading that issue of Hit Parader I wanted my copy of Unmasked back. Tbone obliged and sold it back to me for $3.00! A one dollar mark up!  This has to almost be the first ever Pawnshop like transaction ever in Thunder Bay!

I never sold another album to Tbone again!

For myself personally KISS has been in my musical DNA now for 41 years of my 51 years on this earth! Hell, this upcoming October marks the 40th anniversary of when I first seen KISS live!

When I first started this blog I did a week of 3/4’s KISS Filler Week. One of those albums was 1980’s Unmasked release which I kinda dismissed it or trashed it depending on your spin of it..

My thoughts on it have changed greatly in 4 years and here’s why. Well, I try to explain why! ( didn’t help the fact that Paul in his autobiography called Unmasked Wimpy or Crappy or something to that effect so if Starchild says so I guess were drinking the KISS KOOL AIDE but not this time!)

Unmasked to my ears in 2019 is a brilliant piece of Melodic Hard Rock/KISS POP!

There I said it…Lemme Explain!

You see a few weeks back one of the used record shops that I visit (Moon Money Vintage) posted some new/used releases in their Record Bins. One of them was Unmasked!

WHUT?

I was intrigued. Why after 39 years would I be intrigued by an album I have dissed basically for 39 years all of sudden make me want to own it?

Do I have a Concussion? Whats going on here?

So I zipped a message via Facebook to Moon Money Vintage asking if they still had that copy of Unmasked sitting in the bin!

Derrick the owner of the shop said yep it still there and not only that but it was a sealed copy 180 Gram version for $19! SOLD!

Once I secured a copy I was kinda psyched to spin it and hear it again after all these years away from it except for the last time that I reviewed it which was on CD about 4 years ago. A quick review I did back than. I think I was on a KISS trashing spree a that time!

The Verdict…

After listening to Unmasked front to back for the first time it becomes real apparent with  KISS  that this was the direction Paul Stanley wanted KISS to head in. I’m sure the success of 1979’s mega hit (from Dynasty)Y I Was Made For Lovin You must have messed with Stanley’s Noggin somewhat.

So why not continue that kind of formula onto Unmasked. Not a disco album mind you but more of a grown up milder KISS since it was about Merchandising in the late 70’s with Doll’s/Lunchbox/Cards/Magazine’s/T-Shirts/Belt Buckles etc becoming almost as important as the music to a certain extent.

The success of Dynasty produced by Vini Poncia was carried over onto the slabs of vinyl in regards to Unmasked. A bigger role Ponicia with Unmasked. Not only did he produce the album but he was the cowriter on 8 of the albums 11 tracks.

The biggest surprise I suppose looking back at it even though Peter Criss is featured on the cover in cartoon form is the fact that Pete was already out of KISS by Unmasked’s release.  Anton Fig did all  the drumming on Unmasked just like Anton did all the drumming except for one track on the previous Dynasty album.

As a 13-year-old back in 1980 I had no idea there was trouble in KISS land but there was…

The guitars on Unmasked sound somewhat quiet I suppose. You would think with a bombastic sound like they’re live show’s prove that the KISS studio sound would have a little more oomph but nope. Hell, they were all millionaires at this point so money was not an issue…

But I’m thinking Gene and Paul were driving the KISS Bus at this point. Peter was gone and Ace had found the promised the land musically and creatively after Ace’s 1978 solo album was the best of the bunch which irked Gene and Paul I’m sure to no end!

So when Paul in his book disses Unmasked its no one faults but Pauly so maybe that’s why I’m digging this record again. Kinda a middle finger to Starchild from me!

Back in 1980 I was drinking the KISS Kool Aide that these guys were serving me! 2019 brings a wiser older perhaps more musically sharp 51-year-old Deke that can give records like this a second chance…

Drop the Needle….

Opener Is That You a cover tune written by Gerald McMahon is a great opener! Man its a tune about a crazed Serial Lady Killer. Check out the lyrics and video below..(featuring Criss’ replacement the Late Great Eric Carr)

Cat’s droolin’ on the bar stool, shake your hips and crack your whips
Cheap seventeen and trashed out, you went too far, been a bitch you are
Your reputation’s in the bathroom, it’s on the wall and down the hall
I hear you’re cheatin’ with my teacher after school, tell me what you do

When you know, you always get the boys you like
Play nice, then stick them with your knife, take off your insecure disguise..

What a ripping cool stalker tune that even has Stanley taking the solo in the song as well. Great verses/choruses/everything. Creepy KISS! I posted a live clip of this track so you can all sing along when your eating your egos at the breakfast table. Man you gotta love Ace in this video as he’s stumbling around on stage looking like he’s looking for the next waterhole to visit!

From the knife wielding Crazy Chick opener of a song Paul heads into Popville with Shandi. Guess the success of I Was Made For Lovin You carried  the sound of the guitars on this track. Shandi though a huge hit in Australia as was KISS in 1980 whereas in North America the tide was turning on KISS! Cue Gene and Paul having a mid-life crisis at the age of 30 at that time!

Space Ace delivers a decent hardball of a track in Talk To Me. As any fan knows Ace grew a ton of confidence in KISS after his 1978 solo album was the best of the bunch. Ace continued that winning streak into Dynasty which in turn led to Ace delivering a couple of cool tracks on Unmasked. Talk To Me has Ace laying down that cool street rock voice of his along with a real slick chorus as well…..

Well Mean Gene Simmons gets his first tune on Unmasked fourth song into the album which has to be a first time. Hell, Ace squeezed his song on before Simmons on Side 1! How the hell did that happen? Naked City is Mr SImmons deal and instead of me yackin about it let my Good Bloggin Pal John Snow(My third Shout out) tell ya all about Naked City. Click the link and read some fine words from Mr Snow!

My Sunday Song – “Naked City” by Kiss

What Makes The World Go Round ends Side 1 with a Hard Power Pop Track from Stanley that has a real good driving chorus. How about those 1980 effects attached tot he drums with every snare hit that Fig hits on the drums. Actually a pretty decent tune as Stanley had a knack for writing this kind of stuff.

Side 2 begins with Tomorrow another straight ahead Stanley hard pop track. See a pattern here? Paul I’m sure it got into his head after the success of the Disco tune from 79 wanted to hear hits on the  radio. Tomorrow fits that bill to a T but the problem was this  kind of tune was that it was  delivered a little too late to the masses as the tide was turning on KISS by that point.  Still though another solid catchy chorus…

Ace delivers another classic sounding Frehley track in the form of Two Sides of the Coin. Great opening/Great verses/Great Chorus and a not so typical Ace solo which shakes things up as don’t expect the expected.

Gene delivers his typical Gene tune in She’s So European which is a kooky tune that features a syruppy pre chorus Synth that oozes a bit of cool before Gene slobbers all over the chorus in a good way! Two Gene songs in on Unmasked two winners…Heck Ya!

Speaking of Synth/Keys. There’s a ton of that stuff on Unmasked. Filling out the sound I suppose as at certain points the keys are buried but you can still hear em..

Easy as it Seems is yet again another Stanley tune aimed at radio. It’s amazing that all the Paul tunes on this album are geared for the radio but other than Shandi none of them made it. Having  said that Paul still delivered on his tracks albeit with one hand on the radio dial!

Ace without a doubt has one of the most funny intros ever. I mean listen to Ace in his trashed out state say ‘Man Torpedo Stations’ haha. Love it as Ace kept KISS fun but make no bones about it delivers some fantastic tunes as well. Torpedo Girl features a wicked Drums/Bass intro followed by the snap crackle and pop Guitar sound of Ace. You always knew by the Ace stuff on KISS records there would be no love mushy goop in the grooves. Just cool song titles like Torpedo Girl! Hell just listen to the tune below…

Gene sends off Unmasked with Your All That I Want. A pretty decent end of the album tune. The verses have a good pace to them along with some cowbell added for good measure! Decent enough tune to end the album that’s for sure!

There ya have it folks…Thanks for sticking around and if you made it this far I Thank You!

KISS was in shambles. Unmasked hit Gold status in Canada and the U.S but these sales were pretty low for KISS Standards! Shame really as Unmasked after reacquiring it is a different listen now to me than it was back in 1980!

I mean look at the Drums. The only mention of Criss is on the album cover and that’s Pete as a drawing!  A cartoon no less…Hahaha…

Also of note here’s who played what on Unmasked. Ace does it all on his own tunes(except for the drums)….

  • Paul Stanley – rhythm guitar, vocals, lead guitar on “Shandi”, bass and guitar solo on “Tomorrow” and “Easy As It Seems”, guitar solo on “Is That You?” and “What Makes The World Go ‘Round”
  • Ace Frehley – lead guitar, acoustic guitar, vocals, all guitars & bass on “Talk to Me”, “Two Sides of the Coin” and “Torpedo Girl” and guitar solo on “Naked City “
  • Gene Simmons – bass guitar, vocals, rhythm guitar on “You’re All That I Want.

Additional musicians

  • Bob Kulick – aditional guitar on “Naked City”
  • Anton Fig – drums
  • Vini Poncia – keyboards, percussion, backing vocals
  • Tom Harper – bass guitar on “Shandi”
  • Holly Knight – keyboards on “Shandi”

Yup looks to me that is a band that is in trouble. Putting songs together at times separatley (Hello Ace !) and making it look like a happy bunch but that’s so far from what went down  at KISS HQ’s circa 1980!

deKe’s score of Unmasked in 1980 & 2015- 4/10

deKe’s score of Unmasked in 2019-7.5/10

 

 

KISS: Destroyer(1976)

What would fall under the Holy Crap File would be the fact that today marks the 43rd Birthday of the release of ‘Destroyer’. What’s more amazing is the fact that I  had no idea of the month/day when I finished  this review a few weeks back…

So if you recall from my earlier reviews KISS was a broke ass recording and touring act as the first three albums didn’t really make to much of a dent in sales.

1975 and KISS ALIVE changed all that of course so come 1976 KISS now having enough dough to record/party and toss around like Champions and  decide to hire producer Bob Ezrin to make a real good sounding KISS album for all intent purposes still holds up well today!

Maybe Bombastic is the word that best describes Destroyer!

Destroyer I always dug! Good songs Good playing/ Good production. Course with success comes sometimes problems and those problems I suppose involved Ace Frehley who didn’t play  all the guitar on the album and from what I read Ezrin pushed Peter Criss hard on the drums to the point it drove the Cat Man bonkers.

Ezrin like he does with some of his production jobs also helps in the song department  as within the 9 songs on the album Bob cowrote 7 of the 9 tracks with KISS.

I suppose you could say Bob waved a big stick in the studio and didn’t just set in the producers chair!

Destroyer to me has KISS monkeying around with the idea of  concept album(with Destroyer) and coming from Ezrin that doesn’t surprise as he has produced more than a few albums that way!

The opening number Detroit Rock City has the KISS fan entering his car and you can hear  the newscaster’s (done by Gene) voice on the radio that  goes like this..

In Detroit, the body of a Michigan youth was reported dead at the scene of a head on collision on Grand Avenue this morning. He was reportedly driving on the wrong side of the boulevard when he struck a delivery truck and was catapulted through the windshield of his car. The driver of the truck is reported to be uninjured. The identities of both men are being withheld by local police

[Over car radio, sung quietly:  ‘Rock n Roll All Night And Party Everyday’ is played on the radio…)

Kinda cool that KISS would go outside the box with this album right off the hop. Course when you hear the car accelerate here comes Paul/Ace’s guitar locking up and then the drums ….Bam were off and into Detroit Rock City. I love this song. It gets straight to the point as the fan gets into his car and it’s basically his last drive as Paul sings “I gotta laugh as I know I’m going to die why?” Course dude, when you drink and smoke and take the wheel you’re looking for trouble!

The song is a classic and Peter’s drums sound huge on this album.

King of the Night Time World slams right out of the gate with a great mashup of guitars/drums and bass and they are off! King of the Night Time World has Stanley telling the tale of the seedier side of life after 12 am! Ace as he always does rip down a slick solo with a lot of stumble and swagger. Gotta love KISS man. First song deals with a Fan dying and now were off to Party Ville with Starchild/Demon/Catman and SpaceMan!

Mean Gene finally gets his due as when you think of God of Thunder you think of the Demon. Well as many of you know even though Gene has always sung God of Thunder and everyone knows he sang it but  it was Paul Stanley who wrote God of Thunder! I love the stomp of the Drums and the sinister sounding Bass thump that makes this song almost sound Black Sabbath like. Gene sings like he’s possessed  out of his noggin and by golly it works. Gotta mention Ace who lays down yet a brilliant solo…does that surprise any of you!

So what do you do after the Hell hath No Fury of God of Thunder? Yup you slam on the brakes and  Simmons goes from the depths of Hell to show that even though he pukes blood and spits fire and looks like a mess in the live show  Mean Gene does have a sensitive side to him and that in the form of Great Expectations! Lots of folks are on the fence with this tune, I kinda dig it as it’s a tune that is what you wouldn’t expect from the Kabuki one himself! A little light sure. Perhaps at the time of recording an eye on it becoming a single? Who knows for sure but I like the chorus and such but getting a kids choir I thought was kinda goofy but I get it as KISS wanted people to take em serious at the time!

Side 2 begins with….

Flaming Youth! What a cool KISS track. So here’s where KISS had a trouble and it was with this track. Ace no shows and Gene/Paul and Bob in not wanting to wait around got Dick Wagner to play an Ace like lead in which he did. Ace was pissed but the solo stayed as Wagners is what you now all here.  This is a great track. Flaming Youth our Flag is flying higher and higher and higher whatever Stanley was going on about…

Well Mr Wagner appears on Mean Gene’s very underrated track Sweet Pain and tosses down another cool guitar solo. Sweet Pain for me takes off with the real catchy verses. The chorus is kinda so so but man the verses has Mean Gene hitting one out of the ball park!

Shout It Out Loud! The big party rock anthem track from Destroyer! Always dug the Gene and Paul vocal trade-off during the verses and look’s who back knocking out another brilliant solo? The Spaceman comes back and Frehley  soars all over the fretboard with yet another memorable solo! You got to have a Parteeeeeee!

So the story goes when Destroyer came out. Sales took off than stalled. Some radio station plays Beth and from their sales are reignited and Destroyer starts selling like hotcakes thanks to the Peter Criss driven ballad! Beth must have driven Gene and Paul nuts. Here’s the Drummer who gets one writing credit on the album and basically saves Destroyer from hitting the cheapo bins.  As a KISS fan or even a casual music fan we all know Beth which would once again drive the two leaders (Gene and Paul) crazy even more! Dick Wagner plays acoustic guitar on Beth as well…

Now you cannot end an album called Destroyer on a ballad no siree but you have to eventually wrap up the party and call it a night! Do You Love Me fits that bill as Criss sets the tempo with his drums and Stanley spouting off about ‘Limousines-7 inch Leather Heels’ and yada yada but for an end of album closer Do You Love Me is pretty good. I like the tune at the half way point when KISS changes up the tempo when Paul sings the line of….

Your backstage pass and black sunglasses
Make you look just like a queen
Even the fans, they know your face
From all of the magazines, but’

Yeah, a pretty decent send off tune…

Some copies of Destroyer have the end of the album  version of Rock N Roll Party. In  James Campion‘s book, “Shout it Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon.” The album was barely over 31 minutes in length, so that’s why Bob Ezrin and the engineers, Jay Messina and Corky Stasiak, added the news report at the beginning of the album, and this at the end. It was originally called Rock N Roll Demon… RNRP is a minute and a half of a  demonic sounding fade out, kinda creepy…

Destroyer is an interesting spin in the year 2019! When I first heard Destroyer back in the late 70’s for the first time I didn’t know these guys had internal problems. But they sure did and the more success these guys got more issues arose as in the case of this album.

For one you have Peter Criss who has one writing credit and its a ballad of all things!

Also, Ace has one writing credit as well. Flaming Youth he helped co write with Simmons/Stanley/Ezrin Ace doesn’t even do the guitar solo on the song!

It’s still amazing to me that KISS released Destroyer in March of 76 yet 8 months later KISS released the very brilliant Rock N Roll Over album in November of 1976! Mr Speed indeed!

dEkE’s score of Destroyer-7.5

KISS: Hotter Than Hell (1974)

 

In February 1974 KISS releases their debut album. Just 8 months later here comes the followup in which  I believe is in Mikey Ladanos all time  Top 3 albums which is  Hotter Than Hell that features brilliant songs amongst some dicey production.

But here’s KISS folks. 1974. Still broke, no money and they manage to whip a batch of some real fireball gems that to the diehard don’t go unnoticed but  the casual fan Hotter Than Hell  may be missed as this album to me is the forgotten one…

NO MORE…

LET’S DO THIS!

10 Songs on here! They are all Classics. Well written! Well played! Yup I said that!

If you recall from a few months ago in  my review of Dressed To Kill I said that album is slowly becoming of my fav’s of KISS as that’s KISS being broke. Doing it all in-house  which is what they did a year earlier on Hotter Than Hell as well!

I like KISS being broke! Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley don’t and wouldn’t get it. But sometimes when push comes to shove your best material comes to light. This album proves it…

We all know that cast of characters that are on this album so let’s cut to the chase shall we?!!

Got To Choose is a brilliant opener.  More mid tempo than anything it‘s driven by Peter Criss and his drums. For all the shit kicking Petey takes he delivers it on these early  album’s! Stanley sings about Whose your Baby? Got To Choose and  features a fire cracking Frehley solo and man were off!

Speaking of Frehley. Ace scorches at the start of Parasite a song in which he wrote but Mean Gene sings. Parasite just ploughs through. Nasty tune man. One of the best songs to come off this album. Heavy no take prisoners approach and Ace being the loose cannon delivers in spades here…

Track 3 and Gene steps up with Goin Blind which is a groove heavy menacing mid tempo cool tune that is so fuckin good that features Gene in his brash way of writing lyrics about being the master of his domain as a 93-year-old Man involved with a Young Girl!  Gene could always play Bass and this song proves it as he could play like a possessed Paul McCartney standing outside of Gates of Hell!

SIDE NOTE-

Mr Simmons! If you ever read this review(HAHAHA)on your current as you call it End of the Road spiel how about doing a trilogy mid set in the show consisting of  Goin Blind-Christine 16-Domino! I for one would greatly love to hear that!

Sincerely,

deKE!

P.S.- Thinking it would be cool to do those other songs on Creatures that you never play live ie-Saints and Sinners/Rock N Roll Hell! Just saying!

Now back to the task at hand!

The title track is unleashed in the form of Hotter Than Hell! Stanley wrote  a fantastic straight ahead track that doesn’t fool around and what’s even better is the Frehley solo when if you’re to ask me where it ranks in the all time Space Ace Kiss Guitar Solo’s this would rate close too or at the top! Man Ace smokes that fretboard…

Mean Gene and Starchild toss down a composition together that ends the party on Side 1 that’s being Let Me Go Rock N Roll which at time sounds like a ramped up Chuck Berry song  with Frehley flinging off Chuck Lick after Chuck Lick off  at a rapid rate. 

Side 2 begins with one of my all time favourite KISS tunes that they never play but is such a brilliantly crafted song that features a brilliant opening (cowbell) a fantastic chorus (take a bow Genie) a superb solo(a pickled up Ace) a song that you don’t want to end! What tune could that be? All The Way …Crank it below!

Watchin You another Simmons written track is one of those tunes as when it ends you want to drop the needle on it again. Love that demonic grind of the tempo during the verses as the song just halts at the chorus and ramps back up!

Mainline is a Stanley written tune sung by Criss who always delivered it vocally when he had to on the albums. Always loved that raspy voice of his. Mainline doesn’t rewrite the music history books but is cool never the less.

Ace and Paul team up and write the fantastic Comin Home which believe it or not doesn’t feature a guitar solo! Comin Home is a road song about the dude coming back home to his lady after a long time on the road! Well written track and super-duper catchy chorus driven by the super-duper guitar driving underneath it!

So, if you’re looking for an end of the album GEM look no further than Strange Ways the Frehley written Criss sung track! Ace wallop’s a solo so good on this song it blows my mind to this day at how good it is! That’s the thing that to me makes Ace special  when he was back in KISS that he could play his leads so carelessly that they are the some of the best short n sweet solos of all time!

There ya have it Friends. Hotter Than Hell when looked at the big overall picture of KISS product is an album at time’s forgotten about (except for Ladano) but one that still needs to be heard(ask Ladano). Too bad the production was a little umm off on this( what were Producers Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise doing?) as if the sonics had a little more beef on them  this would be what I would consider one of the best from KISS!

deKe’s Score of Hotter Than Hell- 8 would have been a 9 but I docked a point because of Kenny and Richie. Nothing personal guys!

KISS: Double Platinum(1978)

1978 was the year I purchased my first ever KISS album.  That was the Double Live KISS ALIVE 2!  The second ever KISS album I ever purchased was Double Platinum in the summer of 1978 as my family was vacationing in Southern Ontario and I spent my money on KISS!

Crazy to think that  a lot of Greatest Hits sets bug me nowadays whereas back in 1978 what a great way to get a mishmash of KISS music up to that point!

Smart marketing move on KISS’s part as listening to the songs that made up Double Platinum  would make you want to rush out and purchase the studio records from which these songs came from.

20 songs/5 per side spread out over Two Records(Double Gatefold) with everything in the packaging looking Platinum.

 

KISS was so big in 1978 that they didn’t even have to put the names of the songs on the back cover! Ha! There must have been a sticker or something on the front  than again they were so big people were snapping up a ton of KISS released product and also later in 1978 came the 4 solo albums as well!

Looking at this album 31 years later I like the selection of tunes. First song up is Strutter 78. Listening to it now it seems slower than the original  as KISS rerecorded it early in 1978 and supposedly producer Sean Delaney played drums on it. (don’t know if that’s true but with KISS who knows..) Plus what is Paul Stanley going on about at the ending of this tune?

The question has to be asked. Why? Strutter 78 is an older Strutter. Older being more mellow of a recording but upon my listening to it for the first time back in 78 what did I know as a 11-year-old?

Exactly!

I was freshly enlisted in the KISS Army. I drank the Kool Aide KISS was pushing and it’s  funny to think back than with all the KISS product coming out over exposure was not an option but getting anything  I could get my hands on was my only option.

Double Platinum looking at and listening to it again is perhaps the best put together Greatest Hits set that this band ever did as nowadays there are so many KISS comps its to the point of goofiness!

I mean…..

How many friggin times do we need Beth pummelled into our heads? But Beth gets a pass here as this was the first album I owned the studio version of!

But you know  for a snot nosed kid back in the Summer of 1978 (Me) Double Platinum was the perfect addition to my early  KISS Record Collection!

 

dEke’s Score of Double Platinum: 8.5/10

 

 

KISS: Love Gun(1977)

I recently came across a bunch of KISS albums from the 70’s and a bunch of them I have not reviewed! So here is Numero Uno! I’m not going in any certain order…Hope ya Dig this…. I will be posting a bunch of KISS reviews in March so I hope you join along and in a first here at Arena Rock I’m doing a scoring system! 

KISS in 1977 keep the album/tour/album tour cycle going at full throttle and why wouldn’t they. Strike while the Iron was Hot so to speak.

I mean check out the this cool cover drawn by Ken Kelly. These dudes are ripped! Look at Peter Criss! One wrong look at the Catman and he will kick yo ass circa 1977!

June 1977 and KISS unleashes Love Gun which for the right reasons kept the cash registers flowing  and concert tickets moving. 

Like other KISS albums before it and after it. This album is not rocket science yet it has some cool tracks on it.

Opener I Stole Your Love sets the tone of the album. Paul Stanley as he does opens the album with that fun game of stealing some one’s love I suppose.  I’m thinking that the original 4 Kiss guys played on all of this album unlike 1976’s Destroyer where Ace Frehley was replaced on a more than a few solos yet here in 1977 all is well again for a short time that is in the KISS camp…

I Stole Your Love is a good table setter for the Love Gun album. Love Ace’s solo on this tune and Stanley and Simmons did all the writing on their own tunes no co writes whatsoever…Maybe this got them thinking about doing those four solo albums that came out in 78!

Everyone’s favourite Demon Mean Gene Simmons gets tracks 2 and 3 that being Christine Sixteen followed by Got Love For Sale. I have always been a sucker for that dribble of a piano at the start of Christine 16. Good decent Gene song back than especially when Gene goes into his creeper speaking voice in detail below..

‘I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you coming out of school that day, that day I knew, I knew, I’ve got to have you! I’ve got to have you!’

Frehley tosses down one of his epic solo’s and stumbles and bumbles about like nobodies business and that is what made Ace so great back in the 70’s. Ace’s solo’s were so simple sounding that they  would stick in your brain all these years later like if you were to step on a piece of bubblegum….

The other Simmons tune Got Love For Sale is awesome. I love this tune and it may be very well my fav tune from Love Gun. Simmons along with Criss drive the rhythm Bus on this track that leads into that brilliant  chorus that is oh so good followed by Frehley’s solo  followed by Gene going on about Love For Sale…

The pickled up Guitar Hero drops a doozy of a track and that would be Ace writing and making his singing debut on Shock Me. Ace wrote this track after he was almost electrocuted on stage the year before. Shock Me has Ace with his cool street rock voice that would be very prominent on his solo album a year later in 1978! Shock Me proved probably more to Ace that he could do it. He could not only write cool rock tracks which he already did on previous albums( Cold Gin/Parasite/Getaway/Strangeways) but he could sing them since previous written Ace songs were sung by either Simmons or Criss.  The fact that Ace was indeed finding his rock voice you know irked Genie and Paul to no end…haha..

Tomorrow and Tonight** is a decent enough song to end Side 1 of Love Gun. Not a classic by any stretch of the imagination but one that makes you get and go and make a sandwich when the song is playing before the track ends as you flip over your vinyl to Side 2!

There’s Petey snapping his snare drum like artillery fire and were off as Paul tells us all about his Love Gun. I’m thinking this tune has been played on every tour since 1977! Man that’s a lot of shots of Paul’s pistol doled out by Starchild over the years! Ace as he always does steps up with a pretty nifty solo which he always does…

When KISS was 4  original members and not 2 members and 2 salaried members or the current version with 2  original members and 2 Scabs(HEY! EASY DEKE’S!) Pete Criss got a song on each album. In this case it’s the cool Hooligan which is a great simple yet effective rock track that serves the KISS ARMY faithful happy!

Hey is that Bongos I hear and a Gong Smash?? Yup and were only 7 seconds into another Gene tune which is Almost Human  which in itself is a  oddball way  a cool track that beats to the sound of a different KISS beat but staying somewhat in the confines of the safe zone! No one ever talks about this tune and you should. Gene wrote some wicked stuff that gets shadowed by some of his 80’s silliness tracks(do I need to go there??) I will add that when were talking about the 80’s Gene  his output on the Creatures of the Night album in my estimation is his best work!

Anyhoo….

After Simmons psych’s us all out with Almost Human. Gene takes a drive down Familiar Avenue with  Plaster Caster a song Gene wrote about a groupie who liked to work with plaster and  caster! Actually as goofy as that sounds it’s a catchy tune with a catchy chorus that proves you can write real silly goofball lyrics but if your money shot is the chorus no one will really care what you’re going on about in the verses!

Love Gun ends with a cover tune titled Than She Kissed Me which is ummm ..nah…not going there…

Love Gun wetted the appetite of North America fine and dandy and kept the KISS Money Machine rolling along at a clip that the cash registers couldn’t keep up. I dig Love Gun pretty decent batch of songs and considering as I had mentioned earlier the ridiculous pace that KISS was on they manage to do write this album basically in-house with no outside help except for the Criss track….

dEke’s Score of LOVE GUN: 7.5/10

**Tomorrow and Tonight ended up on Alive 2 later that year as KISS fooled everyone by recording the tune at soundcheck than adding the crowd in and saying in the liner notes of the Album that this tune was recorded live…haha.. Fooled all of the KISS Army and You as WELL!

 

KISS: Dressed To Kill(1975)

Dressed To Kill is one of those funny KISS albums that I always dug but never owned on vinyl! I originally bought it decades ago on cassette and as the late 80’s approached and Record Companies were putting out anything remotely on CD to make a buck I bought Dressed To Kill on CD. Course back than no liner notes in the CD just a quick throw together by the suits to cash grab suckers like me! There plan worked!

Well if wasn’t for good ol fashion plain luck when my daughter Lauren and myself spent an  early October Saturday afternoon hitting pawn shops  and up on the rack at one of the shops was a sealed copy of Dressed To Kill for $10! The 2014 reissue  180 gram copy of this record. The original price in marker on the outside cover was $27.95 while a smaller sticker had the number 10!

I asked the fella behind the counter if it was actually $10 bucks! He said ‘You Bet’ I said ‘Sold!’

So that night for the first time in many years perhaps a few decades I listened to Dressed To Kill from opening track ‘Room Service to closing track ‘Rock N Roll ALL Night’.

 Dressed To Kill is an album that succeeds on all levels! It seriously does. Look at the time line for this album! 1975. KISS is making headway on the concert scene but the records this being the third album (after the self titled debut and Hotter Than Hell) didn’t really catch on sales wise.

It took the live version of ‘Rock N Roll All Night’ from late 1975 KISS Alive for KISS records to finally start moving out the door!

The great thing about Dressed To Kill is KISS was broke at the time, No money means no funny they say and look at KISS on the cover wearing suits all belonging to their manager Bill Aucoin as drummer Peter Criss was the only one who owned a suit at the time!

Neil Bogart the President and Owner of Casablanca Records produced the album as the Record Company was about to go bankrupt so they couldn’t even afford a producer for this record!

See where I’m going with this Folk’s! A band with Nothin to Lose and everything to gain. 

Love the fact that its just the four KISS guys that are on this album. No studio guitarists/drummers/outside songwriters to dilute and pollute an evolving sound!

10 Song’s=30 minutes! 

The songs featured are classics that many of you have heard many times over  so instead of going track by track I’ll just talk about each KISS Guy’s contribution!

Peter Criss- Believe it or not the Catman plays some brilliant drums on this album. Petey knows his place and provides a straight ahead beat keeping everyone in line. Criss always had a raspy Rod Stewart like vocal vibe with his singing and on this album Peter sings his ass off on ‘Getaway’. Give it up for Peter Criss and say what you want about him but read the official KISS Book Nothin To Lose: The Making of KISS(1972-1975) and hear about the fact that Pete’s drums are the only recorded Live instrument on KISS ALIVE! Yeah…No Shit!

Ace Frehley- Man his solos on here are brilliant! Not your usual flash n pan wank fest. These solos sound like Ace just pulled them out of his back pocket when the red light for recording went off in the studio! Ace actually wrote ‘Getaway'(speaking of broke just read the lyrics to Getaway)and co wrote ‘Rock Bottom’. Must mention that throughout the album you can hear acoustic guitars mixed under the electrics! Give it up for the SpaceMan who doesn’t have to play a million miles per hour to make his guitar work memorable! Considering Ace was juiced up here on whatever was floating around for him to consume the solo’s are downright timeless gigantic riffs!

Gene SimmonsI always like Mean Gene the Demon’s voice on these earlier albums as he sang with a chill like vibe that even though he doesn’t do drugs you think he was hitting weed quicker than Cheech can say Chong! Gene sings what he knows best and that topic is surprise surprise …. Women! ‘Ladies In Waiting’ ‘Two Timer’and what could possibly be the Greatest Tune about Hookers that the Demon  wrote called ‘SHE’. I dig that part of ‘She’ where the Bass  grumbles and Drums hook up before Space Ace lifts off the solo.I have to add that Simmons is a great Bass Player as he never gets credit for as everyone was  focused back than on the fire-breathing and the blood like crap dripping from his mouth!  Course Genie Gene also co wrote the biggie track which would become the biggest track ‘Rock N Roll All Night’. 

Paul Stanley- Opens Dressed To Kill with ‘Room Service’ which is a great fun rocking track! Stanley knew how to write straight ahead  simple but very catchy rock tracks. Those being the co write in ‘Rock Bottom’ and the co write in ‘Rock N Roll All Night’. Where Starchild excels is in the songs he wrote himself. ‘Love Her All I Can’ the excellent ‘C’mon and Love Me’ and especially ‘Anything for my Baby’ which should have been a single as the  first time I heard Dressed To Kill I was drawn especially to this track! Paul knows his deal and thats writing tunes with Hooks! Hooks indeed!

I love writing KISS reviews as they have been part of my listening habits for basically 40 years now! Why not as everyone has a opinon of KISS wether it be good or bad but an opinion no less!

Sure KISS has recently announced there 3 year Farewell Tour which to be honest I couldn’t care less about as it’s hard for me to keep wrapping my head around the replacement guys acting like  the original guys and basically doing the whole schtick that has been done to death already. 

BUT……!

If you catch KISS ten times on their Farewell Tour and write about it you can bet your KISS Cassette  Tape Collection I’ll read about it. Even if they doled out a new studio record  I would buy it as there last studio album back in 2012 ‘Monster’was quite good.. Kinda of a mixed bag of thoughts when it comes to what Gene and Paul are doing with the KISS brand nowadays but they deserve and have earned it to do what they want…

Good on em! Having said that….

 What a great reconnection with ‘Dressed To Kill’ as I really do love broke and poor KISS. 

If you’re a reader of this Blog thanks for reading and as you would have read by now my Top 3 KISS studio albums over the years have been…‘Rock N Roll Over’ Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Alive’.

But in the last year knocking on the door of my Top 3 would be ‘Lick It Up’and now ‘Dressed To Kill‘…

Better make it a Top 5 from now on!

 

KISS/Dynasty(1979)

Folks! This is my 500th Post! Kinda Bizarro that my very first review 500 posts ago was my first ever Arena show which was KISS (1979)and here we are at numero 500 and it’s another KISS review! This was not planned but when it comes to KISS they sure are fun to write about as they have taken me to the cleaners more than a few times over the years but this Blog gives me the opportunity to say what I wanna say about em! Good and Bad! Thanks to you all that have been along  for the ride!

As you were….

Being Halloween and being the month that I first seen Kiss years back in 1979 why not a Makeup Review ..Trick or Treat ….

May 23rd 1979 Kiss unleashes Dynasty an album that finds KISS at the cross roads. A new disco like sound on a single/ a Drummer on his way out the door(Anton Fig drummed on all the tracks except for one tune/ a Lead Guitarist with a new-found creative outburst that probably irked the two founders/ a band that thought they could do no wrong and a 12-year-old kid named Deke that was buying everything up on site that said KISS.

From the outside things look hunky dory but that could be further from the truth!

From 1974-1979 Kiss released 7 studio albums. 4 solo albums. 2 Double Live albums and One Double Greatest Hits album.

That is a boatload of music and KISS kept cranking them out and we known as the KISS ARMY were buying into the Kiss game plan which for KISS  was push product. People will buy and being a young age I wouldn’t know good from bad …well ok Peter Criss’ solo album was a complete disaster and back in late 78 I even figured that one out as an 11 year old!

So when Dynasty hit the streets I was onboard as in my world Paul Stanley/Gene Simmons/Ace Frehley/Peter Criss could do no wrong or could they….

I Was Made For Lovin You with that Demon thumping bass driven tone leads off the festivities  and Paul Stanley hooks up with the sounds of the disco clubs and gives KISS a huge hit. This song when I was 12 I dug as I got older it tired on me as it really wasn’t KISS but KISS fishing for a hit which worked. Desmond Child gets the co write and this begins a string of co write hits with a ton of artists throughout the 80’s. So for that Stanley succeeded but if I was 17 at the time maybe I would have thought different of this track. Who knows. Over time though this track has grown on me as I see what these guys were trying to accomplish and for that I’m ok with it. I don’t want to listen to it right now but if it comes on the satellite radio in the vehicle I’ll listen to it but on my iPod I skip it! HA!

Ace Frehley the one with the new-found creative drive grabs The Rolling Stones song 2000 Man and makes it his own track like he wrote it! Ace slips an slides on this song as his street like demeanour comes through in spades. Anton Fig drives the drums (weird saying that) on this track and Ace doubles up a great vocal with a great solo and for me this is where Dynasty begins! 2000 Man is the opening song on Dynasty. In my world that is…..

Melodic Rock Paul steps up with Sure Know Something. This track is a pretty decent song that has radio written all over it. The chorus is the money shot which is kinda syrupy in spots but will give you that a few minutes hum along after the song has ended. Or maybe not…

The soon to be punted Peter Criss gets the fourth track Dirty Livin all to himself as he sings and makes his only drum appearance on Dynasty. Course at the time I had no idea that Dirty Livin would be Petey’s final hail mary toss to the end zone on a KISS studio album at the time. This isn’t a bad track. Not great, not forgettable as its just there!

What the Hell??! Side Two begins with Demon Gene Simmons finally getting a track and that track is Charisma. This track cracks me up as Genie Gene mumbles and growls his vocals like the God of Thunder just conquered Cher. Oh yeah he did but this tune is full of what I call dumbo rock but I can still listen to this and walk around afterwards saying “What is myyyyy…..Charismaaaaaa!” Funny stuff!

Whoah Starchild steps right up with a real slick guitar riff in the form of Magic Touch. Great track that KISS should have played live back in this era. Well constructed song.

Space Ace fresh from his new creativity outburst from a year earlier (1978) gets his due and delivers in Spades a track that is very autobiographical if there ever was one with Hard Times. Great hard rocking track as Ace knows his strengths and considering Gene and Paul thought Ace was a mess at times when the chips were down Ace just cranks out one of those end of the album Gems! Plus I love the way his vocals sounded like they were recorded live in one take!

Not to be outdone Demon steps up with X-Ray Eyes that is a real good Gene track but whoah only two Gene tracks on Dynasty? Yup Gene  blew his ego fueled load all over that crazy solo album of his of which some of it was good and some not so… Who was gonna tell these guys back in the mid to late 70’s “Ah these songs aren’t that good!” Exactly! No one as if you were on the Aucoin Payroll I’m sure you were told to keep your trap shut!

Ace kicks in the studio door with another sure-fire winner with Save Your Love which rockets this album with a spectacular Ace solo as well as KISS step up and deliver a super-duper 3 pack end of the album  send off!

KISS 79 was in shambles. Not that I noticed. I kept buying whatever they were selling and after the tour was finished for this album it was adios amigos Catman!

 

Kiss/Rock N Roll Over(1976)

Since It’s Halloween Today …Ummmm  How About Another KISS Review….???

Gonna try to keep this one short but when it comes to my fav KISS studio albums my TOP 3 would look like this..

1-Alive…..2-Rock N Roll Over….3-Creatures Of The Night..

Yeah I know Kiss Alive is a Live album(cough/cough) but we all know the deal as it was tweaked merciless in the studio but on any day of the week if we’re actually talking about studio albums I could flip between Number 2 and 3 all the time….

Starchild/Demon/Space Ace & Petey The Cat belt out some decent Kiss N Roll…. 

The Song’s…

1. “I Want You” Paul Stanley  3:04
2. “Take Me” Stanley, Sean Delaney  2:56
3. “Calling Dr. Love” Gene Simmons  3:44
4. “Ladies Room” Simmons  3:27
5. “Baby Driver” Peter Criss, Stan Penridge  3:40
6. “Love ‘Em and Leave ‘Em” Simmons  3:47
7. “Mr. Speed” Stanley, Delaney  3:18
8. “See You in Your Dreams” Simmons  2:34
9. “Hard Luck Woman” Stanley  3:34
10. “Makin’ Love” Stanley, Delaney  3:14
Total length:
33:18

Ah Man… I miss those under 34 minute albums and Rock N Roll Over delivers as Kiss teams up with producer Eddie Kramer and everyone roll’s up there sleeves and get down to it…

Stanley shows up with 5 tracks the best being Mr Speed that has a real cool like opening Riff and even though it’s a rock track it’s got a different vibe than say Take Me which is your typical Stanley straight ahead Goofy lyric rock track but on those day’s when its Goofy Time Take Me fill’s a void as it’s a Crash Course  in C#*K Rock.

$immon$ throws his 4 cents in with 4 pretty good rock tracks and he’s no ballad Guy well maybe the lyrics to Dr Love are about as close to a ballad as you could find but nice use of the cowbell on this track and Gene’s other tracks Ladies Room/Love Em Leave Em/See You In Your Dreams are just your simple straight ahead Chick Tracks! Not Rocket Science here Folk’s but catchy never the less!

The most interesting  track here has to be Hard Luck Woman written by Stanley but sung by Peter Criss who sounds like Rod Stewart and this is a well crafted rock track with nice acoustic playing with Criss’ drums propelling the Kiss Ship forward.

Speaking of Criss. He even gets his own tune here.  Baby Driver which is an ok track but still to elbow something on here with the Gene and Paul show calling the shot’s is saying something unlike Ace Frehley who did not contribute anything song wise but still plays some real good lead guitar on Rock N Roll Over….