Sean's Kanadian KISS
KISS Discography 1983-1987
**Voted Totally Awesome 80's
Site of the Day March 5th, 1999**
I have rated each
album on a scale of 1 to 5 demon boots (5 being the best) according to
my own tastes. Remember, these are my own
and should be taken as such. Scroll down the page, or click on the
album title to go directly to the review.
Lick It Up
Released September 19, 1983
Exciter/ Not For The Innocent/ Lick It Up/
Young and Wasted/ Gimme More/ All Hell's Breakin' Loose/ A Million To One/
Fits Like A Glove/ Dance All Over Your Face/ And On The 8th Day
So that's what they look like! Who's the chick
on the left? Some people look better in full make-up, I guess.
Lick It Up follows the same path as Creatures
of The Night with hard, heavy rock. There are a lot of similarities
here with Creatures, but that's good! The only songs that
are weak are the last two. Young and Wasted is KISS' heaviest
song to date and is one of my post-makeup favorites. Two great songs--Fits
Like A Glove and Young and Wasted--started a trend that seemed
to continue with each album hereafter for Gene: a thrasher song or two
with lots of wailing and screaming (see Burn Bitch Burn on Animalize,
Way You Slice It and Love's A Deadly Weapon on Asylum,
No, No on Crazy Nights, Betrayed and Boomerang
on Hot In The Shade, Unholy and Paralyzed on Revenge,
and Hate on Carnival of Souls). Despite the rap by
"Ice-Stanley", All Hell's Breakin' Loose is still a cool song. Lick
It Up is a good single, too. Paul seems a little heavier than
usual on this album with Exciter and Gimme More.
Vinnie Vincent's presence is definitely felt on
It Up. He writes 8 of the 10 songs on the album and whether Gene
and Paul like or not, is it any coincidence that KISS gained a resurgence
in popularity after Vinnie started writing songs? Overall, a great
album though I was sorry to see the make-up go.
Even though Eric Carr has now been a member of KISS for 3 years and 4 albums,
he has only received song writing credit on 2 songs; Vinnie Vincent a member
for less than a year is credited on 8 of the album's 10 songs.
Eric wrote all of All Hell's Breakin' Loose except for the melody
and the lyrics.
The Plasmatics with Wendy O. Williams opened for KISS
on their Lick It Up tour and Gene would take her under his wing
in the spring of 1984 to work on a solo album. Some of the tracks
included Legends Never Die, which was originally written for The
Elder's sequel under the title of When The Legend Dies, and
My Life. The music was done by KISS during the period of 1981-82
but Gene simply mixed Williams' vocals over the music tracks. Ace
Frehley even contributed some guitar overdubs to the song Bump and Grind.
Gene, billed as Reginald Van Helsing, plays bass on the album. The
song Thief In The Night would appear on KISS' 1987 album Crazy
And On The 8th Day was a song originally written by Vinnie called
Are Gonna Rock.
Rick Derringer played the lead guitar parts on Exciter. Derringer
previously appeared on the KISS track, All-American Man from Alive
Lick It Up reached # 24 on Billboard's album chart--their
highest since 1979's Dynasty.
KISS had a special promotion on MTV to release the Lick It Up video
and album and unveil themselves for the first time without make-up on September
The two videos completed for the album--Lick It Up and All Hell's
Breakin' Loose--were done by the same director. In later years,
KISS would express their dissatisfaction with them as the band fought off
villains and leered at women in a post-apocalyptic world. KISS hoped
that their first post-makeup video would be special but it focused on the
video rather than the band.
Vinnie was unhappy being a member of KISS, believing that the band was
holding him back. He would often run his solos overtime during concerts
to infuriate Paul and Gene in hopes that the fans' response would show
KISS what they were missing. By mid-March 1984, Vinnie Vincent was
out of KISS. Before he left, Vinnie worked on 3 songs that were to
appear on Animalize-- Animal, Twisted, and I Wanna
Be Your Victim. Instead, they showed up on the first Vinnie Vincent
Invasion album in 1986.
Forced to replace yet another member, KISS would eventually choose Mark
Norton AKA Mark St. John to record Animalize.
Ending the string of subtitled Japanese releases, Lick It Up was
tagged with Recollection of Hell.
Released September 13, 1984
I've Had Enough (Into The Fire)/ Heaven's
On Fire/ Burn Bitch Burn/ Get All You Can Take/ Lonely Is The Hunter/ Under
The Gun/ Thrills In The Night/ While The City Sleeps/ Murder In High Heels
Much criticism has been given to Animalize
and it has largely been directed at the newest member of the band--Mark
St. John. True, he does try to squeeze every note he possibly can
out of his guitar in the shortest period of time, but it creates a very
distinctive sound for the album. Like Vinnie and Ace before him,
Mark St. John has his own style (play guitar like it's the last time you'll
get to do so before you die) and his speedy playing is very unique.
I like the sound of Animalize...and it's mostly due to Mark's guitar-work.
Had Enough (Into The Fire) and Under The Gun are two such showcases
for St. John's turbo-charged fingers. They are also two of the best
songs on the album (coincidence?...I don't think so!).
Everyone knows Heaven's On Fire; it is one
of KISS' best-known post-makeup songs. It's a catchy single cut from
the same mould as Lick It Up. Under The Gun is one
of my favorite KISS songs of the '80's. Do I hear the f-word in the
chorus to Get All You Can Take? I believe this is the first
A-list cuss-word on a KISS album! Thrills In The Night is
another attempt at a hooky single that succeeds to some degree. Burn
Bitch Burn is the only other good song on Animalize; the rest
are trash. Chalk up Murder In High-Heels, While The City
Sleeps, and Lonely Is The Hunter as 3 of the worst Gene songs
of all time! And what's with that back cover shot of the boys standing
in the wasteland? If they were so unhappy with the videos for Lick
It Up which showed them in a post-apocalyptic hell-hole, why would
they then choose to release Animalize less than a year later with
a similar-themed back cover?
It's too bad that Mark St. John had the unfortunate
timing of being the forgotten member of KISS. He brought a fresh
sound to KISS that has not been equaled since. In later years, Gene
and Paul have expressed their own dissatisfaction over the sound of St.
John's style, but my question is, did they not hear him play before they
hired him? Was his style not evident before laying down an album,
or were Gene and Paul in such a bind that they took whatever they could
Paul Stanley produced the entire album while Gene was busy filming the
1984 movie Runaway with Tom Selleck. Among other roles that
Gene would be offered (and be forced to turn down) were in Flashdance,
Shift, Die Hard, and as the villain in 2 James Bond films: 1987's
Living Daylights and 1990's Licence To Kill. Instead,
Gene would choose memorable roles (eg. Velvet Ragnar the transsexual in
Too Young To Die) in movies that ended up being box-office duds.
Gene didn't play bass on several of the songs on Animalize.
Jean Beauvoir, co-author of Thrills In The Night, played in Gene's
place on two songs: Thrills In The Night and Get All You Can
Take. Beauvoir is best known for his work with Wendy O. Williams
and The Plasmatics.
Paul plays bass Heaven's On Fire, Under Gun and I've
Had Enough (Into The Fire).
Three songs that appeared on Vinnie Vincent's 1986 album, Invasion,
were written for Animalize: Animal, I Wanna Be Your Victim
Soon after the release of Animalize, Mark St. John contracted a
rare form of arthritis called Riter's Syndrome that totally incapacitated
him from playing the guitar. KISS was then forced to hire another
guitarist--their fourth in two years!
Bruce Kulick, brother of Bob, and soon to be St. John's replacement, tried
out for the position but was passed over for Mark St. John. When
St. John was unable to play on tour, Paul called Bob Kulick and accepted
the suggestion of having Bruce fill in on some of the dates.
Up to that point, Bruce Kulick's notoriety consisted of playing with Meat
Loaf on his Bat Out of Hell tour, in Billy Squier's band, and as a member
of the hard-rock group Blackjack with future bad-hair candidate, Michael
Bruce Kulick is the only member of KISS, past or present, to use his real
name. Visit Bruce's official site.
Gene wore a headband on the tour for Animalize to hold his wig in place.
For his role as Charles Luther in Runaway, Gene had cut his cut
very short but felt that he needed long hair on tour to maintain his image.
This would continue for most of the '80's as Gene acted in several films
where he kept his hair cropped.
The Animalize tour saw KISS achieving their greatest success since
the Dynasty tour in 1979.
Despite several attempts to have Mark St. John appear on stage to play
during the tour, he never regained his full health and was replaced permanently
by Bruce Kulick in December of 1984. Mark St. John would go on to
form the group White Tiger who released one album but soon found himself
teaching guitar lessons.
Animalize reached # 19 on Billboard's album charts--their
highest-charting album since 1979's Dynasty.
Multi-Grammy award-winning producer David Foster considered Heaven's
On Fire his favorite song of 1984, calling it "a hell of a well-produced
KISS released a live version of Heaven's On Fire on the 1986 benefit
album Hear 'N Aid.
KISS released a concert video of a Detroit show broadcast on MTV called
It is rumored that Bruce Kulick played the lead guitar on Lonely Is
Released September 13, 1985
King of The Mountain/ Any Way You Slice It/
Who Wants To Be Lonely/ Trial By Fire/ I'm Alive/ Love's A Deadly Weapon/
Tears Are Falling/ Secretly Cruel/ Radar For Love/ Uh! All Night
Here it is--the rainbow hues of Asylum!
And don't miss the back and inside covers which show Gene looking like,
as he would later put it, Phyllis Diller, in Jerry Seinfeld's puffy shirt.
Look at all the pretty colors! Ugh. It's too bad KISS fell
into the glam movement here because getting lumped in with Poison, Enuff
'Znuff, LA Guns and the rest of the bunch really undermines what KISS originally
stood for. Remember the black leather, scary makeup and stage antics?
Somehow seeing Gene in a sequined gown and rouge breathing fire just doesn't
have the same effect.
That aside, let the music speak for itself.
After the less-than-stellar Animalize, Asylum is a much better
album than most people think. Except for Secretly Cruel and
For Love, all of the songs are very good. Standouts include Who
Wants To Be Lonely, King of The Mountain and
Tears Are Falling.
Are Falling is the best song on the album and is one of KISS' stronger
songs of the period. King of The Mountain has a great drum
intro from Eric Carr and Who Wants To Be Lonely is damn good, too.
By Fire is one of Gene's better outings here, followed by
A Deadly Weapon and
Any Way You Slice It. Uh! All Night
has its moments as well. I'm Alive is the kind of heavy Paul
song that I don't think he explores enough. Sure he can make the
girls scream but remember...he wrote God of Thunder, too!
The "lipstick" on each member on the album cover reflects the color of
their respective 1978 solo album cover's; Paul's purple, Gene's red, Eric's
(Peter's) green, and Bruce's (Ace's) blue.
Bruce Kulick receives (a surprisingly high) co-writing credit on 3 of Asylum's
10 songs. Poor Eric is not included in any of the songwriting credits.
I'm Alive was originally titled Run For Your Life.
Gene plays rhythm guitar in Paul's place on Anyway You Slice It and
Asylum peaked relatively high on Billboard's album charts
at # 20 and was a strong follow-up to the double-platinum Animalize.
If Asylum is your cup of tea, check out The
Asylum Page, devoted to this album.
During his downtime between the end of the Animalize tour and the
onset of recording for Asylum, Gene performed in his second film,
Too Young To Die, with pretty-boy Full House-star John Stamos
and ex-Prince flame, Vanity. Once known as The Demon, Gene was now
playing another frightening character--a sinister hermaphrodite bent on
world domination. He would also appear in the two-hour premiere of
Vice as a drug dealer.
Gene produced Keel's The Right To Rock album during the recording
Gene discovered glam-rockers Cinderella around this time and got them their
first record deal. However when his duties with KISS conflicted with
Cinderella's demo recording schedule, Gene passed the job on to Jon Bon
The tour for Asylum saw KISS perform their first (and last) cover
song in concert--The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again.
The opening band for KISS on the Asylum tour was Black 'N Blue.
Gene developed a professional relationship with the group as he would go
on to produce 2 albums for them and write two songs with Black 'N Blue
singer Tommy Thayer for KISS' 1989 album Hot In The Shade.
After the tour, Gene appeared in two more films, Trick or Treat
as an disgruntled DJ named Nuke, and Wanted: Dead Or Alive with
Rutger Hauer as you guessed it...another bad guy.
Paul Stanley appeared in the 1986 film American Anthem but his scenes
ended up on the cutting room floor.
Paul's steady girlfriend at the time was Knots Landing star and
future wife of country singer Clint Black, Lisa Hartman.
Paul nearly lost an eye while filming the video for Uh! All Night.
It was rumored that Paul was asked to produce Guns 'N Roses 1987 album
For Destruction but was turned off by the band's image
KISS would release the documentary, KISS: Exposed in May of 1987
with Bruce and Eric almost nowhere to be seen. This had become the
standard since Ace and Peter left as Gene and Paul would often conduct
interviews that would focus solely on them and ignore the other band members.
The video saw KISS cavorting around their mansion with porn starlets and
other naked girls. Rolling Stone, in its review of the video,
would describe the group as "brainless, filthy-rich slobs, reveling in
sexism that would floor even David Lee Roth". Quite a statement!
Released September 14, 1987
Crazy Crazy Nights/ I'll Fight Hell To Hold
You/ Bang Bang You/ No, No, No/ Hell Or High Water/ My Way/ When Your Walls
Come Down/ Reason To Live/ Good Girl Gone Bad/ Turn On The Night/ Thief
In The Night
After a 2 year break, KISS released Crazy Nights
and I feel it was a great return. Despite another dreadful cover,
the only song on Crazy Nights that doesn't measure up to the rest
is When Your Walls Come Down. One of Gene's better post-makeup
songs is No, No, No which I always seem to catch flack for saying.
In The Night is another great Gene song as are Hell Or High Water
and Good Girl Gone Bad. Reason To Live is a great power
ballad that just didn't catch on. Crazy Crazy Nights is the
single that never was. Turn On The Night tries hard to be
a Rock and Roll All Night/ Shout It Out Loud clone but falls WAY
short. Bruce's intro to No, No, No is certainly the album's
highlight although throughout the song, he's doing what KISS condemned
Mark St. John for--playing a dozen notes when he could play one instead.
I really like Crazy Nights. It has
a very polished, commercial sound that is duplicated on KISS' next studio
album, Hot In The Shade, but much less effectively. It's another
one of KISS' '80's releases that seemed to turn fans off (like Unmasked)
but upon close listening, you'll find it is a good album.
The Japanese symbol that appears on the back cover of the album ()
is called Chikara and it translates to mean "strength" or "power"
Crazy Nights was originally slated to be titled "Condomnation" or
Thief In The Night first appeared on the Gene Simmons-produced album
Wendy O. Williams in 1984.
Crazy Nights reached # 18 on Billboard's album charts.
Bruce gets co-writing credit on 4 of the album's 11 songs; Eric Carr gets
credit on 1.
Bruce plays bass on Hell Or High Water.
The two-year space Asylum and Crazy Nights was the longest
time spent between albums in KISS' history up to that point.
Crazy Nights was released on the heels of Ace Frehley's first post-KISS
album, Frehley's Comet. Frehley's Comet, the group, was comprised
of Ace and Tod Howarth sharing lead vocals and lead guitar duties, John
Regan on bass, and Anton Fig on drums. For the album's production,
Ace enlisted Eddie Kramer, who did several albums for KISS: Alive!,
and Roll Over, Love Gun, Alive II, Ace's 1978 solo album,
and, later, Alive III. Frehley's Comet was well worth
the wait to hear from Ace again after he kicked his drug and alcohol addiction.
KISS enlisted Ron Nevison to produce Crazy Nights because he had
just jump-started the careers of Heart and Ozzy Osbourne with 2 successful
In late 1986, Gene sued Scandanavian death metal singer King Diamond for
copyright infringement as Diamond's makeup was a blatant rip-off of Gene's
The songs Sword In The Stone and Hide Your Heart were produced
at this time, as well, but would not appear on Crazy Nights.
Instead, Sword In The Stone would be performed on the soundtrack
for the film Shocker in 1989 by a group called Bonfire. Hide
Your Heart would be performed by four other artists (Ace Frehley, Bonnie
Tyler, Molly Hatchet, and Robin Beck) before surfacing on Hot In The
Shade in 1989.
Though the tour for Crazy Nights sold well, many fans felt that
the band seemed disinterested on stage, often performing for little more
than an hour, and fans left the shows disappointed.
Gene was arrested for indecent exposure in Columbus, Georgia after mooning
During the Japanese leg of the tour, KISS left the big logo sign behind
in America for the first time since 1974. Most reasons point towards
one thing: saving money.
June 26, 1988--Gene and Paul get up on stage and perform Deuce with
Frehley's Comet at The Limelight In New York City.
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