Sean's Kanadian KISS
KISS Discography 1988-1993
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.
Hot In The Shade
Released May 25, 1988
Rock and Roll All Nite/ Detroit Rock City/
Love Gun/ I Was Made For Lovin' You (long version)/ Creatures of The Night/
I Love It Loud/ War Machine/ Lick It Up/ All Hell's Breakin' Loose/ Heaven's
On Fire/ Thrills In The Night/ Who Wants To Be Lonely/ Uh! All Night/ Tears
Chikara was a limited-edition (only 100,000
copies were printed), Japanese-only "best-of" release that chronicled the
best of KISS in the '80's with some '70's tracks thrown in to ensure sales.
The only new thing here is the extended version
of I Was Made For Lovin' You that was popular in the dance clubs
when it was released in 1979. The chosen tracks are good ones and
only about half have appeared on other compilations. This makes Chikara
a worthy collection because it is nice to have forgotten 80's gems like
Hell's Breakin' Loose, War Machine, and Who Wants To Be Lonely
on a single CD.
Thrashes and Hits
Released November 17, 1988
Let's Put The X In Sex/ (You Make Me) Rock
Hard/ Love Gun/ Detroit Rock City/ I Love It Loud/ Deuce/ Lick It Up/ Heaven's
On Fire/ Calling Dr. Love/ Strutter/ Beth (with Eric Carr vocal)/ Tears
Are Falling/ I Was Made For Lovin' You/ Rock and Roll All Nite/ Shout It
Not much to say here. Like the other KISS "best-of's",
Thrashes & Hits satisfies but the 2 new songs and the Eric Carr-sung
are simply filler.
Let's Put The X In Sex is the better of the
two but that's not saying much. (You Make Me) Rock Hard isn't
a bad song and it is nice to see a couple of new songs but the band could
have been a little more creative. These two songs personify the leering
horniness of late-80's hard rock/ heavy metal. Maybe Paul needs some
salt peter to get things under control, but the chance in having these
songs resurface as lost classics is pretty slim. The new vocal on
by Eric Carr finally lets us hear the man behind the kit but it's a bit
of an insult to Eric to make his vocal debut on an old KISS song.
It's even more of an insult to Peter Criss who originally sang what may
be KISS' best known song. Isn't this a best-of collection?
Why take their biggest hit and have Eric Carr sing it rather than include
Of the hits, KISS did the same thing here as they
did on Double Platinum ten years earlier but to a lesser extent;
a remix here and an edit there to give some of the songs a different feel.
I actually like this version of Love Gun with the fade-out vocal
effects near the end of the song, better than the original. I
Love It Loud loses some of its appeal without the bass drum boost and
fade out/in ending of the original. Detroit Rock City and
It Out Loud sound like the same versions as Double Platinum.
Eric does a good job on Beth but I still would rather have heard
the original. Other than that most of these songs sound exactly like
the originals. However it is nice to have some of the later songs
like Heaven's On Fire, Lick It Up, Tears Are Falling,
and I Love It Loud included on a hits package for the first time.
Nevertheless, Smashes, Thrashes & Hits
seems as if it were thrown together at a moment's notice. The new
songs aren't very good and the remixes seem to be taken directly from the
ones they did on Double Platinum or slapped together without the
creativity used in reworking the songs on Double Platinum.
Then again, how wrong can you really go with a KISS hits package?
Even though Eric didn't want to re-do Beth, he had been waiting
for so long to sing on a KISS album that he reluctantly jumped at the chance.
The video for Let's Put The X In Sex saw the band getting sued for
portraying the office building in the video as a phallic symbol.
The U.K. release of Smashes, Thrashes & Hits replaced the tracks
and Calling Dr. Love with Reason To Live and
Nights, respectively, because both were big-selling singles there.
Prior to Paul Stanley's solo club tour in 1989, KISS had originally planned
to do a full club tour in support of Smashes, Thrashes and Hits
but those plans fell through.
KISS signed a new contract with Polygram for 7 new albums within the next
10 years. Upon close inspection, the contract calls for a best-of
collection, a live album, a solo album from both Gene and Paul, and 3 new
studio albums. To date, we've gotten a best-of (Greatest KISS),
THREE live albums (Alive III, MTV Unplugged, and You Wanted
The Best, You Got The Best!!), three studio albums (Hot In The Shade,
and Carnival of Souls), and the KISS My Ass collection, but
no sign of the solo albums by Gene and Paul.
Gene would continue working with other bands as producer and mentor including
Liza Minnelli (?!), House of Lords, Doro Pesch, and Black 'N Blue.
He would also get his own record label through RCA, Simmons Records.
Gene and long-time girlfriend and ex-Playboy playmate Shannon Tweed announced
that they were expecting a child together. This surprised many fans
who knew Gene didn't want children in a relationship for fear of being
Eric Carr was producing an all-girl thrash band from Japan named Hari-Kari
at this time.
Ever the master thespian, Gene showed up in the little-known film, Red
Surf, before hanging up his acting shoes for good.
Paul Stanley announces that he wants to do a two-month solo tour of small
clubs. Appearing with him as part of his band would include Bob Kulick
on guitar, Gary Corbett who played keyboards for KISS on their Crazy
Nights tour, Dennis St. James on bass, and Eric Singer on drums.
Singer, of course, would be the replacement for Eric Carr as KISS' drummer
in 1991. Eric Singer had worked previously with Black Sabbath, Lita
Ford, Gary Moore, and Badlands, as well as a lot of session work.
In The Shade
Released October 17, 1989
Rise To It/ Betrayed/ Hide Your Heart/ Prisoner
of Love/ Read My Body/ Love's A Slap In The Face/ Forever/ Silver Spoon/
Cadillac Dreams/ King of Hearts/ The Street Giveth and The Street Taketh
Away/ You Love Me To Hate You/ Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell/ Little
If only they had gone for quality rather than quantity,
In The Shade might have been a decent album. Instead, with 15
songs, Hot In The Shade has too many songs that are either sub-par
or are just plain awful. Mostly the latter. This album sees
KISS hit a real low point for me. I can appreciate The Elder,
I like both Unmasked and Asylum, but Hot In The Shade
is just too awful!
Betrayed, Love's A Slap In The Face,
Dreams, The Street Giveth and The Street Taketh Away,
Between Heaven and Hell, and King of Hearts are terrible.
On the other end of the scale, you have Rise To It,
Heart, and Forever, which are great, great songs. Forever,
in my opinion, is one of the best songs KISS has ever done, and beats Beth
into the ground as being the definitive KISS ballad (great 12-string solo
by Bruce!). The rest of the album is simply...there. Prisoner
of Love and You Love Me To Hate You are OK, Read My Body
has a good Paul holler in it, I like the horns and R&B backgrounds
in Silver Spoon, and Boomerang is a good Gene thrasher.
Little Caesar is kind of a disappointing
debut on vocals for Eric Carr. Considering how many songs of his
were shot down for inclusion on previous KISS albums, it's a wonder how
this one slipped through. The singing is good; the song is not.
I was hoping for the kind of surprise we got when Ace Frehley finally got
to sing on an album; instead Little Caesar is just another throwaway
track on an album that suffers from overkill.
Hot In The Shade is also the weakest outing
from Gene Simmons as most of his material on the album is horrid.
It is easy to see that his mind was on other things than KISS when writing
songs for the album. The creativity is gone, the lyrics are bland,
and the arrangements are weak. This is KISS' worst album to date,
nudging Dressed To Kill out of the cellar. Let's pray that
the band never sinks lower than Hot In The Shade.
Hot In The Shade had working titles of "Crimes of Passion"
and "Hang Tough." The latter was dismissed as New Kids On The Block
had just released their multi-platinum album, "Hangin' Tough," earlier
Hot In The Shade reached # 35 on Billboard's album charts.
Flash ahead to January 1991 where Peter Criss appeared on Donahue
to lay to rest the rumor that he was homeless and panhandling in Santa
Monica, California. In fact, a man named Christopher Dickinson (bearing
no resemblance to Peter whatsoever) was claiming to be Peter Criss for
years and The Star tabloid "newspaper" had pounced on the story
hoping to sell a few extra copies of their rag.
Forever was co-written by Paul Stanley with Michael Bolton and would
be the best-selling single for KISS since Beth in 1976. Bruce
Kulick plays bass on the track.
Five songs were co-written with Vini Poncia, the producer of Dynasty,
and Peter Criss' 1978 solo album.
Paul Stanley arranged the horn section on Cadillac Dreams.
All of the music on Little Caesar was played by Bruce (all guitars)
and Eric (drums and bass).
Gene plays rhythm guitar on Cadillac Dreams.
Hide Your Heart was performed by Ace Frehley, Bonnie Tyler, Molly
Hatchet, and Robin Beck before it appeared on Hot In The Shade.
Gary Corbett, keyboard player for the Hot in the Shade tour, as
well as Paul Stanley's solo tour, was a co-writer of Cyndi Lauper's 1984
hit song She Bop.
A song called Something Wicked This Way Comes by Gene was omitted
from Hot In The Shade but would appear on Doro Pesch's self-titled
The video for Rise To It, set backstage in 1975, had Gene and Paul
in makeup again, supposedly deliberating whether the band would succeed
if they took off the makeup.
God of Thunder was performed on the Hot In The Shade tour
for the first time since the Creatures tour in 1982-83.
After the tour was over, Gene decided that he had had enough with mogulling
and being a movie "star" and vowed to take his role in KISS more seriously.
He would claim that with the removal of the makeup in 1983, he was lost
and sought refuge in other facets of the entertainment industry.
This is the projected cover of the Eric Carr solo album that KISS was once
rumored to be releasing. After
suffering flu-like symptoms near the end of the Hot In The Shade
tour, Eric Carr went to the doctor where a cancerous growth was discovered
in the right atrium of his heart. On April 8, 1991, Eric had
open-heart surgery to remove the growth. After recuperating, he appeared
in the video for God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II, a remake of the
song by Argent to be included in the film Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.
This would be Eric Carr's last appearance with the band as doctors would
find that the cancer had spread to his lungs. After a brain hemorrhage
in September of 1991, the cancer took over Eric Carr and he died on the
24th of November at the age of 41, the same day as Queen's Freddie Mercury.
Unfortunately, Mercury's death overshadowed Eric Carr's and even in death,
he was forced to play second-fiddle. Pay a visit to the official
Released November 1989
Love's A Slap In The Face/ Betrayed/ Prisoner
of Love/ The Street Giveth and The Street Taketh Away/ Nowhere To Run/
Partners In Crime/ Deuce/ Strutter
Another limited-release from KISS but this is worthy
of mentioning here for a couple of reasons.
First, this is the first time that any songs from
was released in North America as a domestic release.
Second, Deuce and Strutter are from
the Eddie Kramer-produced KISS demos of 1973.
It is for the second half of First KISS...Last
Licks that this album is worthy of obtaining; the first half is filled
with some of the worst songs from KISS' worst album, Hot In The Shade.
These songs are just rubbish and I cannot figure out why if the band was
putting out such an historically important release as this, why they would
choose such dreadful lead-in material. It really hampers what could
have been a fantastic EP.
The bottom half of the album's cover (with the band lined up against a
wall wearing blindfolds) was rumored to be the original cover for Hot
In The Shade.
First KISS...Last Licks was a vinyl-only release and only about
700 copies were pressed as it was released solely for promotional use at
radio stations and music stores.
Released May 19, 1992
Unholy/ Take It Off/ Tough Love/ Spit/ God
Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II/ Domino/ Heart of Chrome/ Thou Shalt Not/ Everytime
I Look At You/ Paralyzed/ I Just Wanna/ Carr Jam 1981
This could be the most surprising album that KISS
has released since The Elder. I saw the video for Unholy
about a week or so before Revenge came out and I couldn't believe
it was KISS! They looked all leathery and tough, Gene was sporting
a bad goatee and that ponytail that grew out of the back of his head; what
happened to the big, permed hair, fluorescent scarves, and spandex?
Could it be that KISS had returned to leathery hard rock? YESSSS!!!!
Once the album came out and I gave it a listen,
I was hooked. I listened to nothing else for at least 2 weeks. Revenge
is sweet, my friends! From the opening crunch of Unholy
the fitting tribute to Eric Carr on Carr Jam 1981, this album is
killer! Unholy is my third favorite KISS song ever, trailing
behind Deuce and Cold Gin. This song is soooooo cool!!
Gene rips it up like he's back from the dead; he screams and growls better
than ever. Bruce's guitar work on Unholy is also a standout,
especially the intro. After the dismal Gene offerings on Hot In
The Shade, he comes back with Unholy, Spit, Domino,
and Paralyzed--all of which are his best songs since Fits Like
A Glove and Young and Wasted on 1983's Lick It Up.
Is it a coincidence that Lick It Up guitarist Vinnie Vincent had
a hand in Unholy, as well as several other songs on the album?
I don't think so. Paralyzed has the same qualities as Unholy
great guitar work by Bruce. Ever the gentleman, Gene croaks out his
love for an underage girl a la Christine Sixteen in Domino,
and his worship of the Rubenesque female in Spit. Revenge's
low point is the Gene song, Thou Shalt Not (terrible!).
Paul really shines here, too. Take It Off
is an ode to strip clubs, he sings of his favorite pastime in I Just
Wanna, and Heart of Chrome is one of those rare heavies offered
up by Mr. Stanley. Tough Love isn't as good as the rest but
it is still better than some of the stuff that KISS had released in the
few years prior to Revenge.
God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II, Every
Time I Look At You, and Carr Jam 1981 round out the collection.
Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II is a catchy number that again tries to
capitalize on past KISS anthems; Every Time I Look At You is a great
ballad that is a good follow-up to Hot In The Shade's Forever.
The ballads show that KISS are good musicians whether they're rocking it
up or slowing it down. The string section is a nice touch, too. Carr
Jam 1981 was a real disappointment for me, though. Sure, it showcases
Eric's drumming (which by the way blows away Peter Criss) but I would have
rather heard a good Carr vocal that was left out for whatever reasons from
a previous KISS album, instead. It's as if Eric was muted from singing
during his tour of duty in KISS and even as a tribute, the band fails to
give us a vocal from him. Sure, Little Caesar gave us a taste
of what Carr could belt out, but 1 song in 10 years just wasn't enough.
This is basically Eric Carr's Moby Dick and he really shows what
he can do on the skins.
Revenge was a real surprise for me and showed
that despite the poppish-tendencies of the 1980's, KISS could still rock!
One of their best albums!
Another Eric steps behind the kit--this time, its Eric Mensinger aka Eric
Singer. Take a peek at two Eric Singer sites--the Eric
Singer fan page and Eric
Singer All Access.
Vinnie Vincent co-wrote Unholy, Heart of Chrome, and I
Bruce plays bass on Everytime I Look At You.
Gene plays rhythm guitar on Domino.
Carr Jam 1981 was a recording found by Bob Ezrin made in May of
1981 during The Elder sessions which included the only recorded
drum solo from Eric Carr as a member of KISS. In preparing it for
Bruce overdubbed the lead guitar parts but the bass, drums, and Paul's
guitar were left as is. The song was then cut down to accentuate
God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II was originally recorded by Argent,
a group who once opened for KISS. The song was recorded for the soundtrack
for the film Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey.
Bob Ezrin, producer of Destroyer and Music From The Elder,
was brought in to produce Revenge. The band hoped that Ezrin's
touch, coupled with Gene's full involvement in the writing process would
spell success for the album.
A survey conducted during the tour for Hot In The Shade to help
explain lagging album sales resulted in fans expressing their disdain over
the number of ballads done by the band and wanting a return to their hard
rock roots. They also wanted to hear more music from Gene who hadn't
had an A-side single 1982's, I Love It Loud. KISS aimed the
hard-edged, sex-and-power-filled songs on Revenge towards the middle-class
14 to 16 year old White male crowd hoping that they would become the band's
Revenge reached a new high for the band on Billboard's album
charts--# 6, the highest-charting KISS album since Love Gun in 1977!
However, this success wouldn't last long as Revenge plummeted quickly off
of the charts and into the discount bins.
I Just Wanna bears a VERY close resemblance to Eddie Cochran's Summertime
Spit also features an almost word-for-word rendering of a verse
from the Spinal Tap song, Big Bottom. Big Bottom reads,
"The bigger the cushion/ The sweeter the pushin'".
Ticket sales on the Revenge tour were so poor (some at less than
5,000 seats) that the tour was canceled after only 8 weeks.
At about the same time, two more video documentaries were released called
X-treme Close-up and KISS Konfidential. Though they were
heavily hyped to have a lot of goodies that the fans wanted, the videos
were full of old makeup concert footage, a woman crushing a beer can between
her breasts, strippers on stage (these are 2 of my favorite parts!), and
music videos from several later albums. Reported clips of Lou Reed
singing an early version of A World Without Heroes, KISS' appearance
on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, and other treats were
noticeably absent. There are also many errors in the information
and clips shown in the videos. The fans main complaint though lied
in the fact that Gene and Paul used the videos as a soapbox to air their
displeasure over the former members of KISS.
Released May 18, 1993
Creatures of The Night/ Deuce/ I Just Wanna/
Unholy/ Heaven's On Fire/ Watchin' You/ Domino/ I Was Made For Lovin' You/
I Still Love You/ Rock and Roll All Nite/ Lick It Up/ Forever/ I Love It
Loud/ Detroit Rock City/ God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II/ Star Spangled
This is the first live release from KISS in 16 years
and the big question is, "Was it worth the wait?". The answer is...sort
Alive III covers all of the 80's hits and
throws in a few of the classics from the 70's to boot. My only complaint
is why on earth did they include a version of The Star Spangled Banner?
After 20 years and 26 albums, couldn't they have found a better song to
include in the new package? This version of Deuce is better
than the one on Alive!. I Still Love You is another
standout. Though I'm usually not a fan of live albums, Alive III
a lot of good versions of the songs. The album opener,
of The Night, is fantastic; Heaven's On Fire, Watchin' You,
Was Made For Lovin' You, I Love It Loud, and Forever
are all respectable renditions of the originals. However the live
versions of Unholy and Domino are bloody awful. The
rest of the album is just what it is...live songs rehashed to make a buck!
There are quite a few mistakes in the liner notes to Alive III,
including incorrect noting of which song came from which album, as well
as some errors in the "family tree".
Like Alive! and Alive II, Eddie Kramer produced Alive
Like Revenge, Alive III debuted quite high on Billboard's
album charts (# 9) but fell out of the Top 200 within 12 weeks.
Fans who attended the shows recorded for the album questioned the validity
of the material, stating that the band often missed cues, rushed through
the sets as quickly as possible, and played sloppily in general.
Alive III was originally promised to include guitar picks from Gene,
Paul, and Bruce, miniature drumsticks from Eric, and a fold-out poster.
Instead, the "family tree" was the only goodie released.
I Love It Loud was scheduled to be a single but due to poor album
sales, was nixed.
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