Sean's Kanadian KISS Konnection
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 opinions and should be taken as such.  Scroll down the page, or click on the album title to go directly to the review.
 
  • KISS Chikara
  • Smashes, Thrashes & Hits
  • Hot In The Shade
  • First KISS...Last Licks
  • Revenge
  • Alive III



  • KISS Chikara

    Released May 25, 1988
    Tracks:
    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 Are Falling

        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 All Hell's Breakin' Loose, War Machine, and Who Wants To Be Lonely on a single CD.

    Rating: 



    Smashes, Thrashes and Hits

    Released November 17, 1988
    Tracks:
    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 Out Loud

        Not much to say here.  Like the other KISS "best-of's", Smashes, Thrashes & Hits satisfies but the 2 new songs and the Eric Carr-sung Beth 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 Beth 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 the original?
        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 Shout 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?

    Interesting facts:

    Rating: 1/2


    Hot In The Shade

    Released October 17, 1989
    Tracks:
    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 Caesar/ Boomerang

        If only they had gone for quality rather than quantity, Hot 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, Cadillac Dreams, The Street Giveth and The Street Taketh Away, Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell, and King of Hearts are terrible.  On the other end of the scale, you have Rise To It, Hide Your 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.

    Interesting facts:

    Rating: 


    First KISS...Last Licks

    Released November 1989
    Tracks:
    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 Killers 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.

    Interesting facts:
     

    Rating: 

    Revenge

    Released May 19, 1992
    Tracks:
    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 to 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 with 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 SpitRevenge'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. God 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!

    Interesting facts:

    Rating: 1/2


    Alive III

    Released May 18, 1993
    Tracks:
    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 Banner

        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 of.
        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 contains a lot of good versions of the songs.  The album opener, Creatures of The Night, is fantastic; Heaven's On Fire, Watchin' You, I 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!

    Interesting facts:

    Rating: 

    KISS Discography 1971-1975
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    KISS Discography 1988-1993
    KISS Discography 1994-1997
    KISS Discography 1998-Present
    Ace Frehley Discography
    Peter Criss Discography
    Eric Carr Discography
    Vinnie Vincent Discography
    Union Discography


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