Very few bands I know have the 'marmite' factor amongst my group of friends and further as far as I can see. One of the greatest rock bands on the planet, or simply money grabbing posers, most people will have an opinion on the band. I would just like to point out now however that those people who think that Kiss aren't great, or maybe even awful...well you guys are both AND stupid (it's ok, we all make mistakes sometimes). Kiss are responsible for some of the greatest rock anthems of the last few decades, one of the most exciting and talked about live shows, and Gene Simmons dresses as a demon!! What more do you want? And frankly if you haven't found yourself ever listening to Crazy Crazy Nights and NOT singing your head off even if you're sober you don't know how to have fun.
It has to be said however that, ok, there are a few reasons to not like Kiss. With a need to have a brand of merchandise of, it seems, every single kind, it can be a bit over the top and irritating, and it has to be said Gene Simmons is known to be a bit greedy but we can forgive him for that I guess. We can't forgive him for discovering Little Fucking Chris (spits at the floor) however. This is a band that has tested it's fanbases' patience as well with a couple of diabolical albums (I love Kiss through and through but Psycho Circus is shit). Also when it comes to the make up and characters, yes we have The Demon, but we also have the fucking Cat. Peter Criss, couldn't you have picked anything cooler than The Cat? At least Eric Carr had The Fox and it looked a bit cooler.
Despite all this however, Kiss are one of the greatest bands on the planet, period. This band are a heated topic of debate in my house between me and my mate Tom (as I said in a previous blog he suffers broken ears as he cannot see the quality of this band!). So following the success of my Maiden overview (I know at least 3 people read it) here is an overview of the mighty Kiss. You wanted the best!...and well I'll try my best.
Usually cited as the fan favourite album, and during the bands creative peak of their early albums, this their fifth album is one of the quintessential rock albums and simply must be owned by any fan of this band or this type of music. Look how happy they are on the cover, and listening to this album when in a party mood and you'll be just as happy as them.
Opening with the impressive classic, Detroit Rock City the Destroyer party is opened with a bang (ironic considering that the song is about a high speed car crash) and is one Kiss' main anthems which will have you singing away after the 1st, 2nd, 3rd even 450th listen, and it isn't even the best song on the album.
Gene Simmons takes centre stage menacingly on the dark and twisted God Of Thunder (a unique sounding song in the Kiss repertoire, yet still undeniably Kiss), the hugely fun Shout It Loud see's Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons having vocal trade off's and Beth is one of the best ballads Kiss have ever written, Peter Criss doing a heart wrenching rendition.
Of course it wouldn't be Kiss without something making you wonder 'What the hell were they thinking?' and in this case it is the god awful Great Expectations...seriously what were they thinking? Otherwise this is a brilliant album, an excellent party album. Make sure the booze is cold, put this on loud, you will not be disappointed.
Listen to: God Of Thunder, Shout It Out Loud, Beth
Debut albums do not come filled with so many genuine rock anthems than Kiss' first outing. All though they did not achive huge success until the Kiss Alive album rocketed them into space, the albums that preceded that milestone are of huge quality and it's a testament to how many songs from these albums (and number one in particular) still stay in the Kiss setlist and are still capable of rocking your socks off.
Seriously how many bands right from the off can right such tunes as Strutter, Black Diamond, and Deuce? These are all songs guaranteed to get any party going strong, and it is not a perfect Kiss set list without at least 2 or 3 of this albums' classics.
I havn't even mentioned the unstoppable Firehouse, a song famous in the Kiss live show for being Gene's moment of fire breathing (which cannot get old as a spectacle, and being able to witness that moment would allow me to die a happy bunny). Even without that spectacle the song just rules! Kiss is an incredible debut album, in fact it could have easily been the essential album, but it isn't quite as in your face as Destroyer, although it doesn't have a dreadful 'Great Expectations' moment, seriously Kiss why did you start making shit songs like that when you obviously can write consistent classics as this album proves.
Listen to: Strutter, Firehouse, Black Diamond
Love Gun (1977)
Now this is starting to get difficult, some great albums are going to have to get missed now, if possible I would have a lot more than just 3 under recommended, but where we would we be without some rules (how rock 'n' roll of me). You just cannot ignore the mighty Love Gun however, and it is impressive how quickly in succession Kiss managed to release albums in their first few years and still have each one sound so mighty, and Love Gun is no exception.
Once again full of perfect party anthems, it kicks off with the timeless I Stole Your Love, if that song doesn't want to make you have an awesome time then nothing will. This album is also noted for the first song to feature lead vocals by otherworldly guitarist (well he is the space ace, he IS from space) Ace Frehley on Shock Me. And not forgetting the mighty Christine Sixteen, Plaster Caster, Tomorrow and Tonight and quite possibly the greatest title track ever Love Gun. You know the pattern by now, shove this on loud and your night will be awesome.
Listen to: I Stole Your Love, Christine Sixteen, Love Gun
Sonic Boom (2009)
After the final recording of Carnival Of Souls (of which we shall not mention again) Kiss reunited in 1998 and underwhelmed everyone with the hugely disappointing Psycho Circus. Despite high profile tours afterwards it was beginning to look like that the best had passed and Kiss would remain a nostalgia band. Then out of nowhere this beauty came along.
11 years after Psycho Circus it would have been hugely worrying if they had produced a shocker, considering their work rate of the 70s which saw classic after classic, but a line up overhaul which saw Messrs Tommy Thayer on lead guitar and Eric Singer on drums, and Psycho Circus is forgotten, Kiss are alive (no pun intended) and well and truly kicking. The instantly timeless Modern Day Delilah has shot its way into the list of all time great Kiss songs and is now a regular set opener for the band (where hopefully it will remain for years to come, it is seriously brilliant).
In fact most of the songs on here are instantly anthemic and sit well amongst any they have made before. Never Enough will also sit in the list of all time great Kiss songs. This album is the best Kiss album for a very long time, and hopefully will see its place in time as the point where Kiss got their mojo back and started making classic after classic again.
Listen to: Modern Day Delilah, Never Enough, Say Yeah
Creatures Of The Night (1984)
This album should be close to most Kiss fan's hearts simply because it showed that Kiss weren't going to make a Songs For The Elder MkII! But aside from this Creatures Of The Night is a gem of an album which doesn't get too much mention over other albums (perhaps with good reason judging by the quality of a lot of their work), but should be held in a higher acclaim.
Quite possibly the hardest of Kiss' output this album marked the beginning of an unusual period in Kiss' history, a period of very decent albums, but a period which would soon see them unmasked (they previously released an album called unmasked which was not only unmemorable but also didn't have the band unmasked...not sure of that title choice then).
Opening with the mighty title track which still remains a set list gem, many of the songs on here are darker than previous output (not quite dark to Slayer standards obviously but still noticeable). Songs such as Killer, War Machine and Saint and Sinner showing a harder edge to the band than previously shown, even ballad I Still Love You isn't as soppy as say the likes of Beth. Perhaps the best album of the Eric Carr era, it is also perhaps his career best performance, showing a level of drumming that classic drummer Peter Criss couldn't match, this is certainly the best album to remember the mighty Carr by, and is certainly worth a listen to. R.I.P Eric Carr
Listen to: Creatures Of The Night, Keep Me Comin', I Love It Loud
Music For The Elder (1981)
Despite all the classic albums that Kiss have made, they are also responsible for some truly awful albums. I said I wasn't going to mention Carnival Of Souls again and I hate that I have to but it is a pretty bad album, and the return of Kiss afterwards deserved much better than the dreadful Psycho Circus. None of these however come close to the truly horrible Music For The Elder, an album that words cannot do justice with describing how awful it is.
A concept album (seriously a Kiss made concept album? Just the idea of it sounds shit) made in an effort to make Kiss out as serious musicians (From the band that previously wrote songs as tongue in cheek and beyond serious as Ladies Room, Room Service and Love Gun??) this album did nothing more than alienate fans at the time.
Usually even bad albums may have at least one highlight to pick from which at least is worth listening to if the rest of the album isn't. Not here, in fact Kiss impressively managed to write a whole album of songs that weren't unmemorable, but horrific to listen to. Seriously the only attempt at Kiss songs I have heard that is worse than this was when Glee tried their hand at Shout It Out Loud and Beth (for which they must die horrible, HORRIBLE deaths). They should actually be given a medal for how awful they managed to make this album, Jesus even Psycho Circus had one song worthy listening to (the title track in case you were wondering).
There are simply no songs worth listening to on here. Even the album artwork is dreadful, its a fucking door knocker! I was tempted to change the name of this category to 'Must be found and burnt' because avoid doesn't do it justice. Thank *insert deity here* for Creatures Of The Night!
Listen to: Another CD!! Seriously!!
So there you have it, a fool's guide to Kiss' back catalogue, and the fool hopes you enjoy it.