KISS - There is no band with the class, the staying power, nor the patriotism of KISS. It speaks volumes! Loudly! Right between the eyes!
|Top 50 KISS Songs|
|KISS Official Videos|
|Mike Douglas ABC In Concert||Rock And Roll All Night||Detroit Rock City (Paul Lynde)||Shout It Out Loud||God Of Thunder Beth|
|Love 'Em Leave 'Em||Hard Luck Woman||Love Gun (live)||I Was Made For Lovin' You||Sure Know Something|
|Shandi||The Oath A World W/o Heroes||I Love It Loud||Lick It Up||All Hell's Breakin' Loose|
|Heaven's On Fire||Thrills In The Night||Tears Are Falling||Who Wants To Be Lonely||Uh! All Night|
|Crazy, Crazy Nights||Reason To Live||Turn On The Night||Let's Put The X In Sex||(You Make Me) Rock Hard|
|Hide Your Heart||Rise To It||Forever||God Gave Rock & Roll To You||Unholy|
|I Just Wanna||Domino||1996 Tour Shout It Out Loud||Psycho Circus||Modern Day Delilah Live|
Above are KISS Official Videos and below are Rare, Unreleased Songs and more; KISS honoring and contributing to Wounded Warriors, KISS Comedy, Videos by ChrisGossett.com and others
KISS have been making music since before their self titled "KISS" debut album. There are traces of KISSTORY music that go as far back as 1966. I personally know so much KISS history, or KISSTORY, that when my sister bought me a KISS trivia game for Christmas a few years back, I answered hundreds of questions correctly and to the astonishment of all there were answers provided that I could go online and disprove. I truly felt like I knew KISS better than the group of persons who assembled the game!
Debate about KISS' strongest period of time is healthy for the KISS Army.
So is the debate over what set list the band should employ on tour, which is the
most consistently debated topic. Fans talk about which albums were
strongest. Which solo album was the best? Was KISS actually better
off or worse off without the makeup in the 1980s? Was the band actually
its best at that time? If so, why doesn't the current set list reflect
There were many eras to KISSTORY which I will give a brief synopsis, with further details coming later. The first era comes before 1974 and the signing and Kenny Kerner produced debut album. The first era is Bullfrog Beer, Wicked Lester and the like. Not all 4 members of Gene Simmons (Chaim Witz), Paul Stanley (Stanley Eisen), Ace Frehley (Paul Frehley), Peter Criss (Peter Criscoula) were simultaneously in a band together until 1973.
The second era is the formation of the aforementioned Gentlemen. It runs from 1974-1977, spans six studio albums, one live album, and the recording of another live album. The Alive I and Alive II albums were recognized as the strongest productions, with Destroyer generally being considered a building block in that echelon. Destroyer is considered by many to be the strongest studio work in the band's history. This is the era most covered in fan bases and will be covered here as well but instead of elaborating we are going to move on. As Paul Stanley would proclaim.
The third era starts a "disjointed KISS" version that encompassed a lot of hard work, much harder work, on the core foundation of the band, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. This era, I see as being from 1978 to 1981. This spans the release of the Kiss Alive II recording, which was actually recorded in 1977. While the contributions of Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were evident in many of the highest points of the era, in strong productions, often times the pair were absent, and session players were in the studio in their stead, and in the wake of the "disjointed-ness" Stanley and Simmons had to pick up the ball and at times this formed the foundation of future KISS with Stanley and Simmons being the driving force. No longer were there four equal contributors but instead two more polished contributors in Stanley and Simmons, and two sometimes erstwhile, often-tarnished performances coming, at times in sporadic form, courtesy of Frehley and Criss.
After the strong KISS Alive II album, Peter Criss and Ace Frehley pushed for a break from the group and Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons relented by agreeing to do so as a "joint" effort in putting the albums out in a uniform, simultaneous fashion; similar art adorning the album covers and a common motif among the presentation and marketing. It was considered a commercial failure compared to projected sales rates, however it put the band back on track as a quartet. The harmony was short lived and in the years 1979 and 1980 the band would produce two disco themed albums in "Dynasty" and "Unmasked". Frehley and Criss were largely absent in recording sessions, and it is said that Criss hardly recorded any of the drums for either album, and instead Anton Fig of Tonight Show fame was the drummer primarily. Frehley was not as absent but often was a no show, or tardy, or too inebriated to be considered "on his game". On tour it wasn't smooth either with performance break downs and animosity growing deeply into cracks in the KISS foundation.
Peter Criss left in 1980. Ace was not too far behind. He was very dissatisfied in the band's concept direction, dismayed with the product of their album and a constant anchor to the band. After performing on the 1981 "Music From The Elder" album came the European tour, including an embarrassing, live television performance without Ace as he was a no show. The band played without him, missing no beat, but reality was that Ace was absent, now, DIRECTLY absent, from the fans. Once was enough.
1981 was the end of that era because in 1982 the fourth era began during recording of Creatures Of the Night. Often Ace Frehley was absent. It was apparent Ace Frehley wasn't sticking around, long term. Frehley didn't record a note of guitar on the album "Creatures Of The Night" yet he appeared on the album cover which was later re-pressed in 1985 with that current guitarist appearing to this day on the album cover and HE didn't play a note of it either, Bruce Kulick.
Enter Vinnie Vincent.
The Creatures tour began in 1982 simultaneous to the Creatures of the Night release and ran into 1983. The final performances, in face paint, were in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, to the largest audiences imaginable. There were in excess of 400,000 over 3 nights that witnessed these final performances. Over 150,000 were at the final performance on the final night!
Then KISS Unmasked, for real, this time:
We're up to Lick It Up, the album, the song, and "All Hell's Breakin' Loose" which is one of the original videos (live) on this page.
The unmasking of KISS in 1983 is something that was inevitable and went over commercially well, initially. After the sales of the first few albums sans make up were increased, then the sales of records began to diminish, but not the relevance of the music. In fact it is the opinion of many, myself included, that the era least covered now by the band was actually its best. The albums were harder rock, faster rock, then pop rock; all in the same KISS mold as the originals. If you're a Van Halen fan you probably appreciate the Bruce Kulick KISS albums best. The days of no make up and Bruce Kulick on guitar were actually the most complex musically, the most removed from the make up era, yet again, the same KISS mold never went away.
Lick It Up was a fantastic album, replete with 10/10s, nearly on every track. The title track was actually a very slow paced song, compared to the opening track, "Exciter", the Creatures left-over in "Not For The Innocent" which sounded like a beast wrote and sang it, Gene Simmons style. "Young And Wasted" was a concert favorite and as many tracks on this album would still go over great with the current crowd. "Gimme More" was typical cock rock, in the vein of much of 80s KISS. "A Million To One" is the most sensitive track on the album and one of Paul Stanley's personal favorites, evident in his set list for the short tour in support of "Live To Win". The final three tracks, "Fits Like A Glove", "Dance All Over Your Face" and "And On The 8th Day" are Gene Simmons' rock opera that go together like "We Will Rock You" and "We Are The Champions". lol
The "Animalize" album from 1984 stands alone as a testament to the guitar brilliance of Mark St. John whose Reiter's Syndrome cut short his career with KISS after a few shows to open the supporting tour. White Tiger was his band thereafter his recovery and by no means made any splash. The Animalize album rocks hard and fast and heavy, and stands with the 80s albums as one of the best KISS albums. There is no song on the album that does not rock hard. "I've Had Enough" is one of the best KISS songs, ever, an under-rated powerhouse that sounds as fresh today as the first time I ever heard it. "Heaven's On Fire" is timeless and a wonder. "Burn Bitch Burn", while replete with lyrics fitting for an 8th grade boys party, is one hard rocker that deserves to be in today's set list. "Get All You Can Take" was a release and probably not my favorite song on the album but a good one to boot. The solo is what Gene Simmons did not like; 1,000,000 notes a minute; but I just love it. "Thrills In The Night" would have made a potentially great video, and I always wanted to see one on MTV. "While The City Sleeps" and "Murder In High Heels" again - like the end of Lick It Up, should never be played one without the other. Another Gene Simmons block of classics.
In 1985 "Asylum" brought the full time employment of Bruce Kulick into the foray. Clearly Bruce Kulick is the freshest, most rockin' guitarist the band ever had. To this day Bruce should be in the band. Everything on Asylum is fierce and just forceful. The sound was SO exactly how KISS should sound like on every album. Every instrument is perfectly mixed. Paul and Gene co-produced the album with no help; evidence they do it the best. Now the album isn't as great overall as Animalize, but the sound is perfect. The highest points are higher though. "Tears Are Falling" is a classic, naturally, but "Any Way You Slice It" is the second best song on this album. Again, under-rated "Trial By Fire" could be the most inspirational KISS song ever. Gene says it all. I love Asylum. I made a drawing of Gene to this, that he has to this day. I played the 82-85 albums the whole 200 hours I drew it. I was Chris Spitznogle then. I changed my name back to my birth name of Gossett at 30. The two in the middle are so awesome. "Love's a Deadly Weapon" was originally Paul's song and just as cool, slower, but probably better as Paul's song. "I'm Alive" has dumb lyrics but it's a hell of a rockin' song! "Secretly Cruel" is another Gene Simmons sex story, and it's redundant as hell. The ending's always the same. Still, one cool hard rocker. Then "Uh! All Night" is the capper of stupid lyrics, again a cock rock anthem, but the music is great. What's the consistency here? Gene and Paul wrote shit. Bruce played great! The band played great. That's why this isn't the number 1 album, despite the perfect sound. It was digitally recorded too. I think this is the first KISS song that went analog/digital/digital. Previous albums went analog/analog/digital. I think Sonic Boom was digital/digital/digital.
In 1987 "Crazy Nights" had the wonderful theme song "Crazy Crazy Nights". Some people hated it, like (at the time they said) "I Was Made For Lovin' You" yet today it's CHEERED for in concert, just the same! The way Asylum sounded by production is exactly the way Crazy Nights should have sounded. Instead it is not be known as another bombastic KISS production but rather a soft, keyboard laden, Ron Nevison - Heart-like production. It would have had a furious "I'll Fight Hell To Hold You", a "Bang Bang You" that would have boomed like "Uh! All Night" and a bombastic as hell "No No No" should echo and boom like a bitch! "The remasters of this album should be made to sound like Asylum or Creatures of the Night. The album had a bad rap for all the wrong reasons. I think Crazy Nights, song for song was some of the strongest Kiss Material ever. "My Way" and "When Your Walls Come Down" I always grouped together as they appeared on the album and they are songs that could have been releases if they weren't so "anthem-conscious" at the time. "Turn On The Night" and "Reason To Live" (I'm going out of order here because we're talking about the other two releases after the title track) give you the chills. It is too soft sounding on the drums, too Def Leppard-ish on the keys and too soft on guitars though and they could have been so much better. Remaster it and you have the potentially strongest KISS album ever, bar none. "Thief In The Night" could have been one of the hardest KISS songs ever, a la "I Love It Loud" had Stanley and Simmons retained the production title.
In 1988 "Smashes, Thrashes & Hits" had the MTV mega promotion of "Let's Put The X In Sex" to its credit. The song came out and commercially flopped but the video was always on MTV every time you turned the channel on, the song was different, but it was a very cool groove with a slick as hell guitar solo that sounds fresh today. Fans couldn't tell if Gene played that keyboard sound on bass, but musicians HEAR his bass. Keyboards were just so against what KISS should stand for, that the addition was never accepted by a lot of fans. Purists love all KISS. "(You Make Me) Rock Hard" like it's predecessor had a video all the guys loved and all the girls hated. The song was actually better, and a lot more like a mix of the new sound with a "Detroit Rock City"-like, 70s-sounding-solo.
We are up to 1989. It's hard to believe this is only fifteen years into a career spanning over 37 years. Nobody would have believed then what KISS had in store in its future.
For 1990 Paul Stanley went on a solo tour that was a few weeks long, appearing at clubs and playing a set list of Paul's favorites, and the solo 1978 Paul Stanley Album. In the band was a drummer named Eric Singer who had played for Alice Cooper among others. Eric would figure prominently in the future direction of the band.
During 1991 KISS performed "God Gave Rock and Roll To You II" for the soundtrack of the movie "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey" and since the song would end up on the Revenge album it was a pre-release. The Revenge album came out in 1992 and put all KISS fans and the world on notice; glam rock KISS is done; KISS is back in black and ready to attack. While the 80s glam KISS version had some of the most memorable music in the catalog of KISStory the fact that the band would be simply rocking hard and not popping anything made everyone who cared ecstatic.
In 1993 KISS performed the shows that became the backbone of KISS Alive III and the performances showed the band to be its strongest in history, arguably standing above any other year or era in KISStory. The band was strong, sound, energetic, still young enough to jump for hours but old enough to know the business and what they could do best. Watching performances from this era will leave you breathless and if you never have watched them then they will stun you as to how and what was delivered by KISS, live, in the 1993 tour.
In 1994 KISS My Ass, Classic KISS, Regrooved, came out. It was a compilation of artists who butchered a lot of the material. Most notable of contributions were Lenny Kravitz' "Deuce" and Extreme's "Strutter" as well as the as-before-unheard-of Yoshiki, a Japanese orchestra who just railed the hell out of "Black Diamond", delivering the best performance of the song ever. It is simply beautiful and made you wonder what other KISS songs could work well in a symphony setting. This would be answered in years coming, from Australia.
1995 brought about the start of the reunion of the original four and the end of what was, musically, the strongest era in KISStory.
Below and at the top of this page are images taken in a rather interesting fashion during the September 11, 2010 KISS concert at DTE Center in Clarkston MI. (Detroit suburb)
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