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Kiss Song Reviews

Kiss (1974)

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Strutter A

Who's going to deny that this is a fun song? (Even in my Kiss-bashing early review, I professed that “I don't hate my life when listening to it.” ...Compliment!) Seriously, it's a fun song. The riff is catchy and crunchy. They like using that HEAVY guitar sound, which was of course all the rage post-Led Zeppelin. The vocal melody is pure bubblegum pap, but it's the sort of thing that can get stuck in my head... and I don't mind it being in there.

Nothin' to Lose B

Still not terrible, but … Well, I can't give these guys my brain entirely can I? Either these guys have a hit that's on fire, or they have something a little less interesting. This one's a little less interesting, although I can still have fun with it. It starts out with some rather evil-sounding guitar chords before another bouncy pop song pipes up. (There's even some hand-clapping, so... Yes, this is bubblegum disguised as hard rock.) The chorus is a really dumb two-chord thing that rips off about 5,000,000 pop-rock songs from the '50s, but the verses section is a lot of fun. (And there's some Jerry Lee Lewis style piano, if they didn't think it was obvious enough.) But call it toe-tapping.

Firehouse B-

They create a really nice guitar riff in here, but... What the heck did they do with the pacing? It just seems wrong. It sounds like this song was only about half-finished, because the pacing is completely wrong. The guitar riff might be playing catchy stuff, but they're far too choppy... Is it really any wonder these guys' live reputation is far stronger than their studio one? ...This needs more than one hypodermic needle of adrenaline.

Cold Gin B+

OK, these guys do suck. They come up with so many cool riffs, but they're so goshdarn stiff. Where's the energy???? This song would have been a clear A+ put in the hands of more talented instrumentation. …Well, if they're not that great instrumentalists, they could always generate press by wearing goofy glam make-up, right?... But as I said, this is a catchy song, and I enjoy listening to it for the most part. They are careful not to play its main riff too much, which I guess goes to show they had at least a little bit of sense hiding underneath those layers of make-up. It lacks umph, but it's a fun song.

Let Me Know B+

Hey, I see all of you collectively raising one of your eyebrows at me... But what the heck? Kiss do ordinary bar-rockers pretty good, don't they? The band sounds more energized here, although unfortunately it wasn't coupled with a catchy riff! The melody is a little bit obvious, but that's the name of the game for generic bar-rockers. Paul Stanley is certainly overcompensating for the song's general lack of interest by over-singing the crap out of this. Though I suppose that was the best idea for it. ...They do end up creating a somewhat interesting heavy metal riff, but it's for the fade-out of all things...

Kissin' Time D

They wrote this, I'm guessing, to be their theme song... Unfortunately, this song is kissin' so much that it sucks! ...Ugh!!! ...On the other hand, it did successfully predict their wide pop appeal, name dropping all the cities that they would eventually go to sell out major stadiums. The melody is about as generic as it gets. Not just the dumb chorus, but also the verses section. The ...It all ends, appropriately enough, with a long-drawn-out fade-out, which is … I want to use the word “clueless.” I don't think they put much thought in this song.

Deuce A-

And now they drop the “Deuce.” Easily one of their most well-loved songs, and I can see why. Not only is their riff catchy, but the song actually flows in a fluid fashion. It's not even close to being one of their catchier vocal melodies, but … as long as we're only paying attention to the catchy, crunchy riffs then we're having a pretty fun time, right? ...Is that some cowbell I hear? ...Whether it is or isn't, it wouldn't have been inappropriate! I also like how they layered their vocals to create a larger-than-life feeling to it, which is essential for them.

Love Theme From KISS C

An instrumental???? What????! How about another generic bar-rocker, or something, because this isn't going to get you very far if it's diversity points you're after... It's still based on their hard-rock formula, except it's dumb. Their musical theme is not only completely uninteresting, but having to sit through the whole thing is grating to my nerves. Pieces like this sometimes work if the band is full of seasoned musicians, but … Come on guys. You're not seasoned musicians. Maybe in 10 years they would have had enough experience to successfully pull out something like this if only it weren't the '80s and these sorts of “artistic” tracks didn't fall out of favor.

100,000 Years B-

...I want to call this generic heavy rocker kinda adequate. I mean, it sucks ...but it also kinda doesn't suck. (If I have to check my brain in at the door before I listen to Kiss, then don't expect poetry in these track reviews!!!) There are a few spots where I think Paul Stanley is going to take the vocal melody in an interesting direction, but he never ceases the opportunity. The guitars sound pretty decent... Tight and more energetic than they had been in previous moments of this album, but unfortunately not enough to send my foot a-tappin'. More unfortunately, they never find any good riffs to play, and …... Peter Criss does a drum solo …....... just don't, please ….... This is an in-one-ear-out-the-other sort of song. ...People would argue that every Kiss song is like that, but I mean that especially here.

Black Diamond B

…..........................*Face palm*. Well, the good news is that Kiss created a few of their more enjoyable riffs for this one! The bad news is that they tried to turn this into an art song, of all things. Not that I'm against art-music. I love it just as much as anyone. (If I were at a Kiss concert, then I probably would love art-music more than anyone.) But ladies and gentlemen of the jury, this is not a good art-rock song. It starts as a bland acoustic song for about 15 seconds before breaking into a heavy rocking thing... The acoustic part is so poorly developed that there's no point in having it at all. The harder rocking bits are the ticket, though. It's fast and trashy. Exactly the way God intended these guys to be. ...At the end, they play a series of power chords while playing around with the tapes. ...Again, not a horrible idea, but its execution comes off as amateurish, it over-extends its coda way too long, and it's not terribly fun to listen to.

Hotter Than Hell (1974)

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Hotter Than Hell

Got to Choose B+

...Come on, guys. You started your last album with an altogether excellent song, “Strutter,” and you follow it up with this? Boooooooo!!!! I want catchiness, dang you!!!! I'll grant you that the main riff is OK even though they aren't playing it with a terrible amount of energy and the pacing seems completely wrong. Why the hell are they playing this so slowly? Come on, please Christopher Walken, come out from the booth and inject some energy into these guys! (I hear someone playing a cowbell at the 2:30 minute mark, so at least they were on the right track.) If you're going to write catchy, snarly electric guitar riffs—which were plenty to earn the song its B+—the least you could do was do them justice by giving them some more bite. ...This surely could have been more of a classic.

Parasite B+

Now, this is a little more like it. The pacing seems just about right, but … there seems to be something missing. ...I suppose it's just electricity. While the riff is played in a fast-paced manner more to my liking, and it's rather catchy to boot, there's a surprisingly amount of spots in this three-minute song that get boring to me. The instrumental interlude two minutes into it is especially dull to me, although I have to say at least Ace Frehley is starting to come up with somewhat more inventive fills. The verses section loses its momentum fairly quickly and that gruffy riff isn't nearly as charming at the end as it is in the beginning. ...But still, this is a pretty good song for Kiss.

Goin' Blind C-

…................Why are they playing these songs so slowly? I mean, this is driving me up the wall. ...I suppose they intended this to be a ballad, or something, but it would have worked far better as just another fast-paced song. ...Up until now, I've never minded the overblown and trashy lead vocals, but here Gene Simmons is singing it so badly that it grates my nerves. The melody is pretty awful, too; they seem to repeat the same seven notes endlessly. Blech. Blech. Blech.

Hotter Than Hell B

Come ON, let's put some ENERGY in these songs! Do you know how much I want to like these guys? ...Well, maybe not a whole hell of a lot, but do you know how much I want to at least give these guys the benefit of the doubt? All these young 'uns wanted to do was be rock stars except they didn't have all the talent in the world. It's like a classic underdog story or something. Anyway, here is yet another song with a pretty nice riff in it, but they're playing it so slowly that I'm having an impossible time enjoying it. I can surely envision a version of this song that would be enjoyable, but this one's too wussy.

Let Me Go, Rock 'N Roll B

...And grab hold of me cheese-metal! ...Actually this is a return to the generic rock 'n' roll, which we've seen them do to a great extent in their debut album. Also, just like their debut album, this has FAR more energy than any of their songs with the catchy riffs. Again, I suspect those riffs they came up with were too complicated for them to play at such a quick speed, but it's far easier for them to adopt a blistering pace with these ordinary rock 'n' roll ditties. ...There's nothing memorable at all about the melody, but it's sort of fun. (Eric Carr and those goofy fills... holy crap, man. Now I think I know where Dana Carvey got that idea for that drumming scene from Wayne's World.)

All the Way B+

Once again, they create a very nice riff! …I mean, as far as I'm concerned, the sheer number of catchy riffs that Kiss were able to come up with immediately elevates them above bands like Foreigner, even though they might be more proficient with their instruments. But why does this sound so STIFF? Simmons' vocal performance is trashy as hell (and I don't know why, but I like that brief moment I hear him yelp one of the words to the lyrics). The chorus does manage to take off, but that can't really forgive the fact that the verses section is just more of that frustrating ploddingness.

Watchin' You B

Again, as far as cock-rock goes, these guys write some pretty good riffs! But they really needed a coach or someone to tell them to up the juice. I mean... Hotter Than Hell should have been a huge rock classic, right? ...The only reason it isn't (in my book anyway) is because THESE SONGS ARE SO SLOW. Those guitars are so choppy, for example, when they come in singing “Everybody else! Is! Here!”... and all I'm saying is... LIVEN IT UP. I do hear a cowbell in here. Not enough cowbell.

Mainline C

Now, this song actually gets a nice pace going, but unfortunately, this isn't one of their songs with the good riffs! In fact, this melody is so generic that I get pretty much sick to death of hearing it after 30 seconds... and unfortunately the song is about eight times that length. I mean... I wonder how long it took them to come up with that melody? ...30 seconds, probably.

Comin' Home C+

Is it just me or does this song seem muddy? ...Or did they just up the fuzz on their guitars? ...Eh, this isn't a terribly interesting song, so they'd might as well up the fuzz if they didn't have anything better to do. The melody is pretty dumb, and unfortunately I can't report anything too exciting about the riffs. ...Undoubtedly, this is a trashy throwaway song. It's not such a shocker coming from these guys, but a … er … disappointment, I guess.

Strange Ways B+

Here's another passably decent song from this album, riding mostly on the merits of its extremely dark and evil sounding riff. Usually, this sort of thing sounds better coming out of Black Sabbath... But I suppose as long as we're already committed to listening to this Kiss album, we'd might as well try to enjoy it. The dark guitar sounds really cool, but that higher pitched guitar playing wobbly noises above it could have been more exciting. The vocal melody is also kind of shrug-worthy. ...But why am I talking about those things? It's that dark guitar and only that dark guitar I'm paying attention to.

Dressed to Kill (1975)

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Dressed to Kill

Room Service A-

Alright, this is more like it. Ignoring all that deathly slow and mediocre instrumentation that ran rife in their previous album, they do it PROPER and play this FAST. They're pretty tight, too, and they get a good groove going. Also helping matters is that this song is catchy as hell. ...Does this song grow brain cells? No way. Yer just supposed to dance to it! Stanley's vocals are trashy and glammy—maybe he should have auditioned for the local performance of The Rocky Horror Show? Though I understand some of the resentment directed at Kiss for these lyrics, which are about groupies. (“I'm feelin' low, no place to go / And I'm a-thinking that I'm gonna scream / Because a hotel all alone is not a / Rock and roll star's dream / But just when I'm about to shut the light and go to bed / A lady calls and asks if I'm too tired / Or if I'm just too dead for... / ROOM SERVICE!!!”) Today's special: Crabs.

Two Timer B-

Oh, COME ON! After complimenting them in the previous track for being loud, trashy, glammy, and catchy, they go and do one of these boringly slow songs right out of their previous album. Pick up the pace, dudes! Why do you sound so dang stiff? The riff is OK, but nothing special. Just an ordinary bar-rock thing. The lyrics are dumb things about a two-timing woman... You know, it might help your case if you didn't wear make-up to all your dates... I'm just sayin'...

Ladies in Waiting C+

It's not as slow as the previous song, but it's still quite boring for me to sit through. That is unfortunate, because I at least get the inkling that they're getting better at their instrument playing. The melody isn't catchy at all, and that grimey old riff gets a bit annoying to me. The melody isn't catchy at all, apart from the chorus, which is OK.

Getaway B-

Ho hum... I hope you guys aren't expecting a wealth of information in these track reviews. Because this is a song that just doesn't thrill me. For a cock-rock song, it's pretty well-made; the guitars are chugging and the drums are upbeat. Peter Criss takes the lead vocals, and it seems like he should have cleared his throat a bit. The melody isn't terrible, but it's canned, and so is the riff. The obligatory guitar solo is large and clumsy. Eh.

Rock Bottom B+

An acoustic song? What?!?! Haven't I told you guys that you are always better when you rock out??? ...Er, I guess the songs so far in this album had been pretty terrible so far, so I guess I'm not going to cry foul. The first thing I have to say about it is that they do create a nice jangly texture and create a rather pleasant chord progression. It's a bit like an early Genesis record, of all things.................. But geez, they play this thing for two minutes without ever changing it, or introducing lead instruments or anything. ...After two minutes of that, they ****all of the sudden**** start playing this hard-rock song. ???? I don't get it. But then again, this is Kiss. (I mean that in a good way, damn you!!!! I've adopted the role of a reluctant Kiss apologist, thank you very much.) The good news is that the hard rock song is actually pretty good. It's poppy, upbeat, the guitars are very crunchy, and I like the chorus. This probably should have just been separated into two short tracks. But whatever.

C'mon and Love Me B

...Well, OK. You might write a bunch of dumb cock-rock songs, but I'll cross over into the dark side and love ya. (...Er, I hope this isn't another one of your songs about groupies. I don't want to be one of your groupies.) This was apparently a hit in the Detroit area at the time, and … why this song? I mean, it's not bad. It's paced well, the guitars sound OK, but it's neither terribly catchy nor terribly exciting.

Anything For My Baby C+

Would you write good songs for your baby?... Or at least a blogger from 2011 who said he was going to be your reluctant apologist? ...I guess not. This song is loud, dumb, and obnoxious. In other words, it's nothing new for Kiss. But it's also not terribly catchy, and I don't particularly enjoy listening to it. The guitars get a nice chuggy groove going, and Stanley's lead vocals are appropriately ugly. ...But, eh.

She B+

I like this song, but it seems like it should have been taken to further heights. I like those loud, crunchy guitars, which sound quite good playing that complicated riff. Unfortunately, the riff isn't terribly interesting to me, and I'm left feeling rather neutral about this whole thing. The melody isn't particularly catchy though it's passable. ...For once, I kind of like some of Ace Frehley's growling guitar solo work, which shows some energy and invention. Peter Criss' drum rhythm is actually nicely done, going off on a tribal rhythm, which he didn't need to do, but we all appreciate it. The pacing is a bit slow, but not nearly as lumbering as it was on their previous album. ...As a whole, it's a very nicely put-together song, but I guess I'm not terribly thrilled with it.

Love Her All I Can B+

Now this is fun. It's just a shame that it's not quite as complex as the previous track! Well we can't have everything, can we? This is a fairly ordinary bar-rock song where the riff is fast-paced and fun, and the guitars are gritty and crunchy. It's not the catchiest thing on the planet, but … I guess we'll save that for the next song …

Rock and Roll All Nite A

Back in my ye olde formidable years, I used to listen to the classic rock radio station all the time, and … holy crap, they played this stupid song over and over and over again. But you know what? It's a pretty good song. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that this is probably the best song Kiss has ever done. ...Or at least it's the most memorable. I mean, after you get your first whiff of that partytime chorus, are you ever going to be able to get it out of your mind??? I sure haven't.

Alive! (1975)

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Deuce A-

I like how that announcer's voice breaks as he's introducing Kiss as “the hottest band in the land!” ...Anyone who can proclaim such a thing such that his voice breaks, then who am I to argue with him? (Or maybe Gene Simmons set his hair on fire so that such a proclamation would literally be true?) I've been saying constantly in my reviews that Alive! is where Kiss came... alive. Though you might not see it right away with “Deuce” since that was a pretty rock solid song to begin with. Nevertheless, this live version still has DIRT written all over it—especially Ace Frehley's guitar solos, which shows vast improvements from those stiff fingered things that I heard him giving all over their debut. I also like that I hear pure ENERGY in Peter Criss' drumming, which is completely energizing that audience. ...Really, if I couldn't hear the constant roar of that audience, this live album wouldn't be the same. Thank god they didn't wash those out.

Strutter A

This is another song that was pretty dang awesome in its original incarnation, but the rough recording quality and gritty guitars only works to its benefit. The melody is as catchy as always, and Frehley's vocals are TRASHY, which is exactly what it calls for. I might not be the biggest Kiss fan in the world, but I have a lot of fun with this. ...I mean, even the most strident classical music fan ought to put their records away for at least three seconds and enjoy TRASH now and again. (And calling Kiss “trash” isn't supposed to be a put-down...)

Got to Choose A-

Here it is. The original song from Hotter Than Hell had a lumbering pace, but this version is totally energized. The already catchy riff is improved vastly as they are forced to use it to get the crowed pumped up, and it certainly sounds like they're enjoying the crap out of energizing their audience! Maybe these guys sold their souls to be rock stars, but I can hear that screaming audience benefiting from it also.

Hotter Than Hell A-

Haha! The riff still sounds like “Layla” to me... But anyway, this is another example where the live setting really seemed to put some oil in their old gears. The song no longer seems quite as lumbering to me. ...Mind you, I also don't think this song is still the great shakes; I don't get too pumped up listening to it. But at least I find it to be enjoyable.

Firehouse A-

Alright, here's one of the most DRAMATIC improvements from the original studio cut. The original always had a very good and catchy dark riff, but it was also paced so slowly that I found it rather uncomfortable to listen to. But here, there's some real lifeblood injected into it, which means the entertainment value is increased exponentially. The lead vocals are very fun and trashy... that guy really knew how to work their audience. The final great touch they did to the end of this was bring in a fire engine siren!! The noisier, the better...

Nothin' to Lose B+

Well after all those riff songs, it's only fair for them to do one of their '50s derived bar-rock songs! In their earlier albums, I usually thought these ones always had a more electrifying pace... but in Alive!, they're pretty much on equal footing with the rest. The energy I'm feeling from the whole concert is undeniable, and they hardly let up their momentum. ...The only reason for the B+ rating is that this is a pretty dumb song. I mean... That chorus couldn't get more generic.

C'mon and Love Me B+

Again, never one of their more memorable songs (apart from the memorable lyric “She's a dancer, a romancer / I'm a Capricorn and she's a Cancer”)... but the energy permeating from all these songs is making me enjoy the living crap out of this. The obligatory electric guitar solo at the end is a lot of flashy fun. ...Since I'm having fun, I'm not gonna complain about anything.

Parasite B+

Once again, this was never a song that ever really blew me away, but that quick and dirty riff interests me, and the main vocal melody is catchy. The energy I hear them give the audience through most of this is undeniable. My only complaint is a brief drum solo in the middle. ...Er, why?! It makes the song come to a near stand-still. Other than that, this is a fun, dirty hard-rock song, which is pretty much Kiss at its best.

She A

Arguably the most startling deviation from the studio cut. The original riff kicked butt pretty efficiently, but here they drag it on for seven minutes and turn it into a jam at the end. ...And who knew that Kiss could actually pull off a jam? These guys really figured out how to play their instruments, which is a great thing. The plentiful dirty and ugly guitar solos are actually fluid and electrifying, which is exactly what they're supposed to be. ...They're trashy also, but do you hear how much their audience likes hearing that stuff? I almost can't believe how well they handled this.

Watchin' You A-

Gene Simmons sings lead vocals on this one, and he's doing a weird guttural growl. Very cool. The guitar riffs are also so loud, gritty and flashy that this also handily beats the studio cut in terms of fun... Of course they were also very catchy in their original form! Now that they've been given a kick in the pants, their enjoyment potential has increased significantly!

100,000 Years B+

...Uh oh. I know this song is titled “100,000 Years,” but I didn't think they were literally going to take 100,000 Years to perform the live version of this! ...Well, I guess not literally since it's only 12 minutes, but it's quite long all the same... But even this song, and my somewhat short attention span, benefits greatly with their increased doseage of sweat and adrenaline. The riffs are played quickly, and Paul Stanley's operatic growling performance is massively enjoyable. The plentiful guitar solos in here are actually fun to listen to, and don't come across like they're playing cliches or overly repetitive patterns. ...Again, I'm going to call out the lengthy drum solo as a problem. Drum solos suck, as a rule, and I don't think Peter Criss was in any position for them not to suck. ...But you know what? I'm feeling so anti-cynical right now that I'm only going to mildly roll my eyes at it. And I'm heartily amused by Stanley asking the crowd to cheer, indicating how much they like to party, get high, and believe in rock 'n' roll. ...Oh yes—the '70s. When there were only parties, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

Black Diamond A

First of all, the art-rock aspects of this song don't come off nearly as awkward as it did in the original song. I can hear the audience going nuts during the acoustic beginning and going even MORE nuts during that thunderous power-chord section at the end. The power-chord stuff was terrible in the album version, but here, they're like sonic booms. And I always liked the bulk of the song anyway, with its catchy riff and melody. ...With all these improvements, I'd say this song is one of the highlights of this disc. They also apparently let this song close the concert, since I can hear the audience going nuts for an encore.

Rock Bottom B-

Ha, after calling for an encore and hearing them perform this I might have just flipped my hand at them and told them to leave again! But anyway, this is a decent song. The riffage is tight and catchy and makes an OK listen. ...At the end of the song, for some reason, Paul Stanley gauges how much his audience likes certain alcoholic beverages. I'm wondering why he's doing that, exactly, since I can imagine the core of the audience consisted of 15-year-olds. But then I remember that they had a song called............. That was such a clever transition on their part wasn't it? (mild sarcasm)

Cold Gin A

After that juvenile though weirdly exhilarating introduction, how can I not be excited to hear this song? Surely, this is one of their more memorable riffs, and they gritty and messy way they play it live is only a boon to it. Simmon's vocals are gruff and flashy. In other words, this is another highly successful glam performance that's impossible not to enjoy... and I'm not sure why anyone would bother trying to resist it!

Rock and Roll All Nite A

I was wondering what was preventing them from performing the song of the hour... They were saving it for last! ...Or next to last, anyway. And what can you expect? These guys have been on fire for the entire performance, so it's not much of a stretch of the imagination to assume that they would be similarly energized for their BEST SONG OF ALL TIME. The guitar playing is tight and energized as ever, and their drunken party-chorus is still fun to listen to. I shan't complain about anything, sir.

Let Me Go Rock and Roll A-

I release thee. (Wait, I don't speak for rock 'n' roll. Just because I pretend to be a music critic, I suppose it doesn't mean that I get to speak for rock music.) But anyway, I suppose this old school rock 'n' roll song is a fitting song to come after “Rock and Roll All Nite.” It might not be one of their better songs, but why not let this generic, drunken thing close everything out? Once again, I find it surprising that they figured out how to give interesting and energized guitar solos... The one that occurs towards the end of this is riveting.

Destroyer (1976)

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Detroit Rock City A-

Bob Ezrin, the new producer on the block, was probably the one responsible for all those sound effects sprawled at the beginning of this song. I hear someone reading a hilarious news story about a truck driver going on the wrong side of the road. Then, we hear someone get in a car and driving off, listening and singing along with “Rock and Roll All Nite.” (Yes, we're sooooo proud of you for having a hit.) Once the song is over, we hear a CRASH!! ...So there's that. ...After that's through, a heavy electric guitar riff pipes up, and we're OFF to another Kiss classic that pretty much everyone who drinks beer is familiar with. It's not the most piping hot riff in the history of rock, but it's fun to listen to. Ezrin put a lot of reverb on those guitars, which lends the atmosphere a thick, louder-than-life feel to it. ...And what good is Kiss if they aren't larger than life? Also, the drumming is fast-paced and exciting, which is a nice change from their first three albums in which the pacing just seemed wrong.

King of the Night Time World B+

Who says Bob Ezrin stunk as a producer? There's no way I'd enjoy this song so much if it weren't for his influence. You see, the atmosphere is SOOOOO thick! Hear that drumming? I don't think Peter Criss improved that much as a drummer, but there's such a huge echo effect put on him that it sounds like he must be atop a mountain. In other words, this did him some favors. The riffs, once again, aren't anything huge to write home about. I don't find them too memorable, but they're fun to hear. The vocal melody, delivered by the eternally sleazy Paul Stanley, is decent for heavy metal, although he seems to be repeating the same line over and over again an awful lot.

God of Thunder A

See? How could Kiss ever convincingly release a song called “God of Thunder” if it weren't for Bob Ezrin's production? This is also a slower paced song—much like the songs from their first two albums were—and yet, I don't feel bored with it. That's because of THE PRODUCTION. The catchy, growling riff is buried underneath all these crazy grumbling sound-effects, and Gene Simmons' funny growling vocals. (“I am the lord of the wastelands / A modern day man of steel / I gather darkness to please me / And I command thee to kneel before the / God of Thunder / And rock and roll / The spell you're under / Will slowly rob you of your virgin soul.”) Maybe he's telling the truth? It's a fun song. Don't take it too seriously!

Great Expectations B

This might be where the Bob Ezrin detractors absolutely have a point. Did we really want to hear Kiss sing amid a child choir? ...Or perhaps that's idea is just hilarious, and I love it? I MEAN, KISS AND A CHILD CHOIR??? There's a piano, glockenspiel, a woodwind, and a string section too. Obviously meant to be a sort of new “You Can't Always Get What You Want,” except it's not nearly as good. The oft-repeated chorus is a bit clunky and it's far from sending the same sort of shivers down my spine as that Stones classic did. Moreover, Gene Simmons sounds clumsy singing in that “classy” atmosphere. ...Oh well, it was fun as hell hearing them try something like this!

Flaming Youth B+

What's with Kiss coming out with these songs that sound like other people all of the sudden? This one sounds like Alice Cooper! ...Oh wait, I guess this is Bob Ezrin's fault—who Alice Cooper once dubbed his George Martin. So there you go. Of course the hazard of doing this is that Kiss can never, in their wildest dreams, be able to compare with Alice Cooper! But nevertheless, this is a pretty cool song. The riff is OK, the vocal melody is fine. I like Simmons' playfulness as he sings “higher and higher and HIGHER and HIGGGHERRRR!.”

Sweet Pain B-

A pretty good song as far as cheeze-metal goes... which of course is something I've never been a huge fan of, but whatever. It's harmless. The riff isn't as catchy as some of the others from this album, but it has its moments. I especially like that chuggy thing they come up with in the middle whilst Ace (I presume) delivers a mightily competent electric guitar solo. Other than that, the melody isn't anything to write home about, unfortunately. The beat doesn't get my foot tapping, particularly. (Am I too much of a prude to ever really appreciate a Kiss song?)

Shout it Out Loud A

Now this is more like it, my brethrens. This is a pure, unapologetic bit of cheeze-metal where the guitars are loud and obnoxious, the melody is catchy to the extent that you'll probably get it annoyingly stuck in your head, and the singing is loud and sleazy. Ezrin doesn't do anything that fancy to the production other than some fun stereo effects (in which various members of Kiss sing a line or two at intermittent times), and I also like that the vocals have some production work to them. Yes indeed, shout it out loud! This is an excellent song!

Beth B

I had a crush on a girl named Beth once. She was more out of my league than usual. (I think I was 19 then... those tender years...) ...Anyway, this is a low-key and “sensitive” piano ballad that's—amazingly—is competently done. Of course a big thanks goes to Bob Ezrin who's undoubtedly the one who orchestrated this with those strings, woodwinds, and the twinkly piano. But I also find the melody to be pretty nice. ...Now, the vocals sound out of place... Wouldn't Engelbert Humperdinck be a more appropriate choice for such a song? I still gave this a 'mere' B... I guess after the novelty of Kiss singing a piece of chamber-pop runs out, I get the notion that this is … er … uninspiring chamber-pop. The effort goes a long way, at least. I mean, it gave me things to talk about in my track reviews. That's worth something!

Do You Love Me B

Now even a prude like me is apt to say “Now that's more like it!” to this heavier rocking song after getting through with that chamber-pop. Though unfortunately, this is not exactly Kiss at their best. (But far from Kiss at their worst!) It's a fairly simple bit of cock-rock in which the riff sounds too much like a lame-o retread of “Rock and Roll All Nite.” The melody isn't even remotely fun to listen to, apart from a middle-eight section, which has Bob Ezrin's signature scrawled over it. (I hear two hits from a glockenspiel... that's how you know you're listening to Bob Ezrin.) Co-writing this song is Kim Fowley! ...Wha?

(untitled) – (hidden track)

Holy crapoley! Look what I found!! Weird echoey sound effects! They're kind of creepy, like something you might expect to hear out of an atmospheric video game about zombies. It's pretty cool. I hear a little bit of “Great Expectations” in there for some reason. ...I think I've had enough of that song, thank you!

Rock and Roll Over (1976)

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Rock and Roll Over

I Want You A-

Whoah! I actually like this... I read my original review of this album, and I hated this song for some reason. I don't know why... The beginning is a ballad, which made me worry that it was about to be another one of those wussy songs from Destroyer. But then, with surprising grace (thank you new producer Eddie Kramer, you magnificent person!), it crescendos into a more expected heavy metal tune. The electric guitars flare up and play an extremely fun and crunchy riff. The melody is as dumb as you'd expect it, but it's also fun and catchy. Really, I don't know what anyone could ever expect more from Kiss.

Take Me A

Holy moly, this is actually more fun than the previous song. It's doesn't try to weave a ballad in between its rock 'n' roll, which means this is pretty much as pure as you could ever want it. Just Kiss singing along with a fast-paced and catchy riff. Certainly compared to their earlier albums, their guitars are disciplined and playing at just the right pace. The melody is dumb, and I'd say the best way to experience this song would be with a belly full of beer, but heck. Can't we just have fun?

Calling Dr. Love B+

Needs more cowbell! Seriously, the cowbell just plays in the first 10 seconds and then stops. ...Other than the lack of cowbell, I also don't find the pacing of this song to be as pleasant as the previous two. But the guitars are still nice 'n' crunchy, which is easily the best sound for Kiss. The melody is catchy, but halfway through it starts to get old. The electric guitar solo in the middle is surprisingly riveting, especially as it sounds a bit like a lawnmower revving up at first. Probably the star of the show is Simmons growl-singing vocals. He sounds a bit like a Muppet who's imitating Alice Cooper, but I like it anyway... ...I mean, these guys are nothing but cartoon characters, right? …........Their hardcore fans realize this...... I think.

Ladies Room B

Even as I've submitted myself to the enjoyability of these guys, this chorus is just a bit too much for me. I mean, how long did they spend writing that melody? ...I don't even think they wrote it; the verses are generic and the chorus manages to be even more generic. The guitars sound good at least—sparkly but still catchy. The lyrics, once again, are about their groupies. (“Meet, meet you in the ladies room / I'll meet you, greet you in the ladies room / For my money, you can't be too soon”) ...Or with that “For my money” line, maybe it's about a prostitute?

Baby Driver A

Now, this is something! The tight, toe-tapping riff sounds a bit like a locomotive, and it really picks up a lot of steam. Ace Frehley lets out a few good licks in there, too, which helps provide some atmosphere. Peter Criss' drumming is steady, simple, and sounds great in the mix. The melody is catchy and delivered with trashy verve (surprisingly) by Peter Criss, who lets out a few demon screams in there. I mean, don't expect a masterpiece of rock 'n' roll with this, but if you want to get out the booze and rock out to something that's simple and fun, then this is your ticket. I'm going to go out on a limb and claim that this is one of the best Kiss songs of all time.

Love 'Em and Leave 'Em B-

Again, the guitar sound very good, and it's done at a decently toe-tapping pace. But other than that, this song doesn't go beyond that. The riffs are sort of cold and forgettable, and Gene Simmons is singing a melody that's 100 percent forgettable. So if the riffs and melodies aren't dumb fun, then what's left? ...Well, Ace Frehley lets off a few good ones in that instrumental interlude. ...Really, that guy turned into a pretty good guitarist since their debut... I mean, as long as we're not expecting the rebirth of Hendrix!

Mr. Speed B+

I like this one pretty well... The guitar sound crunchy, tight and poppy, a bit like T. Rex. I guess T. Rex were the original glamsters, weren't they! The riff surely could have stood to be catchier... After this album is through playing, I never remember how this song went. All the same, as I'm listening to it, I enjoy it. It's just a three minute song, too. It's perfectly harmless fun.

See You in Your Dreams B

I think it's probably safe to say that Kiss would be a band that would create a stronger A-Side than a B-Side. Why bury their good songs? This is another fun hard-rock song with tight riffs, a dumb melody, poppy drums, and a surprisingly decent electric guitar interlude. Again, this song doesn't linger in my mind at all after the album is through playing. I mean, I remember the chorus to “Calling Dr. Love” a lot more vividly than this. All the same, it's a fun time!

Hard Luck Woman B+

Now, this is something else! ...Literally. If I didn't know that Rod Stewart had a good voice, I would have thought that this was literally him singing it. The melody and guitar sounds a lot like “Maggie May,” except it's a lot crappier. According to good ole Wikipedia, the song was literally written for Rod Stewart, but Stewart didn't want it. ...And I'm not surprised he didn't want it, either! But all the same, it's not too bad for a crappy Rod Stewart rip off. Certainly the sort of song you'd never expect to hear from Kiss.

Makin' Love B

Not such a bad conclusion! (That's not such a glowing endorsement, I guess, but it's nonetheless good for Kiss.) But the song is more good fun. The guitars are still loud and catchy. The melody isn't that catchy, but Paul Stanley's lead vocals are good 'n' trashy. (It's always good to hear a man making girly yelp noises in a glam song, right?) Ace Frehley's lead guitar is brief but has a dazzling presence. Formula to the core, but as long as you're drunk on beer, you'd might as well enjoy this, too...

Love Gun (1977)

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Love Gun

I Stole Your Love B+

What'd you go and do that fer? I was sitting pretty with my love, but then you had to go and steal it? Bastards. ...Also, what's with this song? I mean, it has a pretty nice and chuggy riff, but … is this hard rock? Sounds more like pop-rock to me. Why did they ever replace those crunchy, snarly guitars from their previous two albums to the sorts of guitars that I've heard on Get the Knack? The vocal melody has some good hooks in it, but that chorus gets repeated so much that I'm quite ready for it all to be over by the time it reaches its fade out—thank you very much!

Christine Sixteen C+

Oh, I wonder what this song is about? The desire to commit statutory rape! “She's been around, but she's young and clean / I've got to have her, can't live without her, whoa no.” (Although I guess 16 is the year of consent in some states... If you're not in one of her states, shove her in the back of your tour bus until you're in one of those states.) So, these guys are writing pop music now. You can tell by that dinky piano I hear playing in the background. I mean, ABBA was above putting pianos that sounded like that on one of their albums. But not Kiss! They're not afraid! The melody is one of those melodies that gets caught in my head and annoys me. ...But it's sort of fun. I might be overrating it, but I can't deny that there's some crass fun to be had here. ...That made me sound like a prude, but... well, maybe I am a prude?

Got Love For Sale A-

Well this is a little more like it! They're still stuck in pop-rock hell, but at least the guitars are more heavy and snarling, which is exactly what they should be. I'm also amused by Gene Simmons' snarling vocal performance, which makes him sound like an angry Muppet. (Seriously, I hope I'm not the only person who thinks that Gene Simmons sometimes sounds like a Muppet.) There's a decently blistering electric guitar solo in the middle. The riff is generic, but it's toe-tapping and catchy. The actual melody is fine, but... Well, this is Kiss. Any melodic masterpieces from them are more accidental than not!

Shock Me C+

...Yeah, try to shock me, Kiss! …......Er, no, I don't find paper mache props, strobe lights, and fog machines shocking. Yer gonna have to try something else. Like eating a live bat. ...Hey guess who's singing this? Ace Frehley! Unless I don't have my facts straight, I believe this is the first time he has ever sung lead vocals on a Kiss song. ...Yeah, he has the worst voice out of all of them. But it's not like the other three were Engelbert Humperdincks, or anything. Frehley wrote this song, too, and I've got to say... it's a bit of a disappointment. The dude shows some talent with his lead guitar skills, but this song is pretty much dead-as-a-doornail. Its pacing isn't very electrifying, and the melody is forgettable. Back to guitar playing for ye! (OK, I know full well that his 1978 solo album blew the others out of the water... but I mustn't get ahead of myself...)

Tomorrow and Tonight A

I'm probably going to get some flack for this, and I would deserve it. But as I was making my cursory listens to this album, this thing really stuck out at me. (That's what she said.) It's nothing but a cheap attempt to clone “Rock and Roll All Nite” ...but it's a pretty good one, I'd say. The party-time chorus is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard, but it generates enough silly energy that I have trouble resisting the urge to join in the chorus. This is fare for a Saturday morning cartoon, but these guys were living cartoons, so it's all appropriate.

Love Gun A-

Dick!! (That's what they mean, right?) The singing here is pretty good. It sounds like Paul Stanley is trying to sing that song for Flashdance... and this was before Flashdance was even a movie, so good on you! The guitars sound especially good here, sort of rip-roaring and snarling, which is a sound that Kiss should never, ever abandon. The chorus picks up a little bit of dust, too, if I do say so. It makes me want to get off my lard-butt and do some push ups or something. This sounds like it belongs in a Rocky sequel...... and this was before there were even Rocky sequels!

Hooligan B-

Our favorite Rod Stewart impersonator takes lead vocals on this song... It's a real crappy song, and that's not just because of his voice. The riff is pretty dead, and the melody doesn't have any interest to me whatsoever. I'll give it credit at least for generating a toe-tapping rhythm, but there's not enough adrenaline pumping through its veins! Even Frehley's guitar solos are a bit underwhelming. ...Hey guys, bring back the rock 'n' roll!

Almost Human A-

Is that a gong I hear? ...And they said Bob Ezrin didn't have a positive influence on these guys! Gongs rule. ...I also like that they worked out a decent rhythm section for this one. The walking bass-line is cool to hear, and it's coupled with quite a decorative drum track. Ace (I'm assuming) comes up with a electric guitar solo where he's not playing notes but rather scraping teeth. Cool song! One of the best here!

Plaster Caster B

This sounds like it might have been a huge classic if only someone came along and injected it with a dose of amphetamines, or something, as this is just a tad underwhelming. They're trying to give it that party-time atmosphere as they'd done for “Rock and Roll All Nite,” but they're not gung-ho about it enough. Let your drunken party friends come in and join in the chorus, or something!

Then She Kissed Me B

Well, this is funny more than anything else. They're covering an old '60s pop song written by Phil Spector. (Now why hasn't Phil Spector ever produced a Kiss album? It might have produced better results than what he did with The Ramones! Although perhaps not as interesting...) Anyway, the cutesy riff sounds funny as its taken on by a heavy guitar, and those lead vocals by Paul Stanley are disgusting. ...In other words, it's not bad!

Alive II (1977)

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Alive II

Detroit Rock City A-

...Well! Here it is! DETROIT! The city of pot-holes and unemployed automobile workers. (It might not have been that way in the '70s, but it sure is now...) You remember this from the studio album, right? Rock 'n' roll of the finest caliber. And when I say that, I mean trashy guitars, flashy singing, and upbeat drumming. ...As the Wrestlemania announcer at the beginning of this song says: “You want it, you got it!” There is a constant mosquito swarm of audience noise all throughout this track, but fortunately we can still hear these guys play and sing their instruments. And it's a fun time!

King of the Night Time World B+

Energy! At the beginning of this, it feels like I just ate about eight granola bars in a row. We have Peter Criss playing a rumbling beat with his drums and Paul Stanley singing like that trashy fool he is. The part that loses me are those heavy power chord sections... which get the crowd going, but I find them to be too slow and lumbering.

Ladies Room B

I find it hilarious how Paul Stanley simultaneously hits on every girl in the stadium at the beginning of this song to which they all seem to respond by screaming their heads off (in delight). Oh man, someone got to live out one of my ultimate fantasies! Maybe if I start wearing make-up and heels I'll be met with similar luck? ...Anyway, this is a thick and sort of muddy interpretation of that horrible song from Rock and Roll Over. It has energy, so I still like it OK.

Makin' Love B

More rock 'n' roll! ...Have you noticed that Alive II isn't as good, so far, as the original Alive! was? That's because Kiss' second set of three albums didn't have as many catchy riffs as their first three. These live renditions are energetic and well-played... which is like how the songs from Alive! were played except not as catchy. This song, for instance, has a nicely done chuggy groove, but it's not catchy in the slightest and therefore not terribly memorable. I hardly object to listening to it, but it's like every other faceless rocker out there.

Love Gun A-

Well now they're at least playing a song that I found memorable in its original studio creation. ...And it still sounds like it belongs as montage music for a Rocky movie! I'd probably call that a boon, since these types of songs weren't dime-a-dozen until the '80s. The melody is quite good, and I like Stanley's vocal performance, which screams through it so loudly that he frequently maxes out his voice. ...Hey, that's a good sound for hard-rock!

Calling Dr. Love A-

...Did Stanley just say “Everybody's got rock 'n' roll pneumonia?” ...Oh man. That just gave me ear herpes. But as they launch into this memorable bit from Rock and Roll Over, I find myself enjoying it! Gene Simmons' guttural Muppet growl-singing is as fun here as ever. The guitar crunches are about as good as they were in the studio, and I even like those back-up singers. Frehley lets forth an electric guitar solo that starts out like a lawnmower, but gets a few decent shreds in there. There's even a raucous bit of drumming that periodically pops up in the middle of choruses. That's about 10,000 times better than drum solos. Let the fast drumming contribute to the energy of an actual SONG.

Christine Sixteen B

I still don't like this song, but at least they left the piano that infested the original at home. This version also positively rocks, and I'm glad that it does, because this might just be the only song on here that's greatly improved from the studio version. Though the melody and guitar grooves itself is quite generic and unmemorable, they still are able to wrangle up a frenzy with this.

Shock Me C

Ace Frehley! Oh no! He could play his electric guitar very well, but his singing was TERRIBLE. ...Well maybe not TERRIBLE as such, but he sounds like a normal person whereas the other three liked the idea of singing as larger-than-life glam superstars. Since they were in ridiculous make-up, this normal-guy singing doesn't fly. Now, the song itself is OK even though the melody is indistinct, and I like that Frehley gave himself an extended solo... apart from the very end when his guitar continues to solo for about a minute when the other instruments died down. ...Ugh! Didn't I say in their studio albums that Frehley was a good guitarist, because he never bit off more than he could chew? This is some sort of exception. Those flashy, audience pandering, boring shreds just went over the deep end.

Hard Luck Woman B+ vWhy are they singing this song? ...And why does the audience noise flare up this strongly when they start to play the introduction? I would have thought Kiss fans would have enjoyed a Rod Stewart knock-off as much as Rod Stewart fans would have enjoyed a Kiss knock-off. ...But maybe Kiss fans are less exclusive in their tastes? (Or maybe they've sunk themselves into loving the worst band in the world that there's literally nothing they wouldn't like?) But anyway, it's about as good as the studio version. Which wasn't that great. But I suppose it's a decent intermission of sorts between their more heavy guitar songs.

Tomorrow and Tonight A-

Why do I even like this song? It's so dumb!! The studio version is better, because I could very faintly hear some high-pitched singers joining in the chorus. What is a party without chicks? This live version has a whole hell of a lot of crowd screaming, but it's just these guys singing. ...Surely, if I went to a Kiss concert, I would've wanted to hear them do this one!

I Stole Your Love B

I wonder how many people out there think I'm stupid for liking “Tomorrow and Tonight” more than “I Stole Your Love.” ...Well I can't actively control what I like! This song is far more usual where Kiss sing a melody that I don't find too exciting. The guitars are crunching along energetically, but they're not doing anything memorable either. The best thing about this is Paul Stanley's glamor-boy vocals. ...Surely, once you've gone to appreciate Stanley's vocal abilities, you've reached a new stage of nirvana.

Beth B

Holy CRAP! Do you hear that flare of screaming when they start to play this keyboard intro?! I thought these guys would've gagged when they started to play their soft-pop song from Destroyer. And, moreover, I hear them clapping. (Well, anything to make it more exciting, I guess!) ...Anyway, as I fessed up in the studio cut, this isn't too bad as far as cheesy ballads go. But seriously, if the kids go for this, then what's next? Barry Manilow? (This is sort of the gateway drug to Barry Manilow.)

God of Thunder A

Now, THIS IS MORE LIKE IT!! The sort of campy, larger-than-life image that Kiss should've maintained at all times throughout their career. Do you know how many awesome moments they could have had throughout the '80s competing with all those heavy metal acts doing songs like this back in the day? ...But anyway, this is one of my favorite songs Kiss has ever done because the riff is heavy and kick-ass, and I also like Gene Simmons' crazy growling vocal performance. If you like camp and you like rock 'n' roll, then you like this song. The only problem with it that I can see is there's a friggin' drum solo. It constitutes a bit of a lull to my ears, but that teenage-infested audience seems to love it.

I Want You A-

OK, Uncle Sam... Without a doubt, you'll like this live version about as much as you like the studio version. It's a little bit extended and it's without the Ezrin production (perhaps seen as a boon in some eyes)... The guitar crunches are loud and exciting, and the melody is quite good. ...Stanley's getting a little carried away with his glamor-boy singing on this one, though. There are a few times he seems to yell out a little louder than he should have (at the tail end of that ballad portion). And I don't really care for that goofy a cappella bit he goes off on at the end. I mean, he tries to twist his voice around like Tina Turner except he just comes off like some drunk guy in a bar. ...But at least it was done in the spirit of audience participation.

Shout it Out Loud A-

Paul Stanley, whose voice sounds a bit hoarse, asks the audience if they're ready for some rock 'n' roll. And I'm like *yeah!* Along with “God of Thunder,” this is one of the finest bits of rock Kiss ever Krafted (cheese). The studio version sounded better, but this rawer live version has its appeal. The audience noise is there, and you can pretend you're amongst them. Also, Paul Stanley yells “We love you!!” at the end of it... which is quite nice. He didn't have to say that. And then at the end, the audience starts to chant “We want Kiss! We want Kiss! We want Kiss!...” Well? Why don't they just play the album again? ...Or get a load of the new studio cuts that appear right after this.

All American Man B

Oh goodness. This is pushing the boundaries. Even to me, as I'm dead determined to make it through all of Kiss' goofy cheesiness—even as its thickest. But this sort of polished hard-rockin' bit of pap that's meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator of blue collar, beer drinking patriotism is a tough pill for me to swallow. This song is for the same audience as people who like “Born in the USA” but don't realize that song is supposed to be tongue in cheek. Now, as far as hard rockers go, this isn't bad. The guitar is heavy and crunches. Paul Stanley's lead vocals are good—his abilities as a lead singer were surely at their peak around this time. The melody is dumb but sort of catchy, just like everything else here. The lead guitarist is excessively cheesy, playing the sort of thing that you would expect out of a Spinal Tap record. Blahhhh. ...Well, I like Spinal Tap. So, whatever.

Rockin' in the USA B

Gene Simmons says he's flying in a 747, which is taking him to the Pearly Gates. ...I didn't know those airplanes were capable of doing that! But... as he continues... he'd rather be rocking in the USA than any of that. Good choice, Gene. If I had a choice between dying and rockin' in the USA, I'd go with the latter. I might even write a song about it! ...About this song there's almost nothing to say about it, because it sounds like the previous song, except there's a different singer. It's hard rock. Sort of fun, but you forget it the moment it stops playing.

Larger Than Life A-

Now this is more like it! As long as Kiss has electric guitars, they'd might as well use them to create a BIG sound. The riff itself is generic and been done before about 100,000 times already, but... ya know... I think I can take it one more time. Gene Simmons gets his glamor-boy on and BELTS it out! The guitar solo is pretty decent... certainly better than that crap that was on “All American Man.” (Wikipedia tells me that's Bob Kulick playing on most of these studio songs. That explains it!)

Rocket Ride B-

Well at least this isn't as dumb and patriotic as the first two songs on this studio side... dammit, it's still pretty dumb. That tight riff is sort of fun at first, but then it gets repetitive and starts to drive me crazy. The melody isn't so much a *melody* as they're just blindly following what they're playing in the riff. Eh... And this is an Ace Frehley song. The dude couldn't write for POOP (until 1978).

Anyway You Want It B

I guess it is sort of cute to hear Kiss imitating a Dave Clark Five song... You know, back when rock 'n' roll stars wore suits and had hair that scandalously went over their ears. Oh how low rock 'n' roll had come since then! ...They did this sort of thing previously when they covered Phil Spector's “She Kissed Me” in Love Gun. ...Why are they doing it again? I mean, nothing against this song. It's a good one as far as Dave Clark Five songs go.

Ace Frehley (1978)

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Ace Frehley

Rip It Out A

...RIP IT OUT!! WATCH ME CRY!!!!! It's almost hard to believe, but this song REALLY ROCKS. They seemed to be restraining themselves in normal Kiss albums (especially Love Gun), but Ace Frehley when left to his own resources just decided to RIP IT OUT!!!!!!!! Those guitars are heavy, fuzzy and playing a catchy riff. And his session drummer? 100 times better than Peter Criss. Do you hear all those tight and thunderous fills he's doing? Yum. Criss could never do anything like that. ...I complained in “Shock Me” that Ace's singing voice was terrible. But here, he's growl-singing like Alice Cooper. I mean, he doesn't come off much better than an average person doing an Alice Cooper impersonation, but at least he has the right idea now.

Speedin' Back to My Baby A-

Trash. Pure garbage. Glam-scuzz of the highest degree... Isn't that awesome? The guitars crush along in such a trashy and plastic way that it's difficult for me to not get into its ugly spirit. The melody is pretty generic and tossed off, but the guitars sort of save it. Also, Ace himself is really getting into the spirit with that growly vocal performance, especially as he sings “Oh yeeeeeeeeeeAHHH”! Wouldn't he have made an awesome Kool-Aid Man?

Snow Blind B+

Not a Styx cover, lest you be worried! Nay, this rocks 1000 times harder than that Styx song ever bothered to. But there are two things these songs have in common: They feature someone singing “I'm snoowwwwwwwwwwwwwblind!” I guess if you're going to write a song about being snow blind, you need that long-drawn-out proclamation of it. The Styx song has better lyrics, but Ace's version has a catchy fuzz-riff. So, I'll let you pick which one you think is better! ...The downside is that Ace's Alice Cooper growling starts to get somewhat irritating at this point. ...Just those long-drawn-out notes show his limitation with the voice. On the other hand, there's a pretty cool electric guitar solo in the middle of this.

Ozone A

The old O-Three. There should be more songs written about molecules. Maybe Peter Criss will write a song about sodium thiopental? (Sodium thioooooooopental! Barbiturate general anesthetic of LOVVVVVEEEEEEE!!!) ...If all you've ever liked about Kiss were their riffs, then you should probably like Ace Frehley better than most Kiss albums. He also had a pretty cool backing band that were tons more talented than the rest of the band members. ...He even found some guys to chant “Ozzzzzzzzzzonnnnnnnneeee” in the background like some sort of weird Medieval monks. Isn't that a cool touch? The band is tight and rocking, and giving a pretty cool backdrop to Ace's finger-scaling electric guitar solo in the middle of this. The growl-singing is especially good here, as he sings along word-for-word with that catchy guitar riff.

What's On Your Mind? A-

Girls, dammit!!! What am I doing sitting in a room hashing out useless thoughts of old rock 'n' roll albums? I should start a rock band. ...Oh I guess I might have stage fright, or something, and probably no real stage presence. Besides, if I don't write music reviews like this, who will? Also, I think the extra-terrestrials who told me to write these reviews would be a little bit pissed at me for starting a rock band... Heck, they get miffed enough whenever I go one those months-long hiatuses. ...But I shouldn't complain. I mean, I'm one of the few people in the universe who have been given specific instruction on how to spend my life by E.T.s…........ What was I talking about? ...Hey! This is another catchy song. Definitely more pop-oriented than anything else in this album so far, but he hadn't forgotten to AMP UP THEM GUITARS and let them CRUNCH ALL FREAKING OVER THE PLACE!! The chorus really kind of pops out at me. Of course Frehley's still doing the trashy Alice Cooper impersonation (awesome), but if he was just a bit more of a pretty boy, this might have sounded pretty good on a Journey record, or something. And it would have been a great addition to it! (I don't really like Journey... Probably even less than Kiss... I mean, Kiss' campiness was at least intentional....)

New York Groove A

This is even poppier than the previous song and even (shockingly) generated a Top 20 single. It's the only song on these four-simultaneous-solo-album catastrophe to ever make a dent in that realm. And you know what? This is a really fun song! It has a funky groove that makes for some toe-tapping awesomeness, and a melody that's CATCHY CATCHY CATCHY. I even like the way those vocals sound in the chorus, like he got a bunch of people at a party to sing along with him. It feels like I'm watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show or something...

I'm in Need of Love A-

Do people even realize how awesome these songs are? (“I'm in need of love / I'm in need of love! / I'm in NEED of LOVE!! / AND I'M HOPIN YOU'RE IN NEED OF ME!!”) ...OK, maybe the melody is a bit clumsy, but all of that with those echoey, sireny guitars flaring away in the background is insanely cool. And guess what else? I like that energetic electric guitar solo he gives in the middle. ...Also, this is one of the few Kiss songs to ever feature an awesome texture like this.

Wiped-Out A

Here's another reason why Ace Frehley's songs greatly eclipse normal Kiss albums. ...Do you remember all their weird covers of '60s pop songs of the Phil Spector variety? ...Why were they doing that when they could have paid tribute to the SURF genre? I mean, hearing the drum heavy introduction to this song that's powerful enough to kick my BUTT to kingdom come, it seems so obvious doesn't it? ...But that's just the first 15 or so seconds of this song I'm talking about. Everything else is pure '70s-rock with heavy, fast-paced guitars and LOUD AND UGLY singing from our newly transformed Ace Frehley's Alice Cooper impersonation. ...And geez this song is all over the place, too! At some points, I hear him singing along with cool funk guitars, and other times these huge power chords come in to wash it all away. Surprisingly, these textures change around radically but also gracefully... and it never, for one moment, loses its energy.

Fractured Mirror A

Well, I've been suspecting it, but this five-minute instrumental really seals the deal. Ace Frehley is a 12. There's just too much going in its favor: The rock songs ROCK, the pop songs are CATCHY, and this instrumental is... Geez louise, this is good isn't it? It's sophisticated in a way that Kiss NEVER even came close to achieving in their studio albums. And they never would again, either. It reminds me of a particular part of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, and it's almost as good too. The textures he gives us here are utterly gorgeous. I'm not even sure how he did it (probably some sort of production trick), but those jangly have this unusual repetitive effect that makes the whole thing sound jewel-encrusted. ...But here's the real kicker: He's actually playing a chord progression that sounds GOOD to my ears. I mean, a lot of musicians who write instrumentals like this only use two chords, but Ace Frehley uses at least six of them. (I remember hearing an instrumental by Joan Baez that had about four chords to it... just having two extra chords would have meant the world!) This thing even gets more intense as it goes along, and it culminates when he finds a very odd sounding, layered electric guitar to take on the lead voice of the song, which sounds evil enough to give it an edge. It's beautiful but it has a dark dimension to it as well. ...Shockingly good. Maybe Ace Frehley was too good for Kiss? ...Well, he wouldn't have been able to score chicks without Kiss, so...

Gene Simmons (1978)

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Gene Simmons

Radioactive B+

Wow! I like those evil demon laughs at the beginning of this! It sounds like Gene Simmons was taking his Kiss titular character to heart, at least. Maybe he really was a demon? ...And demons apparently like operatic show-tunes with dramatic, crunchy strings and woman singing in Latin. ...But I don't get it. Wasn't it Paul Stanley who starred in a production of The Phantom of the Opera? (I guess they cast the wrong member of Kiss!) After more than a minute of those strings, a cheesy pop-rock song suddenly starts... And... Er... Is it just me or is that introduction completely out of place? I like dramatic, show-tune song introductions as much as the next person, but at least make it FIT! The actual song that ensues is right out of Love Gun. Catchy but dumb. Fun to listen to and generally well-performed. It's also quite stiff and sterile. ...So unfortunately, we can tell right away that we're not getting that pure rock 'n' roll power of the Ace Frehley contribution! Oh well...

Burning Up With Fever B

I hear Gene Simmons screaming gutturally ONE, TWO, ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR!!! ...which leads to a wimpy acoustic guitar puttering around. ...Eh???? Maybe he should have done some Chipmunk-style thing to those vocals instead! Wouldn't that have been better? I think so. ...But anyway, this is another stiff 'n' cheesy Kiss-style tune. The melody is OK but not the great shakes. The riff is pretty good, but it needed a bit more juice. ...I like those rough female back-up singers in the chorus, which seems like I'm watching The Rocky Horror Show, or something. (I used to hate that movie, but thanks to my degrading taste over the last 10 years, I've grown to liking it.)

See You Tonite A

Don't you know how to spell “Tonight?” What are you teaching to children other than syphilis isn't anything major to worry about? (Remember my former drunken, evil Canadian roommate? He's a professor now, working at a dinky private university in Connecticut now. I visited his web page recently and read the title of a paper he was writing. There's totally a misspelled word on it... The thesis also sounds like something a frat-boy would come up with, but that somehow doesn't amuse me as much as that misspelled word. Of course I misspell words all the time, but I'm also don't go around working at universities doing silly research projects. But anyway, that's enough about my arch-nemesis...) This is a really good song! This is a bouncy little Brit-pop number that sounds nothing like Kiss, so all the better! I hear acoustic guitars strumming along while Simmons sings a cute little melody that I find to be quite memorable. Didn't this song also seem to come out of nowhere? The previous song sounded like a Rocky Horror reject. Guess what the next one sounds like?

Tunnel of Love B-

...Well, it's just an averagely good Kiss-style song. ...Really, I'm wondering if I'm just being a bit too nice to these songs. This one is even stiffer than “Burning Up With Fever” (although “stiff” is a feeling that Gene Simmons has been known to chase throughout his life). The melody is OK, but after the chorus repeats for the 10,000th time, it gets a little old. He even ends the song in a lengthy fade-out of the chorus, which is pretty bad. ...But I dunno, it's not too bad. It's sort of fun.

True Confessions A-

I've been listening to the albums I'm reviewing while I'm at WORK lately—which I suppose is only significant to bring up since I'm only five months into that gig! (I read a news article recently that says I won't be able to retire until I'm 80 or something the way the American economy is turning, which I guess means I have 52 more years there.) But music at work is more of a means to drown out the droning and tedious conversations around me so that I can concentrate on what I'm working on. ...But the three times I heard it there, this was the song that popped out at me more than anything. It's an ordinarily bouncy pop-rock number in the verses, but the chorus is glamorous and catchy, catchy, catchy with more of those rough Rocky Horror-style singers backing him up. ...The verses are so dull that I fear that the A- might be overstepping it. But what can I do? I like the chorus! Just a bit of theatrical fun. Even that goofy operatic diversion he randomly brings in around the 2:15 mark is silly fun.

Living in Sin C-

OK, my latest role as a Kiss apologist is failing me now... This is blunt tribute to Simmons' sexual exploits are ob-freaking-noxious. (“ I know you write me sexy letters / And you send your pictures for my wall / You found the hotel where I'm stayin' / And you build up the nerves and then you call / … / You tell me you want me to protect you / But sometimes my love can go too far / Deep in your heart you wanna love me / Come closer, I know who you are.”) ...I know I tolerated “Room Service” swimmingly, but at least that was hilariously sleazy. ...This is just sleazy. The chorus is OK and more of that Rocky Horror stuff from the previous song... except it pales extremely in comparison. It's stale.

Always Near You / Nowhere to Hide C

Well........... SOMEONE had a little trouble filling up a whole album! If Kiss only did the proper thing and turned these songs into a new Kiss album instead of the four-solo-album nonsense, this undoubtedly would have been the ones that would have been cut. It starts out as a sort of jangly acoustic ballad before some bouncy electric guitars pipe up. There are some background synthesizers there to give it a little atmosphere, but it eventually picks up extremely into a sort of “Hey Jude” style repetitive chorus. ...But HOLY HELL, this thing is DULL. Simmons' vocal melody never—for one moment—ever interests me, and his vocals sound like they were half-sung. As it turns “epic” in the second half, all I do is shrug my shoulders and ask “Why?” Now, I get into these campy, dramatic theatrical songs as much as the next person, but if you're gonna bring up all this POMP you have to back it up with SUBSTANCE. Simmons wasn't up to the task here. ...He was too busy bagging chicks to write a proper bit of fluff, evidently.

Man of 1,000 Faces C+

Well, it was just one face, right? If he altered the patterns on his face, even in the slightest, would anybody have recognized him? Maybe it would have been funny if someone drew buck teeth on his bottom lips and freckles on his cheeks for one concert, and he could have called himself The Bumpkin.. …That still wouldn't have prevented the dude from having loads of groupies, though. ...But anyway, here's yet another GENE SIMMONS song I'm listening to, for some reason. I have this bad habit of completely checking out when I review an album when just one song rubs me the wrong way. ...This is no exception. I would really just like to keep rambling and not pay attention to these goofy things anymore. Now, I suppose if I were judging an amateur music contest, I would've metaphorically patted this song's composer on the head and told him that he had potential and keep on trying... But this was Gene Simmons—hardly a Bob Dylan—but he wrote a few good songs in his career. This is just not trying hard enough! The melody is FLAT. He tries to make up for that by bringing in more of those epic strings, but I'm not buying into it. I mean, I love Petula Clark ballads, but you have to generate some actual momentum in your vocal performances (and find inspired melodies to sing) to make these sorts of things work! Gene! Work out your songs on an acoustic guitar first! If they sound good on an acoustic guitar, then you know they're ready for some epic string action!!!! (Why the hell is this track review so long?)

Mr. Make Believe B+

OK, maybe I'm paying attention to this album again. ...I was also struck with the strange notion that this sounded a little bit like Harry Nilsson's “Everybody's Talkin'.” But I listened to the songs back-to-back, and I think it must just be something subtle in the chord progression, or something... But at any rate, this song does sound very Harry Nilsson-ish, which makes this the third completely uncharacteristic song on this godforsaken album. I might understand why he would want to write one song like this, but why so many? That doesn't really do justice to his “Demon” image, does it?

See You In Your Dreams B

OK, Freddie Krueger... Creep-o... But anyway, this is an averagely good Kiss/Gene Simmons pop-rocker, which means that it's sort of fun but also forgettable. It has a nice beat and a catchy chorus. He's still using female back-up singers, but somehow that doesn't seem as charming as it did at the beginning of the album. ...I'm tapping my foot, and the electric guitars sound good. I should want for nothing more.

When You Wish Upon a Star B-

…................................WHAT?!?! I guess Gene Simmons covering one of the world's cheesiest Disney tunes with full string arrangements and a choir of sopranos singing “ooooh” vocals in the background was supposed to be ironic. Sort of like Sid Vicious covering “My Way.” It's such a shame Beauty and the Beast had yet to exist in the Disney canon, because it would have been 10,000,000 times funnier Simmons performing that song. I also suspect he would have also made a good Beast in that Broadway musical, but of course no one would hire him because he would sexually harass the choir girls. Anyway, I suppose hearing Simmons sing an intentionally ugly vocal performance to this Disney classic is nice 'n' ironic. But I'm also usually glad it's over.

Paul Stanley (1978)

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Paul Stanley

Tonight You Belong to Me B+

I find this one pretty good. But sometimes when I like the opening song of an album that I hate it's only because I'm not sick of the whole album yet. Who knows what I would have scored this if it appeared lower on the album? (In an ideal world, I'd score these like singles in a purely unbiased fashion. ...But in that world I'd also have my own small island off the coast of Hawaii where I would be the sole judge of a highly publicized bikini contest once a year. At this rate, the world isn't going to become ideal anytime soon.) Anyway, I do enjoy this song. The first part of it is an acoustic ballad—which has been very common in Kiss albums as of late—before turning into a hard-rocker. The hard rocker does sound a lot like a Kiss song, which might show that Stanley was the main driving force for the band. (Or alternately, he didn't want to explore newer pastures like his three band mates.) The riff is OK, but not especially memorable. The pacing is pretty low-key, which doesn't really do it any favors. The Kiss sound is best when it has high energy driving it. But this is pretty limp. The melody is OK, and it has a kind of grand anthem vibe, which I can appreciate. Just wish there were more juice behind it.

Move On B+

Well this is pretty good. Maybe I'll just go out and say it to people who say this is a terrible album: I don't believe you! (And I'm applying that to myself who wrote a pretty scathing review of this about six or seven years ago.) Now, I'm not going to claim that this song is a masterpiece or anything—and as far as matching Kiss' best works, I think this has a long way to go. But it's an energetic piece with crunchy guitars, a passable melody, and appropriately glitzy lead vocals from the glitziest singer of Kiss. Occasionally, it breaks into a slow ballad section where it sort of loses its energy... but at least it generally flows well with the song. Some sloppy lead guitar solos throughout is pretty fun.

Ain't Quite Right B-

Oh well... There's a lot about this world that ain't quite right. And I've gotta say, there's just something not quite right about this song. ...What does Paul Stanley think he's doing by writing something that sounds this mature? The guitars are slowly paced but twinkly—there's a lead guitarist noodling in the background. Stanley's lead vocals sound about as polished as a Crosby, Stills & Nash song. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that of course, but this is boring. Thank goodness it's only three and a half minutes long! If Stanley were a lesser artist, he would have panned something like this out for 10 minutes.

Wouldn't You Like to Know Me? C

...Um, no thanks. ...Er, I guess he probably wasn't talking to me, was he? Alas, I don't have boobs. ...I don't have hair either. So anyway, this song is pretty awful. That is, it's upbeat and you can tap your foot to it if you really have the desire to, but this melody is so airy and dumb that it sort of ingrains itself in my brain until it drives me crazy. I mean, compare this against a song like “Tomorrow and Tonight,” a similarly dumb song, but at least that one makes me want to get in its party-time spirit. This song wants to have a party-time spirit, but it doesn't come even close.

Take Me Away (Together As One) B-

Holy frijoles, Mr. Stanley. Do you think people are going to take you seriously as an artist, or something? This is a ballad that wants to be epic like some sort of Beatles song, but its melody is so dull that it doesn't even come close! I mean, I like the jangly guitars and there's some lead guitar noodling that's kind of nice. ...But can all that polish ever make this more interesting? ...Nope. Mr. Stanley, would you please go back to throwing gobs of your glam trash in my ears please? Thanks.

It's Alright B+

THANK YOU!!!!! Man, I thought that “mature” crap would never end! But here comes a trusty old glam song just to steer things back in the right direction. The guitars are buzzy, the drum beat is crunchy, and Stanley's lead vocals are loud and glitzy. That's the way we want it, dang it. ...It's a bit unfortunate that he couldn't write catchier melodies, though! I definitely like the form and spirit of this, but the melody does nothing for me and the riff is a completely forgettable Stones wannabe.

Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We're Apart) D+

WHAAAAAAAAAT is this crap? We tolerated “Beth.” In fact, I think we all tolerated it a little too much. But holy crap, I think even The Carpenters would be embarrassed for coming out with something as syrupy as this. This piano ballad has nothing interesting about it. The melody is forgettable, generic fluff, and the instrumentation is just your standard piano fare. Let's just forget this stupid thing exists, shall we?

Love in Chains C+

Is it just me or does Paul Stanley blow the big one? I thought Gene Simmons' contribution had some miserable garbage in it. Technically I should enjoy the Stanley album better because I think he's a better singer. But I guess the problem was that this guy just couldn't write decent music when he wasn't around his cohorts. (And that is, to those of you who agree that Kiss could write a decent tune when they put their minds to it...) But this just doesn't do it for me. I'll give it credit for at least being glammy hard rock with upbeat drums and a bouncy melody. However, it just can't seem to get itself off the ground, and I'm certainly not enjoying it while I'm listening to it.

Goodbye A-

And good riddance to this album. Believe me, if there's anything that makes me want to listen to a Peter Criss solo album, then it's this. I've gotta be scraping the bottom of the barrel, right?? ...But on the other hand, I have listened to worse than this. Anybody remember those Styx solo albums I reviewed that one time? Yeah. I still remember those were worse than this Paul Stanley album! ...My complaining aside, Stanley actually manages to muster up a decent ditty to close this stupid album with. It actually has a riff. As generic as it might be, it actually captures my interest. The lead vocals are pretty nice, too, especially the chorus. I wouldn't expect a song like this to have been a great hit for the radio, but it's sure better than some of the nonsense I'm sure people heard on the radio at the time.

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