Author Topic: Kamala's KISS Korner  (Read 15976 times)

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Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Kamala's KISS Korner
« on: January 30, 2013, 05:15:43 AM »
Forty years ago tonight in a divey club called Popcorn's in Queens in front of an audience of three people, a young band of New York Dolls wannabes called KISS made its debut. Few outside of the band could have predicted that they would become the biggest live act of the '70s and go on to sale 100 million records worldwide  In honor of that anniversary, I thought I'd create a thread in honor of one of my all time favorites.

As evidenced by their debut gig, KISS' road to success wasn't without its stumbling blocks. After ditching the blouses and mascara for leather studs and greasepaint and forming a dynamic stage act, they were the first act signed to Casablanca Records in the Fall of '73. Casablanca spared no expenses in promoting the group, getting the band appearances on The Mike Douglas Show and Dick Clark's In Concert and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Casablanca themed record release party. Rock luminaries such as Alice Cooper and Rod Stewart attended the show as did executives from Casablanca's distributor, Warner Brothers Records. The executives were not thrilled by KISS' loud and bombastic stage show and demanded that KISS remove their make up or else they would end their distribution deal with Casablanca. KISS and their manager, ex-game show producer Bill Aucoin refused. Casablanca's distribution deal was dropped but undeterred, Casablanca founder Neil Bogart was certain KISS' self titled debut would become the biggest hit of 1974...



The record would go on to initially sell 75,000 copies and be a massive financial failure. However, KISS' live act was quickly gaining a reputation. They blew the well more established bands they were opening for off the stage and got thrown off countless tours in the process. KISS also had the ingenious strategy of playing many small cities in the Midwest and South that were passed over by other touring acts, gaining a rabid cult following of fans that in short time would dub themselves "The KISS Army".

Although the record was hated by critics and ignored by the general public, no less than five of its nine songs (a cover of Bobby Rydell's "Kissin' Time" would later be added to the record as a tenth track in an unsuccessful attempt to launch a hit single to bring the track number up to ten) would become staples of the KISS live set to this day.





Next: KISS goes out West and gets heavy for their second album, Hotter Than Hell

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2013, 05:30:24 AM »
Less than six months after their debut was released, KISS traveled to Los Angeles to record their follow up album, Hotter Than Hell. KISS quickly developed a distaste for their new surroundings and it's probably not a coincidence, that the result was perhaps KISS' darkest album. The muddy sounding production doesn't help lighten the mood. As a result of Warner Brothers' dropping their distribution with Casablanca (and significantly less promotion), this record managed to fare even worse than the debut.

In spite of the sludgy production (or maybe because of it), the record managed to become a cult favorite of the KISS Army and a few songs remain favorites of hardcore fans such as myself.  This album also showcased the increasing songwriting presence of lead guitarist Ace Frehley, who wrote three songs although he was still too shy to take on lead vocals.







Next: Casablanca head Neil Bogart decides to take matters into his own hands and decides to produce KISS' next album himself. KISS gets Dressed to Kill for their third release

Offline Dad Rock

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2013, 08:51:30 AM »
met this fat girl (not a huge whale or anything but like 25-26 BMI) at a club in like,,, 2008....shes cool, not my type but giant hooters....we start drinkin gettin real faded, and she takes me out to her car to smoke some dro.....im high as fuck and point blank shes just like "hey man i am down to blow you........" im like whatever and we try but my dick wasnt workin cuz i was so faded and this fuckin weed she had was like....fuck i just couldnt get my head in the game..but im rico suave and i get her digits and she texts me her address the next day and says "come over to get ur cock sucked and blow a load in my perm"

so i roll up and her roommate answers the door, i ask if her roomies around and she says "oh....she DIED TEN YEARS AGO THIS VERY DAY...."

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2013, 08:57:15 AM »
Better than anything KISS has recorded in the past twenty years!


After the failure of their first two albums, KISS was in such dire financial straits that they couldn't afford to hire an outside producer for their third album, Dressed to Kill. Casablanca head Neil Bogart head to step behind the panel to produce. Bogart actually had a minor hit in the '60s under the name of Neil Scott but had little experience in musical production. Bogart's bubblegum flavored tastes gave the album a poppy sheen that the first two albums lacked and the album managed to sneak into the Billboard Top 40 and score a regional hit with "C'Mon and Love Me".



The songs themselves were a slight step back from the first two albums IMO but that hardly seemed to matter. Word of mouth about KISS' now legendary live act was spreading like wildfire. They had transitioned from opening act to headliners and were making the move from clubs and theaters to arenas.




Next: KISS had seen marked improvement with every album but had still fallen well below the lofty expectations of their record label and the band was losing money hand over fist. They take a gamble and decide to try and attempt to capture their live act on record! I look back at when KISS came Alive!

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2013, 09:53:50 AM »
KISS is three albums in and has garnered a lot of media attention and some success regionally in the Midwest but are losing thousands of dollars every day. They're more or less living on their manager's American Express card and to add insult to injury, Casablanca spent millions of dollars producing and promoting a double album of Johnny Carson's monologues from The Tonight Show, which sold about exactly as well as you'd think an album like that would sell. KISS wasn't exactly eager to jump back in the studio after churning out three albums in a little over two years so they decided to take a gamble and hire legendary engineer Eddie Kramer to go on the road with them to record their act. Casablanca and KISS thought it was a low-risk, moderate rewards gamble. A live album didn't cost much so at least they wouldn't lose money like they did with their first three albums.


KISS Alive!  surpassed all expectations, becoming a surprise smash. It became the band's first Top 10 hit on the Billboard album charts and the lalbum's version of middling Dressed to Kill album track "Rock and Roll All Night" climbed to #12 on the singles chart.  Over the years, the album served as a landmark for live albums. Even the avowed KISS haters at Rolling Stone Magazine placed the album in their list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In the upper half of the list even!




Up Next: KISS sees if the success of their live album will translate into studio magic as they team up with celebrated producer/cokehead Bob Ezrin for their biggest risk yet, their fourth studio album  Destroyer

Offline Avid Warehouse Enthusiast

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2013, 10:27:26 AM »
Maybe the real deep state was the friends we made along the way.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2013, 11:17:05 AM »



After the success of Alive!, KISS was hoping to finally capture the energy of their live act in the studio. Though considering the overdubs on Alive!, some would say they already had! Har har har! Dorky jokes aside, KISS went to great lengths to produce the biggest album of their career. Bob Ezrin, who had produced Alice Cooper and Lou Reed's Berlin, handled production and outside songwriters were solicited for the first time (with glam rock imperssario Kim Fowley being most notable). No expense was spared with production flourishes with sound effects, children's choirs, and orchestras used on the album.

 Ezrin quickly became frustrated with the band's rudimentary musicianship and would often stop the sessions to teach the band basic lessons in music theory,, greatly aggravating the band (especially Frehley who was replaced on several tracks by Cooper guitarist Dick Wagner). When Destroyer was released in March of 1976, it was not apparent if the hard work had paid off. Die hard fans used to the band's usual brand of meat and potatoes rock n roll scoffed at the band's new evolved sound. While the spiritual sequel to "Rock and Roll All Night", "Shout It Out Loud" sputtered into the Top 40, the next two singles belly flopped on the charts. By August, the album had almost fallen off the charts when Canadian superstation CKLW began playing the B-side to the third single "Detroit Rock City", "Beth". "Beth" was a piano ballad written and sung by drummer Peter Criss  that Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley lobbied to keep off the album because it was such a departure from the band's typical sound.

"Beth" shockingly became the band's biggest hit to date, climbing to #7 on the Billboard singles chart and reigniting sales of the album. In November, Destroyer became KISS' first album to be certified platinum. There would be more to come but in many ways, this was the beginning of the end. With success, the egos swilled and so did production values until they were out of control. Still, if I had to pick one album to represent what KISS was all about, it would be this one.






Next: KISS teams up again with Eddie Kramer to try and recapture the success of the previous two albums with their fifth studio album, Rock and Roll Over

Offline Avid Warehouse Enthusiast

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2013, 11:40:02 AM »
Odd how Detroit Rock City didn't fare so well before "Beth" became a hit. "Detroit Rock City" and "God of Thunder" are two of my favorite songs by them.
Maybe the real deep state was the friends we made along the way.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2013, 12:51:03 PM »
KISS chart history is sort of odd. They've had nine Top 40 hits but only four of them ("Rock and Roll All Night", "Shout It Out Loud", "Beth", and "Calling Dr. Love") get any sort of play on classic rock/oldies stations.

Speaking of Top 40 hits, this next record spawned two of them...



For Rock and Roll Over, KISS brought back Alive! producer Eddie Kramer and recorded in The Star Theater, a run down moviehouse in the Hudson Valley of New York. To achieve the proper drum sound, Peter Criss recorded his parts in an upstairs bathroom and communicated with the band via a primitive video teleconference. According to his recent autobiography, this was p. much just an excuse for the Catman to snort some monster rails. This was back to the basic, dumb party rock  of the first three albums (with improved production albums). And it doesn't get any dumber and more awesome than the album's biggest hit and one of Gene's signature songs, "Calling Dr. Love", which climbed all the way up to #16. Also cracking the Top 20 was "Hard Luck Woman", a song Paul Stanley originally wrote to give to Rod Stewart.

I'm in the minority but I think this one of the lesser albums from the original lineup. It was kind of clear that recording five albums in less than three years was having its effect on the band and the album tracks are kind of rote even by KISS standards.  Album still is 1000x better than pretty much anything they'd record from '80 on and kicks ass so minor quibbles here.





Next: KISS teams up for a second album in a row with Eddie Kramer for the last album to feature the original lineup on every track, Love Gun

Online Epic Reine

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2013, 12:57:19 PM »
Hard Luck Woman is actually one of my favorite KISS tracks. Going Blind is another great one. I love the Melvins cover of it too!

I don't have any problems with this band at all. Ask any rock act in the 80's and 90's and they'll tell you that KISS influenced them in some way.

Offline Dad Rock

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2013, 01:15:25 PM »
Better than anything KISS has recorded in the past twenty years!

Or at any other point during their existence, obvs.
met this fat girl (not a huge whale or anything but like 25-26 BMI) at a club in like,,, 2008....shes cool, not my type but giant hooters....we start drinkin gettin real faded, and she takes me out to her car to smoke some dro.....im high as fuck and point blank shes just like "hey man i am down to blow you........" im like whatever and we try but my dick wasnt workin cuz i was so faded and this fuckin weed she had was like....fuck i just couldnt get my head in the game..but im rico suave and i get her digits and she texts me her address the next day and says "come over to get ur cock sucked and blow a load in my perm"

so i roll up and her roommate answers the door, i ask if her roomies around and she says "oh....she DIED TEN YEARS AGO THIS VERY DAY...."

Offline BPSS

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 01:59:04 PM »
That's actually the re-recorded version of Calling Dr. Love. The original had palm-muting in the intro, though I don't think they ever played it that way live.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 03:11:18 PM »

Love Gun is last truly great KISS album. Not coincidentally, it's the last one where all four original members play on all of the tracks and the first where all four members take turns on lead vocals. My favorite KISS album changes constantly but this is a fixture in the Top 3. If I had to recommend any KISS album for anybody who wanted to check them out, it'd probably be this one.

KISS was the heights of its powers commercially during this period. During the recording of Love Gun, a Gallup poll was released that indicated KISS was the Most Popular Band in The U.S. ahead of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Eagles. They were not just a band anymore but now a well oiled merchandising machine that released t-shirts, lunchboxes, and an increasingly absurd amount of assorted memorabilia. But they hadn't reached the point yet where their albums had merely become another piece of merchandise (that'll happen with the next two posts).

The title track is KISS at its most KISSy, absurdly cheesy lyrics with a driving hard rock rhythm, it's been justifiably played on most of the tours they've done since the albums release. Might be Paul Stanley's finest moment. He also contributes the incredibly awesome/rapey album opener "I Stole Your Love" and the unsuccessful but fun attempt to ripoff "Rock and Roll All Night", "Tomorrow and Tonight". Gene tries to one up Paul on the creep factor with the ode to penis molds, "Plaster Caster" and one of the aforementioned KISS Top 40 Hits You Never Hear on The Radio today, "Christine Sixteen". Fun fact: A young Eddie and Alex Van Halen played on the demo of that one.

In the long term, perhaps the most significant contribution to the album was "Shock Me", which was Ace's first lead vocal on an album. Though he'd written songs for the band since the beginning, he had been too shy to sing them. He recorded the vocals to this song lying down. The song would end up Ace's "signature song" and remains in KISS' setlist to this day (even though they replaced Ace ten years ago...this still rankles me a bit). Despite being the weakest vocalist of the four original members, Ace's songs would often be the saving grace of their albums at the end of the '70s/beginning of the '80s. Plus, out of nowhere, he'd easily have the best of their four solo albums but we'll get to that my post after next in this thread.

Love Gun unsurprisingly was a massive success. Going platinum less than two weeks after its release and becoming KISS' highest charting album to that point, going all the way to #4 on the Billboard charts.





KISS here was hitting the point of saturation. After this is the period where KISS releasing an album every eight months wasn't a product of them being a hard working band but the product of them having to release more merchandise for overeager fans in order for Gene, Paul & Casblanca to fill their Swiss bank accounts and Ace & Peter to afford to snort monster rails and crashing Mercedes while driving 125 mph on the Bronx River Parkway.  Gene & Paul were already raging narcissists and after Peter's success with "Beth" and "Hard Luck Woman", his ego was swollen as well. Now Ace was contributing more to the albums and you had a shit storm of arrogance brewing but that---is also for the post after next.

Next: Speaking of oversaturation, we take a quick look back at Alive II, the sequel to KISS breakout album and their first compilation, Double Platinum.

Offline Byron The Bulp

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2013, 04:13:55 PM »
what is this

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2013, 11:27:00 PM »
Damn, did you have all these recaps written in advance or did you churn them out one-by-one yesterday? Either way, good retrospective, I'm enjoying it.

Offline Incandenza

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2013, 01:16:27 AM »
what is this

Are you confused by a music thread that isn't just YouTube links no one clicks on?

Offline Byron The Bulp

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 01:30:26 AM »
yes

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2013, 04:35:18 AM »
Damn, did you have all these recaps written in advance or did you churn them out one-by-one yesterday? Either way, good retrospective, I'm enjoying it.
Churned them out one by one on a whim because yesterday was dreary outside and hey, I'm now unemployed. It was fairly easy since I'm such a huge fan of the early albums and have been reading this stuff since I was 12. Speaking of which, I should include a review of Peter Criss' autobiography since it's awesome. The best sleazy, probably 80% made up autobiography ever.

Alive II/Double Platinum and the solo albums today. Dynasty and Unmasked tomorrow. The Elder this weekend (which I'm sure Gary is looking forward too).

Offline no fact, no matter

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2013, 04:46:12 AM »
Good shit, Kamala! Personally, I'm a fan of everything up until, and including, Love Gun in 1977 (Dressed to Kill is easily one of my favourite albums (period) of all time). It feels like they jumped the shark when they did those solo albums in 1978 and that pseudo disco album Dynasty in 1979. The rest I could leave, save a few random tracks from the 80s.
You should probably put your bandit hat on now.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2013, 04:53:33 AM »
The solo albums were definitely the Jump The Shark point. I like a lot of stuff on Dynasty (and even the pretty much universally reviled Unmasked) but they were never nearly as good as they were from '75 to '77. They've made two or three good albums since the end of the '70s but it's different. It's Gene and Paul and a revolving cast of hired guns. Any album where it isn't the original four has never really felt like a KISS album. I kind of wish Gene & Paul just called the band something else after they kicked out Ace and took off the makeup. KISS was meant to be four larger than life individuals, not two large than life individuals and two studio hands!

Offline GAYGENT OF OBLIVION

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #20 on: January 31, 2013, 05:00:48 AM »
I like KISS enough to include them in two of my karaoke theme sets: "Statutory rape" and "Songs with lyrics I can't forget even when blind drunk"

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #21 on: January 31, 2013, 06:01:41 AM »


After six albums in less than four years, KISS manager Bill Aucoin thought the band deserved some much needed time off. What better way to give the boys some time off and sate the fans appetite for new KISS material than record a sequel to their breakout album, Alive!. KISS once again brought Eddie Kramer out to record the band's sold out concert in April of 1977 at Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan but Casablanca and KISS found the material unusable. Most of the material on the album came from the soundchecks for a sold out three night stand at the Los Angeles Forum in August of '77. Of course, like with the first Alive! (and basically every live album), their were extensive overdubs in the studio. Alive II certainly has its moments and some even argue it's better than original but I feel like, most sequels, it falls a bit short. On the first, they were a young, hungry band ready to prove themselves. On the second, they were millionaires trying to crank out a product to get to the fans in time for the Christmas season.

In addition to the fifteen live tracks, KISS recorded four new songs for the album. Unfortunately, division in the band was becoming increasingly apparent with Ace Frehley only appearing on one of the new songs. Luckily, for Ace, his one contribution, "Rocket Ride", was really the only standout track of the four new songs and managed to sneak into the Billboard Top 40 briefly. Definitely one of the best tracks from The Spaceman.




KISS' first compilation album, Double Platinum released in April of '78 is oddly one of the very first remix albums ever released. It's odd mostly because rock bands don't usually do remix albums but maybe not so weird considering KISS was signed to Casablanca, the premier disco label. On one or two tracks, the sheen of the remixes work to the original track's advantage ("Black Diamond" in particular) but mostly, I think the glossiness is unnecessary and a slight preview of the watered down production of their next two studio albums. And in another omen of things to come, the first and only single released from the album was a rerecording of a track from their debut album, "Strutter" with a disco beat. Still, this might be KISS' compilation (Gold 1974-1984 is really the only other contender) even if the production is weird as hell and it omits a few key tracks.



Next: KISS makes their boldest and most daring move yet by splitting off and recording four solo albums, released simultaneously. The Demon shows his sensitive side, The Spaceman rocks out, The Catman gives the world the classic R&B album the world had been waiting for from him (World: We had?), and The Starchild, well, he was the principal songwriter for the band so his album wasn't much of a surprise. Get ready...it's KISS: The Solo Albums

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2013, 09:43:06 AM »


Now we come to what, at least at this point, was the most maligned moment in KISStory...the solo albums. In 1978, KISS was the height of their commercial powers. Manager Bill Aucoin and Casablanca devised an ambitious plan that would maximize the band's earning potential while easing creative tensions in the band...they would release four solo albums, one from each member, simultaneously on the same day. Needless to say, the executives and management were doing a ton of blow at the time.

Casablanca spared no expense in recording the albums. They spent $60,000 building a home studio in Ace's house. Paul Stanley started recording his album at one studio, decided he didn't like the vibe, and spent tens of thousands of dollars upending the entire production and moving it to another studio because he could. Gene Simmons brought in a cavalcade of pop luminaries, ranging from Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen to Helen Reddy to guest on his album and even made an unsuccessful attempt to get The Beatles to appear on the album. None of the members' appeared on the other three's albums.

Peter Criss' album is by far the greatest departure from the group's sound. He wanted to showcase his love for classic R&B but unfortunately, he couldn't sing like his soul heroes and the production made it sound like a particularly awful Leo Sayer album.



Meanwhile, Paul's album veered closest to the KISS discography. He even hired the ringer brought in to replace Ace on the studio tracks of Alive II, Bob Kulick to play lead guitar. It's also probably the biggest letdown of the solo albums. Peter's is way worse but you expected more from the principal songwriter for KISS but I guess since most of his songs made the band's albums anyway, he didn't exactly have a backlog of great songs just waiting to be released for the world. It does include a few decent to good rockers and one flat out great song "Wouldn't You Like To Know Me?", which really shows off Paul's Raspberries influence.


Gene's album, if you couldn't tell by the list of the guest stars, is really, really fucking weird. I actually enjoy the album for the sheer audacity of it all and I think it's the second best of the solo albums (almost by default) but objectively speaking, it's more of an interesting misfire than a great (or even) good album. The album opens with an awesome, balls out rocker "Radioactive" that features Joe Perry on lead guitar and Bob Seger on backing vocals. If it were included on a KISS album, I believe it'd be considered one of their all time best. Then it gets really fucking weird. There's the typical dumb sleaze rock you'd expect from a Gene Simmons solo album but also a weird, baroque pop tribute to Lon Chaney ("Man of 1000 Faces") , a shockingly good Help! era Beatles homage ("See You Tonite"), and it all ends with an unironic cover of "When You Wish Upon A Star" where Geno legit broke down in tears during the recording of it. If you ever want evidence that Gene Simmons actually has a soul (albeit a very, very bizarre fucked up one), then this is the album for you!



Surprisingly, the KISS solo album that many had the lowest expectations for was the one that was by far the best of the four. Unlike Paul, Ace did have a bunch of songs that he'd been waiting to unleash. Ace Frehley is just some great, straight up '70s arena rock. Ace didn't need a bunch of big named guest stars, he just got Eddie Kramer back behind the boards and a group of killer session players. It's no surprise that it ended up being the biggest seller of the four but it was a bit surprising that the album's cover of British glam rock also ran Hello's UK hit "New York Groove" became a Top 15 hit and the only song from any of the four solo albums to have any traction on the chartsa.



Casablanca spent $2.5 million dollars marketing the album and shipped five million copies of the albums, guaranteeing that each would go platinum. All four albums would debut in the Top 50 of the Billboard charts but ultimately, many of the copies that Casablanca printed up would be returned to the record stores. At the end of the day, all four albums combined to sell the same amount that Love Gun did. To add insult to injury, one month later came KISS'acting debut, KISS Meets The Phantom of The Park, another attempt to lessen the band's workload and expand their popularity, It was described as Star Wars meets A Hard Day's Night. The production was a disaster with Ace & Peter becoming frustrated with the slow work pace of moviemaking and taking out their anger by downing countless cases of beer in their trailers. Peter was so soused throughout the production that all of his lines had to be overdubbed by a voice actor.



The good news was that when the movie debuted on NBC, it was one of the highest rated television movies of 1978. The bad news was...well, it was KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park. A movie even Gene Simmons can't pretend was any good.  All of their management's attempts to branch KISS out were disasters of historic portion and the tens of millions that KISS had earned all of a sudden in the mid '70s were disappearing just as fast at the end of the decade. So at the beginning of 1979, it was time for the band to go back in the studio to record their first album in almost two years...

Next: It's the Return of KISS as the band dons new outfits and embraces a new sound. I take a look back at KISS' last album of the '70s, Dynasty.

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #23 on: January 31, 2013, 12:44:34 PM »
Other than a few of their bigger hits, my only real exposure to Kiss and their legacy is "In The Garage". It's a good song!

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2013, 02:16:03 PM »
Rivers Cuomo still has Ace Frehley living his garage IIRC.



Kidding aside, I saw Ace Frehley a year or so back at a shitty little nightclub called The Junkyard in Nashua, NH and it was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Offline BPSS

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2013, 02:29:31 PM »
Detroit Rock City is a guilty pleasure as far as KISS-related movies go.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #26 on: January 31, 2013, 03:09:39 PM »
It's a fun movie. Objectively speaking, it's not a good movie at all but I always laugh in spite of myself a few times when I watch it. I'd put in the same category as Ready to Rumble. That category being "incredibly dumb, mediocre comedies about things I like". Incidentally, I saw both within a two week span in the Summer of '00

We'll talk more about Detroit Rock City when I do my post about Psycho Circus in a week or so.


Honestly, KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park is fun to watch if you're drunk and/or high. So are most of the movies Gene made in the '80s during his failed attempt to become a Hollywood character actor.

Online Epic Reine

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #27 on: January 31, 2013, 03:30:36 PM »
My old AOL instant messenger screen name for 10 years was PsychoCirkus00. Yes, it was a glaring reference to KISS but it was mostly a nod to the Dreamcast video game KISS: Psycho Circus (you better cover that in your review, Kamala!). Yes, I was such a big KISS mark when I was a teenager that I begged my mother to buy me that shitty video game. I was embarrassed for years to tell people where the name came from but I guess it's better than the people thinking it was a reference to ICP!

Oh, and my old screenwriting professor in college played a mime in Phantom of the Park, IIRC.

Offline GAYGENT OF OBLIVION

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #28 on: January 31, 2013, 04:52:23 PM »
"FUCK, IT'S ELVIS!"

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2013, 01:45:31 AM »


At the beginning of 1979, KISS was facing a tremendous backlash. A few years earlier, they were loved by hard rock fans but were now considered persona non gratis for watering down their sound. Once menacing figures who inspired boycotts throughout the South for alleged Satanic imagery, KISS was now a family friendly act shilling lunchboxes, face paint kits, and even dollies for the kiddies.

 

With each passing tour, the audiences for KISS became younger and younger. It had come to the point, that parents were taking their young children to the band's concerts with the whole family sporting the KISS warpaint. The band's brand new costumes which made them look less like badass rockers and more like the Marvel superheroes they had become certainly wasn't helping KISS' street cred...



Internally, things weren't going much better for KISS. Peter Criss had been seriously injured in a car crash the previous year and was more or less, sitting on the sidelines in a coke fueled haze during this period. The Catman had demanded that his solo album producer Vini Poncia produce KISS' return album or he quit only to have one of Poncia's first decisions as producer be refusing to let Criss drum on the album. In his place for the next two albums was Ace Frehley (and future World's Most Dangerous Band) drummer Anton Fig.

In addition to that, there was even dissension among best friends Gene & Paul. They were no longer songwriting partners with Paul now preferring to write with professional hitmakers like Desmond Child. It was that type of calculation that led to one of the most controversial songs in the band's history, "I Was Made For Lovin' You" While KISS had recorded some disco influenced material, this song was a full on embrace of sound.  Paul Stanley wanted to prove to the world how easy it was to write a hit disco record. This wasn't their attempt to recreate the Rolling Stones' "Miss You", this was their attempt to recreate The Bee Gees' "Tragedy"


Unsurprisingly, the record was a smash success. Becoming KISS' second biggest hit to that point behind "Beth", climbing all the way to #11 on the Billboard charts and going all the way to #1 in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, and The Netherlands. But as a new audience had embraced KISS, the old audience recoiled. Dynasty had confirmed their worst fears. KISS had not just sold but they'd gone disco. Songs like "Charisma" and "Dirty Livin'" sounded more like something you'd hear at Studio 54 than in the parking lot of Cobo Hall. While the album debuted in The Top 10 and quickly went platinum, it was the last hurrah. They weren't courting loyal, hard rock audiences but the fickle, ever changing Top 40 audience. The Dynasty tour was the first KISS tour in years not to be greeted with sold out audiences at every arena. Some dates were even canceled due to low advance ticket sales. The band's performance itself was suffering with the new material from Dynasty and the solo albums going over like a lead balloon with the audience and Ace Frehley & Peter Criss (who was still toured with the group even though he no longer played on the albums) often went on stage in no condition to perform. The Hottest Band on Earth had become a bloated, shambling mess.


There were a few saving graces for the album/era. Dynasty contained some of Paul Stanley's most mature songwriting with the minor hit power ballad "Sure Know Something" being a particular standout. And with the success of his solo album, Ace Frehley got more chances to contribute to the album. His three tracks on the album helped allay some of KISS' core fanbase anger.




In a little over five years, KISS had gone from critically hated/audience ignored glam rock act to cool cult rockers to biggest band on Earth to a kids show. As the '70s closed, the future was uncertain for the band. Critics who had predicted that the band would be a mere flash in the pan certainly didn't look they'd be wrong. The band hoped they would turn a new page with the new decade. Few could have predicted the strange twists and turns that would greet KISS in the 1980s. But I guess the one thing you can expect when it comes to KISStory is not to expect anything.


Next: It's KISS' first album of the '80s! The band brings back Vini Poncia for round two and Ace gets another chance to shine while The Catman bids adieu. KISS goes Unmasked! ( Not really though, you'll have to wait a few more albums for them to actually take off their makeup!


Offline Gary

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2013, 02:50:09 AM »
Honestly, KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park is fun to watch if you're drunk and/or high. So are most of the movies Gene made in the '80s during his failed attempt to become a Hollywood character actor.



I'm looking forward to the post on "Music For the Elder." That thing is such a fascinating failure.


"The Godfather: Part Iraq" (2004) In this 4th installment of the Godfather series, the godfathers head to iraq to settle the score, of 9/11.

Offline BPSS

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2013, 03:11:19 AM »
It's interesting that you mention Marvel superheroes as a criticism, as (at least for Gene), comic books were a big influence on the makeup and costumes to begin with.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #32 on: February 01, 2013, 03:18:19 AM »
That wasn't so much of a knock on comic books (which I agree were a huge influence on KISS) but more of an acknowledgement of a fact that at that point, KISS were actually Marvel superheroes at that point. I haven't had the pleasure (!?) of reading any of the KISS comics books (old or new) but I tagged along with a friend to the local comic book store and saw this...


And I was like "...the fuck?"

A fun fact that I didn't know until recently was that KISS made their comic book debut in an issue of Howard The Duck in 1976!


Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #33 on: February 01, 2013, 10:53:18 AM »
All of this comic book talk segues nicely into the next album...



With the recording of Unmasked, KISS ignored hardcore fans who wanted the band to return to its hard rocking roots and continued to embrace the pop-rock sound that made Dynasty a Top 10 hit. In fact, this album somehow managed to be even poppier than its predecessor. Even Ace's songs were blatant ploys for Top 40 radio play if that's at all possible for songs sung by a guy who sounds like a drunk math teacher. KISS' days as a functioning group had long ended, it was now the era of four different stars in four different limos. Well, three different stars. Vini Poncia once again did not want Peter Criss on the album and he was replaced by Anton Fig. Though his name appears on the credits, Peter Criss had no involvement with the album.

There was little collaboration among the rest of the members. For the most part, Ace played on Ace's song, Gene played on Gene's song, etc with little intermingling. In fact, on the album's first single, "Shandi" (the wimpiest KISS song ever recorded and I mean that in the nicest way. Guilty pleasure), Paul was the only member to play on the track. As a result of dissension in the band, the album was the first time KISS used outside songwriters to such a large extent. Producer Poncia was the unsung hero here with writing credits on 7 of the album's 11 tracks.

To say that Unmasked was not what KISS long time fans wanted is an understatement to say the least. "Shandi" made "I Was Made For Lovin' You" sound like "God of Thunder" and those who criticized KISS' new costumes for making them look like cartoon superheroes on The Dynasty Tour must have not liked the Unmasked cover where KISS portrayed themselves as cartoon superheroes. I actually enjoy this album and think it's a definite improvement on Dynasty (which I also thought has its moments). The album has a boatload of memorable hooks and has some great power pop tunes but it doesn't sound like KISS (except maybe a little bit on the album opener, "Is That You?" which ironically none of the band members had any involvement in writing) at all. It was the wrong decision by the band and its management at a time when they couldn't afford to make many bad decisions.

Unmasked  was the group's first unequivocal failure in years. It was their first album in five years not to go platinum and sold roughly a third of the amount of copies that Dynasty had.  However, there was a silver lining. Unmasked proved to be a big hit in several European countries and Australia. So when it came time to tour the album, the band ignored the U.S. almost entirely and toured in Europe (with opening act Iron Maiden!) and Australia.


(This video always makes me a bit melancholy, knowing it was the last time that the original lineup would be together for a decade and a half. But then I laugh because KISS wearing new wave clothes is funny!)



Unfortunately, the band could no longer rely on Peter Criss to be a functioning member of the band so reluctantly, they kicked him out of the group weeks before the Unmasked tour was set to begin. His replacement was a young, unknown Brooklynite named Paul Caravello, who toiled away in NYC area cover bands for years awaiting a big break. After initially considering the awesomely terrible stage name of Rusty Blade, Caravello settled on the name of Eric Carr. And with days just left before his debut show, it was decided Carr's stage personae would be The Fox.


Because foxes are tougher than cats, you see. Anyway, Carr proved to be a consummate professional. From a musician standpoint, he was actually an improvement over The Catman and from a personal standpoint, he was much, much less of a flight risk than The Catman. He's pretty much the only member of KISS that I haven't heard badmouthed by any of the other band members in their autobiographies. Even Peter Criss has nothing but good things to say about him.

After a wildly successful international tour at the end of 1980, KISS set about to attempting to recapture their audience in the United States. Initially, their plan was to get back to the sound that made them famous. The KISS Army Fan Letter in Fall of '80 stated the follow up to Unmasked, "will be hard and heavy from start to finish—straight-on rock and roll that will knock your socks off". Eventually, it was decided that returning to the old sound wouldn't be enough to capture the public's imagination. KISS was going to reunite with the man behind Destroyer, Bob Ezrin, who had just come off of co-producing Pink Floyd's monumental album The Wall, to record the very first KISS concept album.


Next: So it's come to this...we take a look back at Music From "The Elder", the biggest risk of KISS' career since the solo albums (if not ever). Will critics and audiences embrace the new, more thoughtful and introspective KISS? Uh...we'll see but I'm pretty sure you already know the answer to this.

Offline no fact, no matter

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Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #34 on: February 01, 2013, 04:50:32 PM »
This thread really is amazing, KK. Are you going right up to present day?
You should probably put your bandit hat on now.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2013, 02:05:32 AM »
Yep, covering all of their studio albums. I'm sure the world is breathlessly awaiting my Hot in the Shade and Carnival of Souls posts.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2013, 08:26:09 AM »

After the commercial and critical failure of Unmasked and losing tens of millions dollars on the expensive SuperKISS tour and solo albums, KISS desperately needed a hit record. Casablanca hit hard not only by the failure of recent KISS albums but the death of disco was bought by PolyGram Records in 1980 and the new label was putting a great deal of pressure on the band to produce something that would reach the heights of their mid-late '70s peak. In addition, KISS' core fanbase was abandoning them in droves for softening their look and their sound and was now routinely mocked in rock magazines for being irrelevant. It was only one year into the '80s but KISS was already written off by many as a band of the '70s.

Originally, when KISS began recording demos for their ninth studio album in March of 1981, they were planning on returning to their hard rock roots. Quickly though, Gene, Paul, and manager Bill Aucoin decided that a  mere back to basics album would fail to recapture the public's imagination. In order for KISS to win back their fans and win over a new audience, it was decided that the band would have record their most ambitious album yet. They reunited with the producer of Destroyer (not only their most successful album but their most musically ambitous prior to this point) Bob Ezrin, who had come off the success of co-producing Pink Floyd's The Wall, a widely successful album that elicited a highly divisive response of its own.



Ezrin brought in The American Symphony Orchestra and St. Robert's Choir to record tracks for the album. Perhaps strangest of all, Bob Ezrin brought in Lou Reed, yes, Lou Reed to help write lyrics for the album. Ezrin had produced Reed's landmark album Berlin and thought the art rocker would provide the credibility that would win the critics over to the KISS Army. So Reed actually had a hand in writing not one, not two but three songs on the album. And as we all know now, Lou Reed collaborating with hard rock bands always turns out well...

Like KISS, Bob Ezrin had changed quite a bit in the five years since Destroyer. The recreational cocaine use he partook in the mid '70s had blossomed into a full blown addiction and he would often spend days at end in the studio crafting the masterpiece that would be KISS' The Wall. Speaking of drug use, Ace Frehley was one person who not surprisingly was not happy with the new musical direction the band was taken. Unfortunately for him with Criss' ouster from the band, Ace was now often outvoted 2 to 1 in band decisions by Gene and Paul (Eric Carr was not a partner in the group as the three originals were and thus did not have a vote). To add insult to injury for the Spaceman, the enmity between him and Bob Ezrin during Destroyer had only intensified in the ensuing years and most of Frehley's guitar solos were deleted from the album. His one contribution was "Dark Light", a song that half mocks the conceit of a high minded KISS concept album.

Said concept for the album is sort of nebulous. The album tells the story of a young boy (cleverly titled "The Boy") who is chosen by The Council of The Elders who belong to the Order of the Rose, a mysterious group that fights evil, to undertake a mystical odyssey. The Boy is mentored by an elderly, er, Elder named Morpheus, who helps The Boy overcome his doubts and fears. At the end of the album, Morpheus proudly declares that The Boy is ready to begin the Odyssey.

Cocaine is a hell of a drug.

Gene & Paul were intent on making this unlike any other KISS album. In fact, no pictures of the band were included on the albums cover or in the liner notes. It was thought perhaps that this could be the birth of a new KISS. PolyGram initially was excited about the album. They considered doing a live premiere of the album at arenas across the country on closed circuit television. At one point,  production for a film adaptation of the album was announced in the Hollywood trade papers with Meatballs star Chris Makepeace playing The Boy. KISS adopted a new look for the album. They stripped away some of the excess of their SuperKISS era costumes (yet somehow managed to look even more ridiculous) and became the first hard rock/metal band to make a huge deal out of cutting their hair.



PolyGram's enthusiasm for the as yet untitled album evaporated when the album was premiered for them in October of '81. During the production of the album, Ezrin had refused to let anybody outside of the band except Bill Aucoin listen to the work in progress. Enthusiasm for the new album was tepid at best and non-existent at worst. KISS business manager Howard Marks steadfastly refused to let his name or the name of his agency listed in the album's credits and was furious that the band would record a "KISS album that sounded nothing like KISS". PolyGram very nearly refused to release the album as it had a clause in its contract with KISS to allow it to do so.  However, forcing KISS back to the studio meant that it might take another year for them to produce a more suitable album. So reluctantly, the album, now officially titled Music From "The Elder" was set for release on November 16th, 1981.




Despite slightly more positive critical reviews than usual (Rolling Stone compared the album to Jethro Tull, for some reason), the album was a massive commercial failure. It peaked at #75 on the Billboard charts in January '82 and was out of the charts completely a month later. The album barely did any better overseas where Unmasked was embraced. The rock press which had loved KISS and followed their every move three years earlier took every chance to mock KISS' irrelevancy and their new found "artistic ambition" and new wave look. The album not only failed to go platinum but also failed to go gold (which Unmasked barely managed to do). With such poor sales, touring was out of the question. KISS promotion for the album was limited to a music video for lead off single "A World Without Heroes" and appearances on SNL knockoff Fridays and Solid Gold. There was also a disastrous "live via" satellite, lipsynched performance for Italy's Sanremo Music Festival in January '82, taped at another fading institution of the '70s, Studio 54. For the first of only two times in their career, KISS appeared as a trio since Ace Frehley was found in his mansion earlier that day in no condition to perform.

If Dynasty and Unmasked had greatly diminished KISS popularity, Music From "The Elder" had practically obliterated. KISS fans were not enraged by this new direction and non-fans were amused by the thought of a gentler, more introspective KISS. They had lost millions of dollars and millions of fans. As KISS stumbled towards their 10th Anniversary, it was decided the band had to strip away a great deal of the excess (We won't be needing you again, St. Robert's Choir) and get back to the basics. Even if stripping away the excess meant getting rid of another member of the band...

Next: KISS comes back harder and heavier than ever with their tenth album and they introduce a new member of the band (while parting ways with another) for their first tour of the United States in three years. I talk about a favorite of hardcore KISS fans, Creatures of the Night

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #37 on: February 02, 2013, 02:50:30 PM »

At the beginning of 1982, KISS was at its lowest point since its days playing clubs and opening up for the likes of Black Oak Arkansas and Foghat. They had made their name on their wild, raucous live show and yet their last two albums were such flops that they were forced to cancel the planned U.S. tours. Their label situation was also in a state of disarray. Casablanca had been sold to PolyGram Records in 1980 and on May 8th, 1982, Casablanca founder Neil Bogart passed away from cancer. Using a clause in their original contract that said, KISS could leave the label if Bogart did, KISS become free agents and signed a lucrative deal with Mercury, a more hard rock friendly subsidiary of PolyGram that was home to acts like Scorpions and Rush.

In the Summer of '82, KISS began setting out to record the hard charging rock album that they had promised their fans two years earlier after the fickle reception of the pop laden Unmasked. As sessions began, KISS was essentially a trio. Ace Frehley still made appearances with the group but had ended his involvement with the group after his miserable experience on the previous album Music From "The Elder". Frehley was not only battling The Demon but also his personal demons (Har har) during this period, being behind the wheel in not one but two drunk driving accidents. One of which involved driving 100 mph on the Bronx River Expressway in a Delorean. A story he would breathlessly recount a few years later with his solo band, Frehley's Comet in the unintentional comedy classic "Rock Soldiers"


Anyway, during pre-production of the album, a surprising figure stepped up to volunteer to replace The Spaceman...Eddie Van Halen. Van Halen had been discovered a few years earlier in a Southern California club by Gene Simmons and The Demon even produced a demo record for the band.  Eddie had grown tired of David Lee Roth's antics and wanted to join KISS. Wisely, Gene and Eddie's brother Alex persuaded the guitarist to stay with the band supplanting KISS as America's most popular rock band. Instead the band used an ensemble of lead guitarists to replace Ace, ranging from jazz guitarist Robben Ford to Alive II axeman Bob Kulick to future Mr. Mister guitarist Steve Farris.

Most notable of the guitarists was Vinnie Vincent, an eccentric session musician who had been a staff songwriter for Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi. Initially, his personality mashed well with Gene and Paul's and he helped write three songs for the album including lead off single "I Love It Loud".  Loud was a good word to describe Creatures of the Night, it was to that point, KISS' darkest and heaviest album. After Dynasty and Unmasked, the band wanted to show the current hard rock/metal scene that not only could they return to their old sound but keep up with heavier bands like Accept, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest. This was also the first album where Eric Carr's drumming was on full display. The world saw the new drummer was more John Bonham than Gene Krupa.

Not only had the band's sound returned to its heavier roots but their look changed. Gone were the capes and headbands and back were the leather, studs, and chains.



To showcase the leaner, meaner KISS, the band filmed a video for then fledgling cable network MTV. The video showcased the stage for their upcoming 10th Anniversary Tour, which prominently featured Carr's drum kit as a metallic tank (with an exploding turret).

(Fun fact: The concerned dad of the KISS fanatic in the video is KISS business manager Howard Marks, who we last saw refusing to be associated with Music From "The Elder")


(This song is probably best known to the wrestling fans out there as Taz's ECW theme)

All of the promotion did little to deter the band's commercial decline. The album peaked at #45 on the Billboard charts (significantly higher than The Elder's peak of #75) but once again failed to go gold. KISS didn't fare much better on the road than they did on the charts. Frehley officially was sidelined with injuries from the car wreck (his first one, not the one depicted in "Rock Soldiers") so the press and fans were told he was unable to tour but might pop up to sit in on a few songs. Unofficially though, Frehley was kicked out of the band after a promotional tour of Europe in the Fall of '82 but he retained a partnership with the band (earned one-quarter of their profits) until 1985.

To replace The Spaceman on tour, KISS hired their buddy Vinnie Vincent. To replace the iconic Spaceman, Vinnie Vincent (who already had a kickass stage name to begin with) came up with the unforgettable character of...

Egyptian Ankh Warrior!?

Anyway, the new look KISS did not win over a great deal of new fans. Old fans of the band had long stopped listening to the band after being letdown by their ventures into disco and progressive rock. And despite their best effort, KISS were old hat next to bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC (who had all opened up for the band during their late '70s heyday). The Creatures of Night/10th Anniversary tour was greeted by many half full (or less) arenas. Paul Stanley famously recounted one show during the tour in Lexington, Kentucky where he threw a guitar pick and it flew past the entire audience of 2,000 people and hit the empty floor behind them. The band quickly abandoned their plans for a second leg of the tour in the United States for a week of shows in greener pastures.

In Brazil, KISS wasn't a creaky dinosaur act but still the hottest band on Earth so in June of 1983, the band headed to South America for three shows and were treated as conquering heroes. At the largest stadium in the world, Rio's Maracana Stadium, the band played to 200,000+ people, the largest audience of the band's career.


It was a nice silver lining to one of the darkest periods in KISStory. Over the course of the past three years, the band had changed its sound repeatedly (KISS has gone disco! KISS has gone pop! KISS has gotten deep and introspective! KISS is metal!) but all of the style changes had failed to capture the public's imagination and now they were at their lowest point of popularity since arriving . Now the band, whose success was heavily owed to their look, realized that they would have to change their appearance to gain back the media attention that they once took for granted. KISS didn't just need to tweak their outfits or cut their hair. They needed to change everything that the band stood for.

Next: KISS undergoes its most radical visual transformation ever---while retaining the hard rock edge of Creatures of the Night. Join me as I Lick It Up

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #38 on: February 03, 2013, 07:01:23 AM »
Sensing that it was time for the band to change. The band had grown weary of the carnival like atmosphere of their stage show and felt that their calling card had become the source of derision from the rock press. Sonically, they had radically changed their sound with each of their last three albums but now it was time to visually their look. For the first time since their early days playing in ratty clubs in Long Island and the outer boroughs of New York City, KISS would perform without its makeup.



Musically, the album was not much of a departure from Creatures of the Night, building on the albums' pop metal sound. New lead guitarist Vinnie Vincent had a huge hand in new album with writing credits on 8 of the album's 10 songs. However, quickly, tensions between him and Simmons & Stanley quickly arose. Gene Simmons forced Vincent to slow down his typical mile a minute greatly to replicate Ace Frehley's unique "monster plod" playing style. Vincent refused to sign any contracts to make his employment official. There were many disputes about his pay and his role in the band that led him to never officially becoming a member of the band (even though he's credited as Lead Guitarist in the album's liner notes).

KISS scored a big publicity coup when MTV agreed to air the band's public unmasking in September of '83. Though it was hardly the bonanza the revelation would have been if it happened four years earlier, it still brought the band back to public's consciousness.


Fans who had missed the release of Creatures of the Night were pleasantly surprised that the band had returned to its original hard rock sound. Lick It Up doesn't sound very different from the previous album and wasn't a great improvement (if it was even one at all) but KISS fans who weren't aware of their most recent work found it to be a breath of fresh air. Lick It Up became the first KISS album in three years to go Gold. Paul Stanley said in an interview that as a result of the MTV Age, people were now beginning to listen with their eyes instead of their ears. The only reason, he thought that LIU sold that much more copies than COTN wasn't because it was a better album but because KISS took off its makeup. That visual impact was enhanced by the fact that the videos for the album's two singles; "Lick It Up" and the bizarre proto rap-rock song "All Hell's Breakin' Loose" were in regular rotation on MTV





During preparations for the band's first non-makeup tour, the band was unsure which of its signature songs to retain and which to drop. Quickly, it was decided that "God of Thunder", which featured Gene Simmons' blood spitting routine would be dropped from the set. The Demon however retained his fire breathing shtick. They also retained Eric Carr's war tank, drum kit.  Other than that, the band's theatrics had been reduced for financial reasons during the Creatures of the Night/10th Anniversary tour so it was more or less a straight ahead arena rock show at that point anyway.

The bigger problem that emerged during the tour was Vinnie Vincent's behavior. He was still upset about not being a bigger share of the band's profits and behind the scenes, many claimed that The Ankh Warrior would proudly boast that he was the one solely responsible for KISS resurgance. He would showcase his "genius" during increasingly long guitar solos during KISS shows. Eventually, he began ignoring Stanley's commands to stop so the band could go into the next song, leaving the band on the stage to look silly while the Ankhman shredded up a storm. The band kicked out Vincent after the European leg of the tour but since there was only a month between the end of that and the beginning of the North American leg of the tour, they were forced to bring Vincent back due to the lack of being able to find a replacement.

After a show at the Los Angeles Forum, Vincent and Paul Stanley had to be restrained by Eric Carr, Gene Simmons, and a number of roadies. During one of the last shows of the tour in Quebec City, Vincent burst into an impromptu guitar solo at the end of the show, leaving the rest of the band onstage doing nothing. Needless to say, Vincent was immediately fired by the band at the end of the tour in Spring of '84. He later would form one of the more ridiculous hair metal bands of the '80s, The Vinnie Vincent Invasion...which he would somehow manage to get himself from a few years later. Surprisingly, this won't be the last we'll see of him....


Lick It Up had proved to be a modest artistic and commercial success but far from the smash hit that they were looking for and a far cry from their event albums from the '70s. With a new lead guitarist, KISS was opening to recapture the magic that had made them America's most popular band a half decade before.

Next: KISS introduces its third lead guitarist in two years as Paul Stanley takes charge, producing the album (while Gene heads to Hollywood). KISS dives head first into the hair metal era with Animalize

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #39 on: February 05, 2013, 08:55:39 AM »
Now officially entering an era of KISS I don't particularly care for the...the hair metal years.


(This is really a Spinal Tap cover/album title, isn't it?)

Lick It Up was a modest success for KISS but was a far cry from their monster hits of the '70s. KISS wanted to get back in the studio after they got back tour to start recording a follow up to try and continue their resurgance. First came the matter of replacing temperamental lead guitarist Vinnie Vincent. Hundreds of guitarists auditioned for the job. It was still a coveted job even though KISS was no longer the biggest band in America. A band who plays to half full arenas is still a band who plays arenas. Southern California axeman Mark St. John won the position. Stylistically, St. John was more similar to Vincent than original guitarist Ace Frehley. He was a highly technical, mile a minute shredder (IE kind of faceless).

At this point, Paul Stanley was carrying the band, at least musically speaking. Gene Simmons had begun pursuing an acting career, much to Stanley's chagrin, which left him unavailable much of the time. He was absent on all of the tracks except for the four songs that he sang on the album with Paul Stanley or former Plasmatics bassist Jean Beauvoir playing bass on rest of the album. Creatively, Gene's mind seemed in other places in the '80s and it's kind of obvious why all of the singles on all of the albums in the '80s after Creatures of the Night were Paul's songs.

Unfortunately for KISS, the third time wasn't the charm in finding the right guitarist. St. John was upset about being overworked (he claims he would have to record for eight hours with Stanley then grab a cab and record eight hours with Simmons) and like Vincent, wasn't happy about having to recreate Ace Frehley's imitable style.

KISS released their twelfth album Animalize in September of 1984 and its first single, "Heaven's On Fire", might be the definitive song of the band's non-makeup era. The video was in constant rotation on MTV and that exposure helped the album become KISS' first album to go platinum in five years and their biggest hit overall since Alive II.


(Animalize marked the first time Gene Simmons had to wear a wig, making him the source of much derision but Paul Stanley. Given the pants he's wearing and his dancing in this video, he's hardly the person who should be making fun of someone for looking goofy)


Right before the band was set to go to Europe to begin touring for the album, Mark St. John's hands began to swell massively as a result of arthritis and he was forced to the sidelines. KISS panicked and wondered if they would be able to find a replacement on such short notice. Luckily, longtime KISS hired hand Bob Kulick told the band that his younger brother Bruce (who did some session work on Animalize) himself) was available and he filled in for St. John on the tour. His easy going temperament and professionalism quickly endeared him to Gene & Paul. So in December of 1984, they officially named Bruce Kulick as their new guitarist. Besides, Eric Carr, Bruce Kulick is the one dude in the history of the band who I haven't heard shit on by other members in their autobiographies. In fact, he's the one member that Peter Criss doesn't have any dirt on in his autobiography. He was definitely a breath of fresh air after the insane experiences KISS had with their last three guitarists.

Animalize was a surprise success and continued KISS upward momentum in the mid '80s. But the lack up of a hit follow up single to "Heaven's On Fire" had KISS back in the studio soon after the tour ended. If Animalize had seen KISS ipping their toes in the world of hair metal, their next album would see them diving in head first.


Next: Gene and Paul (and Bruce and Eric) go glam...again.  KISS enters the Asylum

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #40 on: February 06, 2013, 10:02:00 AM »

KISS returned to the studios in the Summer of '85 for their first album with their fourth guitarist in three years, Bruce Kulick. After his distractions on the previous album, Gene was more focused on the album, co-producing it with Paul and contributing more to the songwriting process but still thanks to his acting career, he left most of the bass playing duties to Paul and Jean Beauvoir. Kulick took on a bigger role than his predecessor, co-writing three songs on the album. Still with Gene Simmons off acting and trying to jump start his producing career (coaxing bands like Keel and EZO to superstardom...or not), Paul Stanley was left with the bulk of the songwritiing credits. Once again, he used hired guns like Beauvoir and Desmond Child to try and craft the next big single. Even moreso than usual for the band (and this is something considering it's KISS, we're talking about), Stanley was purposely trying to create big, dumb sing along arena rock anthems that could compete with acts like Bon Jovi and Scorpions. Nobody would confusre KISS anthems of the '70s as great, insightful songwriting but songs like "Uh! All Night" really scrape the bottom of the barrel.

Asylum was released in September of '85, an indication of the rushed nature of KISS work during this period. It was initially a success, reaching the Top 20, and going Gold two months after its release. But with the lack of a big hit single, the album quickly tumbled down the charts. What the band lacked in radio exposure, they made up for by filming ridiculous, gaudy music videos that proved to be huge hits with the late night audiences at MTV. Somehow, the unmasked KISS was beginning to look even more ridiculous than the make up clad version. The androgynous pastel outfits worn during this era made SuperKISS look understated.

(Not a surprise that shortly after this, Gene was cast a hermaphrodite hitma---er hitperson in the John Stamos vehicle Never Too Young to Die)


(Red Baron, IIRC, called this the Greatest KISS song of all time. Paul swinging on the vine like Tarzan kills me everytime. Each single/video off this album gets more ridiculous than the last)



KISS in the mid '80s was working twice as hard for half the acclaim that they had in the '76 to '78 heyday. Though the band's popularity had stabilized after its massive downfall in the early '80s, things were a lot different than they were during the peak of popularity. Outside of stories about Gene's latest film or Paul's fling with Knots Landing star Lisa Hartman, the band received little publicity outside of the obligatory album reviews.  During the Asylum tour, the band would have to play five shows a week to break even. Gone were the Learjets and in were tour buses. The days of Dom Perignon and coke were replaced by hot tea and sandwich trays. Paul Stanley was incredibly frustrated by the band's mechanical, workmanlike pace during this period. He wasn't satisfied with KISS' popularity recovering from its past mistakes, he wanted the band to be rejuvenated. He wanted the band to swing for the fences like they had in the '70s. Even if it meant having to momentarily  halt KISS rigorous touring schedule.


Next: KISS teams up with '80s super producer Ron Nevison and swings for the Top of the Pops...it's time for some Crazy Nights.


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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #41 on: February 06, 2013, 10:06:31 AM »
"Uh! All Night"

uhhh this song ruels bro

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #42 on: February 06, 2013, 10:08:57 AM »
I actually enjoy the song but it's dumb as fuck even by KISS standards. And it's really baffling that it took three people to write those lyrics!

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #43 on: February 06, 2013, 11:36:02 AM »
Tears Are Falling is a great song, but I don't recall saying it was the best KISS song ever.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2013, 08:06:36 AM »

After cranking out an album every year in the '80s, Paul Stanley was ready to have KISS record something truly special. Ten years earlier, they were the most popular band in America but now KISS was thrilled to play to two-thirds filled arena. While KISS never had to go back on the bar circuit, the late '80s were lean times. In one of the more humling moments of the period, they were asked to be the opening act for a European stadium tour headlined by Bon Jovi, a band that had opened up for KISS on the Animalize tour just three or four years earlier. Once the leader of the pack in the world of hard rock, KISS had not only fallen behind contemporaries like AC/DC and Aerosmith but were now starting to fall behind younger bands like Bon Jovi, Poison, and Motley Crue.

  Paul & Gene wanted to recapture the magic of Love Gun & Destroyer even if it meant having to cut into their rigorous tour schedule. The man that they thought could be an Eddie Kramer or Bob Ezrin of the '80s was superproducer Ron Nevison. Behind Mutt Lange, Nevison was perhaps the biggest rock producer of the moment. He had a track record of being able to produce albums for once written off acts like Jefferson Starship and Heart and guiding them back to the Top 10. KISS hoped he could replicate that success. Nevison's production was exactly what Paul was looking for; he crafted, big shiny singalong arena rock anthems. Hardcore KISS fans didn't take it as a good omen when Paul told the press that he was writing songs for the album on the keyboard instead of on the acoustic guitar as he had for previous KISS albums.

The album's first single "Crazy, Crazy Nights" confirmed a lot of those fans fears. It was a massively poppy would be anthem. An attempt to combine "Rock & Roll All Night" with the big sing along pop-metal songs of the '80s like "Living on a Prayer". KISS was certain this song would be their calling card to the Top 10...and it was...in the United Kingdom. "Crazy, Crazy Nights" somehow became by far, KISS' biggest hit in England, going all the way up to #4 on the UK Pop Charts.  In the U.S., the song stalled at #65.


Somehow, this song was one of the more album's "rocking" moments. KISS had a contingency plan if the single failed. If a big RRAN update/"Living on a Prayer" ripoff wouldn't work, KISS would take the route that every rock band in the '80s did to try and reach the pop charts...record a big power ballad.



Even in their early days, KISS was never the heaviest band but there was nothing remotely edgy about Crazy Nights. Diane Warren has a songwriting credit on the album! This was unabashedly their most poppy album since Unmasked. It sounded closer to Journey and Starship than Whitesnake or Scorpions.  KISS was certain it'd become their biggest hit since the '70s. Released in September of 1987 (almost two years after Asylum, the album was initially a big success, peaking at #18 on the Billboard charts (their highest chart position of the '80s) and going platinum six months after its release. But once again as had happened with Animalize and Asylum, the album quickly fell off the charts and the tour was a mixed bag with some dates being sold out and some dates drawing only a few thousand people or being canceled altogether.

(Interesting to note that the videos for this album were the first since they took off the greasepaint to reference the makeup era. They had taken it off less than five years ago but already KISS seemed a bit nostalgiac for the past and who could blame them?)

The band was in a state of disarray, firing a lot of their long term employees for making some disastrous financial decisions. While Stanley & Simmons hadn't had the extravagant drugs and alcohol habits that some of their bandmates had in KISS '70s heyday, they did have expensive tastes in housing, cars, and clothing and were now starting to realize their fortunes weren't limitless. They really did need that big comeback hit. And on their next album, they would have to band together again and team up with some old friends and some unusual collaborators to try and get KISS back on top.


Next: Gene, Paul, Bruce, and Eric close out the '80s with a little help from their friends and a very unusual new manager. KISS gets Hot in the Shade

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #45 on: February 07, 2013, 08:14:03 AM »
Oh man. I can't wait for the HitS write-up. I haaaaaaaaated that album.
You should probably put your bandit hat on now.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #46 on: February 07, 2013, 09:18:50 AM »
I don't know if it's the worst KISS album (it's certainly in the Bottom 3) but it definitely has their worst album cover. I mean, whoever approved that should have been shot.

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #47 on: February 07, 2013, 09:44:20 AM »
Not gonna look it up, gonna get HYPED and wait for an update.

Offline God King Emperor Kamala

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #48 on: February 07, 2013, 10:02:52 AM »
I will say one thing about Hot in the Shade that I might forget in its write up. Tour for that album might have been their best non make up years tour. Setlist was a killer combination of the best of the '80s stuff with the best of their '70s shit and that lineup with Bruce Kulick and Eric Carr might have their best, musicianship wise.

Offline BPSS

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Re: Kamala's KISS Korner
« Reply #49 on: February 07, 2013, 12:33:48 PM »
I don't know if it's the worst KISS album (it's certainly in the Bottom 3) but it definitely has their worst album cover. I mean, whoever approved that should have been shot.

Michael Bolton, KISS songwriter.