I have been a KISS fan for a long time. A long, long time. I have been collecting KISS and KISS related cds and DVDs since I started buying music as a kid. It was not even their music that first introduced me to the band but the look of the costumes from the hey day of KISS in the 1970’s that caught my eye and caused my imagination to run wild about who or what was under the make up. My very first experience with KISS was when my cousin showed me a poster of the band in their Destroyer costumes. I was in awe.
The music of KISS has been a constant soundtrack to my life. It has celebrated the good times, helped me mourn the bad and kept a steady positive vibe throughout the years. I have 97 KISS and KISS related cds and want to show my favorite 10. I have reasons for all of them, and remember it is my opinion.
Here are the Top 10 KISS cds:
This cd not only saved KISS but also their former record label Casablanca Records. “Alive!” was a last ditch effort to put out an album that truly captured what KISS was like. The band released 3 albums previous to this live one in the first 2 years that they were under contract with Casablanca but none of the albums sold very well. The band couldn’t get air play on the radio but they would upstage the bands that they were opening for. KISS and their management felt that the studio sound of the albums was not what KISS truly was, but a live album seemed to be the answer. This album is what put KISS on the map and is the first appearance of Rock N Roll All Nite with the guitar solo.
There are alot of things I love about Creatures Of The Night and the first is that album cover. WOW! I love it! It also is the very first KISS cd to picture Eric Carr and the only one to picture him in make up. This album is also known for the fact that Ace Frehley is in the picture but did zero guitar work on the album. KISS brought in various guitarists to play Ace’s parts, with the two noticible being Bob Kulick and Vincent Cusano aka Vinnie Vincent. The album is full of heavy rock, loud drums and takes KISS back to it’s roots. Eric Carr plays maybe the loudest drums I ever heard, on this album and it also benefits from the return of The Demon and his raunchy, growling vocals. Creatures Of The Night is my favorite studio album by the band.
I know I will most likely get a lot of grief from people for not being a real KISS fan by saying that Creatures was my favorite KISS album but Destroyer is a very, very close second. I am not a fool and do recognize that Destroyer is the album that cemented KISS as a worldwide phenomena and it also is the peak of the original line up creatively. It also may have some of the best pure rock riffs and variety of songs in their history but KISS did not take a step back after Alive, if anything, they took 3 steps forward. This album also is home to the highest ranking KISS single of all time that reached #7 on Billboard’s song charts, Beth.
This album has a very special place in my heart for a few reasons but the obvious one is of course the reunion of Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul if even for just a one off unplugged special….or so we thought. The MTV Unplugged session also allowed us to hear the band for the first time play some of their best known songs in an intimate setting and did it ever blow me away. The highlights of the album for me are Eric Singer’s debut on lead vocals with Nothing To Lose, Peter singing Beth with the other original members playing the music and of course the 6 man KISS juggernaut version of Rock N Roll All Nite with Ace and Peter getting turns at lead vocals.
Revenge is an interesting album for me as it is the start of the new life of KISS without Eric Carr and is also actually the end of non-makeup KISS, I do not count Carnival Of Souls as that would have remained shelved if it would not have been leaked online early. Revenge is a very raunchy and dirty record that is more or less a little brother album to Creatures Of The Night. Just like Creatures, Gene was musically absent for a few albums and had a rebirth on this album with some of my favorite songs song by him. This album also has a tribute to Eric Carr by including a drum solo that was previously unreleased.
This “Best Of Alive 35” tour cd is one I ordered from overseas as it was not offered for sale in North America. It has live recordings from the Sonic Boom tour and I was very excited to see Modern Day Delilah and Say Yeah from the album performed on the cd. It was a combination of performances from the entire leg of the tour with each song being from a different city. This also contains Tommy Thayer’s vocal lead vocal debut on the Ace Frehley classic “Shock Me”.
The only real issue I have with Lick It Up as an album is that it is too short as it is clocking in at 10 tracks. This album is one of the tightest sounding albums in the band’s catalogue. Part of that is due to the guitar playing and song writing ability of newest KISS member, Vinnie Vincent. I do believe Vincent saved KISS musically as the band was at a dire crossroads and would not survive another unsuccessful album and tour. Eric Carr again shone on the drums and KISS started to forge ahead with this album cover being the first of the band without makeup.
If Revenge is the little brother album to Creatures Of The Night, then Love Gun is the little brother album to Destroyer. It is a definite continuation of the band and this album was released at the time that KISS was at their best and their biggest in music history. The stage show had been perfected and massive, the sound has been louder and the KISS Army at it’s most religious. This album also had the debut of Ace Frehley on lead vocals with “Shock Me” but to me the best track on the album is of course Love Gun but followed by Christine Sixteen.
There was much debating if I wanted to have this album on the list or not. I sat back and listened to the 2 cd version (as I have both the blue cover single cd version and the black 2 cd version) and decided that it had to be included. It is Tommy Thayer’s debut in KISS on a recorded album and is the first time KISS has played live with an orchestra. I loved how the album is in three parts. The first is the traditional KISS show, the next portion of the concert is an unplugged session with the Melbourne Symphony Ensemble and the last is KISS plugged back in with the entire Melbourne Symphony Orchestra.
I will probably catch a lot of flack for this one as well but I really like Sonic Boom as an album. The only big complaint is that I feel the tracks voiced by Gene Simmons are weak compared to the rest. I want The Demon from Revenge and Creatures Of The Night. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer each sing lead vocals on a track each and both sound great. Eric’s song All For The Glory may be the best song on the entire album. It is my favorite track which is closely followed by Modern Day Delilah.
So there it is. I know some KISS fans will not agree with me but as I said before I do own ALOT of KISS and KISS related cds and feel I can speak with some authority on what I do and do not like by the band. In a future rant I am going to list my favorite 10 KISS songs and my top 5 KISS related albums that will made up of former members of the band and their solo albums.