The month of September is a huge month for KISS fans, even if they don’t know it. Why you may ask? Because the month of September is the anniversary month for the releases of TEN KISS albums.
Alive! (click the link to see what I said about it) was released on September 10, 1975. That’s the album that broke them free of obscurity. The live version of “Rock and Roll All Nite” was finally the light in the clouds and radio stations ate that up. Now, it may be sacrilege to some KISS fans and may be concurred by others but I don’t care to ever hear it again. It is one of my top 10 least favorite KISS songs. Now, I say that but if I didn’t hear it at KISS concerts, I’d be totally ticked. It led the way for more KISS albums, as I feel it was the make-it-or-break-it time for the band and for Casablanca Records. And, it was #159 on the RS List.
Last week I talked about Animalize which came out on September 13. You can click that link to see what I said.
I didn’t post this yesterday because I knew I was going to write a big post today. But, September 16, 1985, was the release of Asylum. As with most 80s-era KISS albums, fans either love it or hate it. Non-fans know the big hit, “Tears Are Falling” and nothing else. They generally don’t even know it exists. Once again, Gene is mostly absent, although he somehow convinces Paul to include his name on the “produced by” line. We all know that’s BS. He was still acting. He was still producing and managing. He was still…
For my buck, once again, Paul was “the Man” on this album. While I wouldn’t classify the Gene tunes as “clunkers,” I can’t say they’re great. Gene’s songs had no “umph” and mostly without testicular fortitude. Now, if you know me, or have read much on this blog in the last several years, you know I’m a huge Gene fan (literally and figuratively) and he is the reason I’m a musician, how I am a musician and how I am on stage. But, even I know you can only pull off so many things before you totally start losing control. Now that KISS tours here-and-there, he can focus on 10,000 business ventures, but that that time Paul operated like KISS was still his full-time gig. As was the case on Animalize, Jean Beauvoir came in to fulfill some bass duties on two of the songs he co-wrote with Paul.
Let’s dig in a little. “Any Way You Slice It” was co-written by someone named Howard Rice. I can’t find anything on him. It’s not a bad start for Gene, really. “Trial By Fire” has some cool moments and the chorus is catchy, but I hate the verses. It’s also the first collaboration of Gene and Bruce Kulick, now the full-time guitarist of the band. “Love’s a Deadly Weapon” was co-written by Paul and two other members of the Plasmatics, Ron Swenson and Wes Beech. So, add in the stuff Paul did with Jean Beauvoir, there’s a shload of Plasmatics on this album. “Love’s a Deadly Weapon” has some cool, but cheesy lyrics, but it’s definitely not my favorite tune, I’d say it’s my least favorite on this album. “Secretly Cruel” is okay. Nothing of Gene’s really catches me, though.
Not that all of Paul’s songs were wonderful, either. Don’t hear that. While I do like the songs, they could have been from some band named K-R-A-F-T instead of K-I-S-S. The last two, especially. “Radar For Love” and “Uh! All Night” are silly but call me crazy, I love them. My least favorite Paul song is “I’m Alive.” It’s unnecessary and mundane. It was a co-write with both Bruce Kulick and Desmond Child, as was “King of the Mountain” which is one of my highlights of the album. Eric Carr’s drums are amazing on it. Paul’s voice is really strong, too.
So, my faves are definitely “Tears Are Falling” along with “Who Wants to Be Lonely” and “King of the Mountain.” There are some really good tunes across this album, it’s just not their best. Even Gene and Paul kind of pan it today, except of course, for “Tears…”
The cover features the faces of the four then-current members drawn with their lips colored in the classic solo album color schemes. Gene’s lips are red, Paul’s purple, Bruce’s are blue (to represent Ace) and Eric’s are green (to represent Peter). The back cover showed the band looking like Billy Squier’s band or early SNL intros.
I think Paul (and whatever Gene did) could have made the album a little meatier and heavier but that’s not the case. Bruce’s guitar work on this album is really good and it fit the time. It wasn’t KISS to most, but to me, it still was KISS. Eric’s drumming was solid but again, could have used a little more treatment on the sound, in my opinion. The videos for “Tears are Falling,” “Who Wants to be Lonely” and even “Uh! All Night” are pretty cool for that era.
It had come out and “Tears Are Falling” was being played (where there was real rock radio) and on MTV, but it was 1985 and prior to my move to WSNC. I read about the song in Hit Parader and Circus but it wasn’t until I could convince Ma Mère to let me have it could I actually listen to the song. I thought it was someone other than Paul singing at first. He was extra breathy and un-Paul-like. I still love the song, though. One of my favorite KISS songs, not just non-makeup era KISS but overall.
I know this sounds like I’m panning the album and that certainly isn’t the case. It was amazing for its time but as I got older, I realized it wasn’t quite the best, certainly not as good as the 70s stuff and really wasn’t near the top on the 80s stuff, which you’ll find out more about later, like tomorrow or Wednesday. It’s not in the bottom 5 of KISSdom for me nor is it in the top 5. It’s middle-of-the-road, to me. Give it a listen, with an open mind, and tell me what you think.
Tune in tomorrow to find out more about this WEEK in KISStory.
Until tomorrow, KISS it!
“Open yourself to me, let me show you what it can be like. Baby, giving it all that you’ve got. Nothing can hold you back. Some things can stand alone. A mountain can feel no desire, but a heart isn’t made out of stone. Wake up in the middle of the night. Nobody’s gonna make it alright. Who wants to be lonely, who wants to be with you tonight? Who wants to be lonely, who wants to be holding you tight?” – “Who Wants to be Lonely?” (Stanley/Child/Beauvoir)