KISS is my favourite band, they always will be. For what they mean to me is everything. While they don’t have as many good records as other bands I like KISS is an endlessly entertaining, fascinating and fun group. Throughout the highs and lows of their career are different sounds and odd moves. They don’t have a perfect discography or even a perfect album by any means but KISS is just that band for me. They got me into music and I still have that affection for them today. Here I will be ranking my enjoyment of the KISS albums only by my own scale. So here it is.
- KISS’ most recent album is once more the band trying to make something that sounds like classic KISS. Of course those days are way over and having these songs like Take Me Down and Eat Your Heart Out just feels way too corny, even for KISS. The song writing can be very poor at spots. Paul has an okay showing with Long Way Down and Last Chance but as a whole the album is just a bland attempt at capturing what once was. It also doesn’t sound good.
- Favourite Tune : Long Way Down
19. Sonic Boom
- This was my first KISS album in the sense that it was the first record released after I got into them. However I don’t hold much of the same sentiment for the record. Like Monster it’s an attempt at the classic sound, while I think it’s cool that the band made these records as a unit more then previous releases, Sonic Boom is loaded with corny and down right awful song writing. Some pretty good tunes throughout like Say Yeah and Modern Day Delilah but I never needed to hear elder Gene Simmons say “come on baby take off your clothes”.
- Favorite Tune : Say Yeah
18. Hot In The Shade
- To put an album containing the wonderful power ballad Forever this low seems odd but Hot In The Shade is an overly long record composed mostly of glorified demos and pure cheese. For every good moment like the catchy story driven Hide Your Heart and riffy King of Hearts we have Paul Stanley trying to recreate Pour Some Sugar On Me with Read My Body. For the record I find the song entertaining but that’s more then I can say for most of the filler content on this release. It just has too many songs.
- Favorite Tune : Forever
17. Carnival of Souls
- KISS was always a band to try to take a current sound and throw it in their music. In the 90’s the band tried grunge for the ill fated Carnival of Souls. The record contains more mature songwriting from the band, especially Gene. There are good moments like I Walk Alone, Seduction Of The Innocent, I Will Be There and In The Mirror but as a whole it feels contrived and a bit forced. Bruce Kulicks shines with his riffs and noisy solos and Eric Singer’s drumming is good, but I down right dislike a lot of the vocal melodies and the general tone of this album. Still it’s KISS trying something new atleast.
- Favorite Tune : I Walk Alone
- When KISS took off the make-up, Paul Stanley took a lead. He was just flamboyant and animated enough in make-up to work in the image of the time without the star and white face. He also had the tunes to back him up, most of the time. Gene Simmons however wasn’t quite as strong. On Asylum the band dives into hair metal, Paul makes it work with great tunes such as Tears Are Falling, Who Wants To Be Lonely, and King Of The Mountain. But Gene’s output makes the album unbalanced. Any Way You Slice It is okay but other tunes like Trial By Fire and Secretly Cruel rank among my least favourite KISS songs. Asylum has some moments and overall it’s fun, but not all there.
- Favorite Tune : Tears Are Falling
- The demon returns. On Revenge Gene finally finds his footing after albums of poor second rate material. Unholy and Domino are the finest songs he turned in since Lick It Up. Revenge has a heavier sound but it’s not quite as great as it seems. The album is still full of so-so tracks and a lot of it is forgettable. For once Gene’s songs are actually better then Paul’s! God Gave Rock n’ Roll To You II is a cover but ranks among my top 5 KISS songs. I Just Wanna is cool to, even if the whole “I just wanna fuh! forget you!” thing is corny. It has a neat bridge part. Revenge however has a weak tracklist as a whole.
- Favorite Tune : God Gave Rock n’ Roll To You II
- The second album of the non-make up era sees KISS aiming for the heavy metal sound once again. For a while it works pretty well, in fact Paul Stanley has an excellent showing with the hard driving I’ve Had Enough, catchy Heavens On Fire & Thrills In The Night and the cool Zeppelin like vibe of Get All You Can Take. Once more Gene turns out demo level turds. Burn Bitch Burn and Murder In High Heels are simply awful tracks, though the former is so funny it’s kind of good. Mark St. John’s shred fury is alright and he has some good moments, the sound is also okay, but Animalize is a fairly inconsistent album.
- Favorite Tune : I’ve Had Enough
13. Music From “The Elder”
- The most creative and musical interesting KISS album is not quite the best. The band try for a concept record and do some odd things. In retrospect they needed a heavy album to win back fans they lost with Unmasked and Dynasty, instead they released something even more puzzling. However there are great moments like the ballads Just A Boy and A World Without Heroes. The album kicks off with the pretty rocking The Oath as well, but the sound is not great. The drums lack punch! I commend the band for doing different things, and while not everything pays off nicely and the album has some real lows like Mr. Blackwell, The Elder is a great listen regardless and a good break in their discography.
- Favorite Tune : The Oath
12. Lick It Up
- The first non-make up album is boasted by the great song writing contributions by Vinnie Vincent. He really did add a lot to the tunes and the drop off from this album to Animalize shows this. He worked well with Gene, making cool harder tunes such as Not For The Innocent and Young & Wasted. Paul is strong, A Million To One is one of the best KISS songs. Vinnie’s solo is just killer on it, when he was controlled and focused he could really deliver the goods. The album however has a rather bad sound with weak guitars and dull drums.
- Favorite Tune : A Million To One
11. Dressed To Kill
- Quick and to the point, Dressed To Kill is an album of short and poppy rock tunes. The sound is glossy but it works on gems like C’mon and Love Me and Rock Bottom. Some songs are out of place like She which belonged on Hotter Then Hell, but Dressed To Kill works for a quick KISS fix. I think Ladies in Waiting is an awful tune and the album is not without weak moments, but it’s fun for what it is.
- Favorite Tune : C’mon And Love Me
10. Crazy Crazy Nights
- By no means is this a great album but with feel good jams like the title track and Turn On The Night I have trouble putting it lower. Crazy Nights was a shot at Bon Jovi’s sound. With lots of keyboards and catchy melodies Paul shines once again. Gene’s songs are better this time but he couldn’t quite compete. The album has some bad tunes like Bang Bang You and No, No, No but the singles are so good! Crazy Crazy Nights is the big feel good anthem, and Turn On The Night is pure joy. Reason To Live is also a fairly inspiration ballad. I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You is pretty good also. The highlights make the album work.
- Favorite Tune : Turn On The Night
9. Rock and Roll Over
- Another quick album of cock rock glory. Rock n’ Roll Over is not a bright moment of inspiration lyrically and in fact the sound is also a little too clean and slow for my tastes. The songs do work better live and all of them ending in fade outs kills it a bit. However Rock and Roll Over is KISS in a nutshell. The riffs, catchy songs and even some bright songwriting moments like Hard Luck Woman. Ace rips some hot solos on Calling Dr. Love, Love ‘Em Leave ‘Em and Makin’ Love. Mr. Speed is a cool riffing rock number. Peter’s drum sound is good as well. The album is basic but fun. But some of those songs are just too slow…
- Favorite Tune : Mr. Speed
- KISS was damn good at power pop. With catchy tunes and keyboards Unmasked has some of my favourite KISS songs. I dearly love the ballad Shandi and Ace did well with Talk To Me. Naked City is an underrated Gene classic and Tomorrow is just too catchy! Unmasked is a great time, some meh songs but a lot of poppy highlights!
- Favorite Tune : Shandi
7. Creatures Of The Night
- KISS had to get the fans back, with their heaviest album yet Creatures erupts with a huge drum sound and rocking tunes. Eric Carr didn’t play anything that shocking but his drums are just thunderous. Commanding the battle lines on the title track and War Machine. I Still Love You is one of the best written KISS songs with a long build and epic soaring chorus. Creatures is a mighty mighty album!
- Favorite Tune : War Machine
- A debut of great songs, KISS had it all there on the debut. It’s gritty but polished, sometimes too slow and the tunes don’t match the energy of Alive but it’s still a raw and joyous rock n’ roll album. Ace’s solos rip, Peter’s drums groove, Gene lays down some nice basslines and Paul had that command right from the beginning. For a debut record KISS has many fan classics!
- Favorite Tune : Strutter
- The return of KISS! Don’t miss the return of KISS! Oh boy, Dynasty is KISS taking pop to the best levels. With the awesome disco rock song I Was Made For Lovin’ You the album kicks off with a mighty side 1. Ace takes a greater presence following his solo album. 2000 Man takes the silly psychedelic Stones song and makes it a power chord rocker. Save Your Love has a solo of pure vibe and slow burn coolness. Sure Know Something is so good it makes the album rank this high for me. Dynasty is just a fun listen, I like it a lot.
- Favorite Tune : Sure Know Something
4. Love Gun
- ALRIGHT LOVE GUN! Bam! Love Gun is a pure character album. With Ace on vocals each member has songs based on their make-up personas, making the record cartoony but also cool, playing into the idea of the band really well. With an album cover that screams “Sex Gods” the album follows much of the same sound, but too even poppier ends then Rock n’ Roll Over. Gene has a great showing and Paul makes the ultimate be all end all of penis anthems with Love Gun. A song where he sings about his low hanging weapon like the most amazing thing on earth. That’s corny but only a band like KISS could make songs like this work so well. Let’s never forget all the…um amazing stage raps Paul used to introduced this song.
- Favorite Tune : Love Gun
- With great flow, sequencing and and end that brings it back to the start, Destroyer is a great record, but without the real fun and energy of the first three albums. Kicking off with a sort of skit with dishes, a radio and a car scene we launch into KISS’ finest hour. Detroit Rock City into King Of The Night Time World. Thanks to Bob Erzin the simple rock songs are fleshed out and made into mini epics, with great bridges and a link between the two. This album is full of Erzin ideas and it makes things work so well as a record. Sweet Pain is the only weak moment on the album….well Great Expectations is kind of weird but still. Destroyer is full of glorious rock songs but it also has the fine ballad Beth. A nice range of songs. The tunes aren’t mind blowing but it all works in creating a great listening experience. Combined with the awesome album cover, Destroyer is an all together solid record.
- Favorite Tune : King Of The Night Time World
2. Hotter Than Hell
- The first album was too clean but the second was dirty! Hotter Than Hell is a poorly produced muddy record and it’s awesome. For most of the songs. With a rougher sound great tunes like Parasite, Watchin’ You, Goin’ Blind and even the title track work nicely. The album has a lot of fire, Ace rips his loudest solo on Strange Ways. Hotter Then Hell has the good tunes, rocking energy and swagger of the early KISS sound. Just listen to Paul on Got To Choose. The only time the production fails is on Comin’ Home. A nice ballad, and one of their best songs but it doesn’t quite work under the mud. Still Hotter Than Hell is an awesome album.
- Favorite Tune : Comin’ Home
1. Psycho Circus
- This album means so much to me for the simple reason of what it did. When I put on Psycho Circus for the first time it all started. I instantly became obsessed with KISS and by extension music. This album started it all and the title track still remains my favourite song ever. It’s not perfect and has a few stinkers, but it’s a good time album of victory anthems! Gene does amazing with the great sentimental We Are One and epic finale Journey Of 1,000 Years. Within is also a nice grungy tune. Psycho Circus is something that means so much to me but I also think it’s just a fine record with some of the bands best songwriting moments. It makes you feel good.
- Favorite Tune : Psycho Circus