CLASSIC BANDS # 11 – KISS

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Posted May 28, 2015 by in Classic Bands Series

Members:
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass
Peter Criss – Drums, Vocals (1973-80, 1996-2001, 2002-2004)
Ace Frehley – Lead Guitar, Vocals (1973-82, 1996-2002)
Eric Singer – Drums, Backing Vocals (1991-96, 2001-2002, 2004-present)
Tommy Thayer – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (2002-present)
Eric Carr – Drums, Vocals (1980-91)
Bruce Kulick – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (1984-96)
Vinnie Vincent – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (1982-84)
Mark St John – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals (1984)

With:
Anton Fig – Drums (Destroyer, Unmasked – 1979-80)
Bob Kulick – Lead Guitar (Alive II Studio tracks 1977, Killers new tracks 1982)
Kevin Valentine – Drums (Psycho Circus 1998)

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Iconic hard rock band Kiss was formed in New York in late 1972 by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley from the ashes of their former band Wicked Lester, firstly recruiting Peter Criss on drums, then lead guitarist Ace Frehley in January 1973. Focussing on anthemic, riff-driven hard rock and cultivating a unique and powerful visual image, Kiss were signed to the fledgling Casablanca label after a series of showcase gigs organised by the band. The band’s image featured each member taking a character and wearing kabuki-influenced make-up and wild outfits. Simmons’ brash persona came out in his Demon character, while the flamboyant Stanley became the Starchild. Ace Frehley became the Space Man, or Space Ace, and Criss was the Catman. These characters captured the public’s imagination and the band built a huge loyal following, known as The Kiss Army. In addition to the catchy and powerful songs, the band’s live shows focussed on energetic performances and theatrics such as Simmons spitting blood and breathing fire, as well as stage effects such as pyrotechnics.

Though the first three albums contained some great material – including many Kiss classics such as “Deuce”, “Black Diamond”, and ”Strutter”, it was 1975’s double live album “Alive!” that really set the band alight in a big way, along with the accompanying live hit single “Rock and Roll All Nite”. The more ambitious “Destroyer” album, produced by Bob Ezrin, cemented this success, containing the non-typical ballad “Beth” sung by the raspy-voice drummer Criss, and which became their first US top ten hit. The “Rock and Roll Over” and “Love Gun” albums returned to more straight-forward hard rock production, and were similarly successful. Simmons and Stanley’s dream of a “Beatles on steroids” had taken off, and though they did the majority of the song-writing and lead vocals, they encouraged Criss and Frehley to write and sing in an attempt to have an even, four-pronged beast like the Beatles. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an even partnership, and as Simmons put it – there were two men in the front seats driving the car, and two in the back, as Criss and Frehley’s substance abuse increased, and their behaviour became erratic as a result.

After a break to release four solo albums under the Kiss banner, released on the same day in 1978, and a double re-mixed hits collection, “Double Platinum”, the band reconvened in 1979 with a poppier sound, heralded by the disco-influenced hit single “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”. After this, their star waned in their homeland, but they were still hugely popular in other regions, notably Australia – where their 1980 tour saw scenes of mass hysteria, as Kissmania ruled in spite of a line-up change when Criss was ousted from the band and replaced by Eric Carr in his “Fox” guise. Criss’ condition had deteriorated due to his drug and alcohol use to the point where a session drummer was used in his place on the “Dynasty” and “Unmasked” albums. As the 80s dawned, Kiss’ decline continued with the ill-advised concept album “Music From The Elder” which was followed by the heavier sounds of 1982’s “Creatures of the Night”, and album which used a variety of lead guitarists, including future member Vinnie Vincent, in place of the increasingly erratic Frehley who still appeared on the album cover. Vincent replaced Frehley in the band soon after, and an Egyptian Ankh warrior make-up design was created for him. This didn’t last long though, as the band decided to remove the make-up for 1983’s “Lick It Up” album. It’s strange that this most visual of bands didn’t initially translate into the MTV era, but they slowly rebuilt themselves to once again become one of the world’s leading heavy metal acts – led by the photogenic Stanley while Simmons’ attention was distracted in other areas such as acting. 1987’s pop-metal styled album “Crazy Nights” saw Kiss finally notch their first UK top ten album.

Simmons’ creative involvement was reawakened for 1992’s heavy-rocking “Revenge” set, which was a major return to form and provided the band with much credibility with the metal audience. Kiss had proved that they could be a major draw without Criss and Frehley, and without the make-up, and had established a settled line-up of Stanley, Simmons, lead guitarist Bruce Kulick, and drummer Eric Singer, who replaced Carr in 1991 after the amiable drummer/vocalist died of cancer. In 1996 however, they did a remarkable backflip and announced a series of reunion tours with the original line-up, and with the make-up back on. This reunion followed an MTV Unplugged set where Criss and Frehley joined the then-current Kiss line-up for a few songs. It wasn’t long before old wounds opened up however, and Criss and Frehley were once again causing problems for Paul and Gene. Criss left, came back, and left again, and Frehley left for good in 2002. Long-time Kiss employee, lead guitarist Tommy Thayer joined on a full-time basis in the Spaceman outfit and Eric Singer returned to play the Cat. This line-up has now been together for 13 years, and has come into its own on massive world tours and huge concerts and two new studio albums. Kiss’ legacy as one of the most heavily merchandised rock acts, and one fiercely followed by their legion of fans, has endured, as has their impressive catalogue of classic hard rock anthems.

ALBUMS
Kiss (1974) US # 87
Hotter Than Hell (1974) US # 100 Aus # 98
Dressed To Kill (1975) US # 32
Alive! (1975) [LIVE + 4 studio] US # 9 UK # 49 Aus # 13 [Canada # 3]
Destroyer (1976) US # 11 UK # 22 Aus # 6 [Can # 6, Swe # 4]
Rock and Roll Over (1976) US # 11 Aus # 16 [Can # 7, Swe # 9]
Love Gun (1977) US # 4 Aus # 13 [Can # 3, Swe # 6]
Alive II (1977) [LIVE] US # 7 UK # 60 Aus # 17 [Can # 5]
Double Platinum (1978) [Compilation] US # 22 Aus # 17
Gene Simmons (1978) US # 22 Aus # 32
Ace Frehley (1978) US # 26 Aus # 48
Peter Criss (1978) US # 43 Aus # 59
Paul Stanley (1978) US # 40 Aus # 43
Dynasty (1979) US # 9 UK # 50 Aus # 2 [Can # 6, Ger # 8]
Unmasked (1980) US # 35 UK # 48 Aus # 3 [Can # 12, Swe # 4, Nor # 1]
The Elder (1981) US # 75 UK # 51 Aus # 11 [Ger # 10, Swe # 7]
Killers (1982) [Compilation + 4 new] Aus # 21 [Nor # 6]
Creatures of the Night (1982) US # 45 UK # 22 Aus # 33
Lick It Up (1983) US # 24 UK # 7 Aus # 36 [Nor # 7, Swe # 3]
Animalize (1984) US # 19 UK # 11 Aus # 40 [Swe # 8]
Asylum (1985) US # 20 UK # 12 Aus # 89 [Nor # 11, Swe # 3]
Crazy Nights (1987) US # 18 UK # 4 Aus # 24 [Nor # 8, Swe # 8]
Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988) [Compilation + 3 new] US # 21 Aus # 38 [Nor # 13]
Hot in the Shade (1989) US # 29 UK # 35 Aus # 30 [Nor # 8]
Revenge (1992) US # 6 UK # 10 Aus # 5 [Can # 11, Nor # 4, Swe # 10]
Alive III (1993) [LIVE] US # 9 UK # 24 Aus # 14 [Can # 9]
Kiss Unplugged (1996) [LIVE] US # 15 UK # 74 Aus # 4 [Nor # 9, Swe # 5]
You Wanted The Best! (1996) [Compilation] US # 17 Aus # 26
Greatest Kiss (1997) [Compilation] US # 77 Aus # 11 [Swe # 3]
Carnival of Souls (1997) US # 27 Aus # 54
Psycho Circus (1998) US # 3 UK # 47 Aus # 1 [Can # 2, Ger # 5, Nor # 4, Swe # 1]
The Box Set (2001) [5-CD set, includes rarities] US # 128
The Very Best of Kiss (2002) [Comp] US # 52 Aus # 61 [Nor # 16]
The Best of Kiss, Volume 1: The Millennium Collection (2002) [Comp] US # 132
The Best of Kiss, Volume 2: The Millennium Collection (2003) [Comp]
Alive VI: Kiss Symphony (2003) US # 18 Aus # 14 [Can # 10, Nor # 5]
Gold (2004) [Double Compilation]
The Best of Kiss, Volume 3: The Millennium Collection (2005) [Comp]
Alive! The Millennium Concert (2006) [LIVE] US # 167
Kiss Alive! 1975-2000 (2006) [Box Set] US # 167
Jigoku-Retsuden (2008) [Japan-only, re-recorded versions of Kiss classics]
Ikons (2008) [4-CD set, one disc of lead vocals from each original member) Swe # 42
Sonic Boom (2009) US # 2 UK # 24 Aus # 22 [Can # 2, Ger # 4, Nor # 2, Swe # 3]
Monster (2012) US # 3 UK # 21 Aus # 7 [Can # 3, Ger # 6, Nor # 2, Swe # 4]
Kiss 40 (2014) US # 30 Aus # 31

Other Live Albums: Instant Live (2004), Alive 35 (2008), Sonic Boom Over Europe (2010)
First three studio albums packaged as Box Set “The Originals” in 1976, reaching US # 36

SINGLES
Nothin’ to Lose (1974)
Kissin’ Time (1974) US # 83
Strutter (1974)
Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll (1974)
Rock and Roll All Nite (1975) US # 68
C’mon and Love Me (1975)
Rock and Roll All Nite (Live) (1976) US # 12 Aus # 18 [Canada # 13]
Shout it Out Loud (1976) US # 31 Aus # 45 [Can # 1, Sweden #16]
Flaming Youth (1976) US # 74
Detroit Rock City (1976) [Germany # 14]
Beth (1976) US # 7 Aus # 79 [Can # 5]
Hard Luck Woman (1976) US # 15 Aus # 67 [Can # 15]
Calling Dr Love (1977) US # 16 Aus # 93 [Can # 2]
Christine Sixteen (1977) US # 25 Aus # 99
Love Gun (1977) US # 61
Then She Kissed Me (1977) Aus # 78
Shout it Out Loud (Live) (1977) US # 54
Rocket Ride (1978) US # 39
Strutter ’78 (1978) Aus # 89
I Was Made For Lovin’ You (1979) US # 11 Aus # 2 UK # 50 [Can # 1, Ger # 2, Swe # 19]
Sure Know Something (1979) US # 47 Aus # 5
Shandi (1980) US # 47 Aus # 5
Talk to Me (1980) Aus # 39
Tomorrow (1980) [Ger # 70]
A World Without Heroes (1981) US # 56 UK # 55
I (1981) Aus # 24
I Love it Loud (1982) US # 102 Aus # 76
Creatures Of The Night (1983) UK # 34
Lick It Up (1983) US # 66 Aus # 82 UK # 31
All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose (1984) [Ger # 71]
Heaven’s on Fire (1985) US # 49 Aus # 62 UK # 43
Thrills in the Night (1985)
Tears Are Falling (1985) US # 51 UK # 57
Crazy Crazy Nights (1987) US # 65 Aus # 34 UK # 4
Reason to Live (1987) US # 64 Aus # 85 UK # 33
Turn On The Night (1988) UK # 41
Let’s Put The X in Sex (1988) US # 97 Aus # 49
(You Make Me) Rock Hard (1989)
Hide Your Heart (1989) US # 66 Aus # 76 UK # 59
Forever (1990) US # 8 Aus # 38 UK # 65
Rise To It (1990) US # 81
God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll to You II (1991) Aus # 18 UK # 4 [Ger # 9]
Unholy (1992) UK # 26 [Swe # 19]
Domino (1992) [US Rock # 26]
I Just Wanna (1992) [US Rock # 34]
Every Time I Look At You (1992) [Swe # 31]
I Love it Loud (live) (1993) [US Rock # 22]
Rock and Roll All Nite (Unplugged) (1996) [US Rock # 13, Can # 57]
Jungle (1997) [US Rock # 8]
Psycho Circus (1998) Aus # 22 [Can # 10, Swe # 4, US Rock # 1]
We Are One (1998) Aus # 40
I Finally Found My Way (1998)
You Wanted The Best (1998) [US Rock # 22]
Modern Day Delilah (2009) [Swe # 42, US Rock # 34]
Say Yeah (2009)
Never Enough (2009)
Hell or Hallelujah (2012) [US Rock # 36]
Long Way Down (2012)


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Jaylow
Jaylow


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