A Real Fan's Top 10 KISS Albums
KISS at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 2010
Photo by Groovehouse
Marking their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next Thursday, Rolling Stone has put KISS on the cover (for the first time ever!) and also made a list of the 10 best KISS albums. Sadly, this is something that magazine's Richard Thompson fanatics are just not qualified to do, so ignore their list and go with this one instead:
10. Unmasked (1980) While not your traditional KISS sound, Unmasked is still a really good power-pop album. All the songs could have been great AM tracks if AM were still going strong into the '80s.
Standouts: "Is That You?" "Talk To Me," "She's So European"
9. Hotter Than Hell (1974) While the production is lacking, the material is traditional KISS, which is still not bad for a sophomore effort.
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Standouts: "Watchin' You," "Hotter Than Hell," "Parasite"
8. Creatures of the Night (1982) A return to a heavy sound after three albums of experimentation, this is also KISS's best output from the '80s.
Standouts: "I Love It Loud," "War Machine," "Creatures of the Night"
7. Revenge (1992) Revenge marks another return to a heavy sound -- perhaps a bit grunge-influenced? -- after multiple albums of glam metal experimentation. The best of KISS's output from the '90s.
Standouts: "Unholy" "Take It Off" "Domino"
6. Love Gun (1977) The band's second consecutive album to be produced by Eddie Kramer. a former Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin engineer, Love Gun is the first to feature lead vocals by all four band members. Also their highest charting album (Billboard No. 4) not sold exclusively at Walmart upon release.
Standouts: "Shock Me" "I Stole Your Love" "Plaster Caster"
5. Dressed to Kill (1975) The shortest KISS album, clocking in at around 31 minutes, Dressed to Kill has much better production than KISS's first two albums. It resulted in a slicker sound to go with heavy songs that would have made great glam-rock singles on par with Slade and Sweet, if only that genre had the same success in the States that it did across the pond.
Standouts: "Love Her All I Can" "Rock Bottom," "Getaway"
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4. Destroyer (1976) While most of the individual songs became KISS staples, tracks like "Beth," "Great Expectations" and the weird ending failed to give Destroyer the continuity it needed to be ranked any higher than this.
Standouts: "Shout It Out Loud," "Detroit Rock City," "God of Thunder"
3. Rock and Roll Over (1976) Destroyer's follow-up changed producers to Eddie Kramer from Bob Ezrin, which gave KISS a harder sound. The guitars are brought to the forefront of the record, ensuring no filler tracks.
Standouts: "Calling Dr. Love" "I Want You" "Ladies Room"
2. KISS (1974) The album that launched an army. While the production is lacking, the tracks are pure standouts and to this day their concert set list will be built around five or six tracks from this one.
Standouts: "Nothin' to Lose" "Cold Gin" "100,000 Years"
1. Alive (1975) You wanted the best? You got the best! The doomed album (who puts out double-disc live albums prior to 1975?) that became the watershed for KISS and the blueprint for all other '70s acts that had yet to release a live album.
While we now know it wasn't all live, the point was it brought the concert experience to many of those who had never experienced a concert, much less a KISS concert. No other live album sucked you in and conjured that experience so vividly.
Standouts: "Rock And Roll All Nite" "Black Diamond" "Deuce"
Music From The Elder (1981): For those unfamiliar with this album, imagine a mix between the Moody Blues, KISS and a Renaissance Fair, i.e. the world's population minus approximately 500,000. I really, really, really, really, really wanted to put this one at No. 1 -- it is MY favorite KISS album.
But Paul said it best: "It's a great album, just not a great KISS album." I will therefore let his quote disqualify it from the rankings to save the profanity-laced replies to be expected from diehard KISS fans if it were atop the list.
Standouts: "Odyssey," "The Oath," "Dark Light"
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