Back in 1977, I was a member of the KISS Army. I don’t remember my rank, but I was only in it for that year. And, although I did not totally lose interest in KISS, just the Army. My musical tastes began to develop, and KISS was sliding down my “Favorite Rock Artists List” that I have kept in my head ever since.
Still, I have never completely let go of KISS. They still maintain a special place in my heart. Alive! and Destroyer are still two of my all-time favorite albums. I mean, rock doesn’t sound much more raw that what KISS played on those two albums.
Let’s face it, KISS is the perfect rock band/corporation. Potentially, this band could maintain an infinitely long career as long as the musicians continue to wear the make-up. This idea has to have passed through Gene Simmons’ mind a time or two. Unlike Beatlemania, in which we can ALWAYS tell we a new person takes over the place of a member of the Fab Four, ideally, we will NEVER know when Paul or Gene retires, because there will always be an endless stream of “Starchilds” and “Demons” to carry on the flame. And as far as new albums are concerned, do we really care about that? Oh sure, so the Magnificent Masked Marauders could release an album of new material once a decade just to pique interest in the band for yet another barnstorming tour, which will replenish the coffers and keep the machine moving.
In reality, KISS have released 24 studio albums, although they are known as a live phenomenon. I have left out their half-a-dozen live albums, even though those albums have been widely accepted as being “doctored” in the studio, with mistakes taken out and the crowd noise enhanced to make a more immediate-sounding album(s).
So, today, I am going to rank all of those KISS studio albums, including those made during the “make-up-less Eighties”, which over all was a fairly stagnant time for the band. So, here we go, My KISS Albums Ranked for your pleasure.
24. Peter Criss (1978). Sorry, but this album is just awful. Now, we all know why “Beth” was the drummer’s finest moment in songwriting.
23. Crazy Nights (1987). I will NEVER understand why KISS felt they had to sound like a hair metal band, when all of those bands were trying to catch-up with KISS!
22. Hot in the Shade (1989). Another one of those “let’s be a hair metal band” albums instead of a KISS album. It has SYNTHS on it!
21. Carnival of Souls (1997). Now, KISS really HAD forgotten their sound. This is their GRUNGE album. No kidding! KISS and Grunge? Please!
20. Dynasty (1979). Considered to be their “disco” album, even though only “I Was Made for Loving You” was a disco song. Still, there weren’t very many good songs left on that album.
19. Animalize (1984). Paul made a decent album here while Gene was off trying to find acting jobs. Needless to say, the whole thing doesn’t sound cohesive
18. Psycho Circus (1997). This was the “reunion comeback” album, since the original line-up was finally back together and IN THEIR MAKE-UP!!! Too bad that no one spent any time trying to write some good songs.
17. Asylum (1985). When in doubt, make your band sound like what’s popular at the moment you record this one. So KISS now sound like a band trying to sound like KISS. In other words, this is their first hair metal album.
16. Gene Simmons (1978). So, Gene grabs a bunch of stars to help him make his first solo album, and it sounds like an unfocused mess. I have no idea what he was trying to do.
15. Paul Stanley (1978). Of the four solo albums, this one was most like a KISS album. But, what makes a great KISS album: the interplay between the four musicians and the changing of vocalists on songs and even within songs. Still, not too bad.
14. Music from ‘The Elder’ (1981). So, KISS started the 1980s as a band undergoing an identity crisis. The music climate was changing, so KISS tried to make a concept album as a soundtrack to a movie that NEVER was made. Initially, this album was slagged unmercifully; whereas, now the album doesn’t sound too bad. This is a very underrated album.
13. Unmasked (1980). NO! KISS did NOT stop wearing their make-up on this album. No, that idea is still a couple of years away. This is the album that time has forgotten.
12. Monster (2012). This is the most recently released KISS album, and it sounds pretty good.
11. Lick It Up (1983). At the moment, it seemed like a fantastic publicity bonanza. It is a great KISS album without the mystique of the make-up. Maybe, the band is going to be okay after all. Unfortunately, history tells us a different story.
10. Revenge (1992). Finally, the band got back to the good-time rock & roll they had always been revered for, making their finest album since the early-1980s.
9. Sonic Boom (2009). So, Paul reconvene the touring band (Gene, drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer) to make their first album together. Paul set the tone for song quality, pushing Gene to rediscover his songwriting talent. Surprisingly, KISS released one of their finest albums.
8. Hotter Than Hell (1974). For a sophomore release, this is high quality. But, for a KISS album, this was the weakest of their original 1970s albums.
7. Dressed to Kill (1975). Although the album cover photo is on the stupid side, the music inside is classic. This album has the first version of the all-time classic “Rock and Roll All Night.” How can you beat that?
6. Ace Frehley (1978). Easily the best of the solo album, Ace’s material choices were focused and inspired. And, “New York Groove” was just the icing on the cake.
5. Rock and Roll Over (1976). After the one-two punch of Alive! and Destroyer, KISS came storming back with this album, yet another KISS classic.
4. KISS (1974). This killer debut album has only gotten more impressive to me over the years. This album is full of songs that remain part of the band’s concert repertoire.
3. Love Gun (1977). This was the band’s heaviest album released up to that point. The best part of the album was the “pop” gun that was included in the album. It was so annoying that the neighbors banned me from bringing it over to have a “battle” with their son.
2. Creatures of the Night (1982). Traditionally, people believe that KISS did not record a single good album in the 80s. Well, this one is THE exception! It IS a treasure of an album.
1. Destroyer (1976). Really?!?! Was there EVER any doubt which album would be #1??? This is THE perfect KISS album. From the radio report at the beginning to the untitled last song, this album is the concept album the band wishes they had made with ‘The Elder’ in 1981.
There you go! That’s how my KISS albums roll. Let’s hear what you think!