Written By Jason Voorhees
Welcome back to another edition of Top Album List's here at Philly Rock Radio. Last week saw us tackle one of the greatest hard rock bands to ever grace the stage in Aerosmith. This week we shift our focus to a band that perfected the term brand even before the term was ever created...today we will chronicle KISS.
KISS recently celebrated their 47th anniversary. Over their years of existence, the band has become a larger than life deity, the likes that have rarely been seen. In fact, KISS has their own army of followers, consisting of some of the most loyal and passionate fans in the history of heavy metal music.
While many have argued that the band are merely false prophets in disguise, the fact remains that the band members are actually very talented musicians. Underneath the piles of makeup and marketing madness lies some truly phenomenal records.
KISS has produced quite a catalog including four solo studio albums that were put out by each of the original members...Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley, and Peter Criss. For purposes of this project though, these albums will not be included, nor will we include the live albums. Instead we will focus strictly on their studio albums.
As always, compiling the top albums will be a unique challenge as there are always a wide range of opinions. However; you wanted the best...so here you got the best!!!!!!! Without further ado...here is KISS' top ten albums of all-time...
10. 'Dressed to Kill' (1975)
Their third studio album saw the band take a different direction. While it's predecessor's focused more on that raw edgy attitude, there was more of a pop feel on this one. It seemed like KISS was seeking a commercial breakthrough and this was the first step in that right direction. Tracks like "Room Service", "Ladies in Waiting", "Getaway" and "C'mon and Love Me" are catchy and too the point. "Rock Bottom" starts off slow and ends with a bang. And of course, who could forget the immortal "Rock and Roll All Night." All in all, a very solid album for the queens of makeup and one that would solidify their rise to the top.
9. 'Lick It Up' (1983)
As the makeup came off so did the ladies panties. KISS has always found a way to make an impact when the chips are down and they certainly did so with this publicity stunt. With Vinnie Vincent taking over on lead guitars, the album had a much different sound, both musically and stylistically. KISS tried to embrace their roots as they harkened back to their glory days. The album features a more sleazy glam style tempo with impressive results. Probably the most underrated album that KISS has ever produced. While the title track "Lick it Up" was a massive hit, its the unheralded sleepers that make this one of their all-time bests. Solid record from A-Z.
8. 'Creatures of the Night' (1982)
KISS meets heavy metal on this barn burner. Little to no filler on this one folks. Just a straight up in your face assault of the senses. In fact, this is more of the sound that you would expect from a makeup toting group of hard asses. The record features some of the bands most creative songwriting ever assembled and the intensity is matched by each individual instrument. Yet another highly underrated masterpiece. Despite Ace Frehley appearing on the cover, he did not perform on the album, instead being replaced by Vinnie Vincent on the axe. Nonetheless, the record brings the heat from beginning to end starting with the title track. Also features a tremendous ballad, "I Still Love You."
7. 'Hotter Than Hell' (1974)
This is classic KISS at its most KLASSIC. While the album tanked upon release, it has truly grown in the hearts of the army faithful. If you had to describe the sound it's like a cross between Aerosmith and Black Sabbath. A raw and edgy attitude with plenty of doomy riffs. Tons of live concert staples on this effort including "Got to Choose", "Goin Blind", "Mainline", "All the Way" and "Comin' Home." In fact, some other metal bands have covered a few classics from this album including Anthrax ("Parasite") and Megadeth ("Strange Ways"). Certainly not the bands most famous or popular record but definitely one of their most impressive.
6. 'Love Gun' (1977)
This would be the original band's final moment in the sun before ultimately collapsing underneath a myriad of consequences. While the band was frolicking around in it's newfound celebrity status of elitism, they set aside time to focus on making a great record. Similar in the style and approach of its predecessor, 'Love Gun' featured solid peak rock and roll, set to capture the audience in toe. Multiple hit tracks including "Christine Sixteen", "Shock Me" and "Love Gun" pace the album while subtle lesser known stalwarts like "Almost Human" define it. "Plaster Caster" pays homage to the groupies that share the same title. Another timeless giant.
5. 'Dynasty' (1979)
Although the record was recorded during a time where tensions were at an all-time high, the band was able to buckle down and hit a grand slam on this effort. The album spawned the megahit "I was Made For Loving You" which features a disco-pop style tempo. In fact, the album is littered with disco laden tracks throughout which precluded Paul Stanley's infatuation with romanticism and pop culture. While many of the faithful were put off by the change in direction, KISS certainly stole the spotlight as they once again defied the odds. Not only is this one of the bands finest hours, it was a truly a defining moment for their discography catalog. Still a timeless classic today.
4. 'KISS' (1974)
This marked the birthplace for KISS. This debut album was raw and edgy and featured that good old fashioned sleaze rock. The album is an orgy of classic KISS stalwarts that ring out just as big as their clown like persona. Tracks like "Strutter", "Deuce", "Cold Gin" and "Nothin' To Lose" leave you coming back for more. Where the album is lacking in sound production it makes up with its signature muddy riffs and anthems. Its a record that tells a story and clearly set the tone for a band that was on a mission to take over the world. While loyal fans and listeners all agree that this is one of their best, its music critics that truly recognize the validity of its fire!
3. 'Rock And Roll Over' (1976)
One of my personal favorites, this record captures everything that KISS stands for. "Calling Dr. Love" is not only the albums best track, it may be the best track ever recorded by the band. A stone cold classic hit that still rattles heads today. While the ballad "Hard Luck Woman" rivals their all-time best with ladies and gentlemen alike. The album closes out with the lesser known "Makin' Love" which is hands down their most underrated track of all-time. An album that clearly hits the listener from every angle. Don't look to be betrayed by a Kiss, as this one slaps you on the lip while flashing you in the face.
2. 'Destroyer' (1976)
The album starts off with one of the most iconic openers in hard rock history..."Detroit Rock City." While the band had made a name for themselves in the live circles, they had yet to solidify themselves in the studio album department. This record changed that while finally putting KISS on the map. The album features top notch material throughout including "Flaming Youth", "Shout it out Loud" and "Do You Love Me." However, the gold standard is found on the epic ballad "Beth" which has become a live show staple. The band had reached superhero status at this point and this was the crown jewel of its arsenal. A hard rock masterpiece that certainly rocks more than it does roll!
1. 'Revenge' (1992)
I'm probably going to receive a ton of pushback for this selection. Many experts do not even have this album among KISS' top ten. However; I am here to tell you that those people are just flat out wrong. This is the Mount Rushmore for KISS. 'Revenge' is the crème de le crème of their catalog. Total thriller...zero filler. From beginning to end the album features top notch musicianship. Some of the band's best songwriting finds its place on this record. "Unholy" is exactly what the title says. "Take it Off" is an ode to the ladies and what ya may just see them do at a show. "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" was an MTV giant. "Domino" will leave you crying in your cheerios. You get the point, this record kicks major ass. It's the quintessential moment for KISS; their true swan song!
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