The Sexy Armpit’s Guide To The Best KISS Songs You Should Download Part 3

Our KISS saga continues here at The Sexy Armpit.

KISS maintained their polished glam metal musical style with 1984’s Animalize. Although it stood as their highest selling album since ALIVE II and it contains several great tracks, 24 years later this album isn’t their most memorable. What I can’t believe is the fact that at the time it outsold both Creatures and Lick It Up, which are 2 of the very BEST albums that Kiss ever released. The late Mark St. John came into the band replacing Vinnie Vincent. During this time KISS held their own against most of the other dime a dozen “hairbands” out there, even though the KISS Army knew that their favorite band was colossal and shouldn’t be referred to as a “hairband.” It was still a solid effort but my favorite thing about this album wasn’t the music, it was the totally ’80s animal print on the cover. BEST TRACKS: Thrills in the Night, Heaven’s On Fire, Under The Gun, Get All You Can Take

To replace Mark St. John, Kiss welcomed Bruce Kulick to the band. In 1985 Kiss released Asylum which features 2 of the best songs of the “non makeup” era (Tears Are Falling, and Who Wants to Be Lonely) BEST TRACKS: Tears Are Falling, Who Wants To Be Lonely, Uh All Night!, King of The Mountain

With a sugary pop rock title track, Crazy Nights was a huge album for KISS. They continued with their lineup featuring Bruce and Eric, perhaps their strongest lineup musically. As KISS opted to lose their dark, raw, rock roots MTV embraced their videos and Kiss still enjoyed big success 13 years later. Crazy Nights was KISS in full on ’80s pop metal mode. BEST TRACKS: Crazy Crazy Nights, Reason To Live, Turn on the Night

Smashes, Thrashes, and Hits, a “best of” compilation released in ‘88, featured 2 new tracks that I’ve always enjoyed. For some reason they get torn apart by critics and fans on the Internet though. Who cares? Eric Carr also sings vocals on “Beth” on the album. BEST TRACKS: Let’s Put the X in Sex, You Make Me Rock Hard

If you remember anything about Hot in The Shade it could be the Sphinx wearing sunglasses on the cover. Or it could be the fact that Paul Stanley co-wrote the album’s biggest hit, Forever, with Michael Bolton. Even though it’s a little sappy, and it might have been your wedding song, it’s undeniably good. It’s sad to think that it was Eric Carr’s last KISS album when he and Bruce helped unify the band in so many ways. Judging by the maturity of the actual musical compositions and the sound, perhaps not the lyrics, KISS was still fully capable of crafting some excellent rock songs. BEST TRACKS: Hide Your Heart, Rise To It, Forever

It’s possible that the pinnacle of KISS’ career came in ’92 with the release of Revenge. Kiss came full circle as they recaptured their sound but they lost the charismatic and irreplaceable drummer Eric Carr. I miss Eric Carr ’til this day but Eric Singer was and still is a worthy successor. Bob Ezrin returned to co-write and produce and Vinnie Vincent was also on board to co-write a few songs. The music rocked in a serious way. Sure there was a lot of blatant KISS trademark sexuality, but there was also Gene’s return to his “demon” roots with “Unholy.” I always wondered what KISS’ next album would sound like since Revenge seemed to have helped them come to the realization that they were a legendary and still relevant band. From being featured in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey all the way to one of the bands best ballads, Revenge is a diverse KISS effort and definitely a CLASSIC! BEST TRACKS: Unholy, God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You, Domino, Heart of Chrome, I Just Wanna, Every time I Look At You

I’ll quietly tiptoe over ALIVE III since there’s no new material there unless we count their performance of The Star Spangled Banner. We’ll skip right over to KISS UNPLUGGED, which was the CD released after their acoustic MTV special. This intimate, bare bones KISS show was very meaningful to the band and the fans. We got to see Ace and Peter return to play with the band and at one point Gene, Paul, Bruce, Ace, Peter, and Eric are all up performing on the same stage at the same time. Without rambling too much about how awesome this album is, pick it up for yourself. Kiss Unplugged is as worthy of being called great as ALIVE! is. Even though the songs are performed acoustically, each one sounds perfect. It’s also such a different experience to hear these iconic songs in a stripped down style. If any album of KISS is going to prove their chops it’ll overwhelmingly be this one. BEST TRACKS: I can’t pick just one since they all sound so damn good!

Although it was recorded between 1995 and 1996, Carnival of Souls was finally released in 1997. Let me now defend the incessantly derided COS. It’s late release truly pissed me off but I was lucky enough to have a bootleg for over a year before it was actually released. When I first heard the tracks on the bootleg I almost pissed myself! It featured a dark, grungy, otherworldly hard rock sound that showed KISS venturing into new territory. Even early concept art for the cover of the album seemed fitting and a step forward from the typical KISS cover art. The album had some introspective moments, some hints of sadness, and even requisite anger. Kiss didn’t trust their intuition and held off on releasing the album. Perhaps the record company didn’t think they could compete with the bands of the day like Alice in Chains? When COS was circulating as a bootleg is when it should’ve been released. It was their answer to the shoe-staring grunge era music that ruled the day. The entire band sounds tighter, edgier, and more mature than ever. The lyrics are actually thought provoking, especially on “Childhood’s End,” which was co-written by present day Space Ace, Tommy Thayer. If only this album was released as a follow up to Revenge rather than an afterthought. BEST TRACKS: Hate, Rain, Master and Slave, The Jungle, It Never Goes Away, In the Mirror
The reunion of the original KISS members spawned an album of new material called Psycho Circus in 1998. IT was great seeing “the band get back together” but at this point being a KISS fan was getting tedious. Just as we were getting used to Eric Carr, he passes away. Bruce Kulick was one of the most talented and longest tenured members of KISS. And now that we have Eric Singer truly making his mark on the band we might as well let both of those guys go to get Ace and Peter back. What a disaster! Psycho Circus was one of the most anticipated comeback albums in rock history and it didn’t live up to it’s potential at all. Of course we have the strong title track and the whole “psycho carnival” theme but there’s not much else going on here. “You Wanted The Best” while a guilty pleasure, is for die hards only since it’s cheesiness is incomparable. The song deals with all of the strife among the original members of the band. Rather than re-inventing the original KISS lineup as a formidable rock gang like they originally intended to be, they opted to ride the “reunion” railroad but they never passed go. They blew the opportunity to build on the creepy vibes given off in the title track. I give more credit to the Bruce/Eric/Eric lineup since for 13 years they were plugging away releasing music that continually improved upon the previous. BEST TRACKS: Psycho Circus, Within, Into the Void, I Pledge Allegiance To The State of Rock & Roll

Thank you for reading and I hope one day KISS will quit releasing “best of” compilations. I wish that Paul Stanley stops saying that fans don’t want to hear “New” KISS music because that’s not true at all. Hey Paul, maybe it’s that you guys are too lazy to make it? Shit, I would be too if I breathed the fumes of thousands of dollar bills all day. KISS needs to return to making the hard rocking tunes they were always known for.

The Sexy Armpit’s Guide To The Best KISS Songs You Should Download Part 2

Welcome back to The Sexy Armpit as we examine the BEST KISS songs from their entire discography. And now for Part 2:

One of the most thunderous Kiss albums is Love Gun. It blasts your speakers apart from the onset with “I Stole Your Love,” which is perhaps the most underrated Kiss song. Take an unfiltered listen and momentarily forget Gene’s Family Jewels, and the umpteen farewell tours. Just listen to it. LOUD! By the way, loud is the only way to listen to KISS, and this album is a prime example. Ace’s classic “Shock Me” is an awesome track although to me, it always seemed like it needed some Viagra or a red bull. It has a plodding beat and it never reaches the its full potential. Sorry Ace fans, you can praise it on YOUR blog! And here’s one from bizarro world, KISS covers “Then He Kissed Me” originally performed by The Crystals except they change it to “Then She Kissed Me.” Genius! lol. It’s definitely worth a listen. BEST TRACKS: I Stole Your Love, Got Love For Sale, Love Gun

KISS Alive II features more blistering live KISS tracks. Here you go Ace Frehley fans: BEST TRACK: Rocket Ride. As far as the Kiss solo albums go, I’m recommending that you go in with an open mind. So you’re not too disappointed, start out with Ace and Paul’s since those albums feature music more in tune with the KISS music you’re used to hearing. BEST TRACK OUT OF ALL THE SOLO ALBUMS: New York Groove

Disco Kiss? Most people would say YUCK! while others may vomit upon just hearing those words. DYNASTY actually has some outstanding KISS tracks. Disco or not you can’t deny a good song. BEST TRACKS: Magic Touch, Sure Know Something (sounds like you can use it when you make your amateur porno), I Was Made For Loving You

I’ll be honest, Unmasked is a tough listen unless you’re a hardcore KISS fan. They pretty much went into a complete pop direction and it didn’t work out too well. BEST TRACK: What Makes the World Go Round
Music From The Elder may possibly be the most panned, disappointing KISS album ever. The music on this album was supposed to coincide with a screenplay but it was never released. At one point there were failed talks of a Broadway musical as well. After the shift in musical styles that were featured on the last couple of KISS albums, they became even more experimental on The Elder. I give them credit for trying to stretch out creatively, but The Elder was pretty strange and it didn’t satiate KISS fans. Kiss was known for making pop oriented hard rock and The Elder only had one or two tracks that resembled that on this album. BEST TRACK: The Oath
Around this time a “Best of Kiss” compilation called KILLERS was released as an import and featured 4 new KISS songs but none of them are worth mentioning.
Aside from their debut album, CREATURES OF THE NIGHT perfectly captures what KISS is about. Not only does it evoke the style they created 8 years earlier, but it also introduces one of the hardest hitting drummers of all time, Eric Carr as well as new KISS guitarist and songwriter Vinnie Vincent. The addition of Eric brought so much life to KISS. They became more of the fire breathing band of yore and less of a cliche. Even their concerts got louder and more explosive thanks to Eric’s tank drum kit. The KISS army felt proud: “Don’t Fuck with KISS, cause we‘ll blow you away!” The entire Creatures album is the most accessible and hard rocking Kiss album that still holds up by today’s hard rock standards. Creatures is a serious album which lacks Paul Stanley cheesy rap solos and Gene’s constant sexual euphemisms. It’s a combo of great writing and Eric Carr’s thunderous drumming that solidifies this album as easily THE BEST KISS ALBUM OF ALL TIME.Try listening from start to finish and I promise you’ll truly get wrapped up in this album. I tend to play this album a lot in the fall for several reasons. Some of the songs have an ominous tone almost as if this should’ve been the soundtrack to a horror film. Also, the album was originally released in the fall and it rocks a spooky looking cover. C’mon, that title track almost begs zombies to escape from their graves. You can even listen to the album’s only ballad “I Still Love You,“ without feeling like a chick! BEST TRACKS: EVERY F’N ONE OF THEM!

After it’s release in ’82, Creatures was looked at as a failure for some God awful reason. Lick It Up ushered in the era of KISS without makeup. There’s a slew of awesome, straight up “glam metal” on this album. It maintains the optimum style of KISS just like Creatures did. As I mentioned Gene’s performance in “Parasite” in Part 1, you’ll notice some echoes of that song in the music and Gene’s voice on Young and Wasted. Rick Derringer even guest stars on Exciter! BEST TRACKS: Exciter, A Million To One, Lick It Up, Young and Wasted
You Wanted The Best and You Got The Best…Part 3 of The Sexy Armpit’s Guide to the Best Kiss Songs is coming tomorrow!