REVIEW: KISS – Creatures of the Night (1982, 1985, 1997 editions)

Part 19 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!

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KISS – Creatures of the Night (1982, 1985, 1997)

Creatures Of The Night is one heavy, over the top & loud Kiss album. Very very loud. Hot on the heels of The Elder and Killers, Creatures was a defiant “we’re back!” from a band who was written off by the end of 1981.

It is important to note that there are several versions of Creatures floating around. At one point in 1985, shortly after Asylum, it was reissued with new (non-makeup) cover art with Bruce Kulick  instead of Ace Frehley. Interestingly, neither played on Creatures. The reissue with the non-makeup cover has the songs in a different order, and they were remixed to bring down the loudness of the drums. I guess someone in the mid 80’s decided the album was just too loud, and the remix was done. Thankfully, the original loud drum mix was remastered in 1997, finally available on CD.

Interestingly, the 1985 remixed version featured a picture of Gene’s ass in leather pants on the back cover!  See below for a gander at Gene’s buttocks.

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And yeah, the drums are loud alright! They sound awesome, like John Bonham shooting cannons off the back of the stage. They are the cleanest, most powerful, natural and clear drum sounds this side of Led Zeppelin, and Kiss had a lot to be proud of. Just listen to “I Love It Loud”. Wow.

Creatures really is a stellar album featuring songwriting by Bryan Adams, Mikal Japp and a guy named Vincent Cusano, better known by his stage name Vinnie Vincent. Guitars were by Paul Stanley, Bob Kulick, Vinnie Vincent, Rick Derringer, Steve Ferris, and who-knows-how-many-others. Kiss claim to have lost track due to the process of auditioning and recording at the same time. Eric Carr, who had no songwriting credits this time, played bass on Paul’s “I Still Love You”.

“Creatures Of The Night” is an amazing fast paced opening, starting off with a barrage of Carr’s toms. I think The Elder was a dissapointing way to introduce the new drummer. Creatures overcompensates, and I am sure Carr was very happy. The main riff and guitar lick in “Creatures” is driving and catchy, and the chorus will stay in your head for days. This is Kiss’ statement of purpose.

Gene takes the tempo down a bit with “Saint & Sinner”, a rebellious one about standing your ground: “Get me off this carousel, you can do as you please, you can go to hell.   Put my back against the wall, well, I’m not gonna fall on my knees, no, not at all.”  At this point Gene was trying to sing in his low “monster” voice more, and this is such a great song. Shame it has not been resurrected live.

“Keep Me Comin'” is a pretty self-explanatory Paul title. The riff is very Zeppelinesque, and Zep was a seemingly huge influence on this era of Kiss. It has some serious groove to it and Paul sings his ass off.

“Rock And Roll Hell” was a song that was played live a couple of times on the 1982 tour. I would describe this Gene song as a slow burner. It seems to be about a kid who “might even steal a guitar” to get out of his rock and roll hell, and make the big time. Very cool groove and lyric.

“Danger” is probably the weakest song on the album. It’s another fast Paul track with a somewhat weak chorus.  It would be followed in the exact same album slot (last song side 1) by similar Paul songs on later albums:  “Gimme More” on Lick It Up, and “I’m Alive” on Asylum.  All three songs are below standard and interchangeable.

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Side 2 begins with “I Love It Loud”. Everybody knows “I Love It Loud”. Your grandma knows “I Love It Loud”.  At the time as a kid, I thought this was the greatest Kiss song ever. That drum beat, that chanting, and Gene’s awesome lyrics about taking no crap — yeah! That’s what every grade 8 student felt like! Unfortunately the novelty wears off after a couple of days and today I feel it’s one of Kiss’ most boring songs. After all, there’s not much to it. Shame it still finds its way into setlists in 2012, while other songs have fallen by the wayside.

The sole ballad “I Still Love You” is next. When Kiss used to play it live (the last time was the 1995 Unplugged concert), it became Paul’s vocal centrepiece.  It’s a slow with not enough dynamics, but Paul again sings his ass off.  As mentioned, Eric Carr on bass.

“Killer” (probably written at the same time as Killers?) is a really cool Gene Simmons song that has lots of interesting riffs and twists. I can’t believe how cool this song still is today. It’s fast, it has interesting backing vocals, and is insanely catchy.

The album ends with Gene’s plodding epic, “War Machine” which still gets played live to this day, despite being retired briefly during the reunion tours. Gene wrote the song with Bryan Adams which would be a surprise to Adams fans. Who knew he could get so heavy? The lyrics are pure, vintage Gene: “Strike down the one who leads me, I’m gonna take his place, I’m gonna vindicate the human race.”

Creatures wound up being the first Kiss studio album to have only two lead singers:  Gene and Paul. Sadly this would remain the case until Eric Carr got his first album vocal much later in 1988. I am glad that the Kiss of today have decided to let all four members sing, as that was one of the factors that got me into the band in the first place.

This would also prove to be Kiss’ final album in makeup.  They had grounded themselves musically once again, while their biggest change was yet to happen….

5/5 stars

44 comments

  1. After a few listens of the title track, I have to admit that the 1985 remix sounds a bit more “balanced”, but as a drummer, I have no problem with the original drum heavy mix that was restored with the 1997 Remaster! I will be seeking out the non-makeup CD just to have it, however. Thanks for the UPC on the West German pressing.

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  2. One of Kiss’ best albums ever. The production is awesome. How anyone can come up with the idea to bring down the big sound of the drums? Somebody’s head should have rolled for that. I don’t think it sounds balanced at all, I think it sounds tame. I mean, the drums are big… sorry, huge, but so are the guitars and the bass sounds like thunder.
    Anyway, this album and its sister album Lick It Up are both fantastic.

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      1. Haha. Yeah, that somebody would end up in a ditch with a hole in the head… ;-)
        But isn’t it weird that both Creatures and Lick It Up has the HUGE production, but the four “new” songs on Killers sounds really lame and it’s the same producer on all three albums…?

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        1. Interesting observation. As a kid I kind of heard the Killers songs as a bridge from the “old” Kiss sound to the “new” Kiss sound. I really loved Killers as a kid, my copy of the LP is all but destroyed.

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        2. Killers and Creatures had the same producer, but a different audience, different songwriters, different lead guitarists, and perhaps most importantly, different recording engineers… Killers was engineered by Dave Thoener. Creatures was engineered by a team led by Dave Wittman, with the drums recorded at Record One Studios by Niko Bolas.

          For Killers, Kiss was cranking out a request by the record company to record four new hard rock songs for a comp that ended up as an overseas release. The songwriting was mostly farmed out (with Bryan Adams making a contribution), and the production was bare-bones.

          By the time Kiss started working on Creatures, they had a renewed focus and a goal… Specifically a goal to be heavy as f*%k, and it shows up in the recording.

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        3. Cool post William, thanks. The Bryan Adams thing always surprised me later on, especially since he helped write some damn heavy songs. And then Eric Carr returned the favour on the Cuts Like A Knife album.

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        4. I heard that Eric Carr and Bryan Adams wrote the Cuts Like A Knife track (can’t remember the title) for the Creatures album, but it was rejected and therefore ended up on Adams album instead.

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  3. Exploring some of your earlier posts; this is really an album I should look into. Despite being a HUGE fan in my teens, I bailed on KISS after Unmasked and then only paid attention again with the reunion tours and Psycho Circus, and all that has come after. I’ve dipped my toes into the in-between period — (Revenge is great and I don’t hate The Elder but it is definitely an outlier) — but haven’t dug deep. Maybe this is the place to start and then head forward to make up what I missed, which I guess is the bulk of the “unpainted” period …

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    1. I think I can safely say that this and Lick It Up are highlights of the years you initially missed. It gets dicey once you hit albums like Asylum and Hot in the Shade, but I put my stamp of approval on Creatures and Lick It Up!

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      1. I don’t play Animalize very much these days, but when I was a young teenager in 1984, it was a favorite cassette. Asylum starts with a strong track, but overall it is a weaker album, and having a power balled hit moved things in the wrong direction.

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        1. I beg to differ. Animalize has, like three good songs on it. Kiss worst album by far. Asylum is so underrated in my book. There’s only a couple of songs that don’t cut on there. Hot In The Shade is pretty bad as well. At least half of it.
          But Asylum didn’t have a power ballad on it, did it?

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        2. e-tainment news, Do you not consider “Tears Are Falling” a power ballad? If not, it is certainly a “slow tempo” track.

          When I took “Asylum” home from the record store on the week of release, I was stoked by the first song “King of The Mountain”. However, “Any Way You Slice It” and the other “Gene” tracks pale compared to “Burn Bitch Burn”. “Who Wants to Be Lonely” reminded me of “Thrills in the Night”, but without the racy storyline. The B side of Asylum was mostly forgettable. I always wanted to skip over “Tears are Falling”, and the fact that it was the first single was a preview of things to come. But I have to admit that Asylum ended on a catchy, raunchy note with “Uh! All Night”, a much better way to close an album than “Murder In High Heels” on Animalize.

          I’m sure my opinion is influenced by the fact that I was a 13 year old boy when Animalize was released, and that cassette played in my room for several months. And I got to dance to “Heaven’s On Fire” with a smokin’ hottie at the Junior Assembly dance!

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        3. No, I don’t consider Tears Are Falling a power ballad. Reason To Live is a power ballad. I think Tears Are Falling is very good song, though. And the Gene tracks? Secretly Cruel, Trial By Fire, Anyway You Slice It – all better than Burn Bitch Burn or any of the Gene tracks on Animalize. Thrills In The Night is one of great few on Animalize but Who Wants To Be Lonely is better.
          I think I was 16 when Animalize came out and I remember digging it hard. But today I really can’t say why, because everytime I hear it, it’s sounds like a different album.
          Asylum seems to split Kiss fans in two camps and William, you’re certainly not alone in your opinions on that album. It’s more like I’m the odd man out for liking that album. :)

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  4. e-tainment… I remember commenting on one of your YouTube videos awhile back… something about Kiss album covers that do not feature the band. But I have long since lost the link to that video. What is the link to your YouTube channel? and have you posted any new Kiss related videos?

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    1. Sure that was me? I have no recollection of ever posting anything on youtube. But I do recognize that about Kiss album covers. I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere too.

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        1. Those are the guys, mikeladen! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. With your help, I found the actual video where I commented (as leftywillie).

          Sorry for the mistaken identity, e-tainment!

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  5. Rick Derringer and Bob Kulick didn’t play on Creatures! Rick played the Exciter solo on Lick It Up while Bob is often credited for playing the solos on Keep Me Comin & Danger, the solos were in fact played by Vinnie Vincent. Bob confirmed this in a 2011 interview. Co-writer on the album, Adam Mitchell, also played rhythm and the ending lick on the title track.

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  6. Actually, the only song remixed on Creatures of the Night is the title track. The remixed “I Love It Loud” appears on Smashes, but the remixed “War Machine” has yet to be released. No other tracks from the album were remixed, and only the title track actually made it on the 1985 CD.

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  7. I think the Japanese edition is the best sounding digital version you can get. Good luck finding it. Let me know what you think! Maybe you can amend the blog post to include it? It is drastically different than the US/West Germany CD and sounds a lot like the vinyl album.

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    1. For special occasions I’m willing to splurge on a rare CD. And yes I’d definitely post a revised review. In fact I’ve been thinking this whole Kiss series needs a re-do.

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  8. It is my understanding that only “Creatures Of The Night”, “I Love It Loud” and “War Machine” were remixed by reissue producer Dave Wittman and that only the remix for the title track was used on the released product. The rest of the album was just remastered to cut the overall low end, but the balance between instruments remained the same.

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