REVIEW: KISS – Crazy Nights (1987)

Part 25 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster

KISS – Crazy Nights (1987)

Gene Simmons, still off in la-la land ($immons Records, managing Liza Minelli), was about as far removed from the demon as you could get.  Looking quite womanly, and no longer singing in his “monster voice”, Gene had lost it by 1987.  Paul Stanley was writing songs on keyboards (not a good sign) although Bruce and Eric both made strong songwriting contributions.  The result is Crazy Nights, a record that Bon Jovi could have made, but Kiss?  It didn’t sound like Kiss to me.

Still, I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Crazy Nights because it came out when I was in highschool, and I played it nonstop then, even though I questioned Kiss’ direction. (Over)produced by Ron Nevison, Kiss were trying way too hard for radio and video hits. The rock was all but gone. At the same time, the songs are actually pretty well written for the most part. Better, on average, than some songs on Animalize. It’s the gloss and production that sinks Crazy Nights.

Originally titled Who Dares Wins, the album does indeed feature too many keyboards.  I remember being so disheartened by the video for “Reason to Live”, and seeing Bruce Kulick playing keys instead of guitar. Stanley himself didn’t play guitar in the videos either — he wore one, and danced around with it. This didn’t seem like rock and roll anymore.

Here’s my song breakdown.  I just wish there was more oomph to them.

Good to great songs:

“Hell Or High Water”
“Good Girl Gone Bad”
“Turn On The Night”
“No, No, No”

OK songs:

“Crazy, Crazy Nights”
“Reason To Live”
“I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You”
“My Way”

Bad songs:

“When Your Walls Come Down”
“Thief In The Night” (a song written earlier and recorded by Wendy O. Williams first)

So, not bad. Not enough Gene though. That was a problem on a lot of albums from Dynasty to Crazy Nights, there just wasn’t enough Gene. He had become a sideman, not a frontman. Gene’s singing here is smooth, no rasp and no guts.  Paul’s singing is very high and something shrill. It was the 1980’s.

Only one song (“Crazy Crazy Nights”) has been played live since this tour.

Pick it up if you love 80’s rock. Avoid if you don’t.

2/5 stars

There are also several outtakes from this album that were later released:  “Time Traveler” is a Paul Stanley keyboard song that found its way onto The Box Set.  “Boomerang”, a speedy thrash-like number, was re-recorded for the next studio album, Hot In The Shade. “Dial L For Love”, an Eric Carr demo, was released on his posthumous Unfinished Business CD.  Finally, one of the better Paul Stanley songs called “Sword and Stone”, was recorded by Bonfire and released on the soundtrack to the movie Shocker.

I have a couple bootlegs from this tour, seen below.  (Yes, they put Vinnie on the cover of one by mistake!)

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23 comments

  1. Song-wise a very good album, with very few bad tracks. Still, the production here is below all critisism, totally destroyed by Ron Nevison. Nothing new there, that’s what he always does (just listen to Nevison-produced records by Europe, Ozzy, Heart, Bad English etc.). Also, this album contains too many keyboards and programmed drums, sacrilege when you have a heavy drummer like Eric Carr in the band.

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    1. Yeah, agreed on the keyboards and so on. I know at this point, Carr was frustrated that he wasn’t singing on any albums yet. I don’t know why they wouldn’t let him sing.

      Ahh well. Can’t change the past. I still play Crazy Nights fairly often, it reminds me of good times.

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      1. I believe this album was destroyed by Nevison alone. If this album have had a heavier production and the keyboards moved to the background, I think this album could have been really great. I think that No No No and Thief In The Night are the only bad tracks on here. And Reason To Suck, of course. I Wanna Know what Love Is had already been written, Paulie.
        But yes, I too listen to this album quite a lot despite Nevison’s “production”.

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        1. It’s a guilty pleasure…many Kiss albums are guilty pleasures sometimes. I will admit that, as wimpy as I feel, it’s sometimes fun to belt, “These are crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy nights!” in my car. Even though I haven’t had a “crazy night” in about 7 or 8 years and even though I can’t come anywhere close to Paul’s 1987 range.

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  2. Mike check out the site Decibel Geek Podcast. They just posted a 2 part interview with Gary Corbett(dude who played keys for them) he pulls no punches! On Gene/Paul and Eric Carr and all kinds of things…
    Check it out if u haven’t!

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    1. You know what’s funny Deke…for the longest time I thought his name was Gary Carpet. Because that’s how it sounds when Paul introduced him on stage on a live bootleg I had! For the longest time I thought, “Wow, Carpet is a pretty shitty last name to have.” Mike Carpet. Not the same, is it?

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  3. Corbett pulls no punches here ….man it sounded like they esp Stanley tormented Carr!!
    Simmons doesn’t sound as bad…..brutal just brutal if this is indeed the deal but as Extreme said… 3 Sides To The Story…Yours,Mine & The Truth!!!….

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    1. I wish I could figure out how to skip ahead. I don’t want to re-listen to everything I heard.

      OH! I got a hold of Ann from the Deep Purple website — she’s sending me a second copy of Perfect Strangers live.

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  4. Someone just posted on Simmons podcast about Corbett saying stuff negative about them…
    Simmons sez….Corbett is a drug user..I was there….

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