RE-REVIEW: KISS – Paul Stanley (1978 solo album)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 16:  

  Paul Stanley (1978 Casablanca solo album, 1997 Mercury remaster)

With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we know that Paul Stanley was capable of pretty much running Kiss by himself.  During much of the 1980s, Gene Simmons’ participation in Kiss had a severe drop.  Paul took the reins and the band more or less sounded like Kiss.  With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Paul’s 1978 solo album was also very Kiss-like.  Of the four, Paul’s album had an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude.  His solo songs sound very much like his Kiss songs.  Co-producing with Paul was Kansas producer Jeff Glixman.

Paul had an “ace” in his pocket, so to speak.  On lead guitar was shredder Bob Kulick.  Previously, Bob auditioned for Kiss but was squeezed out at the last minute by Ace Frehley.  He also played ghost guitar on the studio tracks of Alive II.  Now he was out of the shadows on Paul’s album, and his work here absolutely stuns.  It’s a feedback-laden monster of rock.

Paul’s songs are often overblown, and usually loud.  “Tonight You Belong to Me” is one such track:  melodramatic, riffy and loud.  It rocks hard.  It has loads of hooks, killer playing, and lead vocals that slay.  Few singers could touch Paul Stanley in his prime.  If that riff sounds familiar, the Hellacopters ripped it off for the intro to a song appropriately titled “Paul Stanley” (from 1999’s Grande Rock).

“Move On” is upbeat, Kiss-like rock and roll augmented with female backing vocals.  It’s the only song that Kiss played live on their 1979 tour.  It probably fits that standard Kiss mold better than any other tune on the album.  “Ain’t Quite Right” brings things down with a dark acoustic ballad, quite different from past songs Paul has written.  Its sad sound was fairly new territory for an upbeat rocker.

Hold on tight for “Wouldn’t You Like to Know Me”.  If this song was covered by a pop-punk band (pick one:  Sum 41, Blink 182, any of that ilk) it could be huge today.  It’s loud, brash and incredibly rocking, but Paul outsings any punk-pop upstart.  When Paul released his solo One Live Kiss album/video in 2008, “Wouldn’t You Like to Know Me” was one of its highlights.  Kudos must be given to drummer Richie Fontana for kicking it in the nuts.

One of rock’s most legendary (and hardest hitting) timekeepers plays drums on the massive “Take Me Away (Together As One)”.  You don’t associate Carmine Appice with Kiss, but there he is one of Paul’s songs.  It’s a bombastic arrangement of electrics and acoustics, and one of Paul’s most devastating tracks.  Carmine turns it from “stun” to “kill” with his dominating presence.  At 5:26 this is the longest song on the album and as close as Paul gets to epic.

Side two is just as vigorous as side one.  “It’s Alright” has a bright shimmer, plenty of hooks and guitars.  It easily could have been a Kiss classic.  “Girl if you want me to stay satisfied, girl if you want me to stay for the night, it’s alright.”  Sure sounds like Kiss to me.  The guitars have a very “rock and roll” vibe, a classic progression.  Paul has a knack for riffs like this, and “It’s Alright” is one of the best.

Paul’s single was the schlocky piano ballad “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think of Me When We’re Apart)”.  Fans will either love it or hate it.  It’s a song that could have been an AM radio hit on a 70s light rock station.  Lionel Richie could have recorded it.  The guitar solo cooks, and that is all Paul.  He handled all the guitars on this song.  Love it or hate it, it was the second most successful solo Kiss single after Ace’s “New York Groove”.

As the album draws to a close, “Love in Chains” hits hard with punchy drums and choppy guitars.  But it’s just a jab, compared to the closer “Goodbye”, which finishes things off with a flourish and hot riffing.  There is a cool descending guitar part, a superior chorus, and some seriously cool and busy bass by Eric Nelson.  “Goodbye” is a brilliant closer, and it held that slot on Paul’s 2006 solo tour.

Paul’s was the second shortest of the solo albums (only Peter’s being shorter), but it packed more punch than any except Ace Frehley’s.  Everybody has their favourites, and Ace’s album is always held in high esteem.  Ace stepped out of his box and delivered.  Meanwhile, Paul stuck to what he does best, and nailed it.  It’s a “safe” solo album, but lethal when it clicks with you.

5/5 stars

To be continued…

Original mikeladano.com review:  2012/07/22

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22 comments

  1. Wow a 5/5! May have to revisit this one now. Going on memory which is about 35 plus years as I had this on cassette tape the 3 tracks that I still recall are the opening track,Move On as that was played not he Dynasty Tour and Its Allright…
    Not to much sticks to my memory….
    Another Great writeup though….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite of the solo albums. I’ve always loved “Hold Me, Touch Me.” I was 12 when these albums were released and I had a soft spot for, well, soft songs. Not sure why but melancholy music spoke to me (still does). I had no idea what schmaltzy or cheesy meant. If it was catchy that’s all that mattered. The rest of the album is great as well, as you so eloquently stated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Rich! I’m not sure when melancholy music started to appeal to me, but probably around puberty! Hold Me Touch Me is one song that Uncle Meat and I disagree on. He listened to this album for the first time in 30+ years, and phoned me up specifically to tell me how much he disliked Hold Me Touch me! I found that pretty funny.

      Like

  3. I did the same thing with the KISS solos that I did with Diver Down. I didn’t listen to it because so many people I know pooh poohed it. I’m going to have to listen to them now and make up my own mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice Ace wordplay Mike – and I’ve got wouldn’t you like to know me playing as I type, I think you’re right, it could be a hit today if one of those bands chose to cover!

    Like

  5. Definitely a contender for my favourite KISS solo but I can never quite decide. It’s been Ace, Gene and Paul at various points.

    I’m defiintely with 5/5 for the first side but, the second side… not so much. Just OK. And you know how I feel about Hold Me, Touch Me. Pure mince.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL! Well I think this calls for a tag team match to settle the matter of Hold Me Touch Me. In your corner, at a combined weight of (cough cough) pounds, it’s HMO and UNCLE MEAT!

      In my corner, at a svelte 400 combined pound is LEBRAIN AND RICH!

      Let’s have a clean match! Hey no chairs!

      Liked by 1 person

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