This was not easy at all. Some were, but most of them I had a hard time with. I had to go back and listen to quite a few to make sure I got this right. Mike and I talked about this, and we both agreed to include the four solo albums. We chose to leave out the live stuff becasue this is about the studio music. Had we chose to include those then it changes a lot because Alive! is my favorite. But on with the show.
So here we go. Worst to best.
LINK TO MIKE’S LIST: CLICK HERE FOR GREAT EXPECTATIONS!
24 & 23. SONIC BOOM and MONSTER (2009 and 2012)
I don’t count these two on purpose, because I don’t support them doing that. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer wearing Ace Frehley and Peter Criss makeup. Because of this, I’m just not familiar with those two albums. Next.
This one was easy as far as what my worst one would be. What a total mess. I don’t like one song off of it and that has to make it the worst, because even on my bottom list, I like things on every album. But that one? NO.
21. (MUSIC FROM) THE ELDER (1981)
I’ve tried. It has it’s moments but it’s just not doing it for me. Kiss isn’t Pink Floyd. No one I know of wants a concept album from Kiss. I mean and (Music From) The Elder? There was no movie. This was dumb.They all looked silly in that era. Everything was a mess. And it damn near killed their career. You have to think about it that way. Moving on.
Now here’s the problem. This is The Demon. It’s anything but that. Disney tunes. All them background girl singers. This just didn’t come off well. I like a few songs but they not even that great. I expected some “God of Thunder” type stuff and got a lot of silly shit. I do love the ballad “See You Tonite”. It’s nice. Next.
Yeah I know. So many of you love it and that’s just fine, but I think it’s mad overhyped. It isn’t heavy like so many say it is (minus a few songs). I mean “Every Time I Look At You”, “I Just Wanna”, “Take It Off”, “God Gave Rock and Roll To You”, “Domino”, all stupid.
I don’t know. I mean it does have some awesome tracks like “Unholy”, “Heart of Chrome”, “Thou Shalt Not”, and “Tough Love” (them chants suck though). Anyway I understand many love this album so enjoy it. I barely play it at all. Next.
Not much of a reunion if you ask me. Peter and Ace are not on this album much. I think only on the title track and “Into The Void” which are both great. And Gene does one of his best songs ever with the closing track “Journey of 1000 Years”, but this album is just a mess for the most. That Peter song is horrible. It just seemed thrown together and it was brought to you by lies and deception because this was not a reunion. I mean why, after all them years, is it where you can’t have all four on every song? It’s just 10 songs. So this gets a low ranking for that alone, and it’s just not that great. It has its moments but it failed to live up o what everyone expected. I got nothing more to say about this album.
Look. Imma just say it like this. I love three songs. The title track is a masterpiece. As is “Plaster Caster” and “Shock Me”. But I’m sorry, “Then She Kissed Me”, “Tomorrow and Tonight”, “Christine Sixteen” (really Gene?), “Got love For Sale”, “I Stole Your Love”, dumb songs. This is my worst Kiss album of the makeup years. I’m not wasting no more time on this one. Next.
Again, I like these songs better on Alive! “Ladies In Waiting” is awesome as it gets though. Gene just kills it as does Ace on them sick leads. “Getaway” is slap awful though by Peter. It just annoys me. Ace kills it on the solo though. “Rock Bottom” maybe one of the top intros ever put down on wax. This song is just amazing in every way possible. I could listen to that acoustic intro forever. “C’mon And Love Me” is a total gem. That one is surely up there in my favorite Paul songs. “Anything For My Baby” is lame. “She” is alright but a bit overhyped to me. Sounds like something Bad Company would write. “Love Her All I can” is alright. Awful drumming by Peter on this. And “Rock And Roll All Nite”. I never need to hear this song ever again. So there you have it. Decent album. But it isn’t one I reach for much. As I said none of these going forward are bad but I have to choose. I think also if I didn’t hear a lot of these songs on Alive! these earlier albums would move up. So that does play a factor in this. Next.
OK, let me be clear on this one. I love it for “Got To Choose”, “Parasite”, “Goin’ Blind”, and the title song. Here’s the problem. I like these songs better on Alive! “Goin’ Blind” is better on Unplugged. I don’t dislike this album by any means. “Got To Choose” and “Goin’ Blind” are absolute fire, even studio-wise. I never liked some of these songs though on the rest of the album. Stuff like “Let Me Go Rock N Roll” is just awful. The title alone is silly and the song is just as goofy. I know so many love “Strange Ways” but I just never got the appeal. It isn’t bad it just isn’t what so many claim it is (in my opinion).
It pains me to rank this so low because I do like this album but this is where everything gets tough for me. I hate putting this here but I just don’t play this album much. In no means is it bad. Nothing is bad going forward but I gotta put them somewhere. This one hurt though. By the way, that is a awful album cover. Not that it played any factor in this, I’m just trying to make myself feel better for ranking this so low. I need to move on before I cry. Next.
14. CARNIVAL OF SOULS: THE FINAL SESSIONS (1997)
Let me just say I love the songs “Master & Slave” and “It Never Goes Away”. Paul goes in hard. And Bruce just kills it guitar-wise on this album for the most. “Childhood’s End” is a damn nice Gene song. “I Confess” is pretty cool. I notice on this album Paul and Gene do more duets which was nice to hear since they use to do that a lot back in the day. I also find that Gene’s vocals are pretty damn top notch on a lot of this. Now I’m not saying this is a great album by any stretch but the songs that I mentioned are. I think they rushed this, and plus they had no promotion for it because the Reunion Tour with Peter and Ace came soon after this, so it was buried. It’s a shame because I think if they would have went back in the studio and worked on the bad half of this album they could have had something here. But if you want more modern heavy Kiss, this is it. Not Revenge.
Now this one is my biggest move up from couple years ago. I really like this album. “Shandi” is a hard NO though. But I love the rest. This album didn’t get the attention it needed because as I said earlier The Elder took them out hard for awhile. “Is That You” is a total awesome Paul song. Lot of Ace songs on this album and they all are awesome. Kiss was trying like hell to hold onto him. Heck he had more songs on Dynasty than Gene.But he ended up leaving anyway. But Kiss did try and do the right thing. Peter you can replace but Ace…. They knew that was gonna be a problem because he sold the most of the 4 solo albums. He was the one who hated The Elder. He was the one who said this is getting way too comical. So they tried to cater to him and on the behalf of Gene and Paul what more could they do? Ace is my favorite but you can only do so much. Well Paul is really my favorite because he held Kiss together no matter what. So yeah, Ace 2nd. Anyway I find this to be a very good album and it is the one that jumped up most from my ranking a couple years ago. The songs are just good.If you were like me then I say give this a go again. It’s really good. Considering the turmoil during this era I think they pulled off a miracle. “Naked City” is one of best songs ever by Gene. And like I said, all these Paul songs are sooooo damn good (minus “Shandi”) and it climbed up 10 spots for me.I really do like this album so much now. “Easy As It Seems” I’m still touch and go on that one but it’s alright. So yeah go back and revisit Unmasked. It’s better than you probably remembered. Next.
Well what can I say? I like this album very much. I even like “I was Made For Loving You” and apparently a lot of fans do as well, since that song is a staple in their set list. Fine song by me. I think my favorite song on this album would be “Magic Touch”. Now that is a great song. I always felt like that would have fit in great on Paul’s solo album, but least it is somewhere! And I love ALL those Ace songs. I won’t break them down because I think they are all great. I’m not a Rolling Stones fan, but Ace made that his song. We’re talking about “2000 Man” here! I think they knew Ace was going to leave, so they seemed to try and make him happier by giving him more songs on “Dynasty” and “Unmasked”. But it didn’t do no good, because he left anyway! I really like the Gene songs on this album as well. “Charisma” is like a updated “God of Thunder” to my ears. And that is a good thing! The only song I do not like on here is “Dirty Living”. Ughhhh, that song never gets no play from me. I fucking hate it. But that’s how it is with Peter sometimes. He’ll ruin a moment. So there you have it. I’d move this album up some, but I think I like it just where it is. It is a bit better than Unmasked so that is where it will stay.
Well where do we begin? OK, I love “Rise To It”, “Betrayed”, and “Hide Your Heart”. Eric Carr is a beast on this album, as is Bruce. Paul and Gene sound top notch vocal wise. I think this one gets a lot of hate because of how long it is. But I just love this album. “Prisoner of Love” is a rocker by Gene. Bruce on fire in it! “Read My Body” is fun and full of groove! “Love’s A Slap In The Face” is fun! “Forever” is one of the best Kiss ballads ever. “Silver Spoon” kicks total ass. “King of Hearts” is another Paul gem. You all have to quit sleeping on this album! “You Love Me To Hate You” another awesome Paul song. I love that song just like I love most of this album. “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” another great Gene track. I won’t go on about this album because I know so many don’t care for it. I’ll never understand that because I just love it beyond. And this album is much heavier than Revenge. See a pattern here. NEXT!
Only reason it isn’t lower is because of the first track. “I’ve Had Enough (Into The Fire)” is in my top 10 Paul songs of all time. “Thrills In The Night” and “Heaven’s on Fire” are awesome. But if those three wasn’t on this album it would be way lower. I like the heavy, but considering how great Lick It Up was/is, they went to this and it just isn’t close. All these dumb ass Gene songs. He was too busy doing dumb movies. Paul saved Kiss. Gene had one good song on this one. “While The City Sleeps”. All I know is he better be glad Paul kept it going or Kiss would be dead. I know I’m coming off hard on this album but Gene just let me down bad after all his greatness on the Lick It Up album, where he had the most songs and they were awesome. All of them. Then he gives you this. Even Paul wrote in his book how Gene was just mailing it in, and you can tell. Lacklustre as it gets, minus one song. If it comes across as me being hard on this album, well I am. I’ve always had it in for this album even if I do have it fairly up there. It angers me how Gene just left Paul to save this, but Paul being the champ he is, did just that. Moving on.
Some awesome classics here. I love “Ladies room” so much. That groove is just sick. And one of the few Peter songs I like is on this aka “Hard Luck Woman”
The only reason this isn’t higher is because i prefer these other songs on the live albums. But I do love this one. I like the production. Just has a good feel. Like it’s the backbone of KISS at the best. It’s raw but clean. “I Want you” is a masterpiece. The way that just punches you feels good. “Take Me” is a groove fest and fun as it gets. AH AH AH AH YEAH! LOVE IT! “See You In Your Dreams” is a awesome song to roll down the windows and haul ass to. Just pedal to the floor! I don’t encourage you to do this but yanno.. So yeah a totally great KISS album. It’s a straight up classic.
Well, it has all the classics we love, though much better on Alive! So I’m not gonna spend much time on this one. It started it all, and it is one of the best to ever be put down on wax. Everything you wanted and then some is on this. “Kissing Time” is awful as fuck though. No need in going on about this album because if you love or even like KISS you are very much aware of this one, so no need for the breakdown. It’s great.
7 & 6. ACE FREHLEY and PAUL STANLEY (1978)
Look, I can’t fit them in, so they just going here as a tie because I love them both the same. I’m not gonna go into details about either because they speak volumes as they are. I will say I do not like “New York Groove”. I just never have. Sorry Ace. So if I had to edge it out I go with Paul as my favorite solo album. And couple on there that I don’t play much, but nothing as bad as “New York Groove”. Next.
Yeah, let the hate rain down. I know it’s coming. But I think Paul has some of his best vocals on this album, as does Gene. After doing dumb stuff on Animalize like “Burn Bitch Burn” he stepped his game up and put his focus back on KISS. “Good Girl Gone Bad” and “Hell or High Water” are amazing Gene songs. My main problem with this album is the bass. It lacks. Ron Nevison just isn’t a good producer. He ruins albums. This album would sound heavier with someone like, say, Mike Clink. But, is what it is.
Now, on to where it really shines. Let me first say “I’ll Fight Like Hell To Hold You” is in my Top five Paul songs ever. I just love this song. His vocals are off the chains. I can go on and on about this song, but gotta keep it moving. “Reason To Live” is a masterpiece ballad. That’s all you need to know about that. “My Way” is Paul just nailing it. His vocals are on fire! “Turn on the Night” is a ton of fun. Makes you just wanna go to the beach and have a good time. This album in general is that. FUN. Remember fun people? “Crazy Crazy Nights”, c’mon. You know that is fun! A couple tracks on it I don’t care for are two of the Gene tracks. “No, No, No” — that is the dumbest song title ever. And a pain in the ass to type. I can never get it right. But I don’t need to since I never bring it up (well this time I did), and “Thief in the Night” is pretty bland. You kind of see a trend here. Paul carried KISS on his back. He had to make up for the Gene laziness. But yeah, a solid album that I quite enjoy a lot. Next.
My fave of the make up years for sure. I mean this has it all. Minus that awful song “Great Expectations” just WTF Gene? And I never need to hear “Beth” again. But man I love everything else on 10. This one gets me going. “King of the Night Time World” was first KISS song I ever heard and I was like yeah these are my guys. I think I was like 7. I won’t go in much on this album because so many like it as a favorite so I feel it has been talked about more than I can do it justice. But this is the album that got me into KISS and I’ve never looked back. It blew me away then and still does. “God of Thunder” still sends chills down my spine. I also feel like this was the last real KISS album where the original members were full on. Stuff went messy after this it seems. But hey, least they went out on top. Thank you KISS for getting little boy me into you with this album. Mad love to ya!
Now this one is where I felt they were at the heavy point. And Bruce Kulick is on FIRE. I don’t dislike one song on this, so it pains me not to have it higher but I just can’t put it over the next two. This album is one I play lots. I love “King of the Mountain”. I mean what a great opening track. Look, since I’m trying to get this done, I’m not going to go much on this one. Just know I fucking love this album sooooooo much. This is a gem and minus the awful album cover, everything is perfect to me. Amazing production. Paul is on top. Gene stepped up. Bruce is on fire. Eric is beasting. This is one fucking great album. I think I listen to this one more than others lately. So there ya go.
2. CREATURES OF THE NIGHT (1982)
Well, this barely — and I do mean barely, edged out Asylum but I give you two reasons. “I Still Love You” and “Rock And Roll Hell”. And it’s sad that this album wasn’t appreciated for the greatness it was, but KISS kind of blew it with some albums like The Elder and people just weren’t having it. Now this is looked upon as one of the best by many KISS fans, as it should. The drums are like cannons. Eric Carr will always be my favorite KISS drummer. This album is a fucking work of art. It just screams “amazing”. As much as I liked Unmasked and Dynasty this felt like hey man, they back! They quit messing around with the poppy stuff like “Shandi” and such. This one is a killer from start to finish. If you don’t own this, I question your KISS fandom. Gene is on top of his game after some shaky grounds before. And Paul stays on top. If someone asked me “what KISS album should I get” and they didn’t have one, I wouldn’t be hesitant to say this one. Yes, it’s that damn good. And you have to remember not everyone is going to like 70’s stuff so I think what they did with this album is they melded it all into one. You get the classic KISS sound, yet the heavy modern KISS. This album is sheer perfection. You should go play it now. Next.
1. LICK IT UP (1983)
Here we are at the end. What a ride! Now, you may think I’m going to talk a lot about this one since it is my favorite album and that is where you will be wrong. I’ll tell you why it is number one though. “A Million To One” is my favorite Paul song ever, and “Not For The Innocent” is my favorite Gene song ever. I think that explains it. And crazy Vinnie is on fire! Eric is Godly on this. There is not one bad thing I can say about this album. The production is top notch. The songs are all great. “Young and Wasted”, man that song is so damn heavy it’s insane. This is the KISS album I go to most and will always go to the most. It is everything I love.
This has been fun. NOW GO PLAY SOME KISS!
By Jonathan Lee
Awesome list. I’m assuming Jonathan is younger then you Mike only because the non-make-up era albums are represented so well in the top half. Nothing wrong with that, I think it is a timeline thing. Can’t argue with this much even though rather different than my order, it’s a solid list. With so many albums no two people would ever have the same list. No way! Great lists you two!!
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Jonathan is of a younger generation, but I found his perspective both inspiring and refreshing!
The funny thing is, he kept telling me how much he loved the 80s albums, so I had all his words tumbling in my mind while making my list.
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Ha! Can’t wait to see the Rush list! Dang that is a task right there.
Wow, yours and Jonathan’s list are greatly different! Like John said, not a bad thing! I really dig “Rise to It” too.
Wow that is certainly a different list than the usual when it comes to Kiss. Mine would be radically different, but hey, that’s what opinions are for. Props to Jonathan.
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He was breaking my brain with some of his picks, but I’ll tell ya man — corresponding with him over these lists has been a blast. Some of the best Kiss chats ever had.
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