The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 29:
– Crazy Nights (1987 Polygram, 1997 Mercury remaster)
Here’s a little song for everybody out there.
It’s a song that is a recurring theme for Kiss in the 1980s. It’s a down and out song: Asylum failed to live up to commercial hopes and the band only toured in North America. Paul Stanley was still firmly in control of Kiss. His partner Gene Simmons was now a record label mogul. He signed Loz Netto and House of Lords. Meanwhile, Paul observed bands like Bon Jovi who once opened for them, now eclipsing their success.
Kiss chose producer Ron Nevison for their next album tentatively titled Who Dares Wins. Nevison had recently produced big hits for Heart and Ozzy Osbourne, and Kiss aimed to follow along. The new music was the most commercial they’d written since 1980’s Unmasked. Big name songwriters participated on all but two songs. Much to the chagrin of Kiss fans, keyboards were brought on heavily for the sessions. Paul had been writing on keyboards for the first time. (In concert, keys were played offstage by Gary Corbett.)
The album was renamed Crazy Nights, preceded by first single and video, “Crazy Crazy Nights”. From the first “Woo!”, it’s far too bright and shiny. It’s one of those “gosh, this is so inspiring!” tunes that you’re embarrassed to like. “They try to tell us that we don’t belong, but that’s alright, we’re millions strong.” The awkward change to a higher key at the end is annoying as Paul hits absurd notes. Bruce Kulick’s guitar playing is exemplary, a showcase of true technical mastery, but not the kind of playing associated with classic Kiss.
A pretty stinky song called “I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You” is a mish-mash of mismatched parts and very high notes. It inspired my neighbor George to say, “If a song this poor made the album, can you imagine the songs that didn’t?” Gene wrote about 25 songs for Crazy Nights. Shudder. “Bang Bang You” is pretty weak too, keeping things in “park” rather than “drive”. It’s also the second time Paul referrs to a previous Kiss song in the lyrics. This time Paul states that he’s gonna “shoot you down with my Love Gun, baby.” On “Crazy Crazy Nights”, Paul stated that we “Love It Loud”. Reminding fans of better songs from more nostalgic times?
Bruce Kulick gets a smoking guitar into on Gene’s first track, “No No No”. Every trick in the book is thrown down in a mere 45 seconds. The track is a sudden fast thrash into heavier territory. However it’s track 4, and it’s Gene’s first song? That’s problem numero uno. The second issue is Gene’s newfound smooth singing style. The demonic growl is gone, and Gene adopted a clean voice that does not really sound much like Gene Simmons. He continues that style on “Hell Or High Water”, a pretty good tune in fact.
Things go a ridiculous extreme on “My Way”, another one of Paul’s “inspirational” tunes. “I’m gonna talk like I talk, walk like I walk, My Way.” Sinatra this is not. What sinks it are the stupidly high notes that Paul hits. Paul Stanley was simply one of the great voices in rock, bar none. He could do things that few people this side of Freddie Mercury could do. But just because you have a car that can go 200 mph doesn’t mean you have to keep it floored. Save it for when it counts.
Side two commences with another atrocity, “When Your Walls Come Down”, which never would have been in consideration for a better album. Consider that Eric Carr wrote a number of ideas for this album that weren’t used, like “Dial L For Love”. That unfinished song had a Van Hagar vibe that was on trend, and potentially better than crap like “When Your Walls Come Down”.
The first Kiss ballad since “I Still Love You” on Creatures of the Night (1982) is “Reason to Live”. A weak ballad is of little interest, and the music video surprised some by having Bruce Kulick on stage playing damn keyboards! Paul and his buddy Desmond Child are responsible for a song we’d rather forget.
Simmons returns with a great number called “Good Girl Gone Bad”. Cliche title aside, this understated dusky prowler has melodic qualities in common with some of Gene’s better material on Unmasked. Another decent song, Paul’s “Turn On the Night” is a hokey but good enough anthem for the 80s. It’s co-written by Diane Warren, who later scored it big with a little song called “I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing“. It will be too bright for some fans, but it’s a tasty pill if you can swallow it. Paul has always had a way with a chorus. Bruce’s solo is another standout. “Turn On the Night” is actually pretty good. The music video seemed to be a continuation from “Reason to Live”. The blonde woman that torched Paul’s car seems to be now sabotaging a Kiss concert on a roof top? I’m very confused.
Crazy Nights ends with a fart, a pretty low-grade Simmons tune named “Thief in the Night”. On a better produced album like Creatures, a song like this could have smoked the competition. On a plastic, thin album like Crazy Nights, it completely misses the gut.
It’s probably unfair to lay the blame for Crazy Nights at the feet of Paul Stanley and Ron Nevison. If Gene wasn’t out trying to discover the next big band, and was actually focused on Kiss, could they have gotten it together? The fact is that Kiss are at their best when running full steam. It’s always been a partnership between Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons as the primary writers. Crazy Nights represents a point at which these partners were working like broken cogs.
It’s a damn shame.
Uncle Meat’s rating:
Meat’s slice: For this Meat’s slice, we include an actual commentary, as Uncle Meat listened to the album in real time.
This first shit tune…sounds like a wrestling entrance.
It’s of the time.
You couldn’t even give this 0 steaks.
It’s Warrant…It’s Poison…It’s shit.
You’d have to go to rotten ground beef for this.
And that’s…fuck what’s his name…
And that key change is ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!! So awful.
…Ron Nevison produced.
This is shit.
Enjoy my friend.
It gets pretty silly later.
Wait until you hear My Way.
Mark my words.
Reemember: MY WAY.
I’ll walk like I walk, talk like I talk, My Way…
If I end up taking a walk and killing a 48 year old Chinese woman…It’s on you my friend.
I realize that.
It’s right here in permanent Internet records.
Well…first absolute shit tune is over…and it’s rated dung.
Second song is worse.
The shit storm is over Randy…
Oh no it’s not Mr Lahey…because here comes song 2.
I’m using that in my review of this album…
I’m so glad I shaved my head two days ago…or I would be lighting my hair on fire.
Bang Bang You…just about to start.
I see it’s a Desmond Child vehicle.
This is so garbage…hot steaming garbage.
I dont know if I can do this whole album.
HAHAHAHAHA Bang Bang You…
You have to finish it now.
I hate this.
You can tell this is the period when Gene wasn’t around anymore.
My bum is embarrassed for my ears right now.
You think this is bad, I invite you to play Hot in the Shade.
OK…fuck man…it’s only song 4 of this one…hold it now.
I’ll shoot you down with my love gun baby.
I’m not guaranteeing I’m getting through this one.
You can’t walk away now.
And…I might just review the first 4 songs…and say… ok…I’m done…don’t care about the rest…goodbye.
That would make a point.
Nope you HAVE to play MY WAY.
I need you to hear track 6.
Who is singing No No No?
Doesn’t sound like him.
He doesn’t sound like him on any of the album.
Oh…ok…he sounds different.
Nevison forced him to drop his normal voice.
Kinda reminds me of Skyscraper by David Lee Roth.
Very plastic and keyboardy and samply on the drums.
Better than the first 3.
Eric carr’s only writing credit.
Does Kulick or Carr sing any tunes?
Nope just Gene or Paul.
Eric was promised a song and didn’t get one which made him very bitter.
Apparently he stopped speaking to Paul around the next album.
I mean on any album.
Eric sings two.
He sings Beth on Smashes and Thrashes.
And Little Caesar on Hot in the Shade.
Bruce sings one.
I Walk Alone on Carnival of Souls.
Funny thing there:
Both guys sang their first original Kiss songs on their LAST Kiss albums.
In Fact Bruce’s song is the last song on his last Kiss album.
In the current band Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer both have two lead vocals each.
Hell or High Water is…boring…not offensive like earlier.
Sounds like Tesla.
But you can hear his voice is smooth not rough.
I just wrote down one line now in the first minute of My Way.
“Bon Jovi can fuck right the fuck off already”.
Oh man this smells.
It’s like actual runny sharts are oozing throught this speaker.
OK… Reason to Live is on a new shelf of shit. Holy Fuck. Of course…Desmond Fucking Child. What a shit hat.
It sounds like St. Elmos Fire meets Michael Bolton working out in a shit gym.
OK…I’m done it’s off…I can’t do anymore…no fucking way.
Crazy Nights is the last album reissued in the Mercury CD remasters series. No album more recent than this has been remastered and reissued.
Original mikeladano.com review: 2012/08/04